Thursday, August 30, 2012

Great Articles on Conference Planning: Trends, Going Green, Common Mistakes & Marketing

I'll have to thank my LinkedIn friends for their wonderful posts on things to know for conferences.  While that is not the specific area I work in (I'm hospitality), there are MANY conferences in this city and it is important to keep up with trends, ideas and optimum functionality.

So here are some fellow bloggers with articles on how to continue being an excellent conference planner!

11 Excellent Conference Trends (posted by Trina Day of Day Entertainment & Events, Orlando)

10 Common Mistakes Event Planners Make (posted by Kimberly Williams, Owner of BIO event boutiques, Washtington, DC.)

10 Event Marketing Tips (Julius Solaris/Michelle Bergstein)

5 Ways Event Organizers to Plan a Green Event (Brittany Walters, Australia)

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cvent Ranks Chicago in Top 5 Destination Cities

Well Chicagoans, out of 50 cities, Cvent ranked Chicago #5 after Orlando, Florida #1 (they do have Hogwarts, Disney World AND Universal Studios), Washington D.C. #2, Las Vegas #3, & Miami, Florida #4.  I think that's pretty good, considering there are lots of cities in these 50 states. 

Read more about it here:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

10 Things To Do Before the End of Summer

You look at the calendar and repeat the date back to yourself.  August?  And it's almost over?! Before you know it the Chicago snow will be rolling in while the temperature drops and the sun goes away for everything but late morning and afternoon.  It always seems that summers aren't long enough.  There were a million great things you were going to do in summer.  Nope!  If you've been stuck inside force yourself out and do as many of the following ten things as you can before you're thinking back to that weekend where you really just should have left the house a mess and gone outside.

See an Outdoor Movie or Music Performance
The Chicago Park District  is still hosting movies through the end of the week, aka this week -- the LAST week of August.  Millennium Park is still hosting live performances through September, including live Jazz shows this Friday.  Go to to learn more!

Buy Something from The Market
They have these everywhere.  I searched the list on Explore Chicago for you and came up with 227 results.  There's nothing more summery than fresh flowers from the market and sharing a glass of wine over some cheese and fruit you bought that morning.  So get out of bed early and check out one of the many great markets in this city!  Heck you can even go on your lunch hour if you work near Daley Plaza.

Go to a Festival
I don't care if doesn't sound your style.  I'm not concerned that the only one happening is far from your neighborhood.  Nothing defines a Chicago summer better than festivals.  So find one and GO! Metromix always has a great list of events.  

Eat Outside
Barbecue, picnic, terrace, rooftop, breakfast, lunch hour or dinner.  Eat outside as much as possible before you can't anymore.  There are tons of great rooftops and outdoor dining options in Chicago.  Check out this list from

Have a Picnic
Get a few friends, some blankets and food and go to the nearest park you can find.  Go on a Sunday afternoon or one evening after work.  Beautiful summer weather shouldn't be missed!

Go for Walks
I tend to be an inside girl.  Then I go outside and I yell at myself for waiting for a necessity to drag me out.  Before summer's over just walk around the block, go for a bike ride. Don't be like me.  Get outside after work and enjoy the weather.  You don't need plans or an activity and don't make excuses for all the stuff you have to do that happens to be inside. Just go out.

Go to the Beach
Every year this one misses me.  It's the obvious summer activity yet somehow I find myself lucky if I make it once.  So before it gets cold get yourself in a bathing suit and acquire a tan line.  Even if it only lasts for a day.

Do Something Touristy
Bike tour, boat tour, cruise tour, chocolate tour, history tour.  Whatever it is, be a tourist in your own town and do something you normally make fun of matching-sweatshirt-wearing, walking-six-people-wide foreigners/suburbanites (ehem, tourists) do. Go to Navy Pier and get ice cream.  Wander around Millennium Park.  Take the gangster tour.  Go to a zoo and pretend like you've never see animals before.  Then get ice cream.

Go To a Sports Game
Pick one.  I hear there's a bunch.

