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MOST COMMON MISTAKES MADE AT VENUE VISITS

most-common-mistakes

It’s no doubt – venue site visits are exciting. “Field trips” as I call them are a nice break from a full day in the office. If you are extremely visual, a venue visit is the first time the event becomes reality, and you can get a full understanding of the layout and what type of experience your guests will endure. But venue visits can be rare, especially if you plan events that aren’t local – so it’s important to get the most out of them when you can.

SEE THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES THAT ARE MADE AT VENUE VISITS THAT WILL CREATE MORE WORK FOR YOU IN THE FUTURE:

 

NOT TAKING PHOTOS/VIDEO

Sure, you already have the photos the venue has provided – but be sure to snap a few of your own. Get different angles, note where things will be, how much space there is, etc. Depending on how large of a venue you’re dealing with, taking video in the perspective of a guest experience can be extremely helpful to send along to your client or team.

FORGETTING YOUR TAPE MEASURE

Yes, event planners and tape measures are like two peas in a pod. Wait, we’re not contractors… True, but when it comes to designing signage or working with tight spaces, knowing EXACTLY how much space you have in a certain part of the room can be extremely helpful when you are back in the office chatting with your vendors. The venue usually has specs for each of the rooms, but you may need more specific measurements based on the scope of event design elements.

KEEPING NOTES IN YOUR HEAD

This rule goes for bringing questions into the venue and leaving the venue visit with notes. We are only human, we WILL forget questions and notes eventually. Especially at site visits when you are taking in so much information and planning at the same time, thoughts can get jumbled. To ensure you are touching on every question, bring a notebook, type them in your phone, whatever it takes to have them concrete and easily accessible at your visit and when you get back to the office.

CONCLUDE WITHOUT DISCUSSING ACTION ITEMS

The best way to conclude a site visit is to review every ones “to-dos” from the visit to ensure everyone is on the same page. A quick recap discussing who is doing what and when it should be expected to be completed will alleviate later confusion such as, “Oh wait, I thought you were doing that, not me.” If necessary, also take this time to set up a follow up meeting to avoid going back in forth in the future.

Trust us, we’ve learned these tips the hard way and now fully embrace them at every site visit to ensure maximum success for our events. What tips do you have for site visits? We’d love to see them in the comments below.

Announcing EOE’s New Assistant Events Coordinator

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The East of Ellie team is a growin’! We are well underway planning multiple events throughout 2017 and are thrilled to have another event planner to assist in coordinating all the many moving parts.  Get the inside scoop on our latest team member, Karen Marin.

Karen is a recent graduate from the University of Connecticut, 2016. Karen’s outgoing and personable character contributes to her passion and drive for Event Marketing. Her background allows for her to understand the importance of our innovative, industry leading events, as we help brands creatively amaze their audiences.

Karen keeps balanced by finding time for her evening cycle classes as well as volunteering as a member of Connecticut’s Quest For Peace. 

If Karen looks familiar, this isn’t the first time you’ve seen her on the blog. She joined the East of Ellie team as an Events Intern in the summer of 2015. During her internship she quickly established her love for the events world, as well as EOE. She is delighted to be back full-time as our Assistant Event Coordinator, and we are equally excited to have her!

 

Five Fun Facts:

  1. Softie for sunsets
  2. Celebrity girl crush: Chrissy Teigen
  3. Favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor is Half Baked
  4. Spanish was her first language!
  5. Middle name is unfortunately not Sharon

Looking for Adventure or Whatever Comes Our Way – A Look Back at 2016

Stamford CT has been home to EOE, but as we love to joke, we could be located anywhere in this great country because we travel, travel, and travel some more.  

Get your motor running – done.

Head out on the highway (in our case airplane and an event runway) – double check.

Looking for adventure or whatever comes our way – yes please.

As we reflect on 2016, it took the East of Ellie team many places, (even across the pond to London and Ireland!) After every city we visit, we always come back with new knowledge on event spaces of course which we will share below, but it wouldn’t be the Ellie team if we didn’t sneak some fun & shenanigans into our travels. Next time you’re on business in one of these selected cities or just there for fun, check out Ellie’s favorite spots:

 

Los Angeles

Goin, goin, back back to Cali Cali

We kicked off 2016 with a quick trip to sunny Los Angeles, California. A break from the cold had us like, YAS. Founder, Emily Chalk, was invited to talk about her success with East of Ellie at Business Rockstars, check out the video here.

