3 Key Ways to Future-Proof Your Event

Being a kid in the 80s was great. In the days before games consoles, streaming services and posting selfies on social media, there were countless hours of fun to be had on a Raleigh Chopper bike, listening to 7” singles on a state-of-the-art Fisher Price record player and watching the latest video rentals on a VHS player. Reminiscing about my childhood memories has two benefits:

It brings happiness
It serves as a reminder that many things around 30 years ago are no longer in existence

‘Future-proofing’ is a buzzword used to describe the approaches and methods adopted by companies to ensure a viable future for their goods and services. It is essentially about companies making sure that whatever they provide (in this case, events) continue to appeal to their customers (or attendees) not only today and tomorrow, but the following day and into the future.

While we can never be certain what the future will bring, here are three tips to help ensure your events live long and prosper (ok, I was a Trekkie back in the 80s), into the future:

1. Spotting trends and identifying their impact

A key part of future-proofing is spotting the trends and developments that may have a good or bad impact on the events you’re organizing. Often these trends can be easy to spot because they’re already happening and affecting people from all walks of life. Global phenomena such as resource scarcity, climate change or advancements in technology, make headline news every day. As well as keeping an eye on global news, it’s important for event planners to keep a close eye on emerging trends specifically within the events industry. Every event professional should develop a list of ‘go to’ information sources to help keep them informed and updated on what’s happening in the industry. These can include industry magazines, shows and conferences, face-to-face networking, social media, membership organizations and market intelligence reports.

2. Look beyond the confines of the industry today

The best way to be prepared for the event experiences of the future, is to create them yourself, now. This may seem a little daunting, but here are some suggestions:

Look beyond the existing events industry for new ideas and inspiration that can add another dimension to your next event. For example, the latest blockbuster movies showing in cinemas right now could hold the key to creating or inspiring a new and exciting theme for your next business meeting or conference.

Collaborating with individuals and organizations who are creative and innovative in their approach will enable you to enhance your own levels of innovation for an existing event or new event concept. A great example is Jamie Oliver (a chef with a love of music) and Alex James (a musician with love of food) who joined forces to create The Big Feastival, a two-day family festival centred around music and food hosted on Alex's farm.

3. Tailor events to specific needs of your attendees

Creating events that are tailored to the specific needs of your attendees is the best way to ensure higher levels of customer satisfaction and consequently increase the likelihood of repeat custom. Through a process commonly referred to as co-creation, an event planner will invite the target audience to contribute to the development of ideas and concepts for an upcoming event, such as location or venue suggestions, guest speakers or entertainers, food and beverage choices etc. Social media makes it easy for people to contribute their ideas, as well as respond to other people’s suggestions during the co-creation process. Above all, the co-creation process should be one thing: Fun! The more enjoyable it is for people to get involved and share their ideas, the more likely it is that the event will be a success.

While we can’t gaze into a crystal ball and know for sure which events will continue to pull in the crowds, these three approaches are key to ensuring your events are prepared for the future.

Original Blog Post Credit: https://www.koganpage.com/article/3-key-ways-to-future-proof-your-event?utm_content=80363203&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook

Corporate Event Trends Revolutionizing Today's Conferences

6 Corporate Event Trends Revolutionizing Today's Conferences

by Bonnie Dannen | August 07, 2015

Corporate events are changing just as much as special events and turning up the volume on everything from décor to attendee engagement. Today's corporations are looking for new and exciting experiences for event attendees. From destination events to innovative décor and increased technology, companies are creating unique experiences that go beyond the everyday. 
Read on to learn more about six of the hottest corporate event trends for this year. 

1. Unique and New Venues

While hotels are the go-to for corporate events, new trends in corporate event planning are serving up unique venues for corporate gatherings. Today, more companies are hosting their events in fun and unique venues like sports/concert venues, private villas, casinos, theme parks, or activity-based events like murder mystery dinners. 

Why this works: Creating a lasting impression on attendees is key to continuous attendance growth and conference longevity. These unique venues also create memorable experiences for all attendees, resulting in a win-win for both hosts and attendees. 

2. Event Transformation

Event when large companies are able to book unique venues for their event, they still require décor to brand their events. It would not be a conference if your guests are not able to tell they have arrived at the right spot. 

Turning away from the basics, today's companies, especially the young and tech companies, are elevating the way they brand their events with unique touches. Aside from the typical banners, companies are transforming event spaces into something familiar for guests.  Think Google, Salesforce or other large companies. 

Transforming a venue space into a company experience, whether a casino or racetrack, requires décor specialists who can metamorphose a venue with clever usage of linen, furniture, experiential booths, technology more. 

Why this works: A conference is the ultimate marketing event for a company. Whether it's a training conference or a sales conference, corporations require planners to design events that build brand loyalty and advocates. Effectively branding an event builds employee spirit and morale that translates into more engaged employees. 

3. Focus on Attendee Engagement

 Another corporate event trend that we'll likely see more of in 2015 is higher attendee engagement. In other words, organizers are making attendees a part of the event. Rather than sitting and listening for hours on end attendees can participate and pitch in. 

Increasing engagement can come in a variety of forms. Today's conference hosts are ditching the Power Point slides for total engagement activities such as live-feeds, video conferencing, hands-on audience participation or workshops, on-site bloggers, event-specific apps, event hash tags and more.  
Why this works: Increasing attendee engagement translates into better overall experiences. By being part of the event, attendees are more likely to gain more knowledge and skills than by simply being spectators.  

4. Ultra High-Tech Events

Not surprisingly, more organizers are implementing technology in their events. Aside from the must-have Wi-Fi, event planners and hosts are using advanced technology to create unique event experiences.  

While the traditional presentation is still around, technology is turning the traditional conference into truly unique experiences.  A few things that come to mind: 

• Event apps featuring presentation and workshops schedule
• In-app scheduling and communication capabilities 
• GPS event locator and navigation assistance
• Onsite social media networking (everything from event hash tags to Instagram feeds) 
• Information kiosks 
• On-demand video feeds
• On-the-spot surveys and contests
• Personalized push notifications (think meeting agenda or announcements)
• Real-time language translation

Armed with smartphone technology, this is just the beginning of how technology is revolutionizing the traditional corporate conference. 

Why this works: Technology provides an instant avenue to get all attendees on the same page. Canceled workshop? Inclement weather alternate plan? Meal ordering? The use of technology allows event hosts to easily and instantly communicate with every attendee while providing a personalized experience. 

5. Events as Communities

A new aspect of corporate event planning is the aspect of an event as a "community."  Instead of the typical two or three-day event, today's event planners have to consider a much longer lifecycle of their events than ever before. 

In fact, the event begins even before it starts. From registration to weeks post-show, event hosts have to build a community around the event. They need to create excitement before the event, during the event and after the event. 

The biggest challenge associated with these connected communities is that planners require additional resources to manage the communities throughout the lifetime of the event. From monitoring mentions on social media to reviewing event attendance stats and attendee preferences, corporate planners and event hosts have to be ready to proactively build and sustain the community. 

Why this works: In the past, an event planner would have to review all event happenings way after the show to learn what worked and what didn't work. By creating and sustaining a community for their event, event planners can count on event enthusiasts to spread the word and provide instant feedback to ensure the event stays on track. 

6. Local, Organic, and Sustainable

Food that is locally sourced has become commonplace and is not going anywhere soon. With companies more focused on social responsibility, many events call for every essence of the event to be sustainable and "organic." From the food served to the materials used to create event décor and staging, companies are utilizing events as a way to make a stand on social causes - be it environmental, health or other. 

Today's conference planners and hosts have to find innovative ways to promote local, organic and sustainable causes as part of the event. From "green" décor to locally sourced ingredients or farm-to-table settings, planners have to deliver on a message of caring and responsibility. 

Why this Works: In addition to being profitable, companies and their employees are looking to be part of something bigger. This is especially true of young tech companies with a large millennial population. Tying in a sense of social responsibility to events is key in helping companies confirm their commitment to social causes. 

The corporate event scene is experiencing a tremendous change from head to toe. No longer are events just a series of speakers, Power Point slides and brown bag lunches. Today's corporations and event attendees alike are looking for unique ways to maximize the gathering hundreds if not thousands of guests. 

As a corporate planner, it's important to embrace these trends to create one-of-a-kind events that will trigger higher attendance rates and attendee satisfaction.  

Original Blog Post Credit: http://www.successfulmeetings.com/Strategy/Meeting-Strategies/6-Corporate-Event-Trends-Revolutionizing-Today-s-Conferences/ 

Way Off the Beaten Track - 11 Cool Honeymoon Destinations

Way Off the Beaten Track - 11 Cool Honeymoon Destinations

Not into the Caribbean or Seychelles for the honeymoon? What about one of these instead?


Your honeymoon, guaranteed to be one of the most memorable (and often, expensive) holidays of your life. As it's your first holiday as husband and wife, sure you might as well go all out and pick something that little bit extra special. So today I've gathered a list of eleven of the world's unusual and cool honeymoon destinations  - we're thinking you need a real wow factor and a dash of cool to impress the mates (you know what we're like - always have to be different!). This isn't a typical list I warn you, there's is a little bit of everything from the most hilarious Safari experience to unique honeymoon destinations in France and the UK, these are all places you'll come back from with brilliant pictures and great memories. As I'm an avid animal lover you'll easily find which one I'd be picking...

1 . Giraffe Manor

Giraffe Manor is a small boutique guesthouse in the suburb of Lang’ata Nairobi, 40 minutes from the main Kenyatta Airport. The estate is surrounded by giraffes, many of which are known to pop their heads through the window and greet you at your meals. I kid you not!

Website: www.thesafaricollection.com/giraffemanor | Location:Kenya | Wow Factor: The only hotel in the world where you can eat breakfast with a giraffe, need I say more?

2. Kakslauttanen Glass Igloos & Cabins

This Arctic resort offers glass igloos and log cabins as accommodation. For a truly remarkable stay book your glass igloo during the northern lights season, which begins around the third week in August and ends the third week in April.

