Logistics

S.2 Episode 18: Being Intentional to Make your Events Amazing

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 

Instagram: Tahiracreates

tahiralovesevents@gmail.com

Instagram: charlesevaneide

eidecomcreative

Twitter: TheMeetingMinds

S.2 Episode 15: Should you hire a professional emcee?!

Does having a professional Emcee make a difference for your event?  Is it worth the cost of hiring one?  Charles and Lisa sit down with professional Emcee, Amy McWhirter.  Hear the ways emcee’s make a difference for your event and the tricks they have learned to create engagement!

 

Tell us about you.

 
I started out doing trade shows. I’ve been doing that a long time, then about 4 years ago I started transitioning into doing more corporate events. I absolutely love it, the experience from the corporate trade show world led up to this.  Its the live energy I love so much. It’s a lot more improv and in the moment. Trade shows are usually scripted, we have scrips in the live hosting corporate events but our audience is right there and you are guiding them through.  You gauge the energy level and I get such a thrill out of that. 
 
Here in the twin cities we see a lot of news anchors emcee events. How do you create the connection between you and the clients? How are you introduced?
 
Right off the bat I introduce myself and tell them I will be joining them on the journey. I don’t spend too much time on it, just a couple sentences, it’s really all about them and their event. At the end of the event I do have people coming up and say it was great and engaging and think I work for the company.  That is the goal!
 
What sets the tone for an event?  
 
Meetings ahead of time to plan with the client, figuring out what the messaging is.  The tone can vary between the kinds of audiences. The sales meetings are typically a little more high energy, where as a customer gathering is a little different.
 
How do you build your prices?
 
I build pre-planning into the pricing. I consider it part of rehearsal which is the day before the event and are built together for a day rate. For a corporate meeting for a day it is $4,000-5,000. 
 
In your opinion what makes a great emcee?
 
Energy! Energy is huge, warmth, engaging, charismatic, authentic: those are the things I think make a great host.  
 
My experience with the corporate presenting world goes a long way. I am used to getting immersed in the topic and sounding like an expert. That comes somewhat naturally at this point, part of that is getting familiar with a new client. It goes back to meetings and the content. 
 
How do you balance script vs improv?
 
They have their messaging but I have freedom to make it sound natural and put it in my voice. I either do bullet points or write it out more long form. In the moments there’s a lot of improv. Not changing the messaging but the way it’s delivered, when the people are there vs rehearsing, in the moment it will be different. It just comes alive when the audience is there. You have to be able to read the room and adapt accordingly. 
 
Do you see a lot of companies using employees to emcee and how do you show them the value of hiring a professional?
 
Yes that does happen. If they want to do that, it’s fine.  A professional is a professional for a reason and can handle all those unknowns or unexpected things.  The energy level alone, it’s hard to do that and maintain the energy level. The head of an emcee is in a different place. The employee will have so many other responsibilities and their focus can be pulled during the event. 
 
If I want to interview a few emcees, what kind of things do I need to do to vet them?
 
Do research before even talking to your candidates.  Go to a website for them, look at their testimonials, video clips are huge.  You can see the person in action doing what they do best. Of course talk to them and see how they do one on one and get a personality feel.
 
Do you memorize your script?
 
There are confidence monitors, they are hidden so most people don’t know they are there. I put my notes there.  I carry cards, I rarely need them but they do help especially in an interview or panel on stage. Sometimes the monitor will not be working because a video just played, or they forgot to switch it back. 
 
How do you keep people on time?
 
 Lots of reminders about what’s next and what time to be back for the general session. I point them to the mobile app and reinforce it by having them refer to their app. Things definitely do go long. 
 
What was the most fun moment in your career?
 
I went to host a customer conference in Rome last October. I did not meet the pope!  Honestly a sales meeting I did last month, we had some really fun bits.  We had a trivia game for the sales folks and I wore a crazy rainbow jacket. They played a montage of game shows, including international because we wanted to include all the folks, that was really fun. Then I got to do a song and dance. I am a dancer and I can sing.  And the CEO was so big on me doing a song. “You’re ready for that, you’re going to do that song right?!” It was fun. I put on a top hat and did a little bit from Chorus line, that was super fun!  
 
Has anyone asked you to do anything weird?
 
So far no!  If it really fits with their theme, I will say yes. The wildest I had to get was that colorful jacket. 
 
