As meeting planners, the recent events in Boston have us thinking smarter and harder about meeting and event security. The devastating bombings happened to occur on the first day of a large customer conference that PEC had sourced and assisted in planning. A few hours before we were to depart from our downtown hotels for one of Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions, the V.P. of Marketing asked me point blank what the hotel and evening off-site venue were doing to step up security and safety measures in light of the bombing in Boston. The country was at threat and the potential for additional threats was certainly looming in the mind of our client and his customers. In the past several years, Americans have experienced unthinkable disasters resulting from terrorist activity. Up until this point, I will admit we have not taken threats too serious and really have not changed the way we plan meetings because of increased threats.
Finding work-life balance. Ask anyone what strong desire they have in their professional life and this is often a popular answer. We all want the blooming career at the same time we want a loving, close-knit family at the same time we want a generous network of friends to spend happy hours and weekends with. As meeting and event professionals, our job descriptions almost always state “must be available nights and weekends“. Is it just me, or is anyone else asking when we do we get to rest? To have a game night with our family? To clean our homes? Or even to workout? I found the solution: make time for it all. But how? I have a few ideas for you.
What’s hot in 2013 Food and Beverage Trends? We did our research, found the best of the best, and are looking to incorporate these ideas into our client’s meetings and events! There’s no doubt that outstanding events encompass great tasting and visually appealing food and beverage. And every year, the planner du jour seeks to create an appealing color palate filled with edible art. Here are just a few morsels of ideas…
Eggs – They’re not just for breakfast anymore! Duck eggs are the new Chicken Eggs and these golden beauties can be fried, scrambled, poached, boiled, baked and steamed. They can be served as is, in baked goods or part of a main dish. Eggs are a natural complete protein and can be locally produced.
Tearific Teas – Complete with equipment, techniques and tons of varieties, tea is a creative, tasty and economical way to please your guests. White, green, oolong, black, fermented, tisanes, even though all tea comes from the same plant, there are hundreds of kinds of teas unique with their own appearance, taste and aroma.
Smoking – And we don’t mean tobacco. Smokers are all the rage providing everything from smoked meats and fish (including crab and lobster) to nuts, spices and rubs. Combinations of woods, juices, vanilla beans and herbs can turn simple cuts of meat from ordinary to extraordinary.
And for the next course – Bread. That’s right, bread has always been a part of the overall program, but we’re talking bread so good that it has it’s own course. Nut and seed coated caramel wheat rolls, warm sourdough buns served with garlic butter, rosemary bread and dipping oil. The dinner roll has grown up and they’re ridiculously good.
Blondies are the new Brownies! Otherwise known as simply a lighter brownie, today the Blondie is a dessert snob’s number one choice, and chef’s have made them their own…the dirty blonde with peanut butter and toffee, the slutty blonde that includes a layer of golden Oreo’s, even the nutty blonde with pecans and frosting.
What would you add to this list of 2013 Food and Beverage trends?
Each month, we like to recognize and highlight an internal employee on our blog. PEC wants you to know the names and faces behind our walls, since these are the people that work daily for the betterment of our services for our clients. In today’s PEC Employee Spotlight you’ll meet Kaitlyn.
Name: Kaitlyn Herbst
Position: Event Coordinator
What point in the event planning process is your favorite?
I like the creative proposal stage. It’s fun to research and pull together ideas to present to clients. Anytime we get to brainstorm colors and themes is a fun day.
What is your favorite hobby outside of work?
I enjoy refurbishing wood furniture and making any crafty wall decor. Stripping paint is my least favorite part of a project, but once I get to sanding and painting or staining I really start to have fun. There is satisfaction in taking something old and creating something unique to my taste that I can use.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? (Given that your family or friends would be there too).
I’m pretty fond of home (here) and I’m really looking forward to my first summer in Milwaukee. I don’t think I would ever leave for long, but an extended stay in Ireland or New Zealand would be a dream.
What cooking or baking dish are you known for?
Chocolate sour cream cookies (now Greek Yogurt Cookies) with Andes mint chips. They taste like meltaways and are delicious! They are probably one of the things in life that I don’t stay humble about. It’s my Grandma’s recipe, which you can never beat. The secret ingredient (according to her)… 1 cup of love!
If you weren’t working in events, what would you be doing?
I would be working in a health/fitness related field. I would probably take my coordinating skills and apply them to creating nutrition and fitness plans for clients.
Name one interesting fact about yourself!
I can be indecisive…I attended 3 colleges in 4.5 years to obtain 1 degree. Or I have a traveling scarf with me two best friends who have lived in different parts of the world at given times. It has been to more countries than me, but it has mainly resided in Oshkosh, Wisconsin; Seattle, WA and Miskolc, Hungary. It currently resides in the Chicago area.
We have exciting news: We are celebrating 10 years in business! March 17, 2013 marks the 10 year anniversary for Professional Events and Consulting down to the day. 10 years ago, Cheryl McShane, owner and president, filed the paperwork to make Professional Events and Consulting an official business. This week, we are celebrating 10 years of hard work, doing what we love, and success.
