Corporate Events

Time Flies

It’s hard to believe but it was 10 years ago the first post on Eventspark appeared. So much has happened since we first began Pierce Events and this blog.

We have traveled all over the country and have been a part of some truly incredible event productions and we aren’t slowing down.

We ended the school year with a bang as we brought our DJ show to area schools. It’s become a tradition for a number of schools to have us back each year.

We were in Atlanta for the 3 day Wine & Food Festival. While there we met some great people and had a chance to visit the set of the TV show “The Walking Dead”.

In June we launched a event series in partnership with Square to equip small business owners with the tools they need to succeed and grow. We

featured some really knowledgeable and inspirational speakers and hosted a series of classes in both Atlanta and Pittsburgh. All of it was offered for free and the feedback has been great. Hopefully we will be able to bring this program to additional cities across the country next year.

Our next event takes us to Bloomington, Indiana and we have events in production in Texas, California, Wisconsin, Ohio and New Hampshire for the second half of the year.

It’s been a great summer so far and we look forward to many more great events ahead.


The Reality Of Fantasy

Last year we met in California with a company developing a virtual reality platform. While VR is now accessible even for home use, this company is taking it to the next level by not only enhancing the technological aspects, but bringing together some of the most innovative minds from the artistic, entertainment, production, film and event worlds in a unique partnership. The idea is to go beyond current VR capabilities and create a totally location based immersive experience that incorporates the guest into another world. Participants get to freely roam on a stage with physical props that are incorporated into the experience. Each participant wears their a VR backpack complete with an integrated computer.

SPACES was founded at DreamWorks Animation and the team has wide-ranging backgrounds in film, television, video games and theme parks. We were invited to tour their newest project location in San Jose, CA.

As we walked through the venue still under construction at the time, we learned about the layout and vision. We also discovered a Pittsburgh connection as a CMU grad guided us through the venue. Needless to say we were honored to be asked to produce the grand opening event for this future of entertainment.

SPACES will launch a brand new immersive VR experience at the Century 20 Oakridge in San Jose, CA featuring “Terminator Salvation: Fight for the Future”  It will feature multi-sensory VR technology blending 4D effects, 3D face scanning, physical interaction and social group play.

Thrill-seekers will gear up and join the resistance in the fight against Skynet in a heart-pounding, untethered, adventure that takes place in the Terminator universe. Upon entering guests will register and scan their faces using SPACES’ unique, proprietary face scanning technology. Fans will then be immersed in a free-roam, virtual reality battle with up to four people in a group.

Transforming locations into digital playgrounds, SPACES invites guests to engage their senses through virtual reality, haptic feedback and environmental effects that guests can reach out and touch. The moment they take off their headsets, guests will immediately receive a cinematic video of their experience that they can take home and share on social media.

Technology is advancing everyday. It is now possible to place you into movies along side the actual stars and interact with countless characters in endless environments. The impact this could have on the future events could be huge. Imagine attending a concert or event happening thousands of miles away, or attending a luxurious gala in what is really an empty space. The possibilities are endless.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook Twitter and Instagram for updates from the opening event.

Mr. Bezos’ Neighborhood

I was talking with a few event industry folks and the subject of Amazon came up. Amazon is currently seeking a location for its second headquarters. The competition between cities to attract the billion dollar company and the jobs it would bring is pretty stiff. Pittsburgh sent a bid and has been touted as a contender.

While the economic impact would be incredible should Pittsburgh be chosen, it would also transform our city in both positive and negatives ways. You can imagine how costs, and traffic would rise, but so would home values, jobs and investment.

Mr Rodgers neighbor might have Mr. Bezos moving in and buying up the block. You can debate the pros and cons on your own, but let’s take a look at the prospect.

Some of Amazon’s top officials have ties to Pittsburgh. Their CFO Brian Olsavsky went to CMU’s Tepper School of Business and his wife is from Pittsburgh. Jeff Wilke, CEO grew up in Pittsburgh. These guys are in the position to have serious input on the decision and could be hero’s in this city if Pittsburgh is the choice.

Pittsburgh has plenty of land available for such a project, it’s highly affordable , we have already attracted some innovative companies like Google, and Uber. Pittsburgh can offer highly skilled employees through our higher education facilities and provide them and stunning beautiful and affordable place to live and raise a family.

Our biggest downside is we are not the transportation hub we used to be. However, even that is beginning to change with new direct flights being offered. We also have an award-winning airport that is not at capacity and could easily adapt to expanding needs.