To get a hold of Amy:
Insta: presenting_amy
 
Instagram: charlesevaneide
eidecomcreative
 
Twitter: TheMeetingMinds

S.2 Episode 11: How to Create an Event that Flows: from a Production Manager’s Perspective

Kyle Arndt, EideCom’s Production Manager takes time out of his day to sit down with Charles and Lisa. He shares from his perspective, how to create a show that flows and what goes into the details. Kyle has years of experience in the industry and with that comes many must know tips!

 

We have a special guest. We actually have the pleasure of working with them every single day here at EideCom, Kyle Arndt welcome.

 

Well the guys, thanks for having me. You know we get to, we get to hang out. We never get to hang out like this.

 

So I thought I would just start by maybe tell us a little bit about how you got into production in general, how you got into the industry.

 

So once upon a time I dreamed of being a rock star. So when I was growing up, I played guitar and then, through my first couple of years of college, we played shows every weekend. And then I ended up like realizing that I liked setting up the equipment and dealing with the equipment more than I liked playing shows. So then I started working for my friend’s bands and I traveled the world working for a bunch of different bands. And then, um, when I got sick of traveling, I joined up with a few companies in town. And then about six months after working around town, I found EideCom here. So then I’ve been on the team for the last two and a half years now.

 

Well, so let’s talk about kind of from the beginning, how do you make a great production that’s well-oiled and turns out to be very successful?

 

The holy grail to all these things is how we build a quote, how we recognize where stuff might be missing, the holes, where we need content for, how we play stuff, how many microphones we need, how we build; everything is off of any sort of schedule we can get from the client. If you’re putting on an event, make a detailed schedule or a rough schedule to start and we’ll ask questions. You know, that’s one thing we do is look through a schedule with a comb and say, hey, you know, it looks like we’re missing something here. Or it looks like you have this many people talking here. We’re going to add some, some equipment for that. We’re going to add a few microphones for this. Do you plan on having all these people speak at the podium or do you need microphones for them all? So it’s just the schedule is really the key and that kind of needs to outline the obviously the timing of things. Who speaks at what time for how long they’re speaking. If you’re working with a great production team, they’re usually asking these questions upfront. Building the schedule is different, different per scope of work. A lot of times these gala’s we do you get the information the week of or of the day of even the content shows up on a jump drive and then usually just it’s important for you putting on a show to know who your point person is with, with the product.

 

What are the importance of Comms?

 

There’s a couple of different kinds of systems. I’m mostly familiar with a product called clear, their newest stuff I think is helix net, which is a wired system. So anybody that’s sitting at the front of House table or anyone sitting backstage where their position doesn’t call them to be roaming around the room, you would just plug in there. They have like a comm unit and they can push talk to the people they need to talk to you. And it can be programmed. It doesn’t sound like a radio, Sounds like us talking right here. It’s super nice. It’s super crisp and clear. You can hear everything they’re saying. It’s super controllable. It’s programmable.

 

We always have three teams of people on comm. We always have audio, video and lighting. If we add cameras to a show, that’s another set of people. If we add the client to that, that’s another set of people. So a lot of these shows, even the bigger conferences can have up to 50 or 60 people on it.

 

Tell me about the importance, do you need it?

 

Absolutely. Yeah. I mean it’s like the last thing I’ll try to take off an estimate. When someone’s trying to cut costs, I’m like, we absolutely need this. Even if we’re all sitting next to each other, say it’s a small show if we’re all sitting next to each other, it’s better for us to be whispering to each other than yelling. The comm is insanely cool technology. We can separate everybody. So it’s these people talk to these people and then everybody connects on one channel everybody can hear this, but only people can talk down this ETC.

 

The most important things for the stage manager be doing is to make sure everybody on stage can be seen on camera. To me whenever I get to stage manage, I like to remind people, I’m like, hey, you know the cameras straight out in front of you. We have a camera over here and there’s a camera over here.

 

Like just so they know like they’re always facing forward and you know like in that part of that comes into play. Like some people do panels on stage and okay, then you’re looking at the stage managers usually in charge of setting up those debt furniture, right? So they play a big part and going where it, can this be a pit positioned on stage so we can pick up everybody nicely on camera.

 

Do rehearse the furniture?

 

Yeah, so that’s where comm comes into play because then during the setup, because usually it’s a five minute change over, but then you’re the stage manager who’s helping them set up, you’re connected on comm to the video director who’s watching, who’s physically looking at the camera shots. You got a camera operator and moving around and making sure you can see everything and they’re going, yeah that furniture needs to move. It’s not like somebody’s running back and forth and it takes more time.

