Random Thoughts from Event Land

We just returned from a few days in Nashville, TN. What a great city with amazing talent on every corner. There is something to be learned from it. Talent is important, but it’s not enough to insure success.

Competition drives you get better. It takes you beyond what you think is good and forces you to be great. It also shows that you have to build the right team. No matter what you do in life, your team will be a big part of what you achieve. Your “team”may be your family or work partners, your mentor or anyone who supports you and encourages you to reach the next level.

We are very blessed to be able to travel and experience different parts of the world and we always seem to find something unexpected that impacts what we do.

I just read an article on the events industry and how there is a change in attitude.For a long time the event industry was about image. We have elevated some event planners to celebrity status and turned weddings and events into reality shows. The attitude we have had since we first launched our company has been very different. We have never been about awards, celebrity events or impressing anyone but our clients. Our clients are real people with real goals and so are we.

It refreshing and inspiring to see other people confirm we are on the right track. It’s great to add more top notch people to our team and learn new things every day.

As Summer is about to arrive we look forward to the many events we have planned all over the country.

 

 

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Spring Ahead!

I write this post from Indianapolis, Indiana. Spring has been a busy time for Pierce Events. Currently we are traveling through multiple states for an exciting product launch. The soft drink Sierra Mist is going away and being replaced by “Mist Twist”. We have been introducing the new product line to customers with events all over. Some of the most effective marketing efforts are face to face events and we are happy to be a part of it.

Next week we travel to Detroit, MI for a grand opening event. We have been doing more work in Motown and this time we have teamed up with the Detroit Lions & Tigers for this event. We look forward to working with our Michigan production team.

We are very excited to be working with the Washington Redskins for their draft day. We will be there with an exciting experiential program for attendees.

In the coming months we have events planned in Louisiana, Nashville, West Virginia, and several other projects in the works as well as graduation and end of school year parties.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @pierceevents for updates from the road.

Happy spring!

Fun Wedding Ideas

Everyone wants their wedding day to be unique, but most weddings have very traditional elements. Often couples look to us for ideas to make their wedding stand out.

Here are a few ideas to surprise and entertain your guests:

Anniversary Dance
Dance-AnniversaryDanceThe happy couple is just beginning their life together, but it always creates a memorable moment to recognize your married guests. We do that through the anniversary dance.

It is a moment in the evening when all married couples are invited onto the dance floor. As a special song dedicated to all those couples plays, gradually people are asked to step off the dance floor according to how many years they’ve been married. By the end of the song, the couple that has been married the longest is left one the dance floor. We usually ask that couple to give some advice to the newlyweds. It’s always wonderful to hear what a couple married 50 years or more tells the couple married for only a few hours.

Food Stations
We are not talking dinner here. As the night (and the celebration) goes on, some couples are presenting small food stations for guests to nibble. Everything from sliders to sushi. A few small bite sized snacks keep guests fed and ready to continue the party.

Dessert and Food Trucks
If you are planning a grand send off with sparklers, paper lanterns or even bubbles, consider surprising your guests outside. Food trucks can provide everything from coffee and ice cream to kebabs and desserts. These can serve as a great alternative to a traditional desert.

Put On A Show
If you want to change up a night of dining & dancing, consider putting on a show for your guests. We’ve seen everything from Marching Bands to a fully dressed KISS Tribute band join the party. It’s even fun to incorporate professional dancers. Have them blend in with your guests and then watch them wow everyone when they hit the dance floor.

Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you. For more information and more ideas, contact us at Pierce Events.
 

 

 

 

30 Requests For Your DJ

When it comes to hiring a professional DJ for a wedding or an event there is often a conflict between perception and reality. The perception is a DJ plays music and makes the lights blink. How hard can that be? He (or she) probably sleeps all day and only works on Friday and Saturday nights. While that may be true from some out there, those are not the people you want to hire for your event. They are not professionals.

The other perception is a DJ should not cost more than a few hundred dollars. I mean really, the DJ is pressing play on songs, so why should it cost more?

When you hire a professional DJ, that person has likely invested over $10,000 in equipment. They are often the first one to arrive and the last to leave, so a 5 hour event is 9 hours or more for them. They pay thousands of dollars to update their music collection every year. They spend time reviewing new music, answering client questions, visiting venues, maintaining equipment, directing caterers, photographers and venue managers as to what happens and when. They attend meetings, send out contracts, work on timelines, deal with drunken guests and go out of there way to make sure everything goes perfectly. They need to be able to make a living just like everyone else.

Value is often forgotten and instead people look strictly at cost. You can always find someone cheaper, but you must understand what you get in return decide how important you event is to you. Here are some key questions to ask yourself of any DJ you consider:

  1. Do you get quality, professional equipment?
  2. Do you get a 2 person team that understands your event?
  3. Will your actual DJ meet you in person before you book them?
  4. Does your DJ know how to use their technology and how to troubleshoot issues?
  5. Will they set up long before guests arrive and work with other vendors?
  6. Can they adjust to schedule changes and unplanned issues?
  7. Do they know how to do introductions, tell a story and properly use the microphone?
  8. Will they be respectful to all your guests and not play offensive music?
  9. Do they prepare well in advance for your event?
  10. Do they play music from legal and reliable sources? Not from streaming or internet sources.
  11. Do they make sure their set up looks clean and professional?
  12. Do they refrain from drinking and smoking during your event?
  13. Do they dress in proper attire and appear well groomed?
  14. Do they speak clearly and naturally without putting on a show?
  15. Do they understand proper volume, tone and clarity for the entire room?
  16. Can they multi-task with music selections, announcements, and guests?
  17. Do they know how to mix different types and eras of music?
  18. Can they adjust to the crowd and bring people to the dance floor?
  19. Do they understand they are not the focus of attention?
  20. Do they value what they do and charge appropriately for it?
  21. Do they honestly answer your questions?
  22. Do they care about you and don’t consider your day another “gig”?
  23. Are they insured?
  24. Do they clearly explain what they will and will not do?
  25. Will they give you the time and attention you deserve?
  26. Do they have a back up plan should something go wrong?
  27. Do they have experience and a good reputation?
  28. Are they someone you trust and can work with?
  29. Will they promptly answer your calls and emails?
  30. How will they make your event unique and memorable?