Have a Chill House Party
Don't all the hit tv shows have people wearing fabulous yet simple outfits, drinking martinis their bffs make perfectly and just hanging out at the rich kid's really cool house?  Because that's what you do in the summer.  You don't need to be on tv or even fabulously dress, but you do need to make time to just relax a little, enjoy some r&r with friends and pretend as though you're 15 again with no responsibilities.  So pick a house, pick a drink, play some music and call it a party.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Labor Day Party Ideas For Inside City Dwellers

When reading through different labor day party ideas I hoped to find a wide variety of creativity.  It was basically "stuff to do in your backyard."  Well if you're like many Chicagoans, chances are you're lucky if your building has a roof or balcony or any kind of outdoor space 2ft wide or bigger.  If you do have communal space, you can bet it will be packed with all the other residents which is often why people go to Wisconsin, Michigan or anywhere else this time of year.  But if you can't get out of town for Labor Day, here are some ideas to help you celebrate that don't involve just going to the lakefront with a mini-grill (not that that's not fun, too).

Pick a Theme
Just because your space is small doesn't mean you can't create a fun atmosphere.  The difference with your one bedroom apartment and a suburban house with a back yard is that instead of getting giant picnic tables and tents, you get creative with items like cups, plates, table cloths and seating arrangements.  Hang up a string or two of white lights and make sure there's food & music.
Theme Ideas: Most people, especially in Chicago, equate Labor Day with the end of summer.  Most of us hang on to summer for dear life because we know what kind of weather we're about to get into.  So a picnic or semi-patriotic summer theme is always good.  Blues, reds and barbecue!

Keep It Simple
You don't have a lot of space to go crazy with, so don't.  What is important for any party is that your guests' needs are met which usually means food, drink, somewhere to sit and enough toilet paper in your bathroom (really though, make sure you've got more than 2 rolls).  At the end of the day, the people you are with are going to make the party along with good food and decor.

Creative Items
For those plate/napkin/cups decide if you want to go paper/plastic or real.  I suggest plastic because it's easier to get more themed items which aren't going to cost a small fortune that you then have to figure out where to keep.  One of my suggestions?  Use fry baskets for the food.   You can order them from Bed Bath & Beyond. Have a handy stack of paper towels (which you can also get plain or in whatever color/pattern you want) and give it an outdoor feel.  These jars from Ikea (from 17oz - 68oz) are perfect for drinking out of with straws or for putting condiments or food in.  Get stickers to decorate them or plain white labels so guests can put their names on them.  You can also get checkered table cloths by Coleman to cover any counter or eating spaces.  Cut them to size.  They're only $3 at WalMart and also available on

 Do Not Fear Ordering In
No one's going to judge you for not making your own food.  When you have a smaller place, as so many of us do, it can be hard to have enough space to cook all the food and then clean all the dishes before anyone shows up and then display it.  So combine the pot-luck theme with the main course ordered in.  Lilly's Q has perfect, delicious barbecue with take-out and catering options.  I always think it's nice to actually make something unless you know that the kitchen is your personal danger zone.  Make cookies, appetizers or dessert.  Guests like to have something to snack on when they arrive with an aroma to fill the house.  While you don't need to supply all the beverages, clear out your fridge and make sure you have a nice supply of pop, water, lemonade, etc.  along with room for whatever your guests bring. As we all know, good parties can also be expensive.  Don't feel like the cost of the whole event has to be on you.  If you know you have a friend who really loves to cook or has a certain special recipe, encourage him or her to bring it.  Include your friends on the food list and don't feel guilty for asking people to bring something.  If you supply the food, ask friends to bring apps & drinks. Make a food list that fits your theme and then match it to your guest list.  If that someone who makes a great recipe is unreliable and not likely to show up, don't assign them something that is critical to the food supply.  Make sure you can at least cover the important stuff or count on the ones who are helping with it.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Using Twitter for an Event

Recently I had a coworker come in and say to me "Hey guys, we should all get on twitter!  I just figured it out and it's awesome."  To which my immediate thought was You just figured it out? ...I get it, though.  I feel like I've just gotten the hang of Pinterest and now not only do I like it, but I use it as a quick-find for unique items.  Social media belongs to a certain part of the brain, kind of like languages.  You either get it or you don't.  But just like a language, practice makes perfect.  The more you learn & interact using it, the easier it is to understand.  I recently attended an event that used tweets.  I've read about incorporating it but never really experienced it.  I think it can be a very useful component to an event to encourage interaction and engagement of attendees -- but it also depends on how tech-savvy your attendees are.  Remember, it's an audience-driven tool so while it's a great way to promote and continue the conversation, you have to also be sure that, like with all forms of social media, it's appropriate for what you're doing.  If you're a social media guru and you can throw it in, I say why not?  People expect to be able to go to their favorite site and find information about your event.  You can have it there, but don't strictly rely on it.  Diversify your promotional approach along with your plans for engagement if using twitter is new for you.  

