EVENTures

Creating a Memorable Customer Experience

I just stayed in the most amazing hotel room. This was mid-range chain hotel, not super expensive or fancy. It was just evident that whoever designed the room was laser-focused on providing a fantastic customer experience. And boy did they deliver! It was as if they knew every complaint I ever had about a hotel room and solved each problem one by one.

Customer Experience

photo by Ray Perezoso

It started when I first opened the door and the temperature controls were right at my fingertips on the wall. With a couple of clicks the air was immediately adjusting to my comfort level. Two steps later I was standing in front of a low-level table surface just perfect for placing my suitcase so I could easily unpack. Next to that, a long desk with task lighting and multiple charging outlets on a shelf above, with a lip that insured my electronics could rest safely out of the way on the shelf while charging. Looking around the room I found a fridge and microwave tucked into a sleek closet with storage underneath for bags and shoes. Next to the window was a lounging sofa and ottoman with a tiny side table the perfect height for my drink and the remote (did I mention that the television on the wall could be swiveled to be seen anywhere in the room?)

The closet had a full length mirror on the front AND back of the swinging door. The iron could be plugged in multiple spots around the room in my choice of conveniently placed electrical outlets. And the bed – OH the bed! Lots of comfy pillows and built-in charging stations on BOTH side tables. An alarm clock that was just an alarm clock, nothing more. Twist the knob to set your wake-up time, then press the knob – the alarm was confidently set for the next morning with no guesswork.

Customer Experience

photo by ilovebutter

On to the bathroom. Big, with lots of counter space for stashing my stuff. A large glass shower stall (no nasty shower curtain, and no bathtub; after all, who really takes baths in a hotel room bathtub ?!?) A bright ceiling light inside the shower so you can see what you’re doing, and a shelf carved into the wall to place as many shampoos and scrubs as you like. A high shower head with good pressure and a little step/ledge to help with leg-shaving. Lots of white fluffy towels that dried in a flash. A magnifying mirror on the counter, and handy pegs to hold towels and clothing.

This hotel got it right. They listened to their clients, and devoted their resources to providing the ultimate customer experience at a reasonable price. Will I be rating this hotel online? – YES! Will they be happy with my rating? – YES! Will I stay there again and recommend it to my friends? – ABSOLUTELY!

Every business, every event planner, and every service organization should take a note and think like this company did when they designed their hotel. What can you do today to “up” your game and provide the best customer experience for your clients?

April Eventures Newsletter – Wedding Edition

The April Eventures Newsletter is here, and it’s chock full of information for the DIY wedding planner or bride-to-be!

Weddings

~ Considering an outdoor venue for your wedding? Here are a few things to think through before you do.

~ The tux shop forgets to hem a pair of pants; a grass stain appears on a dress during pictures; what to do? Be prepared with a bride and groom emergency kit so you are ready to handle almost any situation.

~ Looking for a unique element to add to your wedding ceremony? Consider a Unity Tree.

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A few highlights in this month’s newsletter:

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Check out the newsletter, and be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss a thing!

Previous newsletters:

March Eventures 2016– Home Celebrations

February Eventures 2016 – Conference Edition

January Eventures 2016 – New Year’s Resolutions and Beating Procrastination

Tips for Attending a Business Conference

convention center

The Morial Convention Center in New Orleans has 1.1 million square feet of exhibit space covering almost 11 blocks, and is home to some of biggest and most prestigious conferences and trade shows in the nation. When I attended a week-long conference there a few years ago, I thought I was well-prepared. My flight and hotel reservations were made early and went off without a hitch. I had spent some time reviewing the agenda in advance and had created a plan of attack that would ensure that I would get the most out of every day. I even took my laptop to take advantage of the breaks provided and get a little work done.