 

Tell us about the show flow…

 

There’s a few things I like to do when I gather the information and this information is key. When I talk to a presenter, whether that’s a CEO, an auctioneer, or a keynote, whoever it is, I just like to say, you know, you’re supposed to speak for about this amount of time. How are you wrapping up your speech? Like what are you saying to end it, right? Cause there’s a lot of times I’m looking for a cue. I’m looking for, somebody is going to press a button at the end of this that’s going to start music, the lights are going to move and that has to happen all at the same time. So we’re looking for a vocal cue.

 

Some keynote, CEO’s, and speakers they’re very, very good about what they’re going to say. . And then at the same time, some people literally haven’t thought about it yet. They’re planning on winging it, I’m just going to go up there and talk for a little while. So I’m like, well, it would be helpful for us to just kind of know how you’re going to wrap up. How do you, how do you plan on ending this speech? Like who name five people you’re going to say thank you to or something to get to get them thinking about it because that’ll help them glue it together as well to just kind of bundle it up.

 

So that leads me to the question about rehearsals before we talk about transitions and other things like that. Like tell me about rehearsals.

 

We get the opportunity of doing a show in all different situations. When we have short rehearsal time or no rehearsal time, we can pick our team based on that. I think the most important part of rehearsal is how somebody is getting on and off stage. Because once they’re on stage, they’re going, if it’s a performance piece, it’s a little bit more involved. But if it’s a keynote, it’s like they want to know how they’re going on and off stage, what the lights are doing, where they’re walking from. We get the opportunity to figure out like how long they’re going to take to get onstage.Everyone’s walks at a different speed, if they get the opportunity to do it twice, that’s kind of in their mind like this is how I’m going to do it. Now if we cycled to a performance, they’ve got dancers and they have singers and they’re on this stage and they’re gonna move to this stage. We have the opportunity of setting up the day before for this particular gala and we’re going to run through that for probably about three hours from the night before and we’re going to get the performance piece rehearsed the night before. That way we have time to walk through anything the next day if needed, and then we get it. And then we’ll take the rest of that time the next day before the event starts to go through all the the keynote speeches.

 

From a production standpoint, we love the venue the day before. Now we understand that it increases costs and we take steps to try to minimize that. We’ll go in with a reduced crew just to get some stuff in place. Try to do a half day there. There’s ways that it doesn’t double the labor costs. There’s creative ways to figure that out. If you’re a client and you feel like you’re always running around with your head cut off an hour before the show starts, trying to get in the night before the day is going to help your show immensely.

 

We were talking about the show flow and it going well. Are there softwares or tools or do you just use a spreadsheet?

 

There is a web based program called show shoflo. It’s more or less just a spreadsheet that you update on the web so everybody can see it on their device or whatever. They can log into it and they can even follow along. So as the show goes, the timings on there and there’s a person in charge of pressing next, so you can see, okay, we did that, this is what’s coming up next.

 

When we get the opportunity to help build the show flow we tend to use a spreadsheet. That’s how a lot of our show callers have always done it.

 

How do you make sure that weird stuff doesn’t happen?

 

I just talk through a show so many times before the show. With the team, with myself, with the, with the client, with everybody. Just to make sure we got everything okay. Every piece of the transition, how something ends, what happens in between, how that person gets on stage every detail is talked through. Those small points speed everything up. They make it so it’s not awkward because it can’t cause the second it’s awkward you’re sitting at the tech table and back, everybody’s turning around looking at you and you’re like, oh, I guess it is our fault because we are running the production.

 

Tell me about like having an MC?

 

The best mcs they kind of show up and they go, Yup, I’ll go on stage whenever you guys need me. Uh, looks like there’s a script printed out. Let me know if I’m needed for anything else. The news casters around town, they’re all very good. I think the quality of a person is how involved they are in the project. That speaks with how our team works here. We try to be very involved with everything we’re doing. And then we’re invested. Same thing goes with an MC. It’s like, you know, how much are they involved with your organization, if at all?

 

You’ve done some of our shows repeatedly, do you have a level of comfortability once you’ve done it before?

 

Oh, absolutely. Every time we do a show, the second year the show goes well. The second year it’s like, we did this last year, how is it different? We’re familiar. We know the people involved. We go, okay that person’s speaking for sure they’re involved with the organization at this level so there’ll be on stage. We get to the opportunity to go into a little bit more detail. We know where are the most important people sitting.





