Archive for the ‘Event Planning Tips’ Category

Why Our Business is Different

(This article was originally published in Special Events Magazine.)

Did you know that Event Planning is ranked among the top ten most stressful jobs? (Check out the latest list from Career Cast.) We are on the list with Soldiers and Doctors! It is true that our industry is very time intensive and often the clients we choose can be demanding and unrealistic. However, it is my experience that most of the stress is a result of poor business practices in the beginning of the client relationship. Ouch! Let me explain…

event planner 2First, independent Event Planners who own a business usually work extremely hard especially in the early years to create a brand, establish clients, and hire a team. Sometimes years go by and the exhausted owner is still holding on to the dream of “someday”. Someday I’ll get to go on vacations. Someday I’ll earn enough money to pay myself a good salary. Someday this will all be worth it. Meanwhile, they are in an industry notorious for sucking all their time and energy making sure everyone else is happy…this is the hospitality industry after all…often at the expense of their relationships, health, and finances. Sounds great right? Ready to sign up?

Our business is different. We set personal goals; not business goals. I’m sure MBA’s worldwide are gasping for breath at this but I’m convinced: If I’m a business owner with all the risks, I should gain all the rewards. I don’t want to serve my business with hopes of someday. I want a business that serves me. My business is a tool by which I can achieve personal goals. This is also true of everyone that works in my business…not just me. Each of us sets personal goals and works toward meeting them using the vehicle, Forté Events to do so. This mind shift has made all the difference in my life and my company. We are all working toward a goal together which is fulfilling each person’s life goals each year.

Second, most Event Planners I know are often desperate for work. I’ve been there and I know what it is to need income but the key word is desperate. When someone needs work so badly, they will often accept clients and projects they may not otherwise consider. Your gut usually tells you during your first meeting but because of fear, you take a job that can be a nightmare later.

Our business is different. We only work with “perfect” clients. As a team, we create a profile for each type of event client we work with that details their personality traits, their expectations, goals, etc. Once we establish the kind of clients we are looking for, we only say “yes” to clients who fit that description. We say no to everyone else…even if we need the work. Especially when we need the work. Only taking on projects with “perfect” clients will save you time, energy, stress, and make you more profitable.

Third, and this is a big one, many Event Planners do not understand their worth and are not confident when it comes to pricing. Without sounding too dramatic, I honestly think that this fact is single handedly crumbling our entire industry. I’m serious. When Event Planners cannot justify their fees to themselves or their clients, they lower the pricing standards of the entire industry. They train clients that our time, talent, and expertise are not worth very much. They lower and lower the pricing bar until they go out of business but not before they ruin it for the rest of us.

Our business is different. We know exactly how much our time is worth. We look at each job as a project and determine how many hours of pre-planning and how many hours of on-site work will be required to create a great event in an unstressed environment and that goes into our price. We consider how much our ideas are worth…our intellectual property…and we add that in too. We quantify time for phone calls, texts, meetings, on-site walk thrus, more meetings, and meals with clients, vendors, venues, and our internal team. We remember the business needs to profit as well for all overhead expenses unrelated to just one event and we add that in too. Once the pricing is figured (usually 20-30% of the total budget), we are PROUD to present it to prospective perfect clients. We know that it is our responsibility to explain to them why we are worth it and what they will get for their investment…my favorite thing to do! We have not had any issues selling our pricing…we understand it, we believe in it, and we know it’s in the client’s best interest to create what they need to be successful at their event. You can do this too!

These are some of the ways our business is different. I hope in the near future, I can write that our business is not that different…that most Event Planners are enjoying less stress and more profits by setting personal goals, working with “perfect” clients, and pricing appropriately and confidently for success. If you want to run your business this way but don’t know how, contact us…we’re happy to share!

forte_labsFWant to learn more about how we do things?  Come to one of our upcoming Forté Labs, a 2-½ day intensive workshop we have developed with an amazing “hands on” curriculum that will help you build a business that will create the life you want.

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About Forté Events:

Forté Events is a strategic event design and production firm specializing in corporatenon-profit, and social events worldwide. Based in Colorado Springs, CO, and New York City this company produce events worldwide from Fortune 500 clients to families and charities. Forté Events specializes in helping clients attain their goals, realize return on investment, and achieve the most unique, creative experiences.

About Tami Forero:

Tami has set new standards and challenged traditional event ideas throughout her twenty one years as a corporate and independent event producer. Her unique approach to the business of events qualified her as a finalist for the 2006 Event Producer of the Year Spotlight Award and Event Production Company of the Year Spotlight Award in 2008. In 2010, Tami won the Rising Star Award from the Colorado Springs Business Journal and Forté Events won the 2010 ICON Award for the best non-profit event produced in Colorado. As a speaker for national event conferences, ISES chapters, CEO groups, training companies, and various industry associations, Tami teaches event professionals and corporations how to help clients make the most return on their event investments. Overall, Tami Forero represents the best the industry has to offer in creativity, innovation, and knowledge.