Website: www.kakslauttanen.fi | Location: Finland | Wow Factor:Sleep in an igloo and watch the stars as you drift off to sleep

3. The Old Railway Station

The Old Railway comprises of 4 Pullman carriages with 8 lovingly restored suites in the English countryside. Many elements have been improved, like fully equipped bathrooms, while others are simply retained, such as the splendour of the decorations. Really quaint and the area is perfect for scenic strolls and a spot of antique shopping.

Website: www.old-station.co.uk | Location: West Sussex, England | Wow Factor: A taste of the Orient Express without the price tag!

4. Sextantio Grotte Civita

Sextantio le Grotte della Civita’s caves are historic and uniquely romantic. It took 10 years to turn these caves into boutique bedrooms, so it was a long time in creation, but definitely deserves to be among the cool honeymoon destinations, because although they have all the home comforts you'll need they stay true to the setting with simple furnishings and soft candlelight.

Website: www.sextantio.it | Location: Matera, Italy | Wow Factor: Channel your inner caveman (or woman)

5. Active Or Chilled In The Caribbean

For the more active hike, horse ride, or cycle through the amazing surroundings, snorkle and scuba in the stunning sea or if your more chilled simply relax in one of 3 infinity pools.

Website: www.fourseasons.com/nevis | Location: Nevis West Indies, Caribbean | Wow Factor: Dive & dine for lobster in the Carribean

6. Costa Verde Plane Hotel

Set on a jungle canopy, this refurbished 1965 vintage Being 727 plane is a suite perfect for 2 looking for something utterly unique. Super secluded and ideal for romantic honeymoons.

Website: www.costaverde.com| Location: Costa Rica | Wow Factor:Stay in a luxury "plane" 2 bedroom suite in a tropical forest

7. The Boot B&B

I couldn't compile this list and not include the boot hotel in New Zealand. Really cute and reminiscent of the old nursery rhyme, The Boot B&B is surrounded by pretty private floral gardens and you can go

Website: www.theboot.co.nz | Location: Nelson, New Zealand | Wow Factor: You really will be the (not-so-old) couple who lived in the boot!(

8. Utter Inn Underwater Hotel

If your idea of a cool honeymoon destination is being entirely away from the world for a while, then this could be for you. Not for the faint hearted or claustrophobic the Utter Inn is an underwater hotel based in a Sweedish lake. This one bedroom Inn is entirely secluded, so you'll be completely alone together - definitely a niche honeymoon choice.

Website: www.visitvasteras.com/utterinn | Location: Vasteras, Sweden | Wow Factor: Sleeping with the fishes (endless Godfather jokes from him)  in one of the world's only underwater bedrooms

9. Spitbank Fort

Off the English coast Spitbank Fort is your own private island getaway. Arrive by boat to Spitbank Fort and stay in one of its 8 luxury bedroom suites, all of which retain many of their original features.

Website: www.spitbankfort.com | Location: Portsmouth, United Kingdom | Wow Factor: Making like a James Bond villain for a few days, spying back at the mainland and plotting to take over the world!

10. Lake Hotel India

Built with romance in mind this Indian hotel offers anything and everything you could want on honeymoon. Each room and suite in the palace is distinctly designed to capture a different mood and period. Mosaics, exquisite artefacts, and other fine embellishments punctuate opulent silks, richly coloured frescoes and ornately carved furniture. Get me there now..

Website: www.tajhotels.com/taj-lake-palace-udaipur | Location:Rajasthan, India | Wow Factor: Utter luxury, far removed from reality, this is a watery palace for those who want to be spoiled but still have stories to tell.

11. Airstream Vintage Caravan Park

This vintage caravan park is just too much fun. Chose from one of the 11 uniquely styled caravans (don't worry these aren't your average caravan) in this French resort and just for a little while pretend you are loved up in an era long gone by.

Website: www.airstreameurope.com | Location: Midi-Pyrenees, France | Wow Factor: Sorta eco-chic, sorta hippy-dippy, definitely different, and you've got loads to do in the South of France!

Any other Cool Honeymoon Destinations we should include?

Have you been to any of our eleven destinations? 

Original Blog Post Credit: https://www.onefabday.com/11-cool-honeymoon-destinations/

5 Non-Diamond Engagement Rings

5 Non-Diamond Engagement Rings

1. Man-Made Diamonds

For the woman who doesn’t want a natural diamond, but doesn’t want to stray too far from modern tradition, man-made diamonds are an option.

While most people think of cubic zirconia when they think of synthetic diamonds, there are actually a couple different categories under this umbrella.

Cubic zirconia and similar materials like moissanite are considered diamond “simulants.” They look virtually identical to real diamonds to the naked eye, but are composed of a different substance.

The advantage of “CZ” (and other simulants) is that it’s significantly cheaper than real diamonds. But unless your lady is wholly on board with this option, I’d say it’s best to steer clear of it. Whenever people admire her “diamond,” she’ll be thinking to herself, “it’s fake,” which is a real romance killer.

Now the second choice in this category is much different – a more recently developed option I didn’t even know existed until I researched this article. These are “laboratory-created” or “cultured” diamonds. It’s not really accurate to call them “synthetic” because they’re created through an atom-by-atom crystal growth process that exactlyduplicates the physical, chemical, and optical properties of naturally-mined diamonds. It’s impossible to tell the two apart unless one uses advanced spectroscopy. For all intents and purposes, a lab-created diamond is a diamond.

Because lab-created diamonds can be produced ad infinitum, their price is lower than natural, mined diamonds, though not by as much as you’d think; because De Beers has sensed that these lab-created diamonds may represent the wave of the future, they’ve already made moves to control the market and boost the price! They’re a good choice for a woman for whom “responsibly sourced” doesn’t go far enough, and who would like to further decrease her ecological footprint.

2. A Knot

Ring by Indulgent Designs. This kind of knot works well for an engagement (or wedding) ring, as it forms the symbol for infinity — eternal love.

A perfect option for a woman with simple tastes. What better way to show a lady you’re looking forward to tying the knot with her?

Here’s another kind of knot that’s quite appropriate for an engagement ring. The maker of this ring describes its meaning: “This particular type, often called the ‘true lover’s knot’, was a popular ring style for sailors separated from their beloved. It’s made by interlocking two overhand knots in two parallel wires, so each one is flexible to move about the other, yet they’re inseparable forever. (Aw!) Another fact about this type of knot: in Victorian times, to show if a young couple’s love would last, each would take a small limb of a tree and tie a lover’s knot. If the knot held and grew for approximately a year, their love would stay true.”

A knot ring made with two different colors of gold works particularly well for an engagement ring, as it symbolizes the entwining of your lives. 

Ring by TND Creations

3. A Meaningful Gemstone

Antique, opal and pearl engagement ring from the Victorian era. Available from Trumpet & Horn.

There is a world of beautiful gemstones out there beyond the diamond, and they each have a traditional meaning as well. So choosing a gemstone with a special significance to you and your girlfriend creates a unique ring with a built-in layer of meaning.

Here are the meanings of a few gemstones that may tie in particularly well with your unique relationship and the sentiment you wish to convey when you propose:

Agate: truth, protection, strength
Apatite: communication, and the blending of the old and the new
Aquamarine: courage to overcome fears, protection on journeys
Blue topaz: courage to overcome fears and obstacles — associated with fidelity, friendship, gentleness, and integrity
Garnet: passionate commitment and devotion
Onyx: thought to deflect the negativity of others — associated with determination and perseverance
Opal: love, passion, lightness, inspiration, creativity, and spontaneity
Pearl (pearls are organic rather than a gemstone): harmony, humility, purity, worth
Rose quartz: gentle love, peace, and calm — associated with the removal of negativity and the healing of emotional wounds
Ruby: friendship, fire, love, royalty, happiness, the opening of the heart
Turquoise: friendship — associated with nature (the blue sky and green earth)

Gemstones can of course be put in a variety of settings, and can be featured as a solitary stone or grouped with other gems. Here are two unique ideas we both especially like:

His and hers birthstones: A ring that features yours and your girlfriend’s birthstones is a romantic way to express the feeling that you were born to be together. Ring by Peridot Mountain.

Two peas in a pod: A perfect ring for those who feel they’ve found their other half. From Peapod Jewelry.

4. The Claddagh Ring

Claddagh ring by lagnole.

The distinctive Claddagh ring is a traditional Irish ring that is rich in history and symbolism. Dated to Roman times, it is rooted in European “fede rings,” which took their name from the Italian phrase mani in fede (“hands [joined] in faith” or “hands [joined] in loyalty”). The ring features two hands, a heart, and a crown — symbolizing friendship, love, and loyalty, respectively.

The clasped hands represent the pledging of vows, and Claddagh rings were used as engagement and wedding rings during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. They continue to be an appropriate choice for this purpose today – particularly for a lass with Irish heritage.

You can combine the Claddagh with a gemstone, like a ruby. Ring by nellyvansee.

Traditionally, the ring is worn on the woman’s left hand with the point of the heart facing out when she is engaged, and then turned around to be facing her once she is married.

It’s also traditional for the expressions “This is my heart which I give to you crowned with my love,” and “Let love and friendship reign,” to be associated with the ring, so feel free to bust those out with gusto when you propose with a Claddagh. 

5. Family Heirloom

Who knows…maybe Grammie’s got an antique 5-carat sapphire ring stashed in her jewelry box. She’d be happy to give it to you since you’re finally ready to “Stop waiting and ask that nice Jennie to marry you already!”

Before you plunk down some serious cash for a diamond ring or any of these other alternatives, check with your relatives to see if there are any heirlooms waiting to be passed down. Not only does this option save you some serious cash, but pieces with history are much more meaningful and significant. Even a diamond ring that’s been in the family for generations becomes a lot more special than one purchased at Jared. My mother-in-law gave me a diamond ring that had belonged to her grandmother to give to Kate when I proposed. It fit perfectly, and she loved it and wouldn’t have wanted anything else.

If the size or style of an heirloom ring isn’t right for your girlfriend, you can get it re-sized, or you can remove the gemstone and put it into a new setting.

