Weather planning for the perfect outdoor event

September 26th, 2017 @

The tents and tables are up, catering is set, all the details have been checked off the list. You have the perfect event planned…and then the storm hits. You realize that there’s really only one thing you can’t control: the weather.

Many times, event planners don’t think about weather when planning their outdoor event. They hope it doesn’t rain and may even consider a backup plan. But what about severe weather, strong winds or lightning? It is important to be proactive and think ahead about the impact of severe weather on your event rather than leaving it to chance. Incorporating a severe-weather plan can ensure you are better prepared and can help avoid chaos if a storm hits. There are necessary steps you can take to ensure that if the weather does turn bad, you’ve got a protocol and plan in place to keep attendees and staff safe.

One of the first steps in severe-weather planning is to consider the venue where the event or meeting is being held. Each venue is different and has different challenges. For example, a large open space such as a golf course can be evacuated much easier and in a shorter time than a large stadium. However, attendees might have arrived by bus. It is critical to consider all of these variables to ensure safety during adverse weather conditions, which can develop rapidly. If a professional weather-monitoring system or plan is not in place, it is necessary for planners to take matters into their own hands and risk making the wrong decisions.

Leaving weather up to chance is risky. Relying on a free weather app may provide you with the basic forecast, but it leaves out critical information, such as the distance of lightning strikes from your event. Each year more than 100,000 thunderstorms occur in the United States, producing 25 million lightning flashes. These can strike as far as 25 miles from the storm that produces them, making it difficult to predict if the event is in danger. Having accurate, real-time lightning information is critical to ensure that you know if and when to evacuate and get people to safety as well as when it’s safe to resume activities.

Event meteorologists

Because keeping people safe is a top priority, meeting and event planners could consider a professional weather monitoring service for all outdoor events.

There are commercial weather services (such as DTN) that offer meteorologists for individual events. These experts are highly trained (degreed and certified) meteorologists who consult on the different factors that could affect an event. They can work with planners to navigate uncertainty pertaining to constantly evolving weather patterns and can provide 24/7 weather counsel and information when unfavorable weather conditions will impact the event, through the use of sophisticated software and precision weather instruments.

severe weather

Typically, vendors offer three different types of services that can fit any size event or budget. For larger events, they offer on-site help during your event. The next level of service monitors weather for your event remotely from a fully staffed team of meteorologists. Lastly, they can provide you with an online service to create custom alerts that allow you to keep track of the weather while performing other activities. Each level of service provides you with accurate real-time, location-specific forecasts, lightning detection and high-wind warnings, giving you peace of mind and advanced notice.

Evacuation planning

Predicting the expected size of a crowd at an event can be extremely helpful when determining evacuation procedures. The number of attendees will determine the time necessary to safely evacuate the event. For example, if there is a small outdoor sporting event and severe weather or lightning causes an evacuation, the criteria might be set so that the event can continue until lightning is within a closer distance, but still with enough time to make sure everyone gets to safety. However, if there is a higher volume of people at a larger outdoor event, the criteria might be set much earlier because evacuation time will take much longer.

As important as it is to know the venue, it is equally important to survey the shelters around the venue in case of an evacuation. Shelters need to be able to safely accommodate the entire group. If there aren’t enough indoor safe spaces to accommodate all attendees, directing them to fully enclosed vehicles is the next best option.

Destination consideration

Weather patterns are another important factor to consider. The region where the event is being held impacts weather monitoring tactics. For example, if there is an event in Indiana, there are normally weather indications days before severe weather hits, making it easier to predict and prepare. However, in Florida, severe weather can happen extremely fast without much warning at all, making it much harder to plan. As a result, it is essential that such pre-event consultations occur to discuss local weather patterns and what type of weather the event might experience.

Communications tactics

Developing a communications protocol before an event is another key to success in the case of an emergency. The severe weather protocol should include who to contact and when, as well as the steps necessary to make fast and logical decisions. If monitoring weather yourself, you need to identify who is monitoring weather conditions—and this should be the person’s sole responsibility during the event or meeting. If you have on-site help, you need to work with them to determine the best spot to monitor weather conditions and decide who the best contact is in case things take a turn for the worse. Defining the exact weather characteristics to look for and when an expert opinion is needed, can help keep everyone safe and aware if the forecast changes.