Event Space Highlight: Coworking spaces.

If you search coworking spaces in Los Angeles, (no you’re computer does not have chicken pox) you’ll see the city is full of them. These funky, well designed spaces are the perfect hubs for smaller corporate or social events.

Ellie’s Favorite Spot(s): SideCar Donuts, Santa Monica. Talk about LIFE CHANGING. No further explanation needed, just go check it out. Also be sure to check out one of the most spectacular shows that in Los Angeles absolutely FREE. Between 4pm – 9pm depending on the time of year, head as west as far as the road takes you and watch a big ball of fire drop into the pacific ocean as the infinite sky illuminates with colors across the spectrum. Alternatively defined as a “west coast sunset”.

 

Nashville

It’s a crazy town full of Neon Dreams

Chances are if you follow EOE on social media, you may have seen us highlight our March 2016 event in Nashville, TN. Well can you blame us? We can’t help our obsession with this fine city!

Event Space Highlight: Avenue and Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. In search of some warm, home-y feels and southern hospitality, we found it in these two gems for our client, Beauté Prestige International. It was the perfect setting to bring the sales team together from all over the country, and you bet your bottom dollar we utilized the Avenue stage for some live band karaoke!

Ellie’s Favorite Spot(s): It’s hard to pick ANYTHING besides the bars and restaurants of Broadway. The music radiating through the streets, the energy of the people celebrating life, the place where future country music celebrities are discovered, truly nothing compares.

 

Chicago

Come on. Baby don’t you want to go. Back to that same old place. Sweet home Chicago.

Event Space Highlight: Willis Tower 99th Floor Talk about VIEWS. We couldn’t believe our eyes as we stepped off the elevator that had just climbed 99 stories. Our eyes took in views of lake michigan, all of downtown, and the suburbs as far as the eye can see. Wrigley Rooftops is also a great option for a sports loving audience with an appreciation for a great piece of American history. And hey, those Cubs finally won the series this year!

Ellie’s Favorite Spot(s): The Girl and The Goat. It’s no secret the East of Ellie team appreciates more than anyone a great experience. After all, that is the center of what we do all day every day. Believe us when we tell you eating at The Girl and The Goat is nothing short of a memorable experience. The reservation waiting list is booked up for months. Yep, months. If that doesn’t hint at how awesome this place is, we don’t know what will. Oh and don’t let the menu freak you out, you’ll see what we mean.

Looking for more venue inspiration across cities? We’ve covered our favorites in New York, and D.C. with more to come on the blog for 2017. What are the cities you want to see featured?

3 Tips for Black Tie Events

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Some people love ‘em and some people hate ‘em, but it’s important that your guests love every detail of your formal event. Between the holidays and New Year’s Eve, black tie events are notably popular during the holiday season.  Leave
it to the pros, we’ve laid out 3 key tips to keep in mind that will make your black tie event a success:

DRESS CODE

The design of invitations is the first glimpse guests receive into what type of event they are being invited to.  By having your invitations reflect formality and classic style, guests will have a better idea of what they are attending.  Invitations should never say “black tie optional” for a formal event. Instead of having guests feel over or underdressed, make sure you are clear on invitations about the dress code in addition to overall mood. No one likes the feeling of not knowing what to wear!

FORMAL PHOTOS

Although everyone loves a good selfie, when guests are dressed to the nines, give them a chance to capture the moment through a professional photo opp. Having a professional photographer present shows guests that you’re going the extra length to make their evening special. Also, allow for your guests to pick photos after the event, so they won’t have to worry about carrying a delicate photo all night.

MENU CHOICES

When choosing your menu for a black tie event, dishes need to look as attractive as the crowd. Plated three-course meals are the best options for formal events. The presentation of the meals is key because the plate appearance is part of the experience for guests. They should also be easy to eat with no chance of a mess on those designer dresses. Bon appetit!

 

Black ties events can be difficult to plan because the details make a real difference. Following these tips will help you win over even the most critical guests! Looking for more guidance for your event? Shoot EOE a quick email, we’d be happy to help.

Event Planner Gift Guide

GIFT GUIDE

We’ve already specified that event planners are special types of humans. Our brain just works differently, we thrive on organization and pretty things. So when shopping for the event planner of your life, whether they are an established business owner or throw the best damn DIY parties you’ve ever been to, be sure to hit the gifts that are most likely on their lists.