Original Blog Post Credit: https://www.artofmanliness.com/articles/5-alternatives-to-the-diamond-engagement-ring/

5 Tips for Selecting The Best New York Wedding Photographer

New York wedding photographer Caroline Frost offers the very best in New York wedding photography

Getting married in New York, NY?  Who will be your New York wedding photographer?

Here are a few important items to consider when looking for your New York wedding photographer:

1. Personality

Its important when hiring a New York wedding photographer to consider their personality.  This is someone you will be spending the most important day of your life with.  Every moment from getting ready to cutting the cake, they will be there.  An attentive New York wedding photographer will also probably be meeting with their brides and grooms several times in the year leading up to your wedding.   Your New York wedding photographer should be professional yet personable, and know how to make photos fun!

2. Experience with New York

NYC offers special challenges that not all photographers are used to such as transportation issues, lack of natural light and rude people getting in the way.  Its import to hire someone who is used to photographing in such challenging environments such as that, and can guide you towards a schedule for your new york wedding photography that makes sense given the constraints of New York City.  Your New York wedding photographer should be able to roll with the challenges of the day and be able to adapt at a moments notice.

3. Price

While price always plays a factor when selecting your New York wedding photographer, its important to not let it limit you to someone without experience or talent.  Too often you hear of horror stories of brides choosing their New York wedding photographer purely on price, but at the end of your wedding day, your photos are all you have to remember it.

4. Albums and other products

What do you do with all the beautiful images from your New York wedding?  Whether you are displaying them on the walls of your NYC apartment, or purchasing an album to tell the story of your day from beginning to end, be cautious as many New York wedding photographers offer low-end products at a high end price.  Make sure you are able to touch and see the albums, prints, and wall art they offer before booking your New York wedding photographer.

5. Artistic Vision

Its important to have your wedding day captured by a New York wedding photographer who has your same artistic vision.  Whether you are looking for a photo-journalistic approach from your New York wedding photographer or a more editorial or contemporary approach, it is important to share these things with your New York wedding photographer so they can either focus on your favorite style, or help lead you to another New York wedding photographer who specializes in that style.

Photo journalist wedding photographers usually stand back and watch the day unfold.  Their photos might be less artistic or magazine worthy, but they are genuine moments.  An editorial or contemporary New York wedding photographer is often looking to help the pose bride and groom achieve artistic images that would be magazine worthy and look beautiful as art in your home.  When looking for an editorial or contemporary New York wedding photographer it is important that they also know how to make the couple look like themselves.

Original Blog Post Credit: http://www.carolinefrostphotography.com/blog/nyc-new-york-wedding-photographer/

Don't Want a First Look? 7 Other Ways to Connect with Your Future Husband Before the Wedding

Wedding planners and photographers often recommend a pre-ceremony first look for many reasons, one of which being the opportunity to connect as a couple. If you're a stickler for tradition and prefer to keep your first look reserved for the ceremony processional, here are a few alternatives that'll help you feel connected before the wedding.

Exchange Gifts

A custom that many couples partake in, the wedding-morning gift exchange is a great way to connect with your soon-to-be-spouse. Ask the hotel staff or a member of the wedding party to deliver the gift to your fiancé's room while they're getting ready. Some couples wait until the photographer arrives to do this in order to capture the reaction on film. Others may choose to sneak the gift into the suite early, then call one another to personally thank each other for the present.

Sneak a Surprise

Who doesn't love a sweet surprise from their partner on their wedding day? Plan something sweet and simple that won't be too hard for you to pull off on the morning of your wedding. This could be something as small as writing a note in a sneaky hiding place for your fiancé to find while getting ready, or decorating your getaway car with ribbons and flowers.

First Touch

Some wedding photographers encourage their clients to do a first look while others recommend a first touch. Meant to calm the nerves just before the ceremony, a first touch usually takes place on either side of a cornered wall or with eye masks on so the couple can't actually see each other. Photographer Lacie Hansen says, "I think it's all in—either see each other or don't," but to each his own, right?

Pass Notes

If you're getting ready in the same hotel or venue, passing notes or funny jokes through a bridesmaid or groomsman can a be a playful, tech-free way to connect with your fiancé on your wedding day. Keep the notes going until just before you walk down the aisle.

Get Ready Together

Wedding planner Alison Hotchkiss of Alison Events opted to get ready for her wedding with her husband. "Getting ready together is a different approach, but it's nice to have time alone with your fiancé before the ceremony," Alison says. "It allows you not to be so nervous during the vows. Plus, it was so fun to take time out and kiss in between getting ready!"

Text Teaser Photos

While you may not want to see each other the morning of the wedding, swapping little teaser shots back and forth can make the getting ready process feel more playful and connected.

Work Out Together

You may not want to do a first look but having coffee together and going for a long walk, hike, or yoga class can be a helpful way to start the day with a feeling of collective calm.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.marthastewartweddings.com/640941/options-for-connecting-with-future-spouse-before-wedding

8 Questions to Ask at a Food Tasting

Think about staffing, pairings, decor, and scale when meeting with caterers.

 A pre-event food tasting is more than just an opportunity to sample the cuisine that your guests will enjoy. It’s a chance to create an open dialogue with your caterer, plan for last-minute fire drills, and confirm even the smallest details. Here are eight questions to help you get the most out of a food tasting.

What is your specialty? What do you do better than other caterers?

Being open to new ideas and capitalizing on what your caterer does best can help ensure that an event runs as smoothly as possible. “It’s important to tap into what caterers are good at and not try to reinvent the wheel, especially if the event has time restrictions,” explains Shai Tertner, C.E.O. and founder of Shiraz Creative in Miami.

Plus, letting a chef execute a signature dish can elevate a menu from great to exceptional. “I always appreciate it when a client asks what we’d like to make,” says Sigrid Helgason, director of sales at Farm To Market Catering in Dallas. “It gives us a chance to showcase our creativity and our chefs’ talent.”

How do you accommodate dietary restrictions? Is there an extra cost for these options?
In today’s culinary climate, even small events are likely to include guests with everything from peanut allergies to gluten sensitivities. “I recommend asking what the caterer can do to create a great experience that takes into account everyone’s dietary needs,” says Julie Lindenman, owner of New York-based Julie Lindenman Events.

Offering options ensures that everyone is properly cared for and able to fully enjoy the cuisine. Jenn Day, director of catering at Charlie Palmer Group, suggests getting as specific as asking what types of milk will be available to guests. Be sure to confirm whether providing vegan, gluten-free, or other alternatives will come at an extra cost or if those dishes are included as part of the standard catering package.

How will this dish scale up from a few plates at a tasting to hundreds at an event?

Executing a handful of plates at a tasting differs greatly from serving an entire ballroom. Ask the caterer how each dish will be affected when produced on a mass scale.

Tertner recommends discussing how the venue will come into play. “Ask where the kitchen is located, how long it will take for a waiter to get from the kitchen to the table, and how that distance will affect the temperature of the plate they’re serving,” he says. Off-premise events in particular come with their own challenges, as the venue might not be equipped with a professional kitchen. “I want to know that the caterer is mindful of these factors and is setting us up for success,” he says.

Is what I am tasting and seeing today exactly what will be served at the event?

To limit the chances of unwelcome last-minute surprises, be sure that both you and the caterer are clear on how what is being showcased at a tasting will be replicated for the actual event.

“Ask how the portion size will compare to what you’re seeing at a tasting and exactly how the finished plate will look,” suggests Day, who also recommends confirming that fresh ingredients won’t be substituted later. “The kitchen should be putting its best foot forward at a tasting, so it’s best to confirm that what you’re seeing is exactly what your guests will get.”

If a dish includes seasonal or hard-to-find ingredients, confirm that there is an alternate plan in case they are not available on the day of the event.

How can we customize the menu to best represent and complement my specific event?

More than just a vendor, a creative and collaborative caterer can be a crucial partner in making an event unique and impactful, using food as a way to enhance the guest experience.

“I love asking about customization and personalizing things,” says Lindenman. “I have a lot of clients interested in customizing a menu in ways that the caterer didn’t show initially.” If you’re planning a corporate event, for example, ask if the caterer can include the company logo on a cookie or if the brand’s color scheme can be reflected in a cocktail.

For a themed affair, see if the dishes or presentation can be tweaked to reflect and complement the decor. “If planners don’t ask those questions, our hands are tied when it comes to tailoring dishes to the needs of the party,” explains Brad Widish, senior account executive at Presidential Gourmet Catering in Toronto. “Give your caterer as much information as possible so that we have a complete understanding of the event.”

Can you create dishes to pair with a wine or liquor?
If your event has an alcohol sponsor, share that information with the caterer. Ask for the bartender to create a specialty cocktail using that specific brand of liquor, or for a wine-sponsored event, request that each course be paired with a specific bottle. “Caterers often have a knowledgeable staff, and even an in-house sommelier, that can help choose dishes that pair well with the event’s designated vintages,” says Lindenman.

If the event doesn’t have an alcohol sponsor, ask the caterer for recommendations for wine and liquor that are the best fit for your audience, food menu, and budget.

What serveware options do you offer? For a buffet, what will each station look like?
Food and drink presentation, from tabletop items to linens to serveware, should match the feel of the event.

“Nowadays there are so many party supply rental companies that caterers use because keeping inventory in stock and up to health codes is difficult,” says Tertner. Experienced caterers often have relationships with rental companies and thus have access to several options for everything from napkins to stemware. Think about details like the colors of the tablecloths on buffet stations, and consider what decorative elements can be included on serving dishes and stations to make them blend with the event’s overall look and theme.

What will the staff-to-guest ratio be?

Caterers also handle the details of service. Staffing plans should consider the layout of the venue, as expansive spaces require more staff. “Everyone is watching their dollars, but compromising on the number of servers can have a big impact on the event,” Helgason says. “You don’t want guests to be cranky or ‘hangry’ because there isn’t enough service staff.”