S.2 Episode 10: Event Planners; Hire or Contract?!

This episode we are joined by Lisa.  We dive into the issue of hiring versus contracting event planners and where the threshold is.

Today we have Lisa Schuler, the president of Schuler Marketing. Tell us a little bit about you.

 

I’ve worked in the marketing communications field coming out of college and started out with international Dairy Queen.  I wrote all about DQ treats. I was the Children’s Miracle network coordinator, did a lot of traveling with their events. That is how it all started and I got the bug for the events and production component.

 

I’ve been in events for over 20 years.

 

Today’s topic we are talking all about how to know when to hire someone internally or hire someone externally. A lot of times they will have an admin do it.

 

I think that happens a lot.  Sometimes events brew up and starts and grows. It starts out small and all of a sudden it’s a big thing, they have an admin trying to manage it while supporting an executive, feeling overwhelmed and not as knowledgeable about negotiating contracts. They know enough but are not as focused. It takes a certain skill set. Meeting planners, you have to be able to juggle a lot of plates, and some people are not comfortable with that. You either love it or not.  Sometimes you are handing things off to people and it’s not their sweet spot or niche. That is sometimes when an organization should step back and see if they should bring someone in, focused on the event, putting the pieces together, and they can work virtually with the team that is part of the organization.

 

Bringing in a meeting planner, you can let them run the show, put the team together.  A lot of times I will step in and lead the team, bring them together and have a pulse check meetings. As a meeting planner, I can be focused on the event the whole time.

 

How does the company know when to hire internally?

 

It depends on the need. At some point if you’re not needing someone full time all the time, maybe you should be looking to fill that as a resource.  It’s not just putting anyone in, you need someone assertive and confident. When you get past the point of a group sitting together and start adding production pieces and getting more complicated, now you are starting to look at the point of needing a meeting planner.

 

So maybe you’re not at the point where you should hire someone full time, how do you create an arrangement with a 3rd party where they have authority and control?

 

In my role that is spot on.  You have to get comfortable with that and find the right person. I’m brought in a lot and looked at as a team member.  There are times people think I am an employee. Find someone who looks and immerse themselves into the organization. You need to know enough about the content to deliver that into the meeting.  If there’s such a separation, you’re completely missing out on the flow and integration on how the event goes.

 

How do you budget for a planner?

 

Typically I come in and it’s part of an event expense. You put it in as a line item. I scope it based on the event and give them a set amount you are working in. I help them manage that whole event. It really depends on the situation.

 

There are benefits to a contractor.  One of the benefits, is you are already a highly connected individual.

 

Absolutely.  There is that whole perspective. You have the preferred vendors, you know who you can go to.  There is a beauty to working with people you love to work with and can count on. And then it flows, that flow is so important.

 

Do you find huddles with the team are helpful?

 

Absolutely. I like to do them every morning before. You need to, things change and move and everyone needs to know about that. Bring together the key players, including the team of the event.  They need to know. It all has to move together, you want to have some kumbaya between the team.

 

If you are a fortune 500 company and you’ve added events and you need to hire a contractor, how do you as a corporation give you autonomy without feeling like you will take advantage?

 

Part of it is setting up a creative blueprint. Talk about the scope the audience and the objective of the event. I define what I’ll be in charge of and check if they are ok with it. You have to be very clear about what the expectation is.

 

Where do you see the most successful meeting planners putting themselves for budgeting?

 

For most people it’s basing it on the scope of the project. Doing a project price. We all know there is scope creep, you have to put that in a contract. What if they add another day of educational events?

 

A planner is kind of a liaison between the vendors.

 

Right, and they can lay out the options.

 

So say I’m a meeting planner and want to start doing more work for corporations, how do I present myself?

 

Sometimes businesses get so busy that they are not thinking about it. You need to work through a meeting planning department or where the meetings initiate in a company. Help them to understand that if they have a need they can bring you in to focus on it.

 

Take someone out of school and they want to get into meeting and event planning…

 

It’s really funny because everyone sees it as the fun thing. There are parts that are fun, but it’s a lot of stress, and you have to be able to manage it.  You coming out of school, one of the best things you can do, get on board and help with a component of a meeting. Volunteer, get involved in associations that are doing events.

 

What tips can you leave for those in the events industry who are contractor?

 

You can use indeed or LinkedIn, they may think they need a meeting planner, but maybe they need someone to come in and manage the event. Use your network to see if someone would look at a position as a contract role. At least ask, what’s the worst that could happen?