 

Event planners are very good at ensuring all of the details are covered for a successful meeting or event. Weather should never be taken for granted and always incorporated into your event plans to eliminate nasty surprises.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Transform your event team from order-takers to trusted advisors

September 18th, 2017 @

You lead an in-house team of meeting planners and you’ve just been given staggering news: Your company’s CFO has announced they are spinning off the event department in 90 days.

In three months, your event team will be a separate business and will no longer be guaranteed to get the company’s event work, which will now be put out to bid. Your group will have to compete with other event agencies if it wants the business. You will, however, be free to pursue event work from other companies, but you’ll have to compete for that as well.

You’re faced with a potentially frightening thought: Would your in-house clients hire you and/or your team if they didn’t have to?

This scenario forms the basis of an exercise I run when working with in-house event and meeting teams to help make them more innovative and entrepreneurial. And let me tell you, it’s a real eye-opener, because it forces people to take a hard look at the value they currently provide, which is often not nearly as great as it needs to be to protect their jobs.

1. Becoming indispensable to your clients and company

Your ultimate goal is for your team to provide so much strategic value to your clients that they can’t imagine running their business units without your help. That if the company decided to actually disband or significantly cut back your department, those clients would rise up in revolt in your defense.

Picture a product or service you can’t imagine living without—Spotify, Netflix, Wi-Fi, your weekly yoga or spin class, etc. Now think of how crazy you’d go if that were to be taken away from you. That’s the level of value you want to be providing.

To do this, you need to transform client perceptions of your team, from logistics managers to business event strategists.

RELATED STORY: Successful, strategic planning tips

2. From order takers to trusted advisors

To be a trusted advisor to your client, you first have to figure out what it is they find the most valuable when it comes to events and event services.

Partners (CC) Jeremy Wong
(CC) JEREMY WONG

And here’s where the big disconnect often comes: The things planners often think of as important, are simply not that important to clients. This is why so many planners lament that their clients “don’t appreciate what we do.” There are things the clients care about; most planners simply aren’t doing them.

Planners focus on making sure the meeting gets properly planned and executed, a process involving budgets, floor plans, time lines, venue contracts, etc.—these are minor details to clients. For them, the event is a means to an end, a vehicle to achieve a strategic business goal. An event can be flawlessly executed and come in under budget, but if it didn’t move the needle in advancing those business goals, the client’s not happy. What the client will find super valuable, however, is your ability to really understand what they want to accomplish, know the target audience and design an event to achieve those goals with that audience. In other words, customized strategic guidance. The event needs to be properly organized, of course, but the client doesn’t care as much whether your team does the execution, or if you outsource some or all of that to free up enough time to provide that strategic guidance.

RELATED STORY: Goal-setting, Part 1: Start at the end and you can get anywhere

3. The value curve for professional consultants

Think about your last visit to the doctor. A receptionist checked you in, verified your insurance and handed you some forms to fill out. A nurse took your blood pressure and other vital signs, and perhaps came back later to draw a blood sample. An outside lab analyzed that blood; a third party probably handled the billing. Your doctor didn’t do any of that. She only came in to examine you, discuss your symptoms and recommend treatment.

Do you really care that the lab work was farmed out? Of course not, as long as it was done correctly. You trust that the doctor picked a reputable lab and is analyzing the results for you. What you value most is their expertise.

This customized strategic guidance is the highest value a professional consultant, in any industry, can provide.

RELATED STORY: 5 tips for building, growing your professional connections

4. High-value services for planners

What should you be doing to provide services that your clients will find tremendously valuable? For starters, here are some basics to apply to any event.

  • Understand their business
  • Understand how the event fits into the business
  • Help the client articulate clear goals for the event
  • Determine whether the event is in fact the right vehicle to achieve those goals
  • Design the event in a way to insure it achieves the goals
  • Collaborate on ways to measure success
  • Debrief after the event to evaluate the results

These steps are likely what’s most important to your client, because they position you as a key player in helping them grow their business. They’re also harder to outsource, either to an internal or external resource. The challenge for many planners, however, is that this taps a different part of the brain from managing logistics, which is far more cut and dried. The fact that being a strategic advisor is not cut and dried, though, is what makes it so valuable.