For a 100-guest cocktail party with a full bar, Tertner recommends staffing of two bartenders, four waiters, one or two busboys, and one captain. At more than 150 guests, he suggests adding a sanitation caption. For a 100-person seated dinner, Tertner recommends 15 to 20 waiters plus two to five busboys, two bartenders, one captain, and one sanitation captain. At 150 guests, he would add an assistant sanitation captain.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.bizbash.com/8-questions-to-ask-at-a-food-tasting/new-york/story/35910#.W1oC_NJKhRY

Expert-Approved Wedding Invitation Etiquette Tips

An etiquette expert shares seven tips every couple needs to read before choosing their stationery.

Etiquette advisor Patricia Napier-Fitzpatrick is best known for dispensing protocol and manners-training services at The Etiquette School of New York. So when it comes to wedding etiquette? We think it's safe to put your trust in her, starting with these seven simple stationery tips. After all, your wedding invitations are the first things your guests will see from your day. Don't you want to start off on the right foot?

Inviting guests to your big day isn't as simple as choosing stationery you love. From when to send your save-the-date cards and what your design should like to the wording on your envelopes and how to address an "adults-only" event, we're answering all of your burning wedding invitation etiquette questions, and breaking down what you need to know before you drop your stationery suite into the mail.

You Can Never Give Too Much Notice

Save-the-dates typically go out three to four months prior to the wedding, but if guests are spread far and wide—or you're throwing a destination wedding—more time is better. No one will complain about having extra leeway to plan. Send invitations six to eight weeks beforehand, with an R.S.V.P. request of two to three weeks prior to the event so you can get a final head count.

Be Creative (But Clear)

From telegrams to invisible ink, couples are doing fun things with their save-the-dates and invitations. If you're getting innovative, just make sure that all pertinent information is included. For save-the-dates, the names of the couple getting married and the date should be most prominent, along with a note that invitations will follow. You don't have to name the venue, but if you have a website, save-the-dates are a great place to share the URL.

Keep It Simple

Wedding invitations should include the full names of the couple marrying and those of the hosts (if they're different), the place and time, and that’s it. "No children" isn’t included on the invite; it's implied by the names on the envelope. Nor should you list registry information on the invitation—family and attendants can spread the word when asked about it, or you can provide it on your website.

Spell It Out

"Street," "Post Office Box," and "Apartment" should all be written in full. The same is true for city and state names and house numbers smaller than 20. "Mr. and Mrs." generally are abbreviated.

Play the Name Game

Your guests' entire names should be written on the outer envelopes. Address married couples as "Mr. and Mrs.," followed by the husband's first and last name. It's also fine to list both full names. When a woman keeps her maiden name, the names are written in alphabetical order: Ms. Susan Jones and Mr. John Smith. For an unmarried couple who live together, write the names on two lines.

Titles Do Matter

If the wife is a doctor, her full name comes first, as in "Doctor Aharon and Mr. Gary Lawrence." When the husband is a doctor, the titles appear as "Doctor and Mrs." and if both husband and wife are doctors, the envelope should say "Drs. Sharon and Gary Lawrence." A single woman (unless she's a doctor) should be addressed as "Ms." If she's under 21, use "Miss."

Be Gracious—In a Timely Fashion

Thank-you notes should be treated with a sense of urgency. Send them within two weeks of receiving the present to express your true appreciation.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.marthastewartweddings.com/373227/how-to-create-your-wedding-invitation-stationery-suite?slide=764041

9 Smart Tips for Creating Authentic Events

“We are craving authenticity as a society right now more than ever before,” said Little Bird Told Media’s Alex Plaxen during BizBash Live: Los Angeles on July 18. “We want to see how the sausage is made.”

Plaxen was speaking at a social-media masterclass, a new addition to BizBash's annual trade show at the California Market Center. While he was specifically discussing social media, he touched on a common theme that speakers throughout the day mentioned frequently: the quest for authenticity.

Speakers at the Event Innovation Forum, the morning workshop series, and afternoon masterclasses discussed how emerging technology, influencers, careful spending, sponsor integration, and more can create effective events that feel authentic and meaningful for audiences. Here are some of their insights.

1. “Branding” should not be the focus.

At the Event Innovation Forum, Scott Dallavo, the director of events and strategic alliances for the Los Angeles Times, discussed how events can effectively engage the public and communicate a company’s values. The key to creating meaningful experiences, he advised, is to start by focusing on an organization’s core mission and purpose.

“Branding is the enemy of mission and purpose,” he said, noting that a carefully controlled brand image becomes more about the organization than the audience—which makes marketing feel like manipulation. When brands and organizations return to their true mission and purpose, they can create events that genuinely reflect their values and goals—and focus on how they can benefit an attendee’s life.

“Then marketing can become a sincere expression of who you really are,” he added.

2. Use your experts to gain credibility.

Vanessa Fontanez, the general manager of experiences and conferences for Vox Media, also spoke at the Event Innovation Forum, where she explained that the media brand “believes in the power of building amazing, deep, impactful experiences” as a new way to communicate with audiences.

The main tenant of Vox Media events is to bring editorial voices to life in a new, deeper way, she said, noting that Recode’s ultra-exclusive Code Conference has speakers and programming curated directly by editors Kara Swisher and Peter Kafka.

The Los Angeles Times’ Dallavo also puts editorial voices front and center, noting that at the newspaper’s massive Festival of Books, panels featuring journalists are always standing-room-only. The same event also has a popular “Ask a Reporter” booth. People want to feel like they're getting special access to smart people.

3. Know your audience and build specifically for them. 

Todd Hawkins, founder and president of the Todd Group, gave tips for building better nonprofit events during his Event Innovation Forum session. “Who are your donors, volunteers, sponsors? Program for them,” he advised.

According to Hawkins, nonprofit events should have three main goals: to “ignite, excite, and engage.” Have a lineup that ignites ticket sales and attendance, excites the audience once they’re through the doors, and engages with them so they’ll leave the event thinking, “I’m going to write a check, get friends to donate, volunteer, use my resources however I can for this organization,” he said.

Fontanez also touched on the importance of understanding your attendees, calling Vox Media’s audience “the curious class”—a group that craves deeper storytelling. Think about, “Why are they engaging with us? What are they coming to learn? What are they able to discover?” she said.

“We are craving authenticity as a society right now more than ever before.”1

4. Influencers are a great marketing tool—if you let them be themselves.
During a workshop session, Branden Meck of MarketKings and influencer Chris Villain shared tips for creating an effective influencer campaign. They stressed the importance of partnering with the right influencers—who is not always the obvious person. Look at the demographics of a person’s followers. If a bikini model has mostly male followers, Meck said as an example, she’s probably not the right person to actually try and sell a bikini.

The most important thing, according to both Meck and Villain, is to let the influencer be themselves. “Let them do the post how they want to do the post,” advised Meck. “They have their following for a reason, and they need to be authentic.”

As an example, Villain spoke about a time a bra company approached him to promote its product. Once he saw that his followers were 60-percent women, he decided to partner with the company—but with a twist that felt authentic to his own personality. He created a funny, superhero-theme video that appealed to the female cosplay community; when the numbers came back, Villain’s bra promotion was more successful than many women the brand had partnered with.

5. Use emerging technology to turn attendees into active participants.
Of course, an event won’t feel effective and memorable if attendees spend the entire time staring at their phones. New technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality is designed to make guests the “co-creators of the experience,” said Brent Bushnell, C.E.O. of Two Bit Circus during the Event Innovation Forum.

Immersive entertainment and nonlinear design that presents guests with a set of options forces them to create their own journey—thereby crafting one that they will enjoy and remember.

But one key thing to remember is the issue of consent, noted Bushnell. Immersive theater can sometimes lead to actors and staffers touching guests or putting them in uncomfortable situations. “Different people have different levels of comfort,” said Bushnell, and hosts need to be aware of that and add ways attendees can opt-out.

Bushnell also explained that we haven’t even seen the possibilities for emerging technology in the event scene yet. “Think about movies in 1930s, when we were just figuring out how to add audio,” he said. “Think about computing in the 1970s. That’s where we are right now for immersive entertainment. The doors are wide open and it’s up to us to define this space.”

6. Spend money on things that matter.

During his session on nonprofit events, Hawkins noted that benefits should be “simple, understated, and to the point.” Audiences—and especially donors—don’t want to see their money spent on lavish affairs. Don’t blow your budget on things like gift bags, expensive entertainment, advanced technology, and more—unless it really furthers the event’s cause. “Stay true to your organization—and your budget,” he said.

Heather Mason, C.E.O. of Caspian Agency, also touched on budget issues during her workshop on effective event strategies. Crunch the numbers to show clients the value of the event—whether it’s increased sales, brand awareness, or networking—and compare that to the cost of the event. “If events are to provide real value, the business needs to provide real resources,” she explained.

7. Integrate sponsors in thoughtful ways.
At the Event Innovation Forum, designer Troy Williams, principal and event designer of Simply Troy, stressed the importance of integrating sponsors in surprising and strategic ways. Brand logos should not be “vomited all over an event,” he said. Incorporate them in a way that feels authentic to both the event and to the sponsor’s mission.

Hawkins also talked about the importance of sponsor relationships, saying that planners should “Integrate sponsors in the planning process from the start.” For nonprofit events especially, sponsors—and the host committee—are crucial to the event and need to help craft an effective experience.

8. Create a social-media plan that resonates with your audience.
During his masterclass, Plaxen noted that 63 percent of global consumers claim they would buy from a company they consider authentic—and a big part of that image comes through social media. Brands with a social-media presence need to listen and respond to their followers, have a consistent voice, and be transparent with issues and problems. 

He cited the Wendy’s Twitter account as an example: The fast food chain’s tweets are filled with personality so its followers feel like they’re interacting with a real person. “Show the face behind the brand,” advised Plaxen, noting that followers love to see behind-the-scenes content on social media.

He also mentioned Instagram Stories’ new music option—where a clip of music can be played during a story—as a way to keep viewers there for the whole thing. “Music resonates,” he said, because it causes an instant emotional connection.

9. Work with kind, educated people—and make them feel appreciated.
Williams shared what he looks for in an employee: someone who is hard-working, fun to be around, great at what they do, respectful, and most of all, kind. “I can teach you other skill sets, but if you’re not a kind person, you will never work with me,” he said.