Any professional DJ is going to have quick and honest answers to every question. Most people only hire a DJ once in their life and so many part time amatuers count on ignorance. A bad DJ can will ruin a great event. Don’t let it happen to you.

Fashion And Function

We get to plan and attend some pretty cool events. It fascinating to see how styles change depending on where you are. So many things from the culture to climate effect the look and feel of an event.

It’s always a bit frustrating when event people assume style only comes from either New York or Los Angeles. Nothing against those cities, but each city and town has there own style and taste waiting to be discovered.

I’ve witnessed some event folks trying too hard to make an event something it’s not. food_600x450_8dfcd58851Quirky and over the top does not work if it’s not functional. Often events go for the visual appeal and forget everything else. If you have triangle plates and tiny forks it may look cool, but your guests may starve trying to get food to their mouth.

Speaking of food, I’m adventurous when it comes to cuisine, but not everyone is. If you have to pause to decide if something is modern art or edible there is a problem.

Not all of your guests want to, or are able to wind their way through a maze of sensory overload. Sometimes easy access to a drink is more important than if that drink shoots from the fingertip of a woman dressed like a vineyard.

I love creative elements in events. I love things that entertain and catch the eye, but it has to be a functional part of the overall presentation. It’s tempting to plan an event to try to impress others and create your next portfolio piece, however unless all the elements work well, that event fails even if it looks great.

 

Time for a Trend Article

Every year at about this time the trend predictions of what is in and what is out appear like holiday decorations in a shopping mall.

Trends are like fads, and as history proves, some fads are just popular bad ideas. (Google “parachute pants” for a prime example).

The problem with trends is once everyone follows then they no longer “trendy”. As event planners we constantly strive to create new experiences. To deliver for our clients and guests things they have never seen before. We create events that siStock_000018254113-Trend-Analysistand out and provide an interactive, engaging experience. Part of this effort is always seeking, developing and introducing exciting new elements, technology and productions.

The things that capture the attention and imagination of our event guests are the true trends. They are the things that people talk about long after they are over.

While each event we produce is custom created specifically for each client, here are a few ideas to consider in the coming year.

Corporate events are changing. Flying the entire company to location for a sales meeting or product launch used to be the norm. Now companies are staying closer to home to save money and make it more convenient for employees.

Power point presentations in conference rooms are not the way to go. Instead create an entire brand experience to deliver your message and meet goals for the event.

Technology can’t be ignored in these events.  Events should keep attendees engaged.  Using iPads, Smart boards, and even creating an app for the event all create a way to connect with your audience and deliver your message. Make sure attendees are able to connect through WiFi and provide them plenty of opportunities to interact at your event.

Forego the bag. How many conferences have you attended where you have been handed a bag? That bag is usually filled with things you will never read, things you will never use and that bag will end up in back of a closet assuming you don’t throw it out before you leave the property.  No one wants to walk around with that bag, so invest your budget in one nice gift or consolidate and award a few very nice gifts for lucky guests.

Weddings are moving away from the usual chicken dinner in a hotel ballroom. Smaller and more intimate celebrations at unique venues are becoming more popular. Even wedding luncheons that end in late afternoon are taking the place of the party that goes till 1 AM.

Private parties are often being centered around a theme. Elements borrowed from movies and pop culture are very popular. Time periods and celebrations that allow guests to participate in the theme are appearing at celebrations.

A year from now all this may change. It may also be bigger than ever. As an event planner, it’s our job to be aware of tends but also to create an event that doesn’t attempt to follow a trend, rather it presents a new twist or presents something entirely new.

On behalf of all us at Pierce Events we wish you a very happy 2016!

 

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.

Passion and Paychecks – Not always a match

I’m often asked for advice on finding a job in the event industry. That’s not easy to answer because the industry is so vast, but that’s also one of the things that is attractive to people. You can make your own path.

I often hear people say “follow your passion”. I’m not sure people who say that even know what they are really saying. The word “passion” comes from the greek word pathéma. It literally means suffering, affliction, an undergoing, an enduring. It’s not a pleasant thing.

We think of passion as something you love to do. Do what you love for your job. That’s great if you can and pay the bills, but the reality is that’s not always possible. There are jobs that need to be done that are not fun. They aren’t entertaining. Think of the people you encounter every day. Are they following their passion or working to make ends meet?

There are also people who don’t have a clue what their passion is. My advice to those people who aren’t following their passion is to work hard at whatever job you have and live life with your eyes wide open. Seek out new things, try things you have never done before. Ask questions of people you find interesting or successful or even happy.

The eureka moments when we discover our true calling don’t always happen. Sometimes we live our whole life and never answer that question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Following your passion, even if you know it is not easy. It’s often risky, incredibly hard and many fail in that pursuit.

The world changes. There is not much work for cobblers and blacksmiths anymore. I know many people who took a “job” in order to pursue their passion in their spare time. Often that is the best approach. Once your passion becomes that thing that has to put food on the table, things drastically change. Your motivation changes. What you will and will not accept changes. Sometimes even your passion changes.

So follow your passion if you know what it is. And if you dare…