RELATED STORY: Goal-setting with key stakeholders

5. Challenging orthodoxy: Hallmarks of a trusted advisor

Being a trusted advisor means challenging some preconceived notions.

“The customer is (NOT) always right.”

To follow that advice, you’d need to do whatever your client asked you, no matter how dumb an idea it might be, which is the basic definition of an order taker. Smart trusted advisors are willing to push back against their clients, if it means safeguarding their best interests from their whims.

Imagine if you went to an attorney for guidance on a legal matter, and told him you wanted to use a defense you saw on Law and Order the other day. An order taker would fulfill your request, even if it might lead to you losing the case. A trusted advisor would say, “Not on my watch. I won’t let you put yourself in that position.”

Whether you call it “tough love” or “telling truth to power” it means having some potentially uncomfortable conversations, but those conversations will earn you the client’s respect.

RELATED STORY: 5 tips for presenting financial information to company executives

Talk the client out of an event if it’s not a smart investment.

A trusted advisor treats the client’s business and money as if it’s her own. That means if a client comes to you with an event to produce, and you don’t think it’s likely to accomplish their business goals, you need to say so.

This might involve telling the client they need to spend more money, if that’s what it will take to get the job done. Or you might point out that those goals could be more cost-effectively accomplished through a vehicle other than an event. [The client may insist, advice be damned, that they want to proceed anyway, in which case you’ve at least voiced your professional opinion.]

It may seem counterproductive to turn away an event request, but that’s the kind of advice the client needs from you, and it will carry far more weight the next time you advocate to defend the budget of a different event.

Order takers are easy to come by, which is why they tend not to provide enormous value. Trusted advisors are much harder to find, more likely to become indispensable to their clients, and hence more difficult to replace. Focus as much of your time and effort on the strategic elements that are the most valuable to your clients, and delegate or outsource the tasks that can be filled by order takers, and you will be well on your way to becoming a truly trusted advisor.

READ MORE: Essential meeting planning skills

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Dear conference attendee…

September 12th, 2017 @

Dear Conference Attendee,

This is a letter I’ve wanted to write to you, but never have gotten around to doing. Now that I’ve written it, I might not send it. I’m not very visible to you for most of the year; you only see me at the annual meeting and perhaps a couple of quarterly meetings. I’m a meeting professional with your trade association, working year-round to ensure that your time and monetary investment in being a member pays off for you.

I don’t know if you realize it, but preparation for some meetings such as the annual convention actually begins more than a year in advance. I undertake dozens of activities to assure a successful meeting, including visiting potential sites, walking the halls and inspecting the actual facilities, even going up to the rooms—all to ensure your satisfaction when you actually stay there for three or four days. I may also speak with the hotel or convention hall catering division, their audiovisual staff and security division. I work behind the scenes with airlines, shuttle services and so forth.

Making the numbers work

Hand in hand with the site selection is the big job of number crunching. How many registrants will we need and at what price, to hold the meeting at a particular site? What kind of discounts can we offer for early registration? How about spouses, staff, kids, directors, vendors? If all the numbers work, how shall we promote the event? We have to tie it to this year’s theme, and make all the flyers, brochures, registration forms and other supporting materials part of a unified effort. It will take several rounds of mailing to ensure that we have enough early registrations so we don’t have to dip into other funds.

(CC) JOHN SCHULTZ
(CC) JOHN SCHULTZ

Of course, we can’t just plan a meeting, without having events. In some instances, I contact dozens of speakers just to retain the few that will be right for our intended program. Then I have to consider entertainment, spouses programs, children’s activities, receptions, farewells and a host of coffee breaks, tours, parties and other events that require careful planning—although when you’re attending them, I want them to come off so smoothly that you think hardly any planning went into it.

Then there’s the final banquet. Planning that in itself is a gargantuan effort. Will we go formal or semi-formal? Will there be favors on the table? Will there be a dais? Will we get an outside, renowned speaker? Will there be a band, will there be dancing, will there be cordials, will there be a cash bar, will there be a late-night coffee house? The number of options and challenges are almost endless.