To make our celebration official, our team came together for a delicious soup + salad lunch in the office this past Wednesday. To top it off, we made sure to make homemade shamrock shakes in the office as well! With full and happy stomachs, we congratulated owners Cheryl McShane and Denice Waldhuetter for their huge accomplishment.
We want to make sure to thank everyone who has contributed to our success along the way. From our valued clients, trustworthy suppliers, and reliable industry partners to our supportive families and friends – thank you from the bottom of our hearts! We have been blessed to work with each and every one of you along the way.
As we head into our 11th year in business, we have many exciting new changes taking place that we can’t reveal quite yet. Stay tuned to our blog for an announcement within the next few weeks!
Not considering hosting a meeting in the Midwest? Read this first.
Having been raised in Wisconsin, I was often asked, “Where do you want to live when you grow up?” My mind never wandered to distant places. My desires were not to have warm sand beneath my feet all year long or to experience the big city lights to the east. My real unanswered question was – could I ever leave? At this stage of my life, nearing my mid-twenties, the answer is yes, I could. However, would I really want to? I have always been a Wisconsinite. I have traveled throughout the United States and to Eastern Europe, but my heart always remains in the Midwest.
I recently moved to Milwaukee – the biggest city I have lived in. This city has a way of connecting with my heart. The connection one experiences when listening to music, I feel walking the streets of downtown. With the big city lights overhead, I still feel my small town roots. As a young adult, moving here was easy. The people, young and old, are friendly, motivated and driven. There are more cultures than I have experienced in a lifetime and weekend upon weekend there are festivals to celebrate those specific cultures. The atmosphere is one that I would describe as eclectic. There is always a new restaurant or pub to check off the list, or for the knowledge hungry, ever changing museum exhibits.
Other big cities in the Midwest such as Chicago, Indianapolis and Minneapolis provide much of the same. Opportunities in these cities to experience art and culture are endless. For a meeting planner, it is like being a kid in a candy store. Not only are the cities unique and entirely affordable, but the event venues offer a solid reason to visit. Long gone are the days where every reception is held in a ballroom. Here in the Midwest, venues provide diversity. Museums, warehouses, stadiums, theaters, union stations and other unique venues have become common sites to host events.
As a leading event planning agency in the Midwest, PEC encourages our clients to think outside the box and to give their guests an unforgettable experience. We have planned extraordinary conferences and galas for clients at venues such as the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Target Field in Minneapolis, and the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
If you have an upcoming event, the region I call home has everything to offer!
This post was written by Kaitlyn Herbst, Event Coordinator at PEC.
With over 80 million registered users, Instagram is an ever-growing smart phone application (app) in which users can snap, customize, and share photos instantly with their social network. Instagram has the capability to share photos in real-time with a particular audience at a particular time. If Instagram does not sound like an app that would be extremely useful in the events world, look a little harder. This app has the potential to change events for the better.
The first step in boosting attendance for an event lies in event promotion and marketing. Although there are several ways and mediums used to promote events, Instagram is one specific way that can be used to make an impact on potential attendees pre-event. As a meeting or event planner, consider taking pictures on-site during event set up to capture the process of the event coming together. Share these “behind the scenes” photos with a social audience and allow potential attendees to feel hype around the start of the event. In this way, you become an exclusive provider of insider information.
Instagram works well in marketing an event ahead of time, but it can also be used to engage attendees during the event. Consider this: how are you bringing together everything that is said and posted about your event into one place or feed? The answer should be a hashtag. Having event attendees use a common hashtag allows for all communication to be processed through one specific feed. In this way, you’re combining Instagram photos from 10s, 100s, or even thousands of event attendees in one feed that allows everyone both at or not at the event to view. A hashtag creates a sense of community as individuals scroll through other’s photos to see what other opportunities the event holds.
Finally, consider how Instagram assists your company in reminding event attendees of the event’s call-for-action when used in correlation with your event. Since users can go back and revisit their old photos, they are likely to look back on the Instagram pictures taken at your event in the future and the photo once again brings the event initiatives to front of mind for those individuals.
Since event attendees will not know about your Instagram usage and campaign, it is vital to communicate the use of Instagram both before and during your event. Make sure to choose a hashtag prior to the event that can be used by both your company as well as the event attendees. Communicate that hashtag in all invitations and pre-event communication materials. During the event, use well-placed signage, verbal announcements, and a projected live Instagram feed to ensure that attendees are well informed of the opportunity to share photos with one another. The app can even be used to run photo contests through for the ultimate attendee interaction.
Implementing Instagram for events does not need to be difficult, it simply takes planning and smart communication with attendees.
This post was written by PEC’s Marketing Coordinator Molly Rasmussen.
Your convention is months away and you have established a hotel room block, but how do you keep attendees from reserving a room outside your room block? This is a primary concern of many meeting planners, as the need to fill room blocks is vital to the overall success of the convention or meeting.