I found 2 really great articles discussing the uses of twitter. has an excellent article which quickly & easily breaks it down: also has a great overview with a list of sites to help you incorporate tweets into your event:

These articles assume a little so in case you're completely unfamiliar with twitter, here are some basic steps that people don't always explain:

What Is Twitter?
Twitter allows anyone to say whatever they want in 140 characters or less.  You can follow people and they can follow you. You can include links to other websites which are often shrunk down to what are called "tinyurl"s  which lessen the characters shown to the link.

Why Would I Want That?
Twitter is a conversation piece -- whether you looking to start it or continue it.  I sign up for a lot of news sources this way.  BBC, CNN, FOX, etc are constantly updating their twitter feeds with a link if you want to read more.  I like this because I can find out what's happening right now, but if it's not something I want to learn more about, I can move on.

Twitter is also great for business because you can find people with certain interests and see what they are talking about.  You can get yourself out there and connect directly with anyone simply by mentioning them in your tweet.  For example, my twitter is @ChicagoPlanner.  If I wanted to talk to someone, let's say @abc123 I could say: @abc123 Thank you so much for attending the event.  Hope to see you next year!  When the tweet comes up it would show it came from my twitter account @ChicagoPlanner, and because I used their name, it would alert them about my tweet.  It's a great way to reach out to someone you don't know without being obtrusive.  It's also a great way to announce to other people that you're communicating with other people.  (Anyone can see everything you've ever tweeted, whether or not they follow you.)

What IS a Hashtag (#)?
I did not understand this for a long time.  Why are people always putting that stupid symbol in front of words without any spacing? Every how-to-promote you read about twitter says "use a hashtag." "Create a #tag."  Well that's all well and good if you know what it is.  Hashtags are basically topics.  Using the hashtag indicates a specific topic that twitter knows it should find.  When you search it, every tweet with that hashtag appears in chronological order (the first tweet you see being the most recent).  If someone is looking to know more about something, they can search the hashtag.  If someone is sharing information related to the subject, they can include the hashtag to make sure they are found by people searching that topic.  Hashtags do NOT alert a person.  Let's say you said this: @abc123 loves #JustinBieber.  Justin Bieber does NOT get that notification.  However, if you said @abc123 loves you! @JustinBieber" he would get that.  So basically a hastag (#) is a subject/topic and @[name] are people.

So hopefully you feel brave enough to use twitter for your next event.  It's a great way to interact and keep the conversation going!

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page:
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

More Things To Do In Chicago

There are so many awesome things to do in Chicago and when I put it out my Top 5 list, it was quickly made apparent that it should be a Top 10 list!  So firstly I must thank the lovely fellow Chicagoans on Linked in for these great ideas!  Here are a few more items to include if you have time to visit the beautiful city:

Do Something Along The Lake!
There are bike tours, walking tours or you can just go on your own.  The Chicago Cultural Center (on Randolph & Michigan) is a great place to get information along with transit day passes and city passes.

Chocolate Tour
Yum!  See the city through chocolate eyes!

Visit a Classic Hotel
Like the Palmer House Hilton or The Drake

Lincoln Park Zoo
It's free and an amazing place to go!

Go To A Sports Least Have A Hot Dog!
Whether you love the Cubs or the White Sox or want to see The Bears or the Blackhawks and how could we forget The Bulls?  Go to a game and before you leave, don't go without a classic Chicago style hot dog!  (If not at the game, then go to Portillos.  It's my personal favorite!)

Monday, August 20, 2012

10 Pop-up Event Venue Ideas

Sometimes other people can say things better than you can yourself.  Cvent has this great blog post about Pop-up Event Space that I just HAD to share!  So reconsider how you may use an empty space and turn it into a fabulous party!