The conference schedule

For each activity, each session, each keynote, I have to calculate how many of the total registrants will be in attendance. Should we have morning sessions at 8:00, 8:30 or 9:00? Should they last 60 minutes, 75 or 90? How about break times? How many sessions will we have each day? How many sessions in the afternoon? Should sessions be repeated so people don’t feel frustrated because they have to choose one over another? What about audio and video recording? How should the recordings be priced? What about copyright issues?

As you can see by now, I’m involved and concerned with several hundred distinct issues—and we haven’t even gotten to mailing out registration kits, let alone receiving them, handling the hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of phone calls or handling the event itself.

I’ve wanted to explain all of this to you in detail for so long, but there never seems to be the time. When you call throughout the year it’s usually with a question—which I’m only too happy to answer if I can—then you and I have other things to get back to. When I see you at the annual meeting or some of the quarterly meetings, our respective agendas are full. We’re all busy people and explaining everything I need to do to make the meeting successful is not of primary importance at those times.

Sometimes I just want to shout, “Please appreciate me,” or “Please write me nice notes when things go well,” in addition to letting me know when things don’t go so well. Please acknowledge me for the hundreds of things I do long before the event ever comes to fruition.

Still more work

And the conference follow-up—it’s as rigorous as anything else! When the convention is over you get back on the plane or in your car and head home. I still have many, many tasks to fulfill. I have requests, and maybe orders, to fulfill. There are items to box up and ship back. There’s dispensing of checks to vendors, service providers, speakers, rental companies and the meeting facility. There are notes to be typed up and reports to be written, updates to be made, membership categories to be modified, next year’s convention plans to be altered—it just doesn’t end. I haven’t imparted all this to you although I’ve wanted to, for oh, so long.

Well, I guess I don’t have the wherewithal to send this letter—I knew that before I started. I’ll just leave it parked here on my desktop and turn back to one of the 200 other important tasks that demand my ever-present attention.

Very truly yours,
Your Meeting Professional

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Weekly deals and highlights: September 6, 2017

September 6th, 2017 @

brazilianct9_6_17_180pxThe Brazilian Court Hotel
Twitter: @braziliancourt
Creating unique and memorable Palm Beach meeting experiences one group at a time. Let us show you how we do it.


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Click here to fill out the survey for your chance to win!

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Planning in the eye of the storm

September 1st, 2017 @

Last week saw headlines about the destruction and flooding due to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the monsoons in Mumbai. These events are an important reminder for event planners that disaster can strike at anywhere and at any time. After they hit, it can be difficult to recover.

Collect emergency contacts and demographic information.

Before events, particularly those that are away from home base, be sure to collect information about citizenships and emergency contacts for all participants.

Citizenship information will be required if assistance from embassies is required. E-mails, home phone numbers, business numbers, and mobile phones are essential. If one channel goes down, it’s essential to have others as a back-up.

Be sure to obtain written permission to pass this information on to the embassy, local tourist board and emergency service providers.

Remind the members of your party to bring supplies for emergencies.

In the excitement of travel, people often forget to build these basic supplies. Remind your guests to bring flashlights and extra batteries in case the power goes out. It goes without saying that winter clothing is essential in certain destinations. Depending on the time of year, it is advisable to bring rain gear. Mobile phones are important to bring in case landline service goes down. Most carriers provide affordable roaming packages.

When travelling outside the country, it is also a good idea for participants to bring sealed envelopes with medical information and a copy of their passports. If the original gets lost, the copies will make it easier to obtain replacements.

Advise everyone to purchase extra water after clearing security and enough food to tide them over in case of delays.

In Canada, an inquiry is currently underway. On July 31st., passengers onboard flights from Brussels and Rome to Montreal sat on the tarmac for 6 hours without water, food or air conditioning. Their flights had been diverted to Ottawa due to severe weather in Montreal that prevented landing.

File the participant list, venue and emergency contacts with the local embassy.

This information will help authorities provide assistance swiftly. The embassy can also assist groups in getting information to reassure emergency contacts.

Arrange for someone at home base to monitor the situation remotely and stay in contact with the group.

