I woke up in the morning bright and early to be ready for my first conference day at The Special Event 2014. Professional outfit: check. Notebook and pen: check. Desire to learn: check. I was ready!
I had five sessions and one special event that I planned to go to that day, so my schedule was pretty jam packed. It started off with a long coffee line, forcing me to go somewhere else to order a drip coffee like some peasant. But as soon as I got to my first session, I was in a much better mood.
“New Trends Inspired by Hollywood & Pop Culture” with Hillary Harris was my first session. She is just amazing. Her talk was full of ideas and inspiration for what will be big in events for 2014. I now know how to be on-trend for the year! Some examples: protein-filled breakfasts, morning weddings, fine patterned textiles, craft beers, the colour blue, fish (specifically fluke), switch LED lightbulbs, Pharrell Williams, corduroy furniture, culinary cocktails, and freekeh. Things that are out? Flavoured vodkas, distressed anything, books, burlap & other textured fabrics, and faux leather. Hillary’s session was colourful and funny as well as inspirational and informative – one of my favourites!
I had time for a quick coffee break before the next session – “EXACTLY How to Charge What You’re Worth” with the fabulous Marley Majcher (@thePartyGoddess on Twitter). What an awesome lady! She is funny, humble, blunt, and really knows her stuff. She assures you that no matter how bad things are, she has most certainly been worse off than you. She shares the knowledge she has gained over the years through her various businesses and experiences, and she is incredibly honest throughout it all. She walked us through the method that each of us can use to determine how much we make and how far we have to go to be where we want to be.
My next session, “Spark – Fueling the ‘Whiz Bang’ in Events” by Keri Miller was all about looking for inspiration for event concepts and designs everywhere and always. Keri started off showing us a video that her son had put together that was chock full of photos that were interesting and inspiring in some way. Keri went on to walk us through some of the large events she has worked on that provided great examples of thinking outside the box to make an event unique. I have to say, I’ll be starting more than one event inspiration board on Pinterest after being in this session!
My fourth session of the day was my least favourite – “Strategic Events: Ideas Worth Executing!”. The idea of something on strategic event planning was very alluring for me, but in the end, this session fell a little flat. The “workshop” they were trying to get us to do was confusing and didn’t get the point across as well as the organizers had hoped, but I appreciate the overall message that we, as event professionals, should be coming up with a plan for conveying the key message of the event and getting lasting value from that message.
My final education session of the day was “The Truth About Buying Talent… What You Need to Know”. This session was a panel format, with 3 individuals from the Association for Entertainment Professionals who provided a lot of information and valuable hints about purchasing talent for any size event. I found this session interesting, but was honestly pretty fried by the time I got to it, so I had some trouble focusing.
After this session was over, I went back to my room for a bit and heard that KP’s flight that evening was cancelled as well! That’s three flights from Denver to Nashville in a row via United that had been cancelled. I couldn’t believe it. You can read about her adventures from this day in her post, #strandedinDenver. I did speak to her later in the evening and she let me know that she had things figured out and would arrive in Nashville the next day, if all went according to plan.
It was soon time to join my friend from Boston at the “TSE Starts Here… Whatever Makes You Feel like a Rock Star” event. It was a kick off event for the conference and took place at the hotel, which was handy. There are several showcasing events thoughout the week that serve a dual purpose: as networking events, and as a chance to see many of the things we spend the week talking about put into action.
This event really did do a few things to make you feel like a rock star – there were “red carpet” areas where you could take photos, and a live band that you could do karaoke with (whether you want to take over as lead singer, back up dancer, or even drummer!). There were also impersonators roaming through the audience – Dolly Parton, Elvis, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, and more…
I want to share some of my learnings each day, in my own words (or favourite quotes from a speaker). Here are my favourite pieces of advice from today:
1) For signs of trends to come in events, watch fashion closely – our industry is about 6 months behind them (and your specific area may be even more than that)!
2) The key to charging what you’re worth, is knowing what you’re worth. When you know it, you can sell it!
3) Look for inspiration anywhere, everywhere, and always.
4) Think about entertainment at the very start of the planning process – sometimes later is too late to get and provide what you really want.