AUDIBLE SUBSCRIPTION 
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Like most event planners, the EOE team is always traveling to and from events. Audible is a digital audiobook subscription that will help the busiest event planners pass time and become the ultimate digital bookworms!

TRAVEL STEAMER

pure steam

A compact steamer is ideal for us traveling event planners not just to ensure that we are looking polished, but that our event linens are looking sharp as well.

GO PRO

gopro

We love to keep behind the scenes footage of our events.  It’s a great way to inexpensively document your team’s willingness to go above and beyond where all the magic happens. Go Pro’s durability is one less thing you need to worry about while executing an event. Dropped it in some water? No problem, it’s probably a cool angle anyway.

LILLY PULITZER AGENDA
We are suckers for a great agenda to plan ahead.  Plus, there are so many styles to choose from! The iconic Lilly Pulitzer prints will brighten up even the rainiest of days. We guarantee that the event planner in your life will need their 2017 agenda ASAP.

ACTION PADSTo do lists? no problem.  Action pads are awesome for highlighting the actual to dos from a long list of things to do. For us, having our to-do list written down neatly is a gift in itself. AND it comes in different colors? Done.

PORTABLE ELECTRONICS CHARGER

chargerEvent planners spend long hours away from their offices while being on-site at events, meetings, or on the road. However, we cannot afford for our phones and laptops to die on us! Our clients or vendors cannot get in touch with us? Event nightmare. Portable chargers are the perfect gifts for every planner’s emergency kit.

FANCY COFFEE CUP

mug

Most event planners are like us with their shenanigans and antics.  It’s a fun gift and very practical for the endless coffee we consume on the daily.

BUSINESS CARD HOLDER

Event planners run into new potential clients and vendors in parking lots, grocery stores, or even at the gym.  Having a fancy holder for your business cards lets you always feel prepared and organized, cause digging through a messy purse to find a card is not a good look.   

MULTIFUNCTIONAL PEN

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Go ahead and laugh, but when you are making notes for 5 different clients in a span of an hour, having the option to color code can really save you some time and headache.

PHONESOAP

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Our cell phones are quickly becoming the dirtiest item we own. We are constantly touching it and putting it up to our cheek, but cannot afford to get sick from our everyday addiction. But a gift that only did one job would be a waste of our time, it charges your phone while sanitizing. Win.

 

Need a few more gift ideas? Your event planner may be running low on supplies in their Emergency Supply Kit or need a new outfit for Event Day. Click the links to see more!

5 Ways to Combat Holiday Stress

Holiday Stress

 

Oh boy, here come the holidays!  Though it is a joyous season of love, warmth, giving, and traditions, it can also bring extreme stress and anxiety. Even for some of the most organized people in this universe, the holidays can get overwhelming.  Luckily, we have dealt with these situations a time or two, we’re currently recovering from a very busy event planning season! It’s time for us to refocus our energy off of work and ensure that the holiday season is not as stressful as event planning can sometimes be. We are so thankful for our founder and Senior Managing Partner, Emily Chalk, who has laid out her top holiday tips. Here’s to having a stress-free holiday!

Plan Ahead

Take advantage of that half day of work the day before the feast and get a plan in place. Try to take the full day off before a big holiday or a personal event to give yourself time to focus.  One of the biggest causes of stress is when you feel you are getting pulled in multiple directions.  For your sanity, sit down and organize.

Write EVERYTHING Down

A classic EOE best practice is to make lists with checkboxes when we have a lot on our plate.   It keeps us focused and leaves us with a sense of accomplishment when we complete a task. Can we all agree that nothing is better than crossing things off of your to-do list?  You can also use post it notes – but if you are one of us, your whole house will be covered in them, which is a little counter-productive.

The Devil is in the Details

As the old saying goes – but my, my, is it true.  Organize all the details you can in advance – fold napkins, place your centerpiece on the table or vacuum the spare room two days before guests arrive.  It’s all this last minute stuff that will get you every time.  It’s never too early to start setting up!

Take a Minute and Think

Be thoughtful in your decisions to avoid extra work on your holiday.  Simple check points like not using your expensive China on the kids table will keep you from a big headache when you are in the middle of your day-of holiday tasks.

Give Yourself Some Credit

At the end of the day, your family and friends will appreciate the wonderful effort you put into creating a great thanksgiving.  Life is not a perfect reflection of Pinterest, and do you really think Martha Stewart pulls off what she does by herself? Do the best you can, and if your day is filled with love and warm food, you did your job, host!