If the power goes out, the group may be unaware of what is happening beyond their immediate location. Often, contact can be maintained through mobile phones.

I’m spending most of this month in Montreal. On Tuesday, August 22 it rained heavily. The power went out a couple of times and then it stayed out for almost two days. With no radio, Internet or TV we had no idea of the extent of the damage. It was not until the next morning when venturing out for breakfast, that the extent of the damage became clear. (Without warning, a microburst had hit the area. It toppled giant trees, totaled cars, damaged roofs, and almost completely destroyed a park.)

Pass the guest information and emergency contacts on to the local tourist board as soon as there is a severe weather warning.

When Hurricane Sandy hit, the Jamaica Tourist Board was extremely helpful in assisting the members of one of my corporate groups who had extended their stay. They even contacted members of the group who had moved to other hotels to verify that they were safe.

Additional tips:

  • Obtain emergency and medical contact numbers and provide this for all guests with their itinerary.
  • Ask the hotel to brief the group about emergency procedures during orientation.
  • When venturing off the beaten track, ensure that you have emergency supplies, first aid kits, and an ample supply of water and food.
  • As soon as there is a severe weather warning, contact the airline and find out if there is an option for the group to leave ahead of schedules.

While it’s impossible to prepare for all catastrophes, careful pre-planning reduces the impact, minimizes discomfort and ensure that the group receives speedy assistance.

If you wish to help meeting and event industry professionals who were affected by Hurricane please donate to the MPI Houston Area Chapter Disaster Relief Fund.

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Report from Houston during the flood

August 29th, 2017 @

In July, Gabriel Garza took on a new role as president of the MPI Houston Area Chapter. In the August issue of The Meeting Professional, he shared insight into the meeting and event industry offerings of his beloved city—the fourth-largest in the United States. On Aug. 25, Hurricane Harvey began an unrelenting attack on southeast Texas, at first with severe winds and then, even more devastatingly, days of soaking rains the likes of which no one can recall experiencing. The total anticipated rain from the storm is expected to match or exceed the rainfall that Houston sees in an entire year—all in a week.

We checked in with Gabriel Garza, complex account director, group sales for The Westin Galleria Houston and The Westin Oaks Houston at the Galleria, to see how he’s doing in this chaotic and dangerous situation. He took some time to share his story with us and his global meeting industry family.

gabe garzaThank you so much for reaching out to me. I certainly appreciate the concern from my MPI family.

My wife and I were talking last night and I told her, I am just mentally drained, and that perfectly states my feelings right now.

Thankfully, we are safe. Our street is flooded and we are stuck but no water has entered our home. This is not the case for many family friends we know. We live in the south side of Houston in the city of Manvel, which is in an area where some of the heaviest rain and flooding occurred (not far from Dickinson and Friendswood, Texas). We know many family friends and individuals who have had to evacuate their homes and/or who have been rescued by boat or helicopter. The worse part of all this is feeling helpless… not being able to lend a hand to friends and community members.

I work at The Westin Galleria Houston & Westin Oaks Houston at the Galleria, connected to the Houston Galleria Mall. Our hotel did not suffer any damage or flooding and is open for business to welcome any evacuees and/or disaster relief teams. Mind you, our hotel is operating with limited staff with many of our team members who have been there since Thursday of last week. Appreciation does not describe how thankful we are to have them tending to our in-house guests.

We have had a few group cancellations due to the inability to get to Houston but minimal. Our sales team is working on a number of opportunities as we hope to be home to disaster relief teams in the coming weeks as we begin to rebuild this great city.

I have communicated to Holly Dotson at MPI Global as we are hoping to establish a disaster relief fund on behalf of our chapter in partnership with the other Texas chapters. I am fortunate to have received emails from other MPI presidents around the U.S. who are ready to assist in our efforts.

In the words of JJ Watt [defensive end for the Houston Texans football team], “Houston’s a great city. We’re going to come out of this stronger than ever.”

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Category : Blog and Industry News

5 tips for speaking confidently and persuasively with undecided stakeholders

August 28th, 2017 @

In any industry, at some point you will encounter undecided stakeholders who need to be converted from lukewarm skeptics to red-hot advocates.