Friday, August 17, 2012

RM Champagne Salon

All Photographs by Derek Richmond

RM Champagne Salon: The name alone sounds pretty fabulous.  The concept is also great  - a cozy yet classy establishment with great wines and champagnes complemented by small plates, cheeses and salad options.  There's a lovely outside brick courtyard patio to enjoy the late summer evenings.  Alyssa Stark, the Events Manager of both RM & the sister restaurant, Nellcôte, gave me a tour and of course the skinny on how to host your next first-class event with them.

Private Space
RM Champagne Salon is one open space plus the outdoor area so any private event would most likely be a buyout.  For a seated event you could have 60-80 people, 125 standing.  They are new and still working with possibilities so with the outside probably 150+ for a standing cocktail event.

They are looking at semi-private options with half of the indoor space which could accommodate 25-30 guests.

Small plates, salads are served but the focus is on wines & Champagne.  There aren't entrees like in a standard restaurant.  This makes this location ideal for a light evening dinner or a refined meet-up with friends or colleagues, and even perhaps a nice start to a celebratory evening or a great way to end it.  

For private events you can work with Alyssa on building a menu to provide more of a dinner atmosphere for your guests.  

RM Champagne Salon is right next to Nellcôte and is in the tres chic West Loop just off of Randolph at 116 N Green St.  The entry way is down the picturesque cobblestone ally, so knowing it's sister restaurant is next door is a good way to be sure you didn't make a wrong turn!

If you want to host an event with RM Champagne Salon, you can reach Alyssa at 312.432.0500 or email her at

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Taking My Own Advice: Social Media in Real Life

Last week I wrote about the importance of getting more involved in-person with your social media efforts.  This week I had the pleasure of working a dinner for a company who wanted to display their products for people they recognized to be very influential for their brand: bloggers.  The products dealt with kids, focusing on the back to school season which is huge time of year for many varieties of retailers (my guess would even be second after the Christmas/Holiday season).  So I observed and interacted with a room full of every day women of all shapes, sizes and colors who have kids and husbands and everything that goes with the struggles of a normal American family.  They were some of the nicest and coolest people I've come across.  Everyone was friendly, into what they did and I had such a good time that I forgot I was working.  But most importantly it made me think about what it means to be a member of the blogosphere, the social world and what companies can truly learn by putting some of their biggest supporters and customers in one room together.

I read a lot of articles, usually very business-forward and informative.  Plenty of "the top [5, 10, 20] ways to...", Harvard Business Review, discussions on LinkedIn groups, and anything from Julius Solaris.  All the thoughts are organized, all the details are solidified with an example or statistic to back it up.   While that's all well and good it's not quite the same as experiencing something for yourself.  People's reactions show you what makes a successful event.  Interaction shows you what people want.  Social media is a great way to get personal but it's just the beginning process.  Nothing replaces human contact no matter how accurate or detailed or personal.  And really, that's what event planning is all about.  You won't do everything right all the time.  You can't breakdown happiness or success into numbers, but you can take the examples you read about, explore ideas people post and use those tools to just get to know people.  One of the things I love most about my blog is that it challenges me to learn more.  I try to meet people with all of the companies I write about.  I love a good success story and I love helping people see ways in which they might be able to connect with someone else.  I think its important to cover every angle when working with events -- not just the amount of money you pull in, how much you saved by doing x-y-z.  A good system treats everyone with respect from the janitor to the CEO and I think a good event reflects that mentality.  This week's event was that for me.  Was it the flashiest and most expensive event I've done?  No.  Did it need to be?  Certainly not.  Was it successful?  Well technically I wasn't invited -- I was just working it as the establishment organizer and I had a blast -- so definitely yes!

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page:
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Have an Event with Grand Lux Cafe

There are so many places to enjoy in Chicago, especially when it comes to food.  Grand Lux has always been one of my favorite restaurants since I first moved here about 7 years ago.  There's a wide variety of delicious food and the decor is beautiful.  My family always enjoys it -- mom loves their chocolate creme brulee (served with the creme brulee duo) and the beignets are one of my favorites for dessert.  It's also located along the Magnificent Mile which is scenic and fun.  I had the pleasure of meeting with Michael Baer, Special Events & Banquets Manager, who is genuine and very friendly, and is clearly very passionate about his job -- he's been with the company 15 years.  He informed me on all the wonderful reasons you should have your next event with Grand Lux Cafe.