From all of us at EOE we wish you a very happy holiday and a wonderful Thanksgiving. Need a Thanksgiving day planner?  Give us a call – JUST KIDDING (we have to draw the line somewhere).

For more tips and inspiration to keep your holiday season organized (any stylish) check out our Pinterest board.

Setting the Stage for Internal Meetings

Setting the Stage for Internal Meetings
As event planners, we love our clients and our clients love us.  One of the things we love the most is when our clients want something new, fresh, different, and best of all – unexpected.

Fast forward 7 years after EOE opened its doors to about a month ago when we were in the thick of planning a grand internal meeting for one of our clients.  We know as event planners that when our clients are planning a presentation for their peers and colleagues, there’s a certain level of pressure that comes with making sure attendees are engaged. As the Event Planners, it’s our mission to make sure everything that we can do to capture the audience has been deeply thought about and brilliantly executed.  Being on stage doing the talking?  Well, we leave that up to presenter.  But how can we help that presenter really showcase their style?  How can we “set the stage” for their performance in front of their peers and colleagues?  The question we ask ourselves is how do we prevent everything the dreaded unexpected event dilemmas to attendee disengagement?  The standard, “Oh sorry I was playing Solitaire on my phone because I couldn’t see the presentation.  “Oh I was talking to Brenda because I could barely hear the presenter”, or our favorite go to excuse “Oh sorry, but these chairs are just so uncomfortable, I was not really able to focus.”

For us, we take a lot of extra steps in the planning process to prevent this from happening.  We plan the most effective room layouts based on the objective and these factors in advance. Not to mention, and by now probably goes without saying, we don’t love the norm.  Want eyes on what we’ve done in the past? We’re dishing our 3 favorites:

  1. Runwayrunway

   No, this is not the type of a runway for a fashion show, although Event Manager, Cindy, definitely made it a point to “test it out” during the load in stage of our past event. This layout is ideal for attendee engagement. As an “in their face” type of setup, this is one of East of Ellie’s go-tos for internal meetings when the client is looking to ditch the same old, same old. Not only do attendees have a clear view of the presenter at all times, but the setup also gives the presenters the opportunity to move around and make a connection with the audience, rather than just standing on a singular stage. Just make sure your stage doesn’t squeak.  Pass the WD-40 please.

 

  1.  Fly me to the moon and let me make myself the startables

If the purpose of your meeting to truly connect with your audience with an interactive conversation in a casual setting, this option may be best. One client even took the engagement a step further and literally sat on the stage to truly have a back and forth conversation with her audience. This was a great way to boost engagement amongst attendees because they felt like they were out to lunch rather than at a lecture.

 

  1. U-shaped

This layout requires setting up a series u-shapeof conference tables in the shape of a U with chairs on the outside. It can be used on large or a small scale, but it works most effectively for a small audience. This setup allows the presenter to move about the open space in the middle and engage with participants. The U-shape layout also gives attendees the opportunity to engage with each other and have a discussion. And who doesn’t love a table in front of them for ample note-taking?

 

Wondering what clients have utilized these floor plans? See them here: eastofellie.com/clients. Looking for event planners that have the experience setting the stage? Contact us today and let’s get planning! rsvp@eastofellie.com.

Crafting the Perfect #EventHashtag

Event Planners, we know you’ve heard time and time again, integrating social media into your event is one of the best ways to create buzz and interaction among attendees and online viewers. Using an event hashtag to lasso up all the conversations, shared photos, tweets, etc. centered around your event is the best way to collect and organize content into one location. We’ve already given you some tips on placing hashtags around your event space so your guests interact with them.  But then, it hits you. What the heck am I going to name my hashtag?

Certainly you can come up with something more creative than #EventNameYear. Okay, we’ll leave it as plan B. But don’t give up on coming up with a creative and engaging hashtag for your event before considering the following:

 

What’s the Goal of your Event?

Is this a fundraiser with a goal of raising a certain amount of money? Creating the hashtag to reflect this goal can constantly keep it in the face of your attendees in a subtle way (win.) For example, Children’s Miracle Network Hospital hosts events all over the country with the catchy, #FTK hashtag, meaning “For the Kids”. The goal of the event is translated into 3 simple letters, easy enough for anyone to understand and engage with.

Keep it Short and Sweet

Remember that tweets can only hold 140 characters, and those can be precious when crafting a thought that still needs to include the hashtag. Avoid making your hashtag a mouthful for your sake and your guests.