 

S.2 Episode 8: 3 Must Know Tips for Events

This week Charles sits down and talks about three things that he has found to be really important from his time in the events world.  He talks about hiring a planner, hiring A/V and production, as well as maintaining your relationships with clients.  Use these points to up your events game!



So today we are going to be talking about things like tips for hiring planners, talking about A/V and production. I really want to dive deep on that one. Then we’re going to talk about a few tricks I have to make your relationship with your team, your executive leadership team, or even your client a little bit better than maybe it is today.

 

So first we’re going to dive into talking about my tips for hiring a planner. We’re currently in the process of hiring a planner ourselves, but for years I have personally worked with planners and I have to say the right planner is absolutely an asset to your team. Whether this is somebody that’s internal or this is somebody that is being hired by a production or being hired by the client. A planner is absolutely a godsend in the right context. I have to tell you whether they’re managing just the budget or all the way up to like onsite details, you really cannot replace the need or the position of a planner with anything else. This person is a key component and I think it’s important to keep in mind there are a few things we need to look at when we hire planners.

 

I had a friend of mine, Amy Zaroff in last week and we were talking about planning, we were talking about all of this stuff around what makes a great vision for an event. And then also what makes a great planner. But I want to reiterate to you guys a couple things that I really learned and one of them was you want someone to be kind of a rule breaker. And not in the negative sense. But you want somebody who is willing to think outside the box. Somebody who’s going, yes, I know that’s how we’ve done it for 10 years or yes, I know that’s how the industry does it, but is that good for us? Is that good for our event? You want this person to question the status quo.

 

The other thing is when you’re looking for a planner, you want to have someone who is very detail oriented. A while back we did an episode with a gal talking about, she is a spreadsheet Ninja and I thought, man, what a cool thing to claim for yourself to be the spreadsheet Ninja. A lot of times in events our world lives and dies by these spreadsheets. And so somebody who can really manage and track detail with spreadsheets is absolutely a must. It is absolutely a skill that you cannot, um, you know, go without.

 

The other really important thing is as you guys probably know, we need to have people that are able to make a decision without clearing it from above. So a great planner is going to be given enough authority to make an onsite decision that needs to get executed right now, hey, we’re thinking about adding additional seating in the back in this area. Is that okay? Well, I don’t know. Let me call the manager of this person who get ahold of this assistant to the CEO. And you really want somebody who can be autonomous that can make those decisions on the spot and can actually be impactful. Another really key component here is someone who has realistic ability to give the people and vendors they’ve hired the autonomy as well. And the reason I say that is have you ever been in a situation where you’ve had so many people doing so many different things, but you have this one person overseeing them and this one person wants to be in control of all of it. So everyone literally has to ask this person for permission or their thoughts or their opinion on everything. I recommend finding someone who is, willing to give autonomy to the people they have delegated stuff too. So if they’ve hired a production company like us, we have a good enough relationship where they trust our decisions. If there are budgetary items that are going to be added, you obviously need clearance for those types of things. But in general, someone who feels comfortable giving that authority away just as they have been given that authority. I have to say another qualification or characteristics I look for is assertiveness. Now some of you listen to this and you go assertiveness. I don’t want to be pushy. The truth is that assertiveness and pushiness are two different things. Being assertive is absolutely crucial in the events world, especially if you’re in a position where you are making decisions and you’re guiding other people, and I’m not saying be assertive, like be a blowhard or be a jerk, I’m saying be assertive. Look for somebody who is assertive. This is if you’re hiring or if you’re the planner yourself, being more assertive actually plays well to the overall picture. Now obviously don’t step outside your role or don’t have someone, don’t hire someone who’s going to constantly step on everybody else’s toes. But having someone who is assertive in the planning position is absolutely critical. Somebody who’s decisive and assertive and all these other things. So those are the kind of the things that I’ve been looking for and those are the things that I have seen are successful in the planning world.

 

Also experience for those of you guys who are listening, who don’t have a lot of experience planning events, I guess for those of you who have been doing it for say less than two years, or if you’ve done less than say, 50 events, I would recommend hooking up with an organization that can give you more experience. I’m not saying work for free for them, but don’t expect them to pay you top dollar when you don’t have the experience yet. Right. Use it as an opportunity to gain more experience and while you’re there, add the value that you can add.