And he practices what he preaches: After every single event, Williams sits down the next day to write a long thank-you email that credits everyone’s contributions and thanks every vendor. He adds the client as a bcc, so they can see how many people helped bring the event to life. “Gratitude is so important,” Williams said.

During a workshop session, Shane Terenzi, director of events for High Beam Events, also shared ways to build an effective staff. “Our team works vertically,” he explained. “Each planner owns the event from start to finish.” That means that each staffer is trained to focus on both creativity and logistics, using both their left brains and right brains. This leads to a better experience for clients, and a team that’s more invested in creating strong, authentic events.

Brett Hyman, president and founder of NVE Experience Agency, also touched on an important note for teams during his workshop session: Don’t be a yes person. It’s not helpful to your clients, vendors, or staff. Stick up for your ideas and create events you believe in.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.bizbash.com/9-smart-tips-for-creating-authentic-events/new-york/story/35930#.W1oBsNJKhRY

5 Women Share Their Best Wedding Planning Advice

Wedding planning can have its ups and downs, and sometimes the only way to get through the hard parts is to hear that you're not alone. To help you tackle everything from buying your wedding dress to choosing the reception meal, we asked five recent brides to share their very best pieces of planning advice. Let their experiences guide yours. 


 The Dress

"Make sure you're very detailed when explaing which wedding dress styles you like and how you envision yourself looking on your wedding day," suggests recent bride Avery. "Bring pictures of dresses and looks that you love and be open to new ideas. I had my mind set on a white, long-sleeved, lace gown and ended up leaving the store with a blush pink wedding dress with a sweetheart neckline!" She says brides-to-be should try on at least five different styles to get the best understanding of what complements their specific body type. And never—ever!—try on a dress that exceeds your budget. "As much as you may love it, and just want to see how it looks on, just don't do it. It's a recipe for heartbreak," she adds.

The Food

Maryalice, another recent bride, can't stress enough how important great food is at a wedding. It shouldn't just be tasty though—you'll also want to pick options that are universally appealing. "You might want to forgo the fancy prime rib and roasted chicken and serve more unexpected food choices instead," she says. "Nobody will miss the bland vegetable medley and pats of butter shaped like flowers, but everyone remembers a delicious plate of barbecue."

The Spouse

Your spouse-to-be wants to be included in wedding-related decisions. Just take it from new bride Emily, who says that although your future husband may say, "Whatever you like is fine!" he may actually have tons of great opinions and ideas. "Have conversations about what you're planning and what's important to them on the wedding day. For instance, my husband always dreamed of wearing a kilt on his wedding day. It was important to him because his family is from Scotland and he knew it would mean so much to his parents and grandparents," she explains. "The look on their faces when they saw him before the ceremony was priceless! The men on his side of the family wore kilts, and I still get so many compliments to this day on how unique and special that was for the guests to see."

The Budget

Making and sticking to your wedding budget is one of the most difficult parts of wedding planning. Like many brides, Ashley explains that making a spreadsheet was crucial in staying on track. "Include all the different components that will make up your wedding day. Talk with your fiancé and create an estimated column of how much you're willing to spend on each item and then create an actual price column to help you stay on track once you start planning and paying for things," she says. "This will help keep you on budget and make the experience less stressful and more enjoyable."

The Details

Everyone wants their wedding to be a reflection of their relationship, and new bride Erin says the best way to do just that is to choose details that say something about you, your future spouse, and your love story. "Include details that embody your relationship. It's your time to celebrate everything fun and unique about your love! Don't focus on what you think others might want. You do you," she says.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.marthastewartweddings.com/619537/wedding-planning-advice-real-brides

5 Reasons to Send Your Staff to Industry Events

On the fence about sending your staff to an event? In this post we’ll explore why it just might be worth it.

 It’s easy to see why many managers don’t prioritize sending staff to industry events or conferences. They can be expensive, they require time away from the office, and the return-on-investment isn’t always clear.

But, professional events provide opportunities that your staff simply can’t get elsewhere. When employees attend an event, they learn new skills, make new connections, expose your brand to new audiences, and so much more.

If you’re still skeptical, keep reading! 

1. Networking Opportunities

Industry events give your employees the opportunity to interact with other professionals in their field. They can meet members of other companies, converse with industry experts, and make lasting connections during their time at trade shows or conferences. 

In today’s era of virtual communication, we often forget how effective in-person interaction can be. When your employees attend industry events, they have the ability to forge meaningful business relationships that simply can’t be duplicated via email or telephone conversation. A spontaneous conversation at an event may just lead to a long-term business relationship for your company.

Fortunately, many events put networking front-and-center. Take for instance, Agency Nation’s Elevate. This two-day event is filled with networking opportunities for those in the insurance space to connect and even boast and even leverages event management software to make introductions easier.

2. Skill Development

Most events feature presentations and workshops from industry experts and influencers. These presentations aim to teach attendees new skills, best practices, and actionable ways to achieve long-term success. As long as your employees are attentive and eager to learn, they’ll leave with new tools and ideas to incorporate into in their day-to-day workflow.

Consider how events like Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference offer workshops and one-on-one consultations with company engineers. This type of practice isn’t only familiar to technology conferences—it can be seen across industries.

Whether events have dedicated workshops or not, think of them as training opportunities. Your employees can then return and present what they learned to their coworkers, and your entire organization will benefit.

3. Content Creation

Before the rise of blogs and social media, employees attended events strictly to learn new information and network with other attendees. Now, they can be active participants and create one-of-a-kind content during and after the event. Here are some examples: 
  • Live coverage: Your employees can post updates on social media throughout the event – everything from Instagram photos to tweets featuring quotes from a keynote speech. Make sure that they use any event-specific hashtags to boost exposure to their live coverage.
  • Video: Generating ideas for videos can be a struggle for marketers – but live events offer a number of opportunities for unique videos. Your employees can capture key moments from the conference, or even run a live stream from inside the event hall where they update followers in real time.
  • Blog posts: Following the event, you can publish a follow-up blog breaking down key takeaways and top moments for those who are unable to attend. 

Keep in mind: if you want to leverage events for your content marketing strategy, you need to prepare accordingly. Research the event ahead of time and develop a list of sessions and activities your employees should prioritize for optimal content creation. 

4. Brand Awareness

Your employees represent your brand at an industry event, even if they are only there as attendees. According to branding best practices, when your company has a presence at an event, it establishes your brand as a recognizable and important player in your industry.

Make sure you only send employees who will represent your company in a positive light at any event. Not only should your staff be professional, but they should have a comprehensive knowledge of your company so they can discuss it with other attendees at the event.

It may be tempting to send only sales representatives, but sending a mix of employees from different departments will provide a more complete representation of your company and enable knowledge to flow more openly across your company. 

5. Inspiration

Every employee’s motivation dips from time to time. When you go through the same routine every single day, it’s natural to lose focus or burn out. An event provides a great opportunity to step away from the day-to-day monotony of work and experience something fresh and exciting.

Your employees will build skills and gain actionable insights while at an event, but they will also feel reinvigorated after spending some time in a new, high-energy atmosphere. You may think that spending time out of the office will hurt productivity – but once your employees return, they will likely be more productive than ever thanks to their newfound motivation and inspiration. 

Speak with your employees in the days following an event – you’ll likely discover that they are rejuvenated and more motivated than they were before they left. 

Key Takeaways 

We understand sending your employees to conferences and tradeshows is a costly investment. But industry events accomplish much more than just sending your stuff on a fun trip. Events can have a major positive impact both on your employees and on your brand.

Events can lead to:
  • Networking opportunities
  • Professional development
  • Content opportunities
  • Brand exposure
  • Inspired morale

Remember to prep your employees prior to sending them to an event so you can be sure to maximize these benefits. Then, you’ll begin to see that attending events is more than worth the cost.

Original Blog Post Credit: https://blog.bizzabo.com/reasons-to-send-your-staff-to-events

A Florist's Guide to Wedding Flowers

A wedding florist shares her advice for choosing the bridal bouquet, centerpieces, and more.

electing flowers, a focal point of wedding décor, can seem foreign and costly to many brides. Here, floral designer Meredith Waga Perez of Belle Fleur NY offers advice for picking the right arrangements for your big day.

What do you need to know before you start planning the flowers for a wedding?
The venue and date are obviously important so we have an idea of what will work stylistically and the flowers that will be available. It’s also helpful to know what the dress looks like, but that shouldn’t be rushed. If necessary, we can start on the overall scheme and wait until the gown is selected to decide on the design for the bridal bouquet.

What should brides bring to the initial meeting with their florist?
Before the first meeting, we ask brides to collect items and images that might inspire the palette and mood. These don’t have to come from traditional sources. You could bring in paint chips, tear sheets from interior design magazines, or pictures of gardens you took on your iPhone. One thing that’s extremely helpful is when a bride creates inspiration boards on Pinterest. I recently joined the site, so people can take images from my boards as well. With everything laid out clearly on the screen, it’s easy to edit the ideas down to a concise concept.

What are your favorite bouquets to pair with different dress silhouettes?
There are no rules, but I personally love the way a cascading bouquet echoes the long lines of a sheath dress. If the gown is really modern and clean, a minimalist, single-flower bouquet, such as tightly clustered mini calla lilies or French ranunculus, can also look stunning. With a ball gown, I prefer a traditional, round bouquet that mimics the shape and proportions of the skirt. A-line and empire silhouettes are simpler and can work with any bouquet. The thing to keep in mind is the level of embellishment. If the dress is ornate, I’d go with fewer varieties of flowers and maybe a matte duchess satin or sheer silk organza wrap. If the gown is on the plain side, you might want more texture in the bouquet and some sort of beaded fabric or embroidered lace trim. Think of the bouquet as an accessory that complements, but doesn’t overshadow, the dress.