(CC) SHINESFORYOUWhether you’re a business maven pitching a new idea for your company, an admin seeking final sign-off for an event or a proactive school principal securing funding and support of parents and the wider school community, persuading others of your vision and getting them on board is a crucial skill to help you in the workplace.

Here, we explore five tips for speaking confidently and persuasively with undecided stakeholders to help you realize your vision.

1. Reaffirm your shared goals and purpose.

One of the most effective ways to positively influence others is to understand how your objectives play into their objectives—and to find common ground between the two.

Before the meeting takes place, spend some time understanding the aims of both parties and how your vision complements both goals. For example, onboarding a digital communications platform for your school community reduces tasks and saves time for administration and teachers so they can focus on students, while parents have full transparency and access to school communications.

At the beginning of the meeting or presentation, start by addressing the collective goal and purpose, and share how all stakeholders will benefit from your proposed vision. At the end of the meeting, reiterate this so it stays in their minds.

In other words, make your stakeholders believe you are helping them to reach their goals, and they’ll be more open to your vision.

2. Practice active listening and empathy.

When it comes to influencing others, it’s easy to confuse actions for progress, and assume that speaking more leads to persuasion. The reality, however, is that a big part of influence is listening to your stakeholders and understanding their points of view.

Rather than simply presenting your vision, take the time first to listen to the concerns, opinions and beliefs of all your stakeholders. When you address them, acknowledge their points of view—this way, you show that you respect and value their opinion, and build a mutual level of understanding and trust with your stakeholders.

Ultimately, the more they feel understood and the more they trust you, the more influence you will have in the long run.

We have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionately.”

– John Berghoff, Quiet by Susan Cain

 3. Use psychological theories to your advantage.

Science has come a long way in recent years, and this means there is no shortage of psychological theories which can help you influence others positively in the workplace. Familiarize yourself with a few that can help you gain that extra level of credibility and influence, so you have a toolkit to draw upon to help enhance your level of persuasiveness.

For example, social proof, which includes using testimonials from other key opinion leaders to validate your point, can help you gain credibility amongst your stakeholders. If you’re trying to persuade parents to be more involved in the school community, using quotes or having a speech from a parent gives your vision more credibility.

4. It’s not just what you say, it’s also how you say it.

This includes body language. In communication, the way you present yourself can either enhance the impact of your words or detract from it.

Practice persuasive body language when you’re communicating to stakeholders, and this will help you gain influence and project authority—which, in turn, builds your rapport and gives credibility to what you say.

In a nutshell:

  • Stand tall but relaxed, with your shoulders back.
  • Keep your posture open: don’t cross your arms and legs, lean against objects, or put your hands in your pocket.
  • Maintain eye contact with your stakeholders to acknowledge them, whether they are parents who are new to the school community or teachers you have worked with for years.
  • Use your hands: Gestures can help drive a point home, or signal the desire for participation. Just be sure to use them sparingly, however—too many gestures can make you appear nervous or detract from your words.

5. Address and embrace positive conflict.

When looking at how to influence others in the workplace, one of the common mistakes people make is avoiding conflict altogether. Stakeholders will disagree with you—it’s all part and parcel of the communication process. However, rather than avoiding or ignoring the conflict, embrace it as an opportunity to have a dialogue and potentially influence their viewpoint.

If a stakeholder disagrees or challenges your vision, use it as an opportunity to practice active listening: Ask open-ended questions to really understand their goals and empathize with their concerns, and reflect on any shared goals you have to show that you are working together.

More on influence and persuasion

Bringing stakeholders onboard can be a challenge, yet these tips will help you approach every meeting better prepared.

What tips do you find useful for convincing undecided stakeholders?

 

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Category : Blog and Industry News

Live music booking best practices

August 21st, 2017 @

Jason SwartzOctober is going to be a killer month of live music entertainment in Texas. I’m planning on attending seven concerts—all of the bands are original and incredible. (For those interested or in need of some music recommendations, the schedule includes the Canadian jazz quartet BadBadNotGood, L.A.’s soul-funk Chicano Batman, Houston’s Thai-surf rock Khruangbin and the always-evolving Australian seven-piece King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.)