On Day One, I was ready to go. Ignoring the conference shuttle parked in front of my hotel, I briskly walked from my hotel to the convention center and followed the signs inside the venue to the registration area, thinking pleasantly about all of those extra steps I was going to log on my exercise tracker.

tips for attending a business conferenceWhen I finally arrived at the registration area, I was presented with a conference bag full of information and goodies (I was already toting a large-ish purse and a laptop bag), determined the location of the first session, consulted the map provided, turned around and started walking. I walked, and walked, and walked…and started regretting a few of my choices less than an hour into the conference.

I regretted my shoe choice. These were hard concrete floors covered by a thin commercial carpet, and I was wearing dress heels; not super tall, but heels nevertheless. The ball of my foot started to ache, and the back of my heel was starting to rub. I thought about my coconference shoesmfy flats tucked away safely in my hotel room a half-mile away.  What had I been thinking?

conference preparation

I regretted my choice to bring my laptop. As I kept shifting my 3(!) bags from shoulder to shoulder, I knew that any bit of work I could accomplish during breaks wasn’t worth the agony of having to haul this additional giant bag around all day.

I regretted my choice to carry my large purse. Did I really need to be carrying around my grocery store coupons, checkbook, giant wallet and emergency makeup kit? Every unnecessary ounce began to weigh heavily as the day progressed.

I learned so much that week. Much of it was provided in the sessions organized by the conference planners. Other lessons were longer-lasting, and I incorporate them into every conference or trade show that I attend. Here are my top tips for attending a business conference:

  • Leave the laptop at home. If you must stay connected, use a light-weight tablet to check email, take notes, and log in to work.
  • Save your large purse/tote to use as an airline carry-on. Insbusiness cardstead, pack a small clutch or zipper pouch that you can drop into the conference tote. Then fill it with the necessities: plenty of business cards, mints, hand sanitizer, a ball-point pen (they won’t smudge on a glossy business card), chapstick, pain reliever, a slim wallet with cash, credit card and hotel key, and your cellphone and charger.
  • Invest in some serious shoes made for comfortable walking. No ballet flats, no spiked heels, but substantial shoes with great cushion and arch support. If you can, change shoes once during the day or at least have a second pair so you can switch them up from one day to the next – your feet will thank you!
  • dress in layersDress in layers to combat the range of temperatures you may encounter as you move from room to room. Conference planners often have little or no control over room temperature.networking
  • Hydrate throughout the day to prevent fatigue, muscle cramps and lightheadedness.
  • Use your breaks to stretch, check messages, introduce yourself to speakers, and network and get to know those around you. You can create some great new business relationships that will yield dividends later.

Follow these simple tips for attending a business conference and you are sure to have a meaningful, comfortable, and productive experience!

Playbook for Event Planning

event planning playbook

If you’ve ever played an organized sport, you’ve had a coach who utilized a playbook, a guide for the team that outlines the strategies that they will use to win the game. It will include a schedule for practices and drills, an assessment of each team members’ strengths and weaknesses, and plays that will be used to overcome the challenges the opposing team will bring.

The same principles apply to successful event planning:

  • Preparation – visualize your goal and identify the mission-critical activities that will bring your success.
  • Surrounding yourself with the right people – there are very few events that can be totally successful without a little help from trusted individuals. Be sure to choose your team members well.
  • Agility – the ability to create an action plan and then adjust that plan when necessary.
  • Perseverance – staying physically and mentally strong, and maintaining your momentum until your final goal is achieved.

Many experts will tell you that the only way to turn a vision into an achievable reality is to create and execute your action plan with the end result always in mind. So visualize the goal you want to achieve with your event and create a playbook that will help you get there!

The P.A.R.T.Y. Principles of Successful Event Planning

Successful Event Planning

A large service corporation planned a customer event at a large hotel near their headquarters. Customers were flying in from all over the United States, and the event planning team had worked tirelessly on every detail. Then, two days before attendees were to arrive, the sprinkler system at the hotel malfunctioned and all of the ballrooms were completely flooded, rendering them unusable.