If cost is a concern, where should couples focus their flower budgets?
People spend four to six hours at the reception, so I think centerpieces are key. At the ceremony, I would concentrate on a couple of fabulous arrangements flanking the area where you’ll exchange vows. If your reception is at the same location you can reuse them—have the banquet manager place one on either side of the band. You can also repurpose the bridesmaids’ bouquets on the cocktail tables. Ask your florist to leave some extra vases to pop the bouquets in after the ceremony. I would forgo pew or chair decorations at the ceremony because so many venues are beautiful on their own. In general, you can save about 20 percent per arrangement by incorporating a moderate amount of foliage, as opposed to doing all flowers. The greenery we’re working with now—geranium, hellebores, lamb’s ear, peppergrass, umbrella fern—is so gorgeous and chic, we use it even when cost isn’t a concern. As far as a splurge, save it for the bridal bouquet. This is your statement and it will be in tons of pictures—don’t even look at what the florist is charging you.

Is it true that using seasonal blooms saves money?

This is common advice, but it’s not always accurate. White hydrangeas, for example, are available year-round from South America and cost a fraction of what you’d pay during the late summer growing season here in New York. Lilacs, on the other hand, are three times more expensive if you import them from Holland versus order them from a local farm in the spring. Local tulips are often the same price as ones from Holland, but you can get hundreds of different varieties overseas, whereas here we only have access to a few dozen. It’s important to support local growers whenever possible, but your florist should also present you with all the options so you can make informed decisions and get the best value.

What are your thoughts on preserving the bridal bouquet?
I’m not a fan. I have done extensive research and sent bouquets to professionals who do floral preservation, a service that can cost hundreds of dollars. The process usually involves submerging the flowers in silica gel, a drying medium, or freeze-drying them. In both cases, I’ve found the flowers lose vibrancy. With silica gel, the blossoms may also yellow and those that are freeze-dried crumble easily. You can air-dry your bouquet yourself, but everything gets kind of brown and withered. In my opinion, the bridal bouquet is meant to be enjoyed on the wedding day and maybe for a few days afterward. If you want to save something, pull out blossom, fold a piece of paper over it, and press it in a heavy book—you can then frame the flower or put it in a scrapbook. You can also keep the ribbon treatment for your daughter to use on her wedding day.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.realsimple.com/weddings/weddings-flowers/wedding-florist

How to Design for Powerful Connection and Learning at Large Meetings

Although you’d never guess it from reading meeting industry trade journals, most meetings are small meetings, and this is a good thing if you want effective and relevant connection and learning to take place.

Large meetings stroke owners’ and leaders’ egos, can supply impressive spectacle, are appropriate places to launch campaigns and mass announcements, and can be very profitable. But they are poor vehicles for creating the useful participant learning, connection, and outcomes that well-designed small conferences can deliver. So if you are (un)fortunate enough to be the owner or designer of a large meeting, what can you do to maximize participant value?

You need to satisfy four core requirements for optimum learning and connection:
  1. Provide sessions focused on content that participants care about.
  2. Design for small sessions and/or have participants work together in small groups.
  3. Use interactive formats.
  4. Include closing sessions that consolidate learning, build community, and explore the group’s future.
Let’s take a look at each of these requirements in more detail.

Content that participants care about
Traditional large conferences use the “kitchen sink” {aka “spray and pray”} approach of stuffing sessions on every potentially interesting topic into the program. Slightly more sophisticated conferences attempt to determine in advance the topics that attendees say they want included. Unfortunately, years of research by yours truly has shown that when conference sessions are chosen in advance, the majority of them are not what attendees want and need {here’s an example}. It’s like John Wanamaker describing advertising: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” There’s no way to know in advance which sessions you’ve prescheduled will meet participants’ wants and needs. To be sure of scheduling sessions about content that participants actually care about, you’ll need to uncover and satisfy their actual wants and needs at the event. Luckily, doing this isn’t rocket science — I’ve been crowdsourcing programs in many different ways for 26 years. Want to learn more?  My 2009 book Conferences That Work describes one way to create an entirely crowdsourced multi-day conference, here’s another way to do it for a one-day conference, if you have only a few hours Open Space is useful (though, in my opinion, overrated), and I’m writing a new book that covers everything I’ve learned about crowdsourcing programs at meetings.

Small sessions and/or small group work
One of the reasons why small conferences with a well-defined niche audience work well is that participants don’t have to waste time meeting people with whom they have little in common. Large meetings attempt to create the same environment by scheduling multiple conference tracks and concurrent breakout sessions. Often, however, the resulting sessions are still too large for people to easily make useful connections and/or learn from each other. Unless you use interactive formats (see below), not much useful learning can happen in an hour with a hundred attendees. One simple approach to reduce the size of large sessions is to run them simultaneously in several rooms or repeat them at different times. Interested participants can be distributed between multiple sessions, either by preallocation (for simultaneous sessions) or personal choice. I use this approach to run The Three Questions as an opening plenary at large conferences. Small sessions, with thirty or less participants should be the goal. Such sizes invite less formal formats where it’s easier for participants to ask questions, influence what is covered and discussed, and contribute their expertise and experience to the learning environment. Finally, large sessions can work effectively if they are have a significant small group work component. For example, some of the session formats I design and facilitate — for example: The Solution Room, RSQP, and The Personal Introspective — scale to work with any number of participants because most of the important work is done in small groups. Remember, small is beautiful!

Interactive formats

Designing genuinely useful sessions for large groups is challenging work, and typically requires incorporating small group work as described above. However, I have had great success facilitating highly interactive discussions of “hot topics” with hundreds of people. By interactive, I don’t mean that five people monopolize the entire discussion; typically about forty people are “up on stage” at some point, most of whom had no inkling beforehand that they had something useful to contribute. I call the format I’ve developed the Fishbowl Sandwich, and you’ll find full details on how to design and prepare such a session in The Little Book of Event Crowdsourcing Secrets.

Closing sessions

Most meetings squander the experiences they create by failing to provide structured time to consolidate and reflect on individual and group learning, and explore consequent future change. All meetings can be improved by including closing sessions that help participants consolidate what they’ve learned during the conference and determine next steps and that provide an opportunity for participants to reflect on the event, build community, and uncover new opportunities for future activities together. Luckily, formats that satisfy these important needs — The Personal Introspective and Group Spective — can be run for meetings of any size. Include them!

One final thought

If you’re planning to incorporate sessions like the ones I’ve outlined above, bear in mind that interactive sessions typically require more time than traditional lecture-style presentations. Active learning is messy and risky, and creating an effective and safe learning environment takes more time than simply listening to or viewing speaker content. Before scheduling crowdsourcing, interactive formats, and closing sessions, investigate the amount of time they’ll need, so you don’t sabotage them by cramming them into a timeslot that can’t do them justice. The links above are good resources. Investigate them, apply their principles, and make your large conferences better!

Original Blog Post: https://www.conferencesthatwork.com/index.php/event-design/2018/07/how-to-design-for-powerful-connection-and-learning-at-large-meetings/

How to Incorporate Lawn Games Into Your Wedding Without Wrecking Your Design

Summer months are among the most popular dates for weddings and for good reason - there is a happiness and blissfulness in the air during those warm summer days in general, but even more so when you add love to the mix. Adding aspects of fun, like a game of croquet or ring toss, to your wedding reception or pre-ceremony moments can up the ante for how much fun your guests will have!

Mirror the Game Selection to the Feel and Style of Your Wedding 

Lawn games can be laid back and casual, or you can fancy up them up if you are having more of a classic fete by adding upscale design elements such as incorporating your event color palette, fonts, etc. into the design of the games. These details will tie the activities to the event itself without it feeling like the games were an afterthought.

If you are having a classic outdoor ceremony with modern design details, yet want your guests to feel comfortable and enjoy the in-between moments of your day, opt to include games with design features that speak to your "theme" and style of your overall event. Think your wedding monogram or family crest as an addition to your croquet mallets, Jegna pieces, or cornhole bags.

Choose Games With a Bit of Meaning

The fun thing about adding lawn games into your wedding entertainment is the ability to curate the games based on your relationship and style. Meet the love of your life in college and associate some of your favorite college days playing cornhole while tailgating? Opt to include this as a sweet memento to your early relationship days. Or maybe you have a favorite game, such as Jenga or Connect Four, you like to play with your partner on a date night in - opt for giant versions of the games for your guests to play. This is also a great way to speak to your relationship and make the day even more "you" as a couple.

Limit the Number of Games 

While having several different game options for your guests is a great idea in theory - hey, something for everyone! It is best to keep the games to two to three count per one hundred guests. This way, you are adding a dash of personality and giving your guests activities, yet the games are still organized and serve just as much in the decor department as they do entertaining your guests.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.stylemepretty.com/2018/04/05/pretty-wedding-lawn-games/

Event Promotion: 6 Advanced Tactics To Promote Events with Social Media

Millions of events are being promoted on social media every day. These 6 tactics are very powerful to promote events on social media and ensure your event is a sell out!

The top 4 social networks to promote your events are:
  1. Facebook
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Twitter
  4. Instagram

So how do you make sure your marketing campaign is fresh and that you can make the most of reaching billions of users on social media?

Let’s have a look.

Tactic #1 - It's All About Visuals

Pictures and video are the new social currency. Nobody reads anymore. Not enough time, not enough focus.

On the other hand it’s very easy to double tap on a picture. Collect as many assets as possible from your current event that you can repurpose. A solid photography investment is the basis of modern social media strategies.

These visual assets will be key on pretty much every social network. Whether it is Linkedin or Snapchat, you will need an enormous amount of assets to create a coordinated campaign that delivers.

Tactic #2 - Create FOMO

The whole purpose of your social media marketing campaign is to create FOMO.

FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out

Hire influencers to attend your event and spread the word about your event. Entice them with targeted registration codes, get them to participate in the lead up to the event with interviews, takeovers, behind the scenes.

Remember that your performers or entertainers or speakers are the prime influencers, so give them collaterals they can share on social networks.

Tactic #3 - Gamify Promotions

Get people talking about your event online.

You can use tools such as event apps or special discount codes to create community before the event.

Tactic #4 - Be Present All Year Round

If you wake up two months before the event, it’s not going to work, you will not get the exposure. Social networks now have algorithms that assign visibility based on your activity and performance of updates.

If you want to give it the best shot, you need to be engaged and present all year long.