 

So let’s talk about tips for hiring A/V and production. This is like a giant, hairy beast that’s sitting in my office. Everyday I walk in and we meet with some client or prospective client and we talk about production. I always break it down into basically three different types of production companies. Now granted I am in one of these boxes and I am more biased to one of these boxes because that’s the box I’m in. It doesn’t mean anyone is good or bad, they’re just different. But as a client, I think it’s important you are able to differentiate the differences between these different things.

 

So number one is a producer. A lot of times they say they’re a production company, but really they’re a very talented producer who knows how to orchestrate all of the necessary production elements. So this is someone who maybe has been in the business a long time and they say, you know, I don’t want to carry the overhead of equipment or a staff, but I have companies I can call on that have all of those things. A producer generally will put together their team and bring their team in to execute a show. Sometimes they tell you this is how they’re doing it. And other times they just say, no, I’m a production company. And they contract it. It’s not good or bad, it’s just one way of doing it. I think as the client, it’s important that you’re able to know what’s going on when you hire someone. The one thing I will tell you is that producers have a need to make an income. And a lot of times they’re making an income on all of the different elements that they are bringing in.

 

So then the second type of production company that I’ve noticed is out there is kind of your lower smaller event production companies, companies that they’re really tooled to say, do you know, 800 people and below the equipment that they own is less expensive equipment. It’s not really your industrial grade equipment. It’s something you could order through guitar center if you wanted to. It’s something that you could go online and just order straight from full compass or These organizations do a decent job doing smaller meetings. If you’re a corporation having a luncheon for a hundred people, you’re not going to hire a creative event company to come put together like a pitch and the whole thing, right? You just need a few speakers on sticks and maybe a stage wash. Well, in that instance, you’re in a good spot when you hire one of these smaller production companies. One thing I’ve noticed those that a lot of times the quality of equipment they have is not so good. I’m not saying always, but a lot of times the equipment’s older, it’s beat up, it’s been rented and used for all kinds of different things. Just make sure that when you’re vetting a production organization that you know the company is, is in line with the size and scale of work you’re doing. So if you’re a meeting planner and you’re just planning a lunch in for one to 200 people in a, you know, a small hotel ballroom and it’s not a big deal, one of these smaller groups might be really good for you. If you’re an organization putting on a large multi day conference for 3000 people, you’re not going to hire one of these smaller companies. They don’t own any of the things and they’re really not set up to even execute or do this. One thing I’ll warn you about, sometimes they will have had a small piece in a big show and then when they find you with your big show, they say, yeah, we did that show. When in reality they didn’t, I’m not saying they’re being shady, but they did do that show, right? Just they did a part of that show and a lot of organizations that are trying to grow will not necessarily turn down business that’s too big for them. So it’s really important for you as the client to be able to differentiate is this organization, is this the size of this production company, the right company for what we’re doing? If you’re doing 70,000 people in a stadium, you’re not going to hire the same group that every day is sending out two speakers on sticks to do meetings at a tiny little hotel luncheon. Two different types of organizations.

 

[14:29] So then I would say there’s the third, which is what we are. And that is a full service, full scale production company where you’re basically a place that we create the creative ideas and concepts for the staging, the look, the creative, right? And then you’ve got the execution arm. Then we go and we actually pull it off. One thing I’ll tell you is that when you get into these larger scale events, no one company has every single piece of equipment for a 70,000 person show or a 50,000 person show or a 20,000 person show. This industry is comprised of little pockets of experts. So no matter how big or small the production is, after a certain point, there’s multiple organizations. I’m very open about the fact that we have other suppliers that we lean on when we have a certain demand for a certain size and scope. But our internal team manages all of that, and so we ourselves own equipment. We then bring in outside partners to help us execute things that are just of a scale we’re not doing. And every single production company of this size is doing the very same thing. When you need crowd barricades. Like for a big concert, let’s say Kenny Chesney’s coming in town and you need crowd barricades. Well, I know of a couple places in town that own crowd barricades, but for me it would make no sense for me to create the design and then also own crowd barricades. It’s two totally different little pockets of need. Just like owning a stage in a trailer, the stages on wheels, those big like concert stages, that’s a very niche product. These are all different production tools that all of us larger companies, we rely on each other to execute. We all own our own equipment, but we’re all obviously working with each other.