One of the reasons we base our national events out of Pittsburgh is because it’s relatively easy to get to a number of major cities. Cleveland, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Buffalo, Detroit, even Chicago. We can produce an event in those cities without having to be physically based in a high cost location. With a company like Amazon coming to town, any transportation issues to or from Pittsburgh would be quickly addressed.

I can’t say for sure what will happen, but we see some very exciting things on the horizon for this city with or without Amazon.

Connecting Beyond Your Event

Social media provides a powerful opportunity to connect your event and messaging beyond your guests in attendance. Social media can expand your event marketing efforts and your onsite attendee engagement. Here are some ways to make social media a part of your next event.

  1. dsc_1093Visual Focal Point – Give your attendees the perfect backdrop for their photos as well as a reminder of your event hashtag. Providing something that attendees will what to take a photo of that is branded with your logo and hashtag will increase engagement. Include your hashtag on signage branding and throughout the event.
  2. Selfie Stations – Fun and eye catching stations throughout the event with your event hashtag, quote bubbles, or emojis encourage people to snap and post there experience to social networks.
  3. Make Your Guests A Star – Moderated social media feeds displayed on screens or projected in your venue allow guests to see posts from the event and spur additional posts.
  4. Social Swag – Ensure all promotional items are branded with your hashtag and logo. Great promotional items can encourages additional social media.
  5. Good Food – Food and beverage are integral parts of your event and people love to take photos of food. Incorporate your event hashtag on napkins, glassware, or even on the food itself.
  6. Reward Your Most Active Influencers – Give away prizes for those who post from your event. You can set up a Twitter activated vending machine that dispenses items when someone posts using your hashtag.

We have a number of other ideas and tools available to connect events, marketing, messaging and engagement with attendees and social media audiences. Make your next event more impactful with our team of event and social media experts.



Price and Value In Events

Event Planning BudgetPricing and budgets are always important when planning events. You don’t have an unlimited budget and usually one of the first questions asked of an event planner is “How much is this going to cost?”

At Pierce Events we serve three very different and distinct clients.

  1. Social event clients who are planning a private event on a limited budget.
  2. Corporate clients with larger budgets and internal and marketing goals
  3. Non-Profit clients who are looking for fund raising opportunities and a solid return on event investments

Creating a pricing structure for a variety of clients, budgets and events can be a challenge. Pricing need to work of all parties involved. Social events require a different pricing structure than corporate and non-profit events. Many social event planners charge a time based fee. Depending on the type of event a planner creates, average hourly rates vary greatly.

Corporate event planners may change a flat fee or planning and project fee based on cost and time estimates. Often we plan an event with a specific budget defined. Choices and vendors are chosen based upon the budget restrictions.

At Pierce Events, we plan and produce events from coast to coast. Our internal costs of vendors, labor and staffing varies based upon geographic location. Everything from time of the year to local tax rates can impact the cost of events.

While pricing is certainly important to most clients, choosing the lowest bidder in events is often a mistake. It’s just as important to consider value along with pricing. Spending more with an event planner or company that has experience, vendor connections and production knowledge is money well spent.

It’s important to remember that a large portion of the money paid to planners does not remain with them. From the fees we charge clients, we pay venues, vendors, equipment rental, permits and license fees among other costs.

Educated clients are often the best clients and provide for a powerful working relationship. Be sure communication is clear and your planner understands your budget and goals.

Looking Ahead – Event Trends for 2015

lookWe are often asked what’s the next big thing? Sometimes the answer depends a lot on style and taste. Chic and Elegant can be two very different things to people. Truth be told, we would rather be trend setters than followers.

Still as one year near it’s end and the next one looms in the distance, we attempt to look into our crystal ball to give our clients a few ideas to consider.


Recently we saw the reawakening of Gatsby-style glamour and we expect elements of that trend to continue with classic strings of pearls, silver, ivory, and gold accentuated with a bold pops of color, and contemporary interpretations of classic styles.

Yes the shabby chic mason jars are fading and making way for classic elegance.


It’s easy to overdo it when it comes to libations. I’m not talking about consumption, but sheer variety. The flavor craze has exploded. Every type of liquor now comes in flavors from Cherry to Espresso. We predict and suggest a simpler balance of cocktails of high-caliber liquors and fresh ingredients. Want a classic at your event? Talk to your bartender about adding Moscow Mules to the offering.

classic cocktails

Might we also suggest a well-made Harvey Wallbanger with Chopin Vodka, fresh-squeezed orange juice and a float of Galliano.


food trends

Work with your chef or catering director to create meals using local, seasonal, sustainable ingredients whenever possible. It opens the door to fresh and unique fare.