With this in mind, I had the opportunity to chat with music booker Jason Swartz, founder of Alliance Talent, about the challenges planners face when seeking to include live music in an event’s schedule and the state of the festival scene in the U.S.

Have you booked much talent for association or non-profit events? If so, what unique challenges arise?

Through my company, Alliance Talent, I have been actively involved in non-profit events since we began booking concerts in the early 2000s. When it comes to non-profits, I haven’t faced many challenges that are all that different than with any other client. Typically, when an event is run by a non-profit they still have budgets available for booking talent. We go through the process of getting to know the client, the overall goals for the event’s musical direction, press needs, social media and, of course, the budget.

Once that’s dialed in, we obtain the lists needed to make a firm decision on direction. The main challenge that comes with non-profits, like universities and other associations with multiple decision makers, is getting everyone on the same page in terms of musical direction.

Many people choose talent based on their personal interests with the assumption that others will also be engaged by what they like. With 17 years of experience, I know how to get an organization aligned. Sometimes this involves combining an opening act of one genre and a headliner of another or simply guiding them on a list of artists that works for everyone’s expectations.

What advice do you have for planners that appear to be stuck in the habit of hiring 70s or 80s cover bands year after year?

It’s always fun to book 70s, 80s and other theme based cover bands because like DJs they can play a wide variety of music that will appeal to everyone. There is always that concern that choosing a specific act with their own music may lead to them playing 2-3 songs that everyone loves and then having the remainder of the set filled with songs that don’t appeal to the audience.

If an organization really wants a 70s and 80s style show, we guide them on acts that are versed in doing special events for charities, non-profits and corporate organizations. Those kinds of acts will know that they need to play their own music, but they will also add in some jams that everyone can relate to. Often, those include their own versions of covers from that era. Also, the idea of having the actual band that played those original songs adds a much stronger cache to an event both for attendance, press and social media.

Showing organizations how they can benefit from marketing elements makes a big difference from simply booking a cover band. Also, adding a host DJ to the event to warm up the crowd prior and post to a band’s performance is always a great way to satisfy everyone’s needs for a variety of music from a specific decade.

How can planners help their events get out of a rut of offering the same kind of music year after year?

If an event planner is looking to switch things up from past years, they need to make a leap of faith and just jump into it. Again, I’d recommend starting by connecting with a professional talent buying agency that can really guide them through the best options for their budget, theme and overall experience.

I’d also recommend internally to put together a list that aligns with their theme or genre, so that when they do connect with a talent buying agency they will already have taken the steps to get their entire board on the same page. Once a specific list of 10-20 acts has been pre-approved it will be that much easier for the buyers to negotiate on their behalf knowing the event is ready to go.

What does it typically take for an organization to shake things up and get more creative with its auditory entertainment?

They need to look at the benefits of having an actual act with a known national name. As mentioned, the press and the cache will help with the marketing and will help sell tickets for the event that year. In addition, the organization will start to build up a track record of having known national talent, which will make it easier to get bigger names on board year after year. Musicians, agents and managers always feel more comfortable to play an event or a festival once they know other national names have played it in the past or are on board for the current year.

Not all events have significant budgets for entertainment. Can you share some tips to help planners find and pay for recognized bands?

Checking to see who’s already in town or is local is a great way to get some kind of discount. The less a band must travel, the less they will charge. Also, if a non-profit organization is hosting an event for a specific charity or cause, it is often possible to identify musicians that are supportive of similar causes. These acts are often likely to perform at a discount if it is a cause they believe in.

How can planners best locate lesser-known acts that are original but also affordable?

The best way to find known acts at a discount is to go through experienced talent buying agencies. It takes a knowledgeable team that is talking to artists, managers and agents every day to know which artists are more eager for gigs and looking to do things at more reasonable prices. As mentioned, researching who is on tour and close by to where the event is taking place may also lower costs.

What should planners be wary of when booking entertainment?

Event planners need to ensure that the company they are dealing with for booking talent is experienced and well referenced online. Get some documentation from them on their history or ask them for some references.