Tactic #5 - Quality Not Quantity

Back in the day, there was one golden rule about the use of social media to promote events: the more updates and content the merrier.

Nowadays, attention has shifted from quantity to quality.

The only exception is for stories. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat give you more prominence if you create more stories. The same is not true for regular updates though.

Curating less updates but providing the highest quality content. It’s really about curating that one daily or weekly update that is going to give you the maximum exposure. Algorithms will favour you if you focus on less updates but of higher quality.

Tactic #6 - Combine Social Ads

Combine Social ads for maximum effectiveness

There is no chance anyone will see your updates on social networks such as Facebook if you don’t combine your strategy with a strong ad budget. The same goes for Youtube.

You should allocate some budget to seed your content, especially at the beginning. Organic opportunities will kick in later but always allocate a budget that can range anywhere between $10 and $1,000 dollars per update if you really want to increase the visibility of your updates.

Original Blog Post: https://www.eventmanagerblog.com/event-promotion-video

The Perfect Signature Cocktail According to Your Netflix Binge

There are some wedding planning tasks that are equal parts fun and difficult. Settling on the perfect signature cocktail to concoct for your wedding is often one of them. While I like to believe I'm an amateur mixologist, the options for a well-crafted wedding signature cocktail are endless and can feel daunting.

Whether you binge on seasons of British royal dramas or tween socialite flicks, we have the one stop shop guide to finding your perfect wedding signature cocktail, based on your current Netflix binge! From fruity and fun to brilliantly bitter, your guests are sure to love these quintessentially cinematic sips.Gilmore Girls: Irish coffee
Bring a taste of Luke's Diner to your reception by offering a fun twist on Lorelai's favorite beverage.
  • 2 2/3 oz (4 parts) Hot coffee
  • 1 1/3 oz (2 parts) Irish whiskey
  • 1 tsp. Brown sugar
  • 1 oz (1½ parts) Fresh cream

Unbreakable  Kimmy Schmidt: Moscow Mule
This zesty favorite is a must-have for lovers of TV's favorite ginger. Plus, serving these up in quaint hammered copper mugs is the perfect on-trend decor detail your guests will love!
  • 4 oz Ginger beer
  • 1 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 1/6 oz Lime juice

Black Mirror: Gin and Tonic
If you're a frequenter of this British Sci-Fi anthology, then a gin and tonic appropriately garnished with black juniper berries is a perfect choice.
  • 1 1/2 Oz Gin
  • 3-4 Oz Tonic water
  • 1 lime wheel
  • 1 strip lemon zest
  • 1 lemon verbena leaf
  • A few juniper berries
Served over ice in a rocks or highball glass

Master of None: Negroni

Aziz Ansari is often spotted on screen sipping Negronis in this comedic masterpiece and fans of the show will remember his girlfriend complaining about Ansari's character leaving spilled Campari on the kitchen counter.
  • 1 oz (1 part) Gin
  • 1 oz (1 part) Campari
  • 1 oz (1 part) Sweet red Vermouth
Garnished with an orange peel

The Crown: The Twinkle Elderflower Cocktail
Preferably served in a vintage coupe, this cocktail is the perfect royal-inspired l'apéritif. With Meghan Markle's royal wedding on the horizon, one has to wonder whether royal wedding guests may find themselves sipping a similar cocktail.
  • 1 oz vodka
  • .5 oz elderflower cordial, such as St. Germain
  • Topped with Champagne
  • Lemon peel twist, for garnish

Mad Men: Old Fashioned

Nothing says Don Draper more than an Old Fashioned.
  • 1 1/2 oz Bourbon or Rye whiskey
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 Sugar cube
  • Few dashes plain water
Garnish with an orange peel

Stranger Things: Maple Bourbon Smash
If you love Eleven, then waffles obviously have to make an appearance at your wedding! Serve up a late night snack of chicken and waffle sliders accompanied by a crowd-pleasing maple bourbon smash!
  • 1/4 oz Lemon juice, fresh
  • 1/2 oz Maple syrup, pure
  • 1/2 oz Orange juice, fresh
  • 1 1/2 oz Seltzer
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 1/2 orange wheel

House of Cards: Southern Peach Mint Julep
Perfect for TV's darkest whiskey-loving southern politician. Or opt for a whiskey bar offering your favorite single malt scotch, if you want to pack a punch with Underwood's favorite.
  • 8 to 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2 peach, sliced
  • 2 oz sweet tea vodka 
  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 6 oz club soda

Narcos: Prickly Pear Margarita

If you spend your Friday evenings chronicling the rise of the Colombian drug trade then consider a festive twist on a south of the border cocktail classic.
  • 2 oz Silver Tequila
  • 5 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz Prickly pear syrup
  • Coarse pink salt for rim
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Gossip Girl: Grapefruit and Rosemary Mimosa

Perfect for a daytime wedding or in lieu of a champagne toast, consider serving up a reimagined take on this Van Der Woodsen brunch staple!
  • 2 Tbsp. Rosemary Infused Simple Syrup
  • 1/2 Glass of Fresh Grapefruit Juice
  • Top with Champagne
  • Spring of rosemary to garnish

Queer Eye: Whisky Ginger

Inspired by Queer Eye's resident food and wine expert, Antoni Porowski, who makes 'Whatever Whisky Punch' in episode six, a whisky ginger is the perfect signature cocktail!
  • 2-3 Oz whiskey
  • Top with Ginger ale
  • Garnish with Lime wedge

How To Get Away With Murder: Sangree

This cocktail, often referred to as the grandfather of Sangria, is perfect for people hooked on one of TV's bloodiest primetime dramas.
  • 4 cherries, muddled
  • ¼ oz. simple syrup
  • 1½ oz. merlot
  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 1 lemon slice for garnish
Served over ice in a rocks glass

Grey's Anatomy: Spicy Paloma
An ode to TV's favorite tequila swigging surgeon, the Paloma is a fun option for a tequila cocktail that isn't a margarita.
  • 1 oz. Tequila
  • 3 oz. Fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 oz. Jalapeño simple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Splash of grapefruit soda water (Pamplemousse La Croix works great!)
  • 1 jalapeño slice for garnish
  • Sugar and sea salt mixture for rim

Friends: White Russian
What better way to pay homage to your favorite Central Perk regulars than with an espresso laced signature cocktail?
  • 2/3 oz (2 parts) Coffee liqueur
  • 1 2/3 oz (5 parts) Vodka
  • 1 oz (3 parts) Fresh cream
Served over ice in a rocks glass

The best part about selecting your wedding signature cocktail is that you get to test out each contender with your fiancee while binging your current Netflix obsession! Cheers!

Original Blog Credit: https://www.stylemepretty.com/2018/04/13/signature-cocktail-ideas/

Developing Content, Choosing Presenters

How planners can boost their role

The role of meeting planner in many organizations has grown in scope in recent years. The one area where many planners still aren’t fully utilized, however, is meeting content.

“At the core of every business meeting is this question: How do we get the best sessions and presenters for this audience,” says John Nawn, founder of The Perfect Meeting Inc. and consultant to senior management in organizations looking to optimize learning at their events. “It’s a multi-step process, and too many planners are brought into the process somewhere in the middle or even later.”

Nawn, a former director of education for PCMA, says planners are still held at least partly responsible for quality of programming, “So, planners need to be proactive and take more of a participatory role in what’s being presented within the formal and informal educational sessions. In short, they should act like a meeting designer,” he says.

Building a Blueprint

In fact, Nawn has a blueprint to help planners play a role in effective meeting design.

1. Job Analysis: The blueprint starts with asking management whether there’s been a job analysis conducted of the meeting’s audience. “A job analysis is created from interviews of the target employees, their managers and perhaps their customers,” Nawn says. “It’s a 360-degree data-gathering process to determine the audience’s job tasks and core skills.” Useful templates can be found online for most job types, from sales, operations and IT to accounting and meeting planning. As a result, planners can easily access a relevant template and recommend its use if management doesn’t yet have a job analysis completed for the target audience.

2. Competency Model: A competency model is a collection of knowledge, skills, abilities or attitudes that determine successful performance for a particular job. A job analysis allows management to create a list of skills, which then guides meeting designers in building an educational curriculum that matches the model’s elements.

3. Call for Presentations: What’s more, the competency model also sharpens the subsequent call for presentations so that meeting designers and potential presenters don’t waste time. “Most calls are too broadly defined, so meeting designers don’t get exactly what they want,” Nawn says. A clearly defined idea of your goals and objectives not only helps potential presenters pitch more relevant session ideas: It also helps planners and management assess whether each submitted idea is sufficiently important to become part of the meeting agenda. It helps assess whether professional speakers who respond will customize their presentation sufficiently for the specific audience.

Nurturing Untested Experts

Nawn suggests casting a wider net for knowledgeable people who aren’t necessarily polished presenters. “Unless it’s an emerging subject or issue, peers generally provide more specific and useful information than professional speakers do,” he says. “But they might have to be coached or otherwise guided in order to create and deliver an effective session.”

To prepare inexperienced presenters, Nawn asks them the following questions: What is your overarching message? What are your strengths and weaknesses in being able to deliver that message? How do you think we can tell this story in the best way for the audience?

“Meeting owners in upper management tend to use the shorter TED Talks as a benchmark—but those are so highly curated and they spend a lot of time getting those just right,” Nawn says. “Many attempts at simply creating shorter presentations don’t work because presenters don’t have the competency to hit the mark in 15 minutes.”

Instead, a planner could hire a professional moderator to work one day of an event, when the less-experienced presenters on the program are scheduled. The moderator can lead each presenter in a one-on-one conversation in order to draw out the relevant information and lessons in a way that’s most engaging for the audience. “The presenters will focus more on conversing with the moderator, and won’t be preoccupied with shouldering the entire performance themselves,” Nawn says.

Alternatively, to refine a presentation (and its presenter) in the weeks ahead of the meeting, that presenter could conduct a webinar and lead a follow-up chat forum to understand attendee needs and expectations for the topic. And after the session happens at the in-person event, the presenter can be made available for audience interaction at a dedicated area in the prefunction space, a breakout room or a show booth.