We also see a shift in event serving style. Opting for small bites, tray-passed appetizers and family-style dining, event and wedding reception dining is a not just about eating, but the social aspect as well. This also allows you to incorporate a larger variety of cuisine options. Keep in mind some of your guests may have to dietary restrictions of vegan, gluten free, and allergy-free offerings.

It’s your party…….

Trends are meant to give you and idea of what others are doing, but don’t become a slave to the hot new trend. If you want BBQ and Beer served in Mason Jars go for it! Trends are created by someone doing what no one else is. Be that person. It does not matter what is in or out, hip and trendy, your event should embody your personal style and taste.

Contact us if we can help you with your next event.

The Entertainment Business – Entertaining Business Development

Not many people would argue that a conversation over a glass of wine in a relaxed atmosphere is much more appealing than a presentation in a conference room. Companies will often fly hundreds of people to destinations for sales meetings, education and training, all in between food, entertainment and fun. But why go to the expense and trouble? The answer is very simple. It works!

Creating an experience built around great wine, great food and great company is more powerful that any marketing piece ever dreamed of. We have the tools to help you take your business entertaining to a new level.

Entertaining should be about developing your business. Enjoyable social events are branding moments that people will long remember and always associate with you. They may just be one of the best investments you could possibly make, because every event is an opportunity to influence and impress others. Creating a memorable experience doesn’t need to bust your budget. A qualified event planner can guide you to obtain the most out of your budget.

So where do you start? First, leave the planning to the experts. It’s doesn’t matter if you are hosting a luncheon or a destination meeting, asking employees or trying to do it all yourself will create work tension and lessen the impact of the event. An expert will save you time and money and allow you to focus on your role.

What is your role? 

Be an enthusiastic host. It’s important to get the most out of your hosting role. Greet people as they arrive. Set the tone for the event.

Food and drinks can be a great business tool. Introducing guests to great wine and great food creates a wonderful atmosphere for clients and employees alike. Work with a sommelier and chef to assist in pairing wine with food and create a key experience for guests.   

Be sure to connect with your guests. If you, as the host, don’t seize the opportunity to engage with your guests the event is wasted. Don’t just talk business. Use the time to find out about people and their personal life. Knowing about a person’s children and family, their hobbies and interests creates a personal connection. Showing genuine interest in people is important even in a business relationship. Don’t just look for the most important person in the room. Make efforts to help people mingle and meet others. 

Consider giving your guests a nice take-home item. It’s way of thanking them for attending and an opportunity to have guests leave with your branded item and remember the evening.

Entertaining can be an powerful marketing and business development opportunity and give clients, prospects and even employees a positive impression of your brand and company. It’s a key step in building a strong business relationship. If you would like to talk about you next event, contact us.

Pierce Events

Spending Wisely – Planning Your Budget

Pierce Events Pittsburgh event Planning Budget

Event Planning Budget

It’s imperative that planners do the most with the least for clients.  In our planning process we represent our clients to vendors and always seek about he best values on their behalf. We never exceed a projected budget without prior approval and we must have a darn good case to present to even ask a client to amend an agreed upon budget.  In the rare event that we do seek an increased production budget a complete explanation as to why the cost overrun exists and the benefit of the additional cost is always explained to our clients.Last year some of our national events increased in production cost for several key reasons. Rising fuel costs can have a big impact on your budget. Everything from deliveries to generators to food costs go up as the price of fuel rises.

Trust is very important in the client/planner relationship. Our client know that we explore the most cost effective options for each production and clearly understand the goals of every event. Without spending wisely, our clients would not come back to us again and again. Creating a wonderful event can be accomplished while sticking to your budget.

Often times we start of with the “Cadillac Plan” and whittle it down to the “Chevy Plan”. That’s because client like to know what the event could be but needs and wants must be sorted in the budgeting process. This is true of corporate events, weddings and any other event.

Needs and Wants are not always easily identified. A want disguised as a need can reveal itself in later stages of the event planning process. You may think you need live entertainment, but space and acoustics could limit options and push that live band into the “want” column.

Often times we must eliminate unnecessary items once the event starts to come together. Often keeping a few items on the list that can be removed without a major impact on the production provides a nice buffer for your budget.

There is always more than way to get a job done. When it comes to event services, sometimes there are non-traditional options. We have used local talent, volunteers, community groups and schools to assist in everything from entertainment to marketing.

Staying within budget requires us to value good business dealings, be cognizant of the current economic climate and understand the needs of our clients.