 

What I will tell you is that people like to sit around and talk about their equipment. I warn you about this because you can have the best equipment in the world and I really believe we have some of the best equipment in the world. But what does that even matter? If you don’t have a great idea, a great concept, you’re not thinking about the audience, you’re not designing it to really look and feel the way the client needs it to look and feel. It doesn’t matter. You can have the best gear in the world. The other side of that coin is there’s a lot of organizations that have been around a long time and they’re trying to squeeze every last penny out of old equipment. So it is important to know how good and how new the equipment is, but at the same time, that is not the whole game. As the client I’m talking to you, I would, I would remind you not to get tied up in the equipment, but to talk more along the creative lines. The equipment can be changed out. The budget is a crucial component.

 

When you move into talking about budget, here’s what I’ll tell you. You can buy a car for $500 and you can buy a car for $2 million.They’re both cars. But what’s the difference? Well, I guess if you made a list of things you could clearly and easily understand that there’s a major difference between a Bugatti and a Geo Metro. There’s a total difference.The same goes with production. There’s a huge difference between organizations that spend a lot of time hand holding with a creative and have very nice equipment to organizations that have been around. It’s beat up old equipment and it’s coming off of concerts that are you know, they’d been on the road for a long time. There’s a total difference. And here’s what I’ll tell you. Your budget will drive that. So oftentimes when we buy things, and this is a counter intuitive thing, this is like one of the most important things. I’m going to drive home in this segment today.

 

Naturally, when you buy something, this coffee Mug, if I buy one coffee mug and I want my logo on it, they’re going to charge me say $30. For this one, if I buy a dozen of them, it might come down to say $10 a Mug, but if I buy 10,000 of these mugs, they may be a dollar a mug or less. As you buy more of something in the natural world, the costs go down.

 

In the production world, it’s actually the opposite. And I know this sounds crazy to you guys, but it’s the opposite. When you get to a certain point and your moving your event into an arena or into a stadium, the cost of audio, visual production per person starts to exponentially grow. And the reason is, if you could imagine the amount of, um, you’re going to a convention center, it’s flat, right? It’s very easy to rig from the ceiling and serve audio and video to the floor. You move into an arena or a stadium and now you’re getting into unusual structures, unusual rigging, unusual shape of audience and delay. The technology has to be much bigger. And to do a stadium or an arena properly, I would say that great bright projection is great, but really I recommend LED wall when you get to those sizes, like for example here at us bank stadium, US Bank stadium, you can’t even really do projection in there because the ceiling, the roof is like a clear roof and light is bleeding in at all hours of the day. Well LED wall is significantly more expensive and when you get into those massive sizes, I mean you’re talking about truck loads of LED wall just to serve the audience. So as you go up in size of audience, there’s a point in which it shifts and starts to exponentially increase the cost to you per person for the audio visual and, and possibly the venue as well. So that’s a really crucial point I want to make and a lot of customers there going well if I have more people it should be less money per person at a certain point that actually changes. So that’s a really crucial thing for you to know. Again, traditional flat spaces, ballrooms, convention centers, you know, it’s a little different, but when you get into those really big venues, there’s a serious difference in how to do it, including the equipment needed to pull it off.

 

Okay. So another big thing to talk about, people talk about the inhouse A?V Versus bringing a production company with you. And people go, well, why don’t I just use the in house a v right? And here’s what I want to speak to. If you’re putting it up against, say, one of those smaller production companies, the tier two, the inhouse may be a great fit, right? It doesn’t maybe make sense to bring in an outside partner for 200 people or a hundred people for a lunch. It might make sense to let the inhouse A/V Do it. But if you’re traveling from city to city or even going to the same city each year and you want a consistent product for your audience, you cannot go with inhouse A/V. The inhouse is there, in my opinion, to serve as a liaison to their rigging, their power, their internet, things like that. But when you really get into say 700 or more people for more than one day, you do not want to rely on the inhouse. A/V, the inhouse, A/V is an inconsistent product at best. And I hate saying that, but every time I see them it’s different. The people are different and you’d go to the same venue. It’s different people.

 