What’s more, an opt-in conference call for attendees one week after the event can deepen and refine attendee learning, while another such call 60 days out can keep the conversation moving forward by seeing how attendees are applying their new knowledge. “Learning should not stop after the in-person event, and these outlets make learning continuous,” Nawn says. “They also inform the meeting owners on how to approach version 2.0 of that topic at the next event.”

Meeting Evaluations

To measure the true business benefit of all this content creation and speaker preparation, meeting owners must make a point of evaluating event sessions properly. In next month’s column, we’ll cover the various ways planners can query attendees on their retention of event content, their opinion on its importance to their work and specifically how they’re using what they learned for tangible business benefit.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.smartmeetings.com/magazine_article/developing-content-choosing-presenters

The 7 Worst Wedding Planning Tips Every Bride Should Avoid

When you're engaged and jumping on the wedding planning train, advice will suddenly start to surround you. Every article you read online will be about wedding dos and don'ts and every friend and family member will try to feed you tips and tricks that they think you absolutely need to hear before it's your turn to walk down the aisle. So when all of this advice is coming into your life, sometimes unwarranted, it's important to recognize what advice is actually helpful and what advice should be, well, kicked to the curb. Want to know to spot terrible advice? Well, here are seven wedding planning tips you should 100% avoid.

1. Skimp on the Food
Past brides will try to tell you that nobody eats the food so don't go above and beyond with premium food packages that offer a selection of appetizers and main courses. But the truth is, the food is one of the main things guests remember about your wedding. So, if it's within your budget, try to make sure there are several food options, as well as something that even the pickiest eaters will want to devour.

2. Improv Your Vows
Nope! Don't do this. Spend quality time writing your vows and even memorizing them if you can. You'll be so chocked up by nerves and emotion on the day of your wedding that you may not be able to speak from the heart off the cuff.

3. Wait for Your Wedding Dress to Go on Sale
Think the longer you wait to buy your wedding dress the cheaper it will be? Don't wait for flash sales or a coupon to arrive in the mail. The longer you wait to buy the dress, the more expensive alterations may be if you need it in a rush. Plus you'll have the added stress of waiting until the last-minute.

4. Skip the Open Bar and Do BYOB
Depending on your crowd, expecting guests to bring their own booze can be a problem waiting to happen. If you're not able to afford an open bar, consider doing an open bar for an hour or two and then switching to a cash bar to save a bit of money.

5. Don't Compare Your Wedding
The best thing you can do is compare what you want your wedding to be and look like to other weddings. You'll get ideas of things you may never would have thought of on your own and you may change your mind about things after seeing other people do it first.

6. Randomize the Seating Assignments
It may sound like a good idea at first and it will save you a ton of time and hassle trying to figure out where everyone should sit, but on the wedding day, it might be quite awkward if your Aunt Sue is sitting next to your sorority sisters from college.

7. DIY as Much as You Can
You may think you'll save a ton of cash DIY'ing your whole wedding, but you'll start to notice that you're spending a lot more time on arts and crafts. You also may end up spending more than you think on the bits and pieces, totally counteracting paying someone to help do your decorations for you. Remember: Time is money.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.brides.com/story/wedding-planning-tips-you-should-avoid

Tips For Developing A Successful Integrated Marketing Plan

Successful businesses have an integrated marketing strategy. Just think of the reasons why you buy a specific product or service. Most likely some sort of marketing was involved, like a Facebook ad or a commerical on television. No matter if you connect planners with meeting facilities or sell ketchup, an integrated marketing plan is a must, which is why we wanted to take a second and discuss proven strategies for developing one.

An integrated marketing plan consists of blending online and offline marketing strategies implemented in the most cost-effective manner and providing the greatest return on investment (ROI). These strategies could include social media ads, email campaigns, print brochures, direct mail, and more. Blending these online and offline strategies is important because you really want to reach as many people as possible. Although digital marketing strategies may be used to attract younger audiences, those over 40 may prefer traditional offline methods.

Of course, when developing an integrated marketing plan, cost is going to be a factor. Not only will you want to choose the best marketing strategies to reach your intendend audience, but also strategies that are cost-effective. A good ROI is about 20 times what you invested in the marketing strategies.

So what are some things you should be doing in order to develop a successful integrated marketing plan? Our own Chuck Salem spoke about this exact topic in a video we released earlier this year. Here are some of his main points that can help tell your brand’s story and educate the public on a new product or service:
  • Harvest Data through Email Lists, Vendor Relationships, Past Customers, Corporate Lists and More
  • Make Yourself Findable Through SEO, Lead Generation Strategies, and Social Media Marketing
  • Create an Effective Website that Tells Your Company’s Story and Provides Users with Critical Information in an Easy to Access Manner
  • Highlight the Features, Benefits, and Advantages of Your Products and Services
  • Produce Engaging Video Content Relevant to Your Targeted Audience
  • Utilize Paid Advertising through Google AdWords, Facebook Promotion, and Local/Regional Media
  • Share Content Regularly about Your Company Like Recent Hires, Awards, and Testimonials
  • Be Social on All Platforms that Make Sense Including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Various Blogs
  • Offer First-Time Discounts and Perks to Convince People to Take a Shot on You
  • Implement Pre-Sales and Loyalty Programs to Attract New Customers and Retain Old Ones

Although these are not the only ways to create an integrated marketing plan, we encourage you try these strategies out to grow your business. 

Original Blog Credit: https://www.uniquevenues.com/blog/tips-developing-successful-integrated-marketing-plan

10 Ways To Zap Honeymoon Stress

Regardless of what cloud you're on after the wedding, the unpredictable nature of traveling and uninterrupted "together time" on your honeymoon can take its toll. What can go wrong drinking margaritas on the beach for a week, you ask? Silly, avoidable stuff, mostly. Here are 10 tips to keep moods in check.

1. Plan Ahead
The best way to avoid stress during your trip is to take some preliminary planning steps before you leave: sketch out the trip together (so each of your interests are addressed), agree to a budget before you leave, and read our honeymoon countdown to cover all the bases.

2. Ease In
Try to avoid leaving for the honeymoon immediately after the reception. Instead, check into the honeymoon suite of a local hotel for your wedding night, catch some ZZZs, and get a fresh start the next morning.

It's also smart to declare at least the first few days of your trip off-limits for sightseeing. Why? These first few days are crucial to setting the tone of your trip. Catching up on your sleep first (without guilt for a change!) can help you fully appreciate and max out the rest of your days. If you're not a relaxer by nature, force yourself to slow down by starting your vacation on the beach or in the countryside, and then tackling a big city.

3. Be Healthy
You've just run your body ragged for months on end. It's no wonder that sleepless nights, a diet of junk food and stress, an emotional wedding, too much drinking, and jet lag combine to make your body crash -- you finally have time! Physically and mentally, you'll likely be very fragile; don't be surprised if you feel unusually tired or if tempers flare during the first few days of your trip. Speed your recovery -- and save the rest of your trip -- by balancing your time at the bar and in bed. (Knot Note: Bring along a bottle of water on excursions so you don't get dehydrated and cranky.)

4. Respect Each Other's Interests

You want to shop; he wants to learn how to surf. No problem: Divvy up the day. You watch him swallow seawater all morning, he window shops with you in the afternoon. Don't battle, balance!

5. Respect Each Other's Limits

It's the end of the day and he's tired, you're wired. An important rule of happy travel is: Don't push. Allow each other to relax and recoup in your own way. If he tuckers out, call it a day or do your own thing. (Yes, splitting up for a few hours is allowed -- even encouraged! -- on your honeymoon.) Scout out a place for dinner, read by the pool, or jog along the beach. Your reunion will be all the sweeter.

6. Don't Overplan Your Days

This can be tough, especially if you've flown halfway around the world to soak up a cultural hot spot. Avoid the temptation to do and see everything -- and the regret you might feel if you don't -- by choosing a honeymoon destination where there's just enough to do in the time you have allotted. Once there, don't assign every day a long to-do list. You've just spent months overtaxing your system with work and wedding planning -- this is your chance to chill. Having to do something or be somewhere every minute will fray your nuptial nerves in no time.

7. Take Breaks
Build downtime into your days, especially if it's hot outside. Take lots of breaks for a pint of beer or cafe au lait and people watching. It's a great opportunity to adjust your plans, read up on the next thing you're doing, write in your journal, meet the locals, and simply absorb a destination's ambience.

8. Follow Your Nose

Try to loosen the reins of control on your honeymoon. True, you've just finished micro-managing your big day, but traveling is a different animal. The memorable parts of a trip are often found when you let serendipity be your leader: a little boutique off the tourist-beaten path, a bakery hidden around a corner, a sudden change of plans from a formal dinner to a jazz cruise. Stay loose and swing your mind's door open to suggestion.

9. Speak Up

Nip petty arguments and testy conversations in the bud right away. On your honeymoon, time is precious. Don't let a day -- even an hour -- be wasted bickering or not speaking because this is not just another day in hometown, America. This is a day in Paris, or Hawaii, or Thailand. You're paying a lot for this day! Be the bigger person and extend the olive branch first. If your new spouse insists on stewing, take a break and don't let it ruin your trip. He or she will come around.

Likewise, if your vision of the perfect trip starts to derail, don't be shy about tweaking its course. Again, time is of the essence; the trip will be over before you know it. If, for example, you meet another couple and friendly hubby keeps inviting them to do everything with the two of you, gently put the kabosh on your new full-time foursome. Don't let peer pressure or "trying to be nice" gobble up your honeymoon.

10. Be Patient
The honeymoon is a transition time for both of you: you're tired, you're relieved, you may be nervous (after all, you just tied a permanent knot), and suddenly, after a year of planning, you suddenly have all this free time on your hands. Believe it or not, post-wedding blues can come into play. Be patient with each other: The honeymoon is the fun part, but each person likely has other emotional issues stirring under the surface. Don't be surprised if this manifests itself in mysterious ways.

Original Blog Credit: https://www.theknot.com/content/ways-to-zap-stress-before-your-honeymoon