No beige food at your event!? Tahira is the guest this week and she shares all things she’s learned during her time in the events industry. Grab your notebook, you will definitely want to write some of this down!
The Society for Incentive Travel Excellence
How did you end up in the events business?
I was a hairstylist and I loved doing that job. I started working at salons when I was 13, at 26 I had crazy surgery on both of my arms and I couldn’t cut hair again.
I saw a tiny ad about an event diploma. I entered the industry the way no one does, which is getting a diploma in event management Then I got a great job with PCO (professional convention organization company).
Then I was a creative director and I was tired and got really interested in event technology and did that for a bit with quick mobile. Through all of this I wrote a book. I had been blogging and writing for quite some time. I thought I should collect what I think is important about in events in one place. I called it Intentional Event Design, I think we need to be purposeful and thoughtful and people centric. It’s about how do we rethink seating and food and beverage and build it into our events from the beginning.
If you create meaningful interactions between people those are the things people remember and take away. Where do you start in all of that?
I start by figuring out the purpose of the event. Theres a thing around starting with why, and it does matter. Create an empathy map and think about the people attending. Both in our case, we do programs that are hosted, and we are really reliant on our sponsors.
You said people centric and purpose driven is how you do events, tell me about your approach.
It starts with empathy mapping, dig into the different people that will come. Who is your audience? It’s looking at it from different perspectives, if I come as a participant, a sponsor, an exhibitor, a supplier partner, and extrovert, introvert: how can I create spaces that tie into the emotional needs of the people attending. And how do I create the education and topics that are relevant for this group of participants at this time. You start to build out your events in that way. Allow them to connect and be comfortable.
We think of typical networking events at a bar, a room music is too loud to talk over so you’re yelling at people. It’s impossible to be in if you have hearing issues. You don’t get food that nourishes you and its primarily alcoholic offerings and those aren’t good for everybody. My thing around food is no beige food. You start off your day with a bagel and an hour and half later you have crashed and want more food. You are looking for that energy. You go to lunch and get pasta and a bun. Now you’re weighted down, no one wants to be the after lunch speaker. We just started to give people color.
What other things do you do that are purpose driven and people centric?
I try to create quiet spaces for people. Think about nursing mothers, prayer, things that you will want to set aside a room for.
Use technology smartly. We are past the age of paper things and into mobile apps. Get things to people in a timely fashion.
How do you work with a venue that only has union run snacks that are not good?
We have to start it in the beginning. It has to be a part of our RFP. You have to have healthy menus.
Contact Tahira: intentionaleventdesign.ca