Private Space?
Yes -- The "Rush Room" seats groups 20-75 for plated meals and up to 90 guests for receptions.
You can have a private breakfast, lunch or dinner.  There is a food & beverage minimum and deposit.  There are group food menus and drink package options to choose from.  They do not rent out the main restaurant, but you can work with Michael to determine if you would want to have your event in the main dining room and arrange some of the finer details.

They DO take some reservations
If you have a larger group and want to make a reservation, Grand Lux actually will take some reservations, contrary to popular belief on week days until about 5PM.  You can come in for a delicious group lunch or early dinner.  They do not accept reservations on Saturdays & Sundays but if you want an excellent business lunch that's not too stuffy, enjoy the fun & laid back ambiance of Grand Lux.

Grand Lux does not do off-site catering but can do large orders to go.

Come in for a late night dessert
Grand Lux is open until 11:30PM on Sunday-Thursday and until 12:30AM Friday & Saturday.  Known for their famous desserts, it's a great place to have something sweet with your night cap!

Visit During the Week
When I talked to Michael, he said that people don't often realize that the line out the door on Fridays & Saturdays isn't the same on a Tuesday or Wednesday.  While obvious, I always feel like I see tons of people there and even when I would love one of their Mai Tais, I think "but it's so busy."  I can't say enough how good the food is and there's such variety.  You can get Italian, Asian, American styles (just to name a few) so if you've got a picky group, well someone can get a burger, a sandwich, steak, a pasta dish or a salad-- whatever they want.  If you go during the week you can still get the great food and ambiance without an overwhelming crowd.

Have a professional dinner meeting
Grand Lux is an upscale casual restaurant.  This translates into a great place to have a professional dinner without spending a ton of money and without being somewhere too "fun" like a bar.  You can work with Michael on menus either in the private room or in the main restaurant.

For more questions or information on Grand Lux, contact Michael Baer at 312-276-2507 or

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page:
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Top 5 Things to Do for a Short Trip to Chicago (If You've Never Been)

Let's say you're just here on business or you've only got a weekend in the city and you've never been here before.  What are things can you do to really get a great sense of the city quickly?  Here are my top 5 suggestions (in no particular order) for seeing Chicago in a time crunch.

1. Giordano's or Lou Malnati's Deep Dish Pizza
People argue which is better.  I've had both and like them both and if you've never been here chances are you won't know the difference.  So ask your concierge which is closer to your hotel and eat!
Signature Lounge

2. Drinks at Signature Lounge (John Hancock Building), 96th floor
You don't have time for a bunch of tours and it's a great way to conserve your time.  You get the same views as you would from the Sky Deck and the best part is you can switch the admission fee for a cocktail for about the same price.  While it's a bit touristy, the views are breathtaking and certainly a great way to see the city after a long day.

3. Architecture Tour
I said you won't have time for a bunch  of tours, but I say make time for this one (if it's not the winter, this tour is seasonal).  It's just around an hour and it's an enjoyable boat ride down the river giving you a rich combination of Chicago history while viewing some of Chicago's most famous buildings.  It really gives a full view of how the city started and is still working!

4. Millennium Park & Grant Park
"The Bean" in Millennium Park
Just to be clear, Millennium Park is newer and chances are you've seen "The Bean" that is there.  Starting on Randolph & Michigan, Millennium Park was built for the new millennium and hosts concert events, ice skating and Park Grill.  While considered separate, the 2 parks blend into each other the farther south you walk along Michigan Avenue.  Grant Park includes the incredible Buckingham Fountain, is where Taste of Chicago is held yearly and is near the Art Institute.

5. Pick a Museum
Not everyone is artsy, but you don't have to be!  We have amazing museums in this city: Art Institute, Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, History Museum... the list goes on.  I suggest the Art Institute because of some of the incredibly famous art that lives there including Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Monet's famous Haystacks, works by Rembrandt, Picasso, Renoir, Georgia O'Keeefe, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks (famously recreated into 'Boulevard of Broken Dreams' with and is one of my favorites) and of course, Grant Wood's American Gothic.