Reflect the Mood of the Event

If the event is for party people and is not so serious, make the hashtag something clever! Rhyming and alliterations are a go-to way to get creative. This strategy in crafting an event hashtag is typically seen in the wedding space, but who’s to say it can’t be utilized for product launches, internal meetings and so on. If you can stay on-brand and sprinkle some humor into your event’s content, you’ve immediately set yourself apart from the next company.

Do your Research

It is very unlikely you’re the first person to use the event hashtag you have in mind. Most likely, the hashtag has been used for a past event or general conversation, but don’t panic. Search the hashtag across social channels and see what arises from the depths of Twitter. If the hashtag is not tied to a competing event, inappropriate content, or is has not been used in a year or two, you’re in the clear. Own it.

 

Looking for a creative team that can simultaneously create compelling content and make sure your event goes off without a hitch? You’ve found us. Tweet us at @EastofEllie to say #hello!

DIY OR BUY?

The “Do it Yourself” (DIY) trend may seem like the best idea when planning an event, but is it always the right decision? Event planners have the option to choose the DIY path for an event when it not only ensures that it will embody the vision, but it will also help avoid extra costs of purchasing something from a vendor.

We’ve all been there, scrolling through Pinterest in order to find aesthetic inspirations. But that perfectly done centerpiece and creative swag bags might be more labor intensive and costly than they appear on the perfect Pinterest world.

Don’t get us wrong, the East of Ellie team LOVES getting inspired on Pinterest and we also love a good DIY project. However, it’s important to stay realistic and figure out what should be a DIY or a buy? Ask yourself these questions:

 

Is it REALLY saving you money?

In the event planner world, nothing is truer than TIME = MONEY. When it is crunch time and you are down to the wire finishing tasks and granting the last minute wishes of your client, you would sell your soul to have that vendor take those awards off your hands.

 

Is it a REALISTIC project?

It’s crucial to not overextend yourself and also to not overestimate your crafting abilities. Choosing to take on one DIY project for a large event and two or three for a smaller event might be the best decision. It’s a great way to add a personal touch, ensure your vision is being met, but without burying yourself in a pile of arts and crafts. May we remind you, this is not yo’ job.

 

Is there SOMEONE ELSE that can achieve your vision?

You may not be able to find a vendor that can easily do what you’re looking for which immediately makes you want to give up and DIY. However, sometimes you might get lucky and find someone who can create exactly what you need at a price you can pay. For our Nashville Inspired Internal Meeting for Beaute Prestige International, we found an Etsy seller who was able to print on real vinyl records. She had access to cheap records and already had templates setup for printing perfection. Now, THAT was worth the vendor take over. We got exactly what we wanted and didn’t have to DIY.

As event planners, we have to be able to devote our time to all of our clients needs which means making the decision of taking on the “fun” DIY projects or passing along to another lucky soul who gets to hand create that custom confetti for us.

Need the pros who have lived through a Pinterest Fail or two and knows what’s worth it to DIY or buy? Let us know what you have in mind at RSVP@eastofellie.com.

What do Event Planners Actually Do?

EOE’s Marketing & Events Manager, Cindy, here. I’ve come to a conclusion. This may seem a bit dramatic, but over the past couple years I’ve realized:

People don’t know what event planners do.

Of course, this is a generalization. Most people don’t know what event planners do. In the grand scheme of professions, we don’t necessarily know what a ton of others do on a day to day basis unless they are our spouses, parents, closest friends, etc. But, there has been an alarming difference in response from when I told people I worked as a marketing associate to now working as a corporate event planner.

When I told those I was a Marketing Associate, I was asked what industry, what I focus on, and that’s about it. All good.

Now as a corporate event planner, my job has an extreme amount of parallels with being a marketing associate, yet I am greeted with the same dreaded phrase every. single. time. “Ohh, how FUN! That must just be SO fun.”

In fact, one time someone actually said “Oh, I forgot you’re, like, a little event planner.” As if I giggled and frolicked all day in a land of magical flowers and linens. Yeah, right.

Now, don’t get me wrong, some days, my job is a blast. I crave creativity and making things look good, and event planning allows me to do that. But to be greeted by what comes off as lack of respect as the main summary of what others think of my career every time is just getting old. So today, I’m here to let you know what we at East of Ellie, and corporate event planners around the globe, do.

