In less than 24 hours, I will be at IMEX America! I have waited a year to attend this magical event. As an entrepreneur, as opposed to an employee, it isn’t always financially beneficial to attend conferences. Airfare, hotel room, food, registration, etc. can add up, without a direct return on the investment. I feel incredibly blessed this year to be attending as a Hosted Buyer! Thanks to my partners at W.O.W. USA, for the opportunity to attend with the team. From what I can tell, this event represents the epitome of how I imagined my life to be. Having opportunities to learn from industry leaders, network with other professionals, and ending the days with social celebratory events. I love meeting people, learning, and connecting. Your network is your net-worth; the bigger the net, the larger the value.
So, tomorrow I will walk into the Sands Expo in Las Vegas, open and ready to absorb expert education from Meeting Professionals International, “Smart Monday” session. My fingers will be weak from typing rapidly to my Ipad, capturing the nuggets of information that will be shared. The anticipation of growing is beyond exciting! Can’t wait to arrive and share my IMEX America adventure.
Stay tuned for IMEX Day 1...
As a event & meeting professional, I am often asked to lend an ear to event ideas. I listen, nod in agreement, and subsequently ask myself if I can identity what I believe are the 5 most important elements in the creation of a great event. If I cannot easily identify them through the idea process, I make it a point to ask the potential client, or enthusiastic idea creator, to answer the questions.
For anyone preparing to plan a meeting, launch a business, or simply host a party, I have listed the 5 key questions to answer before the fun begins!
1. What is the purpose of the event?
Whether you wish to celebrate a momentous occasion, launch your business, or host a speaking engagement, you want to start with understanding the purpose. The purpose helps to determine the theme and the marketing strategy surrounding the event.
2. What is the theme?
The theme determines the energy of the event. Is it serious, educational, social, or interactive?
3. Who is the target audience?
Knowing the target audience is important for planning and marketing purposes. An event with a target audience of high school students is much different than a target audience of professional women or men.
4. What is the budget?
Before ticket sales and sponsorship options, how much money needs to be invested or is available to be invested into the event. Understand that no matter what is said, there is always a budget. Even clients that say "no budget", have a spending limit. Be honest with yourself (and your planner) about your comfortable spending limit is.
5. What is the intented outcome?
What is the goal leaving out of the event? What should the guests receive from attending your event? At social functions, the intended outcome is typically great memories and personal connectivity. Speaking engagements are typically intended to sell merchandise, such as books, audios, future event registrations, etc. Educational events are intended to add value to attendees. By identifying the intended outcome, the 'take away' from the event, it is easier to determine the value, the dedication level, and the future growth opportunities.
Before I accept a new client or start planning for an existing one, I determine the answer to these 5 questions. It helps me to keep the client focused on the goals at hand and to know the time that will be necessary to invest into event plan in order to achieve the goals. Overall, if there is an event idea burning inside of you and you can truthfully answer the 5 questions, hire a professional planner. This is just the beginning...
While in a client meeting, brainstorming ideas for a major fundraiser event, I had a realization- All things are possible. As we discussed what the client wanted- a fun, classy atmosphere that encouraged networking and check writing- a negative kept re-occuring; the HOW. They wanted big names, celebrities, big entertainment but had a small budget (it is a fundraiser). I politely interrupted the committee I am leading and shared with them my realization- Anything Is Possible! Whatever can be imagined, there is some way to at least ask the question. Early in business, I learned "The question you don't ask, can't get answered". Once I got them thinking, they began to throw out ideas of contacts, networks, social media outlets, businesses, and more that we can collaborate with to make the fundraiser a legendary kickoff event. Later that night, I came across an article of a celebrity chef from the Food Network that overcame depression and achieved success. My clients are advocates for changing the stigmas of mental health issues; the chef overcame a mental health issue and travels sharing her story. She can easily be reached and invited to the fundraiser...coincidence? I think not. Example of possibility? I think so.
No matter what a situation looks like, there is always possibility. Today marks the six year anniversary of a great friend opening the doors to his first sandwich shop. He sold 9 sandwiches the first day. He lost his first location, was forced to sell 2 locations to afford to re-open the original location in SF, he had nights he went to bed hungry, slept in someone's van, and had very little money keeping the business afloat, but every night before he fell asleep, he told himself 'Tomorrow, things will be different'. He believed in the possibility of success, the possibility of being able to have 11 sandwich shop locations, having his own soda brand, the possibility of being featured on the Travel Chanel, of winning numerous awards & achievements, and most importantly, he believed- anything is possible. I am excited and feel blessed for the opportunity (just got the call last night) to plan his engagement party! See, I too believe that anything is possible. I didn't know how it would happen, how business would expand, or if I would even be good enough...but I knew anything is possible. Life is full of endless possibilities...
This is it! I have found my passion in the best industry! I am supposed to be here! When I decided to become an event planner, I thought it was just a decision I was making consciously. However, as I tapped into my subconscious, I realized I have been preparing for this my entire life. As I traced the memories back to my childhood, I remembered that my mother used to host amazing parties, focusing on every detail effortlessly. I would help her purchase decorations and put everything in its proper place. In middle school,I joined student government simply to add more social events for students. In high school,I hosted a festival and coordinated a fashion show. In college,I co-hosted poetry sessions, lectures, festivals, and parties. Understanding how the universe works, it is of no surprise that I am doing exactly what I was destin to do. It's only the beginning...
As an event planner, the opportunities to unleash ones creativity and talents can come in many different forms. Recently, I was blessed with the opportunity to assist my best friend with the beginning process of planning her wedding. Not only was it exciting because it's her, but it made me realize how much I loved what I do! Since my best friend was subjected to all my ideas as I was planning my own wedding, and was a huge part in making my dream day come together, just like the diagrams I created, for her wedding, I want to make sure she gets everything she imagined but that they also don't go in to debt because of it. I pride myself of creating beautiful and practical alternatives to the traditional wedding decor. We have only just began the planning process, but the joy that it has brought me to do what I love for a couple I love, is beyond any words. This lovely adventure to be continued...