The Recreation of Hopper's "Nighthawks" featuring Old Hollywood Celebrities

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page:
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Friday, August 10, 2012

What to do this weekend: Festa Italiana & Classical Music in the Park

After Lollapalooza, some of us need a break but if you don't, check out Festa Italiana which starts today at 5PM and runs through Sunday.  To learn more click here.

Want something enjoyable and relaxing to do on a Sunday morning?  Check out Classical Music in the Park at 11am.  Bring blankets, a picnic and enjoy the Symphony Sounds String Quartet at Wicker Park, just off the Damen Blue Line.  And the best part?  This amazing event is FREE!

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page:
If you'd like to work with me, email business inquiries to

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Social Media Isn't Everything -- You Should Literally Be Getting Out There

Social Media is something I write about all the time because I love it and it's a major part of my life.  Facebook & LinkedIn are part of my daily morning routine and it keeps me up to date on what's going on with people I know.  But that's a stepping stone.  I often hear people say "How do I get out there?  How do I reach people?"  There are many ways to consider this.  Who are you trying to reach?  How many people?  What's the goal?  The answers will undeniably vary, but you have to also know that you can't rely on just one means of reaching people.  Sometimes that means stepping away from the budget on your desk for that perfectly designed marketing campaign and just get out there.  TALK to people.  Interact.  Ask questions.  What I love most about my blog isn't the fact that it gives me an excuse to be a hermit sometimes, it's that it gives me a better understanding of how the Event Planning industry works as a whole because I interact.  I look at other venues and restaurants and organizations.  I meet with people, hear their stories about how and why they do what they do, love what they do and try to walk away with as much knowledge as I can.  And then I share it!  Hoarding things in the business world is, in my opinion, a bad habit.  I'm not saying give everything away, but don't be afraid to interact with people in your own field.  You don't have to wait for a conference or trade show.  MAKE THE EFFORT to do these things on your own.  Literally go to where your customers hang out.  You might be surprised to see them in action.  Go incognito and listen to what they have to say when they know they won't get a free [gift card, candy bar, etc.].  Challenge yourself to be more than an avatar, a brand or a commercial.  Creating relationships is the key to any business, but it's really essential in Event Planning.  Build relationships by being a person.  So today, I challenge you to trade your cost analyses for a cup of coffee with a client or competitor.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Raccoon Dentist

Most days I try to write really relevant stuff, great topics that will inform and excite the event planning community of Chicago (whether or not it really does).  But every once in awhile it just so happens that my mind goes blank and I find myself watching animal videos on youtube.  So as a tribute to the feeling all event planners get -- that blah, why-am-i-still-at-work-right-now-and-when-will-this-be-over sentiment, I'm here to say "I feel ya."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What ARE Logistics, Anyway?

I feel like I always hear the word "logistics" thrown around.  It's such a broad, non-descript word that I feel like business people use when they don't want to describe what they're doing and would rather just assume you know.
"Hey man, what have you guys been doing about that whole issue with the clients from last week?"
"Oh you know, we decided we needed to really go back over the logistics to analyze where the problem started."
"Awesome, yeah -- that's a great idea."

What? No.
So what does logistics really even mean and why do we care?  I went to to see what they had to say about it:


  [loh-jis-tiks, luh-]  Show IPA
noun used with a singular or plural verb )
the branch of military science and operations dealing withthe procurement, supply, and maintenance of equipment,with the movementevacuation, and hospitalization ofpersonnel, with the provision of facilities and services, andwith related matters.
the planning, implementation, and coordination of thedetails of a business or other operation.

I would assume most of us can rule out #1, particularly that whole hospitalization part -- I hope.  But #2 makes some sense.  It is, however, a word that covers A LOT of stuff which is why it's important to define your logistics for your event and make sure everyone has a clear understanding of what they are doing for you this time.  Regardless of the work environment, time after time, project/job after project/job I hear people say things like "Hey, I need you guys to work on logistics for this."  Assigned people nod their heads only to turn to the person next to them and go "so, um...what are we doing?"  