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Location! Location! Location!

in the vineyardWe work on a lot of corporate training meetings and the one factor we’ve found that is the most important to their success is where you have the meeting.  It may seem counter-intuitive, but there have been psychological studies that show people learn better when they enjoy the surroundings.  We like to call it “thinking outside the ballroom.”  While hotel ballrooms are good for certain events, they are not ideal for a corporate training.  At the very least try to have it in a room with windows with a good view.  We prefer outdoor locations when possible.  Think about locations that you might not necessary correlate with events.  Recently we had an event at the Crocker & Starr Vineyard who’d never hosted corporate events before we brought our group there.

This venue was perfect for our group who worked for a food company.  We paired it with some events at the nearby Culinary Institute of America.   This was a great place for executives to learn; they deal with food all day long, so we brought them back to their roots: cooking. While outside in the vineyard they met the owner who talked about the location and wine making.  Put yourself in the client’s shoes when selecting a venue.  Where would they like to go?  What locations have a special meaning to the company history?  What location might they benefit from seeing?  We recently produced a training for a company that makes airplane engines (among many other things.)  Early on in their history, they had tested their first engines from Pikes Peak.  So we gathered them in Colorado Springs and had an executive talk about the company history.  Giving this back story got the attendees more invested in where they were, and consequently, increased the effectiveness of their learning.  It inspired the attendees and helped engagement tremendously.  Chateauform

Historic locations are also great ways to inspire your attendees.   When we have groups in Europe we love to take them to Chateauform properties, which are typically old castles or historical buildings that have been converted into meeting spaces.  Most have outdoor locations where attendees can soak up some sun while they learn.

So the next time you have a corporate training event, take the time to reflect and come up with a special, unique location to host your group.

International Event Planning: Vendor Selection

We’ve been asked a lot lately about the events we’ve planned overseas. People want to know how we got the business, how we find vendors and what are the best locations.  So we decided to start a series of blogs with some insight into our process of working on international events.

ashridge

Ashridge Conference Center outside London

One of the keys to any successful event is finding quality vendors.  We’re able to send some very experienced staff overseas to manage our events, but we have to rely a lot on the event professionals in the countries we’re in.

  • One of the first things we do is check to see if there’s a local ISES chapter.  If there is, our job becomes a lot easier!  But even if there is a local ISES chapter, we end up relying on searches online to find our vendors.
  • We need to see a professional website with great photos that really show their expertise & experience.  Depending on the country, it’s important to us if they specifically cater to English speaking clients.  Many companies will have a special section on their website that explains just that.
  • Most of our events are corporate trainings with 20-80 attendees flying in from all parts of the world, so the proximity to the airport also comes into play.

All in all, it’s really similar to planning events in your own backyard; you just have a lot more research & vetting to do in order to find the right vendors for your international events.

International Event Planning: Hotel & Venue Selection

One of our biggest considerations for our international events is the venue we choose in each city.  We have found that many brand name hotels carry the same quality in Europe as they do here (RitzDolce), while others can be much, much nicer than their American counterparts.  (We just had an event at a Crowne Plaza in Dublin that’s a gorgeous & modern 4-star hotel with amazing service.)

ChateauformAgain we do have to rely on websites to give us a sense of the property; we have to see good photos of the meeting spaces & sleeping rooms.  For our clients in particular, we need to find unique venues; there must be some sort of interesting history, architecture or modern design for them to want to bring their attendees to it.  We also look for meeting rooms with great views & windows are a must!  (We have found attendees learn & retain much more in meeting rooms with a view.)

Since our guests are there for 3 or more days it’s important to us to have distinctly different spaces for classes compared to where meals are held. Having outdoor spaces available for night time events are key to a successful event as well.  After 8 hours of learning you need to give the attendees somewhere interested to enjoy their evening activities.

Don’t forget to ask what their commission structure is for bringing a group to their venue.  While not as common as in America, we’ve found venues will work with you on this; we even had one property come up with a commission rate to get our business.   In this current world economy, everyone is working harder to win your business!

Unique Event Idea: Movie Premiere!

A nonprofit came to us wanting to start a repeatable event to help raise money.  But they had a few issues to overcome:

  • Their nonprofit provided something that people don’t particularly like to talk about: bereavement services for those affected by pregnancy and infant loss.
  • The majority of their donors were women.

Their goals were go get more men involved, attract more potential donors regardless of their mission and to create and event that could be repeated.

batman in the theatre

Our solution was to do something totally unrelated to their cause: a movie premiere. Knowing men tend to give more at events, we chose the new Batman movie whose audience will be heavily male.  Making the event a red-carpet style movie premiere we knew that this would be a date night event where people could go out & have fun, and then in the process support a great charity.

By producing a movie premiere, we knew we could repeat this event with different movies, and depending on the film could attract a different demographic, increasing the nonprofit’s database.   It will be mostly fun, but we’ll also talk about the nonprofit before the movie starts and guests will get more information in their giveaway bags.

By doing this premiere we’re looking at nonprofit events in a new way.  All fundraisers don’t necessarily need to be driven by a gala-type theme!  Sometimes you need to come up with something unrelated to the nonprofit’s mission.