  1. We convince CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies to spend thousands on our ideas.
  2. We stand up in front of 15 board members and present to get them well, on board.
  3. Its our job to bring together the finance team, marketing team, sales team and more teams then you would think actually exist inside a Corporation, and with no scuffling.
  4. We wear all hats.  We are strategists, we are the visionaries, we are the excel spreadsheet and project planning gurus, we are the fortune tellers who can anticipate anything that could possibly go wrong and have a plan in place, we remember details about events that no normal human ever would.
  5. We are small business owners.
  6. We become financial advisors as we tackle excel spreadsheets containing budgets for situation a, b, c and so on.
  7. Hard labor? Yeah, you can find us on ladders while in heels. No seriously, we have videos to prove it.
  8. We are asked daily to fix things. There is always something broken, always a fire drill always a last minute presentation update, rendering to be completed before a big meeting.  We live our lives as Chicken Little. Any email in your inbox can be urgent.
  9. We’re always on it.  No such thing as no.  Ever had a deadline or a task at work that was actually impossible?  We do every.single.day – but we figure it out. It doesn’t matter if its Sunday, it doesn’t matter if it’s 10pm.  Not sure how, but every time we do.
  10. We leave our events with our legs numb, our eyes red and our stomachs empty.  We are always the first ones to arrive and the last ones to leave. We say no thank you and watch crab cakes just walk on by.  Our glass of wine will have to wait until we return home.  We run to grab that thing our client needs from the 4th floor even though our legs stopped moving the day before.  

With all that being said,  there is no way I would EVER do anything else.  But if you are wondering where I am at 9:00am the day after an event – don’t – because I am in my bed fast asleep, dreaming about the next one. 

Are Balloons Making a Comeback?

As kids, balloons were fun.  The sky was the limit.  You could have different colors, shapes, cartoon characters, and even designs.  They were the highlight of any birthday party, and if you got a really good balloon, it would even stay inflated for a whole week – maybe more.  But for us at events?  Balloons, for years, have been a big party no – no.  I mean they are fun – let’s face it – but they are a bit frowned upon in many Corporate circles.  Recently, it seems as though these childhood favorites are floating their way back into the events world.  

Here are some examples of balloons that were not just acceptable, but sought after at events.

Presidential Nominations – We’ve all seen the memes of Bill and Hillary Clinton playing with the balloons as they came down from the Convention Center sky.  The last thing we would ever consider decorating a stage or ceiling with is a bunch of balloons, but we have to admit, this kind of rocked.  

Wedding Photos – Although we are not wedding planners, we are loving all these amazing photos with couples who are holding all sorts of different types of balloons. Love balloons, balloons with tassels, you name it – it’s being photographed.  And frankly, it looks great.

Social Event Props – Ironically enough we are seeing balloons show up everywhere on the party scene.  From decorating a pool at the Hamptons, to chairs shaped out of balloons.  To make these inflatable wonders more sophisticated, planners are taking a monochromatic approach. Like the all white you see in the pool.

Pipe and Drape Replacements – We have to admit it.  We worked with an amazing client this past May and took over their manufacturing warehouse to host their 50th Anniversary celebration.  They wanted balloons.  It’s hard to tell a client no, so we agreed reluctantly and moved forward with procuring them.  When they showed up, we were able to take them and actually block off an area of the warehouse that wasn’t so pretty, by creating a semi balloon wall.  Instant pipe and drape! It was just a little more color and a lot more fun.

How are you using balloons at your events?  Looking for event planners who know a lot about classy and fun all at the same time?  Contact us today at rsvp@eastofellie.com.  For more great event ideas and photos follow us on Instagram @eastofellie.

How Planning a Successful Event is like Winning an Olympic Gold Medal

Here I am, on my couch watching prime time olympics waiting for my favorite event to come on – Women’s Gymnastics. This is arguably one of the most entertaining events of the olympics, and it brings me back to my days when I was 12 years old flipping around in a leotard myself. You saw our post on PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: HOW EVENT PLANNING IS OUR PERFORMANCE SPORT and relating executing an event flawlessly to winning the olympics is really quite simple:

Preparation

Most olympic athletes prep their entire lives for the olympics and the intense training happens in the four years between each summer olympic games. Just like them, our entire lives we have been gaining skills that have turned us into true event planners, but really prep for our event four (okay, months not years) prior to the event. Olympians and planners alike – this part of the process in winning the gold is the MOST crucial. Without a solid game plan and mental preparation for the pressure, anyone can crack during the big day.