When putting together an event, it doesn't matter how many seasoned professionals you have on your team, orchestrate and assign all your details as if someone who'd never done it before will be in charge.  This is important because if your event is 6 months away, that could be true.  A lot happens in even a little time and you don't want your lack of detail (which would confuse a new staff member) to be the reason why an event doesn't go as planned.  Everyone operates differently so it is important to create a standard checklist, define your goals, have a time line, a vendor list, breakdowns -- whatever you know you need.  You may add new staff or have to change things at the last minute.  So the best way to "totally be the best at logistics ever" is to organize your stuff so people know what the hell your talking about and don't assume that they fully understand what you mean.  Because no one wants to have to admit they don't know.  And you don't want to wait til something bad happens to realize the person didn't fully understand or perhaps misinterpreted what (s)he was supposed to do.

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Take the DIY Approach for Any Event

Part of the reason Pinterest is so popular is not just because you can focus on things you like, but because the things you like can be something you have especially if you're willing to make it yourself.  The growing world of Do-It-Yourself is wonderful because it makes an activity available to anyone.  It also can be cost-effective and fun.  There's a very organic feel to the DIY process: it's accessible, inclusive, creative and personal; it's whatever you make it.  This approach is also a great way to freshen up an annual event, interact for product-based events and giving a professional event a fun and organic touch.  Here are some examples:

DIY an Annual Corporate Event or Professional Event
If you're doing the same dinner with the same people every year, chances are you know them very well.  Take the opportunity to take an annual event like an employee appreciation luncheon and do something new.  Add some color, change up the menu and get a theme.  If everyone loves a tv show or movie make that a theme.  Center it around the people and their interests.  DIY means finding something you like and making it your own.  Create a game based on your theme and include prizes, have a team-building activity.  It doesn't have to be an over-the-top deviation from last year, all Popsicle sticks, cheerios and glue-stick like.  Your prizes can range from favorite candy bars to gift cards (try to keep the gifts fun, relevant and most importantly something they will actually use).  Taking the DIY approach to your event will help keep your event fun but also more personalized.  Take that time to acknowledge people who are often ignored -- present something to give to the cleaning staff, maybe even the mail (wo)man who somehow gets all your stuff out even after 5 o'clock.  Make the effort to be inclusive and personal and you will see the effect all year long!

Product-Based Events
DIY is perfect for anyone trying to sell something.  Letting guests help create the party is half the fun!  If you're dealing with food, let guests use your products to make food that everyone can try and hold a contest for the best item.  From designing objects to place around the room, to simply making things with your products, you can not only let your guests be interactive with your events and also get some feedback on your products.  See what people gravitate towards, how they react & interact all while engaging them.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Dating Tips For Companies to Consumers

Sometimes I find myself stuck on some trash/entertainment news website and there are always tips on dating and relationships.  Sometimes I click on them because I want to see what people are saying these days and sometimes I know it will be awful but could use a good laugh.
Social media and internet presence is becoming one of the primary ways to reach consumers.  It is also getting more and more personal.  Information gets shared based on its interest level, how it may relate to a person and basically whether it's useful.  If companies started courting their consumers, paid attention to their needs and really listened, the results may be shocking.  So here are my dating tips for companies to consider using on their consumers (in no particular order).

Look Your Best
You have to be appealing and catch the eye.  A well-organized ad and an easy-to-navigate website are just the starting points.  This goes for store fronts too.  Walmart & Target seem to be ones that pop into my mind automatically.  Walmart is sometimes known for its less-than-outstanding clientele (  There is this underlying idea that Walmarts are only where "economically challenged" people shop.  But at the end of the day, it's a store no different than the rest and if you ask most people, I'm pretty sure 99% would say they've been there before.  I also know that I've been to many Walmarts and some of them are so dirty that I would never buy any food there and I want to leave immediately.  Then I've been to nicer locations where you could eat off the floor and I think "they really get a bad rap..."  Same can be said for Targets.  On average, most of the Targets I've gone to have been nicer overall in terms of cleanliness, organization and helpfulness of staff than Walmart, but not always.  I've gone into unkept stores thinking "really, this place has gone down hill."  I'm going to physically go to places that are clean and inviting.  When it comes to online shopping, I want something that's easy to navigate and follow (I'm an lover).  Cuz if you're tough to look at, it's going to make your business harder to sell.