A situation like this can surely make you feel like curling up in a corner, but as an event organizer there’s no time to panic.  The corporate team and the hotel got to work; they were able to find another local venue that had the space available to accommodate the conference. There wasn’t a lot of sleep that weekend, but by Monday morning it was as if the event was always meant to be held at the new venue.

The reason this conference ended up being huge success despite the snags is because the planning team was able to think on their feet and improvise; they used the P.A.R.T.Y. plan.

The P.A.R.T.Y. Principles of Successful Event Planning are:

P  is for Preparationvisualize your goal, identify mission-critical activities, and create an action plan.

A is for Agility – the ability to think on your feet and adjust your plan when necessary.

R is for Resolve – staying physically and mentally strong in order to maintain your momentum and persevere.

T is for Teamassemble a trusted team to implement your plan.

is for Yes – take your events to a new level by saying YES to new ideas, new opportunities, and new adventures! Fresh ideas are always being shared on social media; follow event planners on Twitter such as @EventMB and @BizBash. Or join LinkedIn groups like Event Planning and Event Management.

Ideas for Raffle Baskets

Based on the popularity of my posts over the years on ideas for raffle baskets, it’s clear that a raffle seems to be one of the number one ways to raise money for a worthy cause.Today’s post focuses on some unique baskets that have the potential to generate a lot of ticket sales:

raffle basket for men

Raffle Basket for a “Man’s Man”

This is a basket for a man’s man. Single Malt Irish whiskey, accompanied by some gourmet cheese, aged dry salami, smokehouse almonds, crackers, and other savory snacks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ohio state raffle basket

Ohio State Raffle Basket

 

 

Pick a favorite local team and stuff as many logo items as you can into a basket; hats, shoes, t-shirts, jewelry, keychains, party supplies, flip-flops, you name it. The fanatic fans at your event will fight over this one!

 

 

 

mexican theme raffle basket

Mexican Fiesta Basket

 

It’s a Mexican fiesta basket, and includes a cast iron tortilla grill pan, corn tortillas, tomatoes for making your favorite salsa (be sure to include a recipe or a cookbook), Mexican seasonings and marinades, and a bottle of tequila complete with shot glasses! Adapt this idea to any style of cuisine – Asian, Italian, etc.

 

 

booty basket

Pirate’s Booty Basket

 

Pirate’s Booty! Find a small wooden box that looks like a treasure chest and hide some cold hard cash inside. Cover it up with foil-wrapped chocolate coins, costume jewelry, and fake money, then watch the ticket sales soar!

 

 

 

When coming up with ideas for raffle baskets, it’s important to have enough variety to appeal to every demographic in your crowd. Be sure that no one will be able to resist opening their wallet and buying some tickets for that must-have item. Spend some time thinking about your audience; make sure you have something for the men, women, parents, baby boomers, professionals, hobbyists, children, and millennials in the crowd.

Tips for actually organizing a basket raffle event can be found here.

Last Minute Gift Idea – the Snack Attack Gift Box!

Need a quick and inexpensive last minute gift idea for co-workers or team members that won’t cost an arm and a leg? This Snack Attack gift box is something that can be enjoyed by anyone.

This one is easy; grab a festive container (from the Target Dollar Spot, or your local dollar store) and fill it with healthy, yummy, and refreshing treats that the recipient will reach for again and again.  Think raisins, hot chocolate or tea packets, peanut butter crackers, granola bars, mints, gum, snack packs of almonds or peanuts, Vitamin C drops, lip balm, trial size lotions or hand sanitizer. These are all things that can be found at your local discount or grocery store.

snack attack gift

Best of all, this is a gift that won’t create clutter – once the contents are consumed, all you have left is a versatile container that can be re-purposed for organizing small desktop items such as post-it notes, business cards, pens, or device chargers.

Thanks to my sister Rhonda for sharing this great last minute gift idea!