I was at a gala the other night and it was done by the inhouse A/V. We weren’t producing it. And I looked back at the tech desk and I saw the people running the program. It was, it was 1300 people in the room. Mind you and I was astonished. These guys were wearing hoodies and sweatshirts. It looked like we pulled them out of like between dumpsters in the back of the hotel alleyway. And that to me, especially at a black tie gala, fully unacceptable. You should never ever show up in a Hoodie or a sweatshirt if you’re working on the team for a black tie gala. Sure when everyone’s gone and you’re tearing down, fine put your hoodie on. But during the show you better be wearing a suit jacket. It’s stuff like that customer service stuff. It’s the quality of the people in the consistency of the people. And then of course you look up in the ceiling, the inhouse, and they’re still using conventional lighting fixtures from 1994 trying to squeeze every last dollar cause they’re a publicly traded company and they’re trying to squeeze every last dollar out of that equipment. From a business perspective, I get it right. Those guys, they do what they have to do. But at the end of the day, if you want a really quality experience for your audience, that is not the way to go. The other thing is when you’re traveling city to city, we have a couple of clients that they change cities every year. What I’ve learned is that having a consistent team and product from city to city allows the organization to worry less about the variable of production and worry more about the things that you know should be worried about when you’re at a new site. But really your production team, if you’ve been working with them for years and they come from city to city or they go to the same city with the every year, that should be the last of your concerns.

 

Now when you hire a new company, I’m just going to warn you there’s going to be some pain. It doesn’t matter how good they are or how great and organized you are the more disorganized you are, the worst the first year will be. But I will tell you, and I’ve said this to customers over and over again, I believe in loyalty and I would never want my customers to put my work that we do for them out to bid. There’s a level of trust. There’s a level of respect, there’s a level of loyalty. I say the same thing about you and your production company. If you feel like you trust them and you want to stay loyal to them, don’t put them through putting it out to bid every year. It is a painful, expensive process that nobody ever really wins on. So if you find a great company and you’ve been working with them, stick with them. I’m telling you, you’re going to save time. You’re going to save money, you’re gonna save headaches. And honestly, with something as important as the run of your show, do you really want them to feel like you don’t trust them? I would debate that you want to have a very intimate level of trust with your production company. And if you don’t have a talk with them, give them an opportunity to fix it. I have a couple of great clients and honestly like any great relationship, they’ve come to me and they’ve said, hey, I need to talk to you about some things that are just not quite the way I want them to be or are causing problems.If your company that you’re maybe struggling with to have, you know, conversations with are open to the feedback and then they do something about it, keep them. I’m telling you what, in our industry it is very uncommon to have a high level of customer service and then an adaptability.

 

So that brings me to the next thing, which is a little more for the planners, working with vendors and working with not just production but in general. I believe that in order to have a healthy relationship today, think about your relationships today. If you look through your phone, you have probably been texting with them, right? I would recommend that the veil be moved away and you get on a texting basis with your vendors and your customer.

 

We all have vendors and we all have customers. Get on a text messaging basis with them, make them feel comfortable enough that they can have an open line of communication with you about things.It’s an important part of life. I mean I’m on a texting basis with all of my clients. If it’s not a client I manage, my sales team is definitely on a texting basis with them.

 

So those are the types of things to keep an open dialogue. I think texting is key. Also with your clients, send a birthday card to them, show them that you give a crap, send thank you notes. This is one of those things I always like, I’m blown away by because we all get mail every day and we all go to the mailbox and when we see a handwritten note, you know you open that thing first, right? Come on. Getting handwritten mail is special. Well, so if you know that it’s so special and you get it and you like it, my question to you is why don’t you ever send it? So, I mean we have a very, very serious like protocol here that when we meet with somebody, we send them a thank you card. They took their time to meet with us. It’s little stuff like that that your competitors or the people that you’re kind of up against, whether you’re an independent or you’re inside a company even like let’s say you’re a planner and your work inside of a large organization and you met with your executive leadership team and they gave you some idea into their vision. Why wouldn’t you write that leader a thank you note saying, thank you so much for spending time with me today. Even if they’re in your own company. Like thank you so much for spending time with me today to share with me the vision. Now obviously if you’re like a company, that’d be kind of weird cause they’re like down the hall. But like let’s say you’re in a large organization and you meet with them and they’d come in and you have this big meeting. Why wouldn’t you send them a thank you note for spending time sharing with you their vision. It also would give you more visibility and probably opportunity to bring ideas to the table because now you have a voice, a voice that’s on handwritten paper.

 

So these are just a few of the things that I like to do. Obviously you don’t want to cross that line where people feel like you’re bothering them. You want to show people that you actually care. It’s funny because I really believe if everybody did what they say they would do, nobody would ever be out of a job. Think about that. But the reality is like most people say one thing and they either don’t do it or they do something else. And I would recommend in this industry, especially when you say you’re going to do something, you darn well better do it. Because if you don’t, I’m telling you what, you’ve got a reputation and that reputation can be ruined very quickly. And I think that’s why we’ve had a lot of success. We’ve really taken to heart doing what we say and saying what we do.