“What’s in it for me?” That is what the attendee is asking when they see hotel information on their registration site. Your attendee’s need to reserve a hotel room for your event, but how do you convince them to reserve a room within your room block?
As the meeting planner, you must ensure that you are creating a hotel contract with minimal risk for your event by starting with a reasonable room block and the necessary clauses to protect your company. Not reaching your room block means owing the hotel attrition, which has the potential to add up to thousands of dollars if you are not careful.
Here are some tricks to provide incentive for your attendees to reserve a room within your room block:
- Negotiate the lowest rate possible and hold the hotel to not publishing a lower rate over your event dates.
- Offer a discount on registration for the attendee’s that book at the hotel. It could be a discount on the hotel itself or one of the sessions or socials.
- Offer a “VIP” reception at the hotel on the first day of the event for just those booked through the block.
- Attendees may want to see a cash value or some sort of discount associated with the hotel. Try working with the hotel to offer something complimentary like breakfast, drink vouchers or free Wi-Fi.
- Get your local CVB involved. Most CVB’s can put together a welcome packet full of discounts at local attractions or restaurants that can be put in your hotel welcome packet.
- Enter attendees into a raffle for a cash prize if they book within the block.
- You can work with your registration system as well. Determine if they have the capability to disable registration for the event unless they see your reservation at the hotel first.
- Increase registration by a certain dollar amount if they book their sleeping rooms outside the room block.
Given all of these incentives, your attendees may still book outside your room block for various reasons. In this case, place a clause into your hotel contract that allows you to audit your attendees. The hotel will use your attendee list from the event and compare it to those attendees that booked at the hotel over your event dates. You can pick up those few attendees that did not register through your block but still stayed at the hotel.
In early December, the staff of PEC planned and executed Operation MOVE, a 4,000+ person public event dedicated to battling childhood obesity. Nearly 4,000 children from area Milwaukee schools poured into the seats of the US Cellular Arena on December 11, 2012 to learn about the importance of staying active throughout life. Students danced and moved around all day with various entertainers, speakers, and local celebrities as they were educated on the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
Screams, cheers, and laughter filled the arena when Green Bay Packer, Greg Jennings, arrived on stage to tell his own story and to motivate the audience. Jennings even managed to do the Cha-Cha-Slide with a group of eager students on the floor of the arena. Joining Jennings to motivate kids were several local professional sports team mascots, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the FigureHeads, The Zoological Society, The Ability Center, and several local nutritionists, pediatricians, and health professionals.
Operation MOVE would not have been possible without the support of its sponsors. PEC extends a special thank you to United Way of Greater Milwaukee in partnership with GE Healthcare, CommunityConnect HealthPlan, and Educators Credit Union for your support in bringing Operation MOVE to life.
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Reviewing and negotiating a hotel contract can be time-consuming, confusing, and down-right frustrating. You are seeking a fair agreement that accurately and comprehensively covers your meeting arrangements, keeps financial risk to a minimum, and protects your company assets. Often times the contract you receive from the hotel may be one-sided in favor of the hotel, vague in many places, missing essential language, and difficult to interpret.
Hotel contracts have gotten increasingly longer and more complex in recent years. One reason is because hotels are trying to protect themselves from previous mistakes that have cost them money. Secondly, they are seeking good fortune reigns. Convention hotels have experienced increased occupancy, profits, and annual rates. Due to this fact, performance-related clauses are now the rule rather than the exception.
As a meeting planner, you are entitled to agree to a hotel contract that is written in the best interest of your organization that not only gets you what you want at the right price, but is also clear, easy to read, written in laymen’s terms, and is unambiguous. Did you ever consider the fact that it’s time for the hotel to sign your contract?
Rule number one in your contract: everything must be in writing. A verbal agreement isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. When parties fail to live up to an agreement, written proof of the negotiator’s intent is critical. It eliminates the “he said, she said” confusion. What if the original hotel general manager or kind sales executive you negotiated with is no longer employed at the hotel? A written contract ensures that everything agreed upon is in writing to avoid points of contention upon the arrival of your meeting.
What are your obligations for room nights? Room block, rate, and reservation method are quite standard in a contract, but have you provided a clause that allows for a room block adjustment without penalty and one that flows down to attrition/cancellation penalties? The hotel might have offered the lowest room rate possible, but given this detail, does your provision include rates that are published and may be booked on the internet? If a lower rate is discovered, does your clause include a must-match for the entire group?
Avoid hotel form contracts. Hotels can take a brilliant negotiation and reshape it into something ugly that is not in your organization’s best interest. Your hotel contract will be strait forward and 100 percent reflective of the negotiation in addition to being completely understandable.
PEC specializes in Site Selection and Hotel Contract Negotiating. Not only does PEC have a hotel contract that can be presented to the hotel on the client’s behalf, but we have an arsenal of clauses that can be included in a hotel contract that benefits both the client and the hotel. PEC will work to find hotel contract clauses that best apply to the needs of the client and event.
Meetings done right.