 

Qualify

Time to assemble the team. A few weeks out from the big event, we make event teams from the best of the best! Registration, Sponsorship Lead, Stage Director, and more! These might as well be their own events within the games. Find those who can shine at each position, but can also pull their own to win the team gold, not just individual!

 

Execute

The stage is set, the heat of the lights, the roar of the crowd (or cocktail drinkers) are upon us! Time to execute everything you have planned and practiced.

 

Victory Song

For the U.S. olympians, the National Anthem is played as the nation’s flag is proudly raised from the floor after scoring gold. For event planners, take a moment to appreciate your victory moment! Whether you bust out a move walking by the dance floor at the end of the night or jam out in your car on the way home, take a moment to reflect on all the hard work. The next event (or olympics) will be here before we know it!

 

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Tenting 101

Although we are indeed corporate event planners, we tend to plan most events in not-so conventional spaces. Delivering legendary events means thinking out of the box and thinking custom. Therefore, we absolutely love a good tent! Hopefully you read our previous blog post Pros and Cons of Hosting Events In or Around the Home and were inspired to host your own soiree, or you found an awesome venue to utilize the outdoor space instead of staying inside. Whichever space fits for your type of event – tents can handle it all. But, where to start?

1. Choose your type of tent

Wait, there’s more than one kind of giant tent? Indeed there is! Aren’t options great to have?

Sailcloth Tents
Sailcloth tents offer a crisp, clean look with a lightweight fabric perfect for events where style is priority. As members of the coastal Northeast – we’re definitely a fan of this style.

Century Style
Century Tents offer high peaks, and sweeping ceilings. This style tent does need to be staked to the ground, so you’ll need to consider a little extra real estate to include around the perimeter of your tent footprint.

Framed Tent
Want to ditch the center poles that come down from the ceiling and obstruct floor space? Framed Tents are for you. These tents come with options for clear or classic colored ceilings.

2. Choose your “extras”

When you see a gorgeous photo of an event-ready tent, you’re probably looking at a wood floor installation, custom lighting, maybe even fabric draping, etc. The sad truth is that these do not magically come with the tent. Extra’s can add up and be EXPENSIVE. So, depending on your budget, you may not be able to afford to install floor throughout the entire space or cover up those aluminum poles with gorgeous fabric. Either way, manage your client’s expectation to work them into the budget sooner than later. We do however ALWAYS recommend having removable “walls” to protect the interior from rain, bugs and whatever else mother nature wants to throw at you. Sure, a light drizzle won’t ruin anyone’s dinner without them, but in heavy rain and 30mph+ winds, we were really happy about having them at a past event.

3. Pull Permits

Event planning is all about avoiding disaster on the big day, and making sure you are all covered on your permits & inspections is crucial. This is something overlooked by many but can completely ruin your event by the officials shutting it down. Please, please, don’t let this happen to you or your client. From electrical, to fire retardant materials, rules on candles and more, each of these is regulated by local government in each city/town. Talk with your tent rental company, local permit department, or any vendors ahead of time about everything you plan on executing so there are no day of issues.

4. Party On!

Congrats! You’ve passed Tent 101. Creating an event in essentially a blank canvas layout customized to your liking can be a ton of work but the end result will be so satisfying to both you and your client.

Looking for event planners that have mastered the art of planning an event in a tent? You’ve found the right team. Contact us today and let’s get planning! rsvp@eastofellie.com

Fifty Shades of Clients

If you work in any type of agency working with clients on a regular basis, you know that clients are made like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike.

In fact, clients come in all different shapes, sizes and colors. Don’t get us wrong, we LOVE our clients. It’s interesting to see how over the years, our method of planning events hasn’t changed much, yet the planning process can be completely different depending on how the client ticks. We’ve talked before about tailoring your communication style to your audience, and in this case, it’s the client. It’s important to recognize the type of client you have to mold the way you proceed with the planning process. In our experience, clients can be bucketed into the following categories:

 

“Shiny Things” Client

This client gets EXCITED about the event, no, really excited. When we whip up a presentation of proposed vendors or work with our graphic designer to create 3-D rendering of the space, their eyes just light up. This is one of our favorite types of clients, it usually means they don’t get exposed to this fun stuff often – which can also lead to a downfall – distraction. Like when you’re presenting catering options on slide 2 but they’re googly eyed over the invitation mock-ups on slide 8. When you need a decision on one aspect – less is more when showing them what’s going on. Keep them excited, absolutely, but also focused on your main objectives!

