Activate Your Inner Event Professional

Activate Your Inner Event Professional

08/05/21 By Andrew Moffett, Chief Brand Officer

No matter what is happening in the world, we are creatures who crave and desire in-person interactions. That simple fact leads to the non-negotiable desire to host and attend meetings, celebrations, conferences, and any other purposeful event which brings people together. There is a great deal of proactive planning that goes into any event, big or small and remembering these few critical success factors can help you along the way.

As long as I have been working, I have been immersed into jobs and careers that do just that, brings people together. Perhaps it is my extroverted nature that has led me to such career paths, but at my core, I am an eventgoer, an event planner, and an event believer.

My first taste of the hospitality industry was in my teenage years when I worked at Canada’s Wonderland outside of Toronto selling tee shirts and posters at their concert venue. Immediately, I was enamored by seeing people night after night come together, celebrate, and take in the wonderful sounds of their favorite band. At that point I was destined to find a way into this fabulous industry packed with experiences, travel, and wonderfully passionate people.

I graduated from culinary school, worked in various kitchens, eventually finding my groove in event management where I quickly realized there is so much that goes into the planning of any meeting or event. I have done it spectacularly at times and, well, let us just say, I have had some learning opportunities at other times. No matter the size, location, and purpose, there are a lot of moving parts that go in to creating a memorable event. I have spent my entire career attending, planning, and executing events of all sizes. From an intimate multi-course dinner of high-profile ranking delegates, to catering a 6,000-person country music event, to hosting a very eclectic 4,000-person NYE rave, I have seen the gambit and felt the heat when it comes to delivering on the customers’ expectation. And no matter how prepared you are, you always need to know that at any point, something will not go as planned. For those seasoned event professionals out there, you can attest to the fact that we have become the world’s best problem solvers, in career and in life.

I wanted to share some of my critical success factors that go in to planning a successful event. Assuming you have the date and location solidified for your event, here are a few tips to flawlessly plan and execute a memorable event.

1. Align the Purpose
Understanding the purpose, key objectives, and customer needs is critical to the overall design of any event. Do not rush in to planning before you have an opportunity to understand what will make the event successful, what are those key objectives. Is it for education or training purposes? Are you celebrating a milestone or achievement? Are you promoting a product, or coming up with a new idea? This will help to understand the type of setup and service needed in bringing a high return to your event attendees. This also allows you to proactively think about the type of set-up, food, beverage, equipment, and staffing needs you will have. A great plan allows for clear and proper guidance to implementing and activating resources efficiently.

Build the Foundation
Linenless Tables, Buffets, & Furniture

2. Build the Foundation
Tables, chairs, buffet stations, staging; I see these as critical foundational attributes of the event. Without a handle on the essential equipment needs, you are destined to have issues. From the setup, to configuration, to equipment and furniture layout, these must all support the purpose of the event. When investing in the foundation to host an event there are three basic principles to know that will help drive success; easy to set, easy to strike, and easy to store. When I think about my days spent working at various hotels, I remember the equipment that I loved working with and remember the equipment that I loathed having to work with. Those real-life experiences fuel my passion today for innovating better designed product to ensure I am designing product that I would want to work with each and every day. With today’s labor force, product and equipment functionality must be easier to work with.

At the core of Southern Aluminum’s product design, characteristics such as linenless, mobility, durability and lightweight makes it seamless and efficient for operators to execute, activate and strike setups all day long. To simply roll away a buffet station out of guests view and later activate it with little effort is key, especially when you are dealing with today’s optimized labor model. Event furniture that has multi-use functionality and is modular by design means you can configure many different sets based on the myriad of purposes you will plan for. Linenless buffets and stations that also double as furniture is a great strategy. Storage for equipment can sometimes be a challenge, so investing in event furniture designed to stay in the front, not in the storeroom, is key. Think about a buffet table that is attractive enough to double as a credenza or bookshelf when not in use, and simply pull that table in to place when needed as a food station, now that is smart.

Think about simplicity in furniture and equipment; not having a lot of moving parts that can break or get lost helps to sustain the health of the product. This assists in the efficiency of not just initially setting up an event room, but also turning it for another event, sometimes multiple times in one day. The use of linen and traditional table skirting is a thing of the past. Customers want a sleeker and more modern look to an event setup. And the decision to ditch the linens is just the right thing to do for the environment!

3. Design the F&B
Food and beverage is often the most memorable aspects of a meeting or event. So do not treat menu planning as an afterthought. It is not about keeping your attendees full, it is truly part of the experience, a big part. Consider presentation and service elements that will support the purpose of the event. For example, when it comes to menu planning for a meeting designed to teach or train a group of people, avoid carbohydrates and foods high in sugar. Rather, plan for a variety of protein rich lean meats and plant-based dishes, keeping your attendees alert and feeling energized throughout the day. The idea of getting together over a meal to share ideas, celebrate, and get to know others has been with us for centuries. Putting thought into menu suggestions and connecting it to the purpose of the event will only add layers of enjoyment for your attendees. Be creative and take some risks.

Think about activating food stations versus a plated dinner. Plated meals certainly have their place but when you can, impart stations with action and activity for attendees. This gets people moving around, networking, it brings energy to the room and allows an opportunity for attendees to try new and different foods. Stations are a great way to also customize an event, whether they are themed stations or interactive where attendees can build their own dish or craft their own beverage. Convenience and customization has certainly increased in what was already a growing trend prior to COVID. Take it a step further and have a chef or mixologist guide guests through a hands-on experience of a dish or a beverage.

For those event professionals out there, you know there is no better feeling than closing the loop on a successful event knowing that the customer and attendees are completely satisfied. A proactive approach will always deliver success in so many ways, and remaining focused on these few success factors will help to keep planners and attendees coming back for more. Have fun planning your next event, as we all are excited to get back to in-person meetings and events once again!

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