Also make sure that when you agree to the booking you’re aware of all the additional costs. Booking talent doesn’t just involve a fee for talent, there also may be an additional fee for the agency booking it, as well as additional costs for the talent itself. Those costs usually involve travel, hospitality and backline production equipment.

One benefit of going through experienced talent buying agencies is that reputable ones will be able to compile all of these costs into one all-in fee so planners can focus on what they do best rather than dealing with all the logistical needs of the performers and their teams.

The structure of music festival lineups has changed significantly since the early years of Lollapalooza—now it seems that a set group of acts simply tour between festivals rather than each major festival booking a fully or mostly unique lineup. How is this affecting the draw of festivals?

Even though one would think that having similar acts at various festivals would cause attendance to go down, festival attendance over the decades (since Lollapalooza) have gone up significantly. Acts that typically only tour once every few years can tour more often since festivals pay top dollar.

Acts like Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Bjork and a huge list of others that formerly toured infrequently now tour a lot more. That means more amazing shows by awesome talent across a wider variety of regions. Also, social media has really helped propel festivals. When an artist has an amazing performance at one festival, there is a social media effect that enables people to have the same amazing experience online.

What are some aspects of festival organization and planning that you think could be improved upon?

I’d like to see an increase in creativity when it comes to choosing locations. In the last 10 years, the festival experience has really come of age in America, but how many times are we going to have a festival on a grass field or in a concrete parking lot.

I would love to see festivals branch out to create more events in nature. Whether its eco-concerts in a forest, at beach locations, alongside rivers or in the mountains, featuring music in other natural environments would really enhance the festival experience.

Also, the concept of creating communities within a festival is fun and encourages people to remain on the grounds for the duration of the festival. Creating a community opens all kinds of new experiences related to food, architectural design and communication between fans. In this setting, people won’t just go home from a festival with a phone filled with live show content and a t-shirt. Now they will return having really connected with new people, and will have experienced something unique and fulfilling.

Are there some examples of festival organizers doing this right that you can share?

Lightning in a Bottle in Bradley, Calif., is a really cool festival that continues to make its festival setting more interesting from a community and environmental standpoint. Adding more art structures, lighting and layouts in their campgrounds has created a cool forest-like community.

Also a new festival in Negril, Jamaica, called Tmrw.Tday Cultural Fest was quite interesting as a destination festival that incorporated beach, jungle and even rock cave parties into its weekend itinerary. I thought that was amazing and has a tremendous potential for growth.

These events do not need to be limited to environments, I think festivals could try throwing an event at a water park or amusement park as well. Festivals need to remember in the end that they are throwing a massive party and potentially creating a community for a day. Proper festivals really should be more than just multiple concert performances going on at the same time surrounded by carnival rides and the same old typical food stands.

(CC) ANDI ERDNER
(CC) ANDI ERDNER

The post Live music booking best practices appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Weekly deals and highlights: August 16, 2017

August 16th, 2017 @

Weekly deals and highlights: August 16, 2017

boulder8_16_17_180pxBoulder Convention and Visitors Bureau
Twitter: @VisitBoulder
With cash incentives for your group, classic views, new hotels, and fresh venues, now’s the time to plan your meeting in Boulder.


Caesars Entertainment offers meeting and event planners one dedicated team that works as a united front, committed to providing the most successful meeting experiences possible. Enjoy elite perks, rewards and privileges with our Total Rewards Meeting Diamond Program.

Click here to fill out the survey for your chance to win!

The post Weekly deals and highlights: August 16, 2017 appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News

Weekly deals and highlights: August 16, 2017

August 16th, 2017 @

Weekly deals and highlights: August 16, 2017

boulder8_16_17_180pxBoulder Convention and Visitors Bureau
Twitter: @VisitBoulder
With cash incentives for your group, classic views, new hotels, and fresh venues, now’s the time to plan your meeting in Boulder.


Caesars Entertainment offers meeting and event planners one dedicated team that works as a united front, committed to providing the most successful meeting experiences possible. Enjoy elite perks, rewards and privileges with our Total Rewards Meeting Diamond Program.

Click here to fill out the survey for your chance to win!

The post Weekly deals and highlights: August 16, 2017 appeared first on Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International.

Category : Blog and Industry News