 

“Last Minute” Client

All clients have a bit of the “last minute” personality within, some just have a bigger presence of it than others. Let’s face it, as outside agency event planners, we are not apart of our client’s daily operations. So, it’s not anyone’s fault when the client may have to push our meetings or focus on other projects to keep afloat. This often leads to the few weeks leading up to the event as pure insanity. Rushing to get last minute requests fulfilled and working with last minute design edits to collateral that still needs to be printed. The truth is, there’s really no way to avoid the last minute client, and frankly, we totally plan in advance to accommodate these last minute changes. The best you can do is prepare everything you can in advance, keep your personal calendar wide open, because last minute requests WILL arise, and you’ll need all the time you can get.

 

“Can’t Make the Decision” Client

This may seem similar to the shiny things client, but infact they are actually very different. This client isn’t trying to find the perfect concept for a part of their event and then pulling the trigger, this client has a very hard time making the decision. This is totally fine, until it gets closer and closer to the event. They are still up in brainstorming land or need to consult with someone else on the team, but time is running out and you are starting to get worried. With this client, be extremely clear with deadlines and explain you don’t want them to lose the opportunity with a vendor or have to pay out the nose for last minute rush fees.

 

“I Can Do This On My Own” Client

Perhaps this client has planned a few events in the past, or deems themselves as a marketing wiz – and that may all well be true! Show up to your meeting with your event objectives clearly outlined and your definition of success written in black and white? We are already in love with  you.  But it’s hard enough as outsiders to come into a company and figure out the perfect balance between not overstepping and integrating our methods so that we can get the job done.  The best thing to do here?  Over communicate.  Ask for their opinions and make them feel as involved as they would like to be at all times.  It’s hard for clients who want to do the planning themselves to second guess the process when they are knee deep in it.
At the end of the day our clients are our favorite people and we couldn’t do what we do without them.  Looking for an event team that understands the objectives of your event and can clearly outline the planning process for you?  Look no further.  Email rsvp@eastofellie.com and let’s get planning.

Get Better Results out of Networking with Fewer Conversations

For any “wantrepreneur”, entrepreneur or serial entrepreneur, networking is absolutely essential for growth. But you’ve already heard that time and time again, have put yourself out there, but aren’t so satisfied with your ROI. You may be missing a key part in how to network. That’s right, it’s not just about handing your business card to the person next to you and talking about how you saved the whales by age 17.

Think of networking in terms of how you would prepare to pitch a new client. It’s a no brainer to research the brand, come up with fancy ideas and figure out how you are going to dominate this meeting and come out victorious. Why should networking be any different?  Though the setting is more casual, and that first approach always with a bit of the unknown, the result should be the same. You want the receiver of your communication to walk away knowing that the last 5 minutes (or 50 minutes) that they spent talking to you was a big win for their work day.

Sounds simple?  It can be with some tips from the people who focus on events day in and day out.  The challenge to networking, and honestly, to any relationship is communication.  It’s not just about how you communicate but just as importantly how who you are communicating with receives information.  You can’t do much personality research about the person you are networking with like you would a potential client, so you are left to figure it out within the first few seconds after shaking their hand. Our favorite strategy? Bringing up the weather that day and decipher which personality type that person falls into.  Here are two examples of communication styles and how best to communicate with these personalities:

Creative

This person will love the fact that you even brought up the weather. They will talk about how it was so great to take their dog for a walk this morning, eat sugar free blueberry oatmeal before work, and the traffic before getting to the networking event. The creative communicator wants to talk about all the fluff before diving into business. By going with their flow and making that personal connection, by the time you finally get to talking about your business, they’ll already love you.

Analytical

This person will give you a short response, and is ready to dive into business talk. They want to hear numbers, stats, facts and get right to the point. They don’t care about much else so when communicating, neither should you. Depending on your personality type this kind of person may be a bit jarring.  Don’t be concerned.  They like you just fine, they just don’t show it the same way you do.

Is it that simple?  Yes, it is.  Understanding the communication style of who you are speaking with, and doing so quickly is what makes the difference between a good conversation and a great one. Like a detective use this method to decipher the best methods of communicating with your new found contact. By using this method to improve your communication skills, you can get better results from fewer conversations.

 

We may know a thing or 2 about networking events but we’re even better at planning them for you. Contact us today and lets get planning!

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