Learning When to Say Yes

IT MADE MY HEART THUMP
 I recently read an interview in Writer’s Digest Magazine with Cheryl Strayed, author of Torch, Wild, and an online advice column on The Rumpus called “Dear Sugar”.  When asked by Christina Katz why she took on the no-byline, no-pay assignment of writing an ongoing advice column, Cheryl said “…I felt sparked when I wrote that first “Sugar” column. I said yes because it made my heart thump.”
I just love this answer! This is what is called ‘living in your sweet spot’, knowing yourself well enough to know when it is right to say “yes!”  This is the real trick to living every day with intention; only saying yes to the things that ‘make our heart thump’, because it almost always means having to say “no” to something else. So listen to your gut and fill your life with the people, places and projects that you truly believe will bring you joy.
Thank you, Cheryl, for stating it so simply!

Wedding Tips – Having a ‘Day-of’ Coordinator

Close your eyes and picture your daughter’s wedding day.  From beginning to end, I hope you are picturing nothing but joy and happiness; hugs and kisses, family and friends, happy tears and joyful laughter, and many precious moments spent with your daughter that you’ll remember for a lifetime.

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Here are some things I hope you don’t see in your daydream; frantic calls to vendors who are late; sweating as you labor to make sure the decor is just right when you should have been with the rest of the wedding party getting your hair and makeup done; running from one location to another because something important got left behind; or missing a special moment at the reception because you were dealing with an issue with the wait staff or DJ.

These are all things that should be handled by your wedding coordinator. But if hiring a professional is not an option for you, your next best option is to enlist the help from the people in your life that know how to get things done.

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I shared this tip with another mother-of-the-bride a few months before her daughter was to be married.  She decided to take my advice and get a trusted friend to take care of the wedding day logistics.  When the cake delivery was late, the day-of coordinator had the contact information and took of care of it so Mom didn’t have to worry.  She said of all the wedding tips she received, it was the best advice she had, because it allowed her to enjoy the day with her daughter with no stress.

When my daughter and her husband got married, we created an action plan that our rock-star day-of coordinators could follow to make sure the day of their dreams went off without a hitch. The plan included a detailed timeline, names and contact numbers of all vendors, diagrams of how everything should be set up, and permission to make decisions for the unexpected things that inevitably occur during such a momentous occasion. If you’ve done your homework and planned appropriately, it is much easier to give up control so you can enjoy the day. G.) Reception (93)

We are forever grateful for the day-of help we received from our family and friends, allowing us to fully experience this mountaintop moment in our lives.  If there’s a wedding in your family’s future, start thinking now about the super-organized friends or family members that can help you make your daydream a reality!

 

A Bridal Shower in Wonderland

bridal showerThe Adventures of Alice in Wonderland has been a beloved book for both children and adults since 1865. Our bride-to-be was no exception; from the time she was very young, she reveled in the fantasy of Alice’s dreamland, full of dangers and delights.

When it came time to plan Kelly’s bridal shower, the theme naturally turned toward throwing a fabulous tea party.

From the decor to the food and beverages, we set out to create an elegant and whimsical atmosphere; the menu consisted of delicate cucumber sandwiches, egg salad, ham salad, scones with jam and lemon curd, fresh fruit tarts, and shortbread.

Teacups borrowed from Grandma’s china were adorned with little tags that read “Drink Me”, and of course the dessert plates had matching tags that said “Eat Me.”

tea party

Great-Grandma’s teacups were filled will tiny pink rosebuds and scattered around the table, along with some milk glass vases that would later be used as table decor for the wedding reception.These were found by scouring local thrift shops,and cost next-to-nothing; after the wedding reception, guests were encouraged to take the flower-filled vases home as a keepsake – so they were repurposed three times!IMG_0632

No shower would be complete without a game or two. The sister of the bride (and maid of honor) conducted a video interview with the groom ahead of time about his childhood and his favorite things, and Kelly was asked the same questions to see just how well she knew her husband-to-be.  It was a lot of fun to watch the video to see how well their answers matched up!

IMG_0650Kelly was lucky to have all of her bridesmaids at the shower to help her and her loved ones celebrate this special occasion.  It was a beautiful afternoon that she’ll always remember.

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