Be A Good Listener
When it comes to online marketing and social media, the key mistake many companies tend to make is blasting their marketing campaigns out there like it's traditional media.  Social media is social so you should be connecting and realize that it's a forum for discussion, not a magazine ad or a commercial.  This  case study from fastcompany talks about how Proctor & Gamble finally started listening.  Investing time and effort shows that you're engaged with your customers' needs, that you care about them and this ultimately helps you, the company.  The more you actually learn about what consumers want & need (not just assuming based on some statistics and shopping trends), the better chances you have of building a sustainable relationship with them.  Something as simple as a store that will open other counters to make sure I'm not standing in line forever or even knows me when I come in because I shop there a lot are important.  I once went to a store where the woman would greet me every time as if she'd never seen me before.  I remembered her because she'd try to sell me some things.  After about the 5th time I got annoyed -- you seriously DON'T remember me?  Every time she'd ask "have you shopped with us before?"  Yes, I have.  Last week.

How Do You Treat Others?
Girls always know that you have to know how a guy treats his mama before you can really decide anything about his character.  But not just his mother -- does he hold a door for other people than you?  Does he make efforts to be courteous, polite and helpful?  If it's only when you're around then it's not the best statement of his character.  I've seen guys hold a door for their date and let it slam in the face of the person behind them.  It's actually one of my pet peeves and a sign she should drop him like a ton of bricks.  Chances are she may not know because she already walked through door.  The same can be said for companies and their employees.  The best places to shop are the places that have happy employees who are willing to help and aren't being oppressed.  You're always going to get that cranky clerk or angry deli worker who's just had a bad day -- we all have those days.  But the general morale of the company is a reflection of their values and how they will eventually treat their customers.  If you're a company that doesn't realize this then you have a problem and you should work on that.  Management is leadership and I've seen both sides of that coin.  You can't expect everyone to get along and perform choreographed dance numbers at noon lunch breaks, but employees should feel empowered, be praised for good work and be lead by people who care about them.  It's obvious when employees feel "stuck"at their job.  They don't worry about their customers because they're gonna have to be there anyway and I mean, if no one cares about them, why should they care about anyone else?
This also includes community involvement.  It's important to have presence.  Teaming up with a charity, sponsoring a benefit, doing something that reflects things your staff is interested in -- caring about your community -- is all an important part of being a successful company.

This article talks about how Virgin Airlines made an expectant couple very happy.

Be Sexy, Not Slutty
Everyone knows you don't give it all away right away.  While this is true for dating, this can also be true for companies, particularly in the area of social media advertising.  Be aware of not only what you're saying but how you're saying it.  Show your potential clients that you're interested in them and that you yourself are interesting.  Combine interacting and observing.  Don't constantly throw yourself at them with endless ads.  Nothing is more irritating to me than pop-up ads I accidently click on, especially when I'm focused on looking at or reading one particular thing.  If I want to click on your banner or learn more about your product I will.  But when you are constantly in my face and clearly desperate for my attention, well now you've gone too far and I'm no longer interested.

Show That You Care
Nothing shocks a consumer more than replying to something from a yelp review or reaching out to someone who thought you weren't listening.  Whether it's good or bad, get involved with what your clients are doing.  I recently saw an article about "How to date a rich man."  I was anticipating some very low, pathetic schemes involving low tops and other shameless antics.  To my surprise, rule number one was "Shop where they shop."  Wander around Barneys, attend charity events... to meet the kind of person you want to be with go to where they are.  Obvious but accurate.  So if your company wants to attract certain kind of consumers, go to where they go, go to where your competitors go and make the effort to find out what they are saying.  Likewise, make it obvious that you do care.  Men-to-women advice columns often say "we men care about you ladies, but we're not always good at showing it."  If you care about your customers make it obvious to them in good customer service, rewards, outreach and involvement.  Customer loyalty is invaluable.  Here are great examples of customer service!

So take these tips and work towards building a better relationship between your company and your customers and watch the sparks fly!

Have a question about event planning?  Have a great tip, information or a story to share?  Post it to my facebook page:
If you'd like to work with me, email business inquiries to