Experts agree that building an event planning portfolio is probably the most important thing you’ll do as an events professional in terms of marketing yourself to your target audience. A digital event portfolio basically shows the world who you are, what you do, and how talented you really are.
Creating one – especially if it’s an event planning portfolio for an interview at a new company – can feel a little overwhelming. But this guide will take you through the basics and answer your most burning questions.
Discover an Event Portfolio’s Definition & Purpose
An event portfolio is typically found online and represents the work of an individual or an event planning company. In it you’ll find things that prove how successful this person or group is at event planning. From event photos to testimonials, an event portfolio is all about showing off your event planning abilities in their best light.
A corporate events portfolio or a wedding and events planning portfolio both serve the same purpose: to demonstrate skill and build trust in the viewer. Overall it’s a powerful tool for acquiring new business.
What Does an Events Portfolio Look Like?
An events portfolio well designed, shows who you are, and clearly explains what you do. It builds trust in your target audience. It is well branded and features your past event planning experience, education, and awards. As long as your events portfolio includes these items, there is no strict rules in how you present them. But, like any good website, your portfolio should be easy to read and navigate.
We’ve gathered some event planning portfolio examples to inspire your own design efforts:
1. Lola Event Productions
Lola Event Productions is a team of event planners located in Chicago. They’re combined 50+ years worth of experience in weddings and private events has helped them build their strong event planning portfolio.
Why We Love It: In addition to an easy to understand navigation bar, the homepage of Lola Event Productions features eye-catching imagery, a banner featuring their latest awards, and some impressive media mentions in industry renowned outlets.
Colin Cowie Lifestyle is an event planning company that creates weddings and private parties for the rich and/or famous. So in terms of testimonials, they’ve got most people beat. But there are other facets of their digital event planning portfolio that make it really stand out.
Why We Love It: Because Colin Cowie Lifestyle specializes in luxury events, it’s important that their events portfolio reflects an upscale vibe. They pull this off well by including elements like a featured Instagram panel (hosting a collection of exceptionally beautiful event photos) and single line client quotes that promote the brand’s simplistic elegance.
Company parties and corporate events are the bread and butter of Event Solutions. In addition to great website design, this event planning portfolio example makes it easy for potential clients to consider spending their large event budgets on their services.
Why We Love It: Event Solutions understands that seeing is believing. So in addition to sharing their event photos they also prominently feature event videos on their event planning portfolio site. And in case it wasn’t obvious from their impressive event examples, Event Solutions also spells out why you should with them using a bulleted list that highlights their unique selling points without any extra fluff.
Now that you know how to tell if someone else’s event planning portfolio is on point or not, it’s time to make one of your own! Here’s what you’ll need to build it along with ways to make it more unique.
Learn the Digital Event Portfolio Basics
Content is the most important component of any portfolio in the events industry or otherwise. Once you have those elements in place you can begin experimenting with ways to stand out from the competition. But at the bare minimum, your portfolio should include each of the following:
Top 10 Items to Include in an Event Portfolio
One of the best ways to break into event planning is to gain experience in whatever ways you can. But what good is experience if you don’t show the world you have it? In addition to showcasing your talent, you need to make sure your portfolio looks good, is highly functional, and includes some practical business elements as well. Just follow this list and you’ll be fine.
1. Logo, Brand Colors, and Tagline
Like all your other marketing materials, your event planning portfolio should align with your company’s usual look and feel. Most event planning portfolios will include a logo in the website header and weave in 2-3 primary brand colors throughout each page.
2. Client Testimonials
Ask people you’ve planned events for to share a few nice words. You can even get their permission to share the quote alongside their own name and event details. But don’t just limit yourself to clients – if your resume is a bit thin, consider asking past mentors, college professors, or anyone you’ve done volunteer work with to vouch for other important event planning skills (like work ethic, creativity, etc.).
3. Before & After Photos of Your Events
The day of the actual event is, as you already know, really hectic. But snapping these photos and sharing them on your portfolio is really important because it allows your resume to come alive. Show off your overall event designs in action but also make sure to take close ups of details like centerpieces. And, if the host allows it, snap some pics of the attendees enjoying themselves too.
4. Event Set Up Timelapse Videos
Event design is the most impressive and visual aspect of any event planning process. And, as we’ve already mentioned in our previous examples, using video on your portfolio site is great for engaging your site visitors.
5. Awards and Certifications
Most professional accolades will send or give access to their official digital emblem, badge, or logo to display on your own digital properties. Place these towards the top of your homepage and make sure they get more detailed descriptions or another prominent placement elsewhere on the site where you can explain why you won the award or just what it’s all about.
6. An About You or Meet the Team Section
This is the place to highlight some fun facts about your and your team. Use professional photos of yourself. And be sure to write bios that emphasize your strengths as an event planners (your parents were involved in the events industry or perhaps your visual arts hobby has translated into your career, that kind of thing).
7. Social Media Links
If you got them make sure they’re displayed on your portfolio site. Or, if you’re doing a hard copy portfolio, add your handles to the last page alongside your contact info. And do a sweep of all your accounts to make sure the posts and photos still align with your brand (and your new portfolio too).
8. Press or Media Mentions
Whether you have PR help or you’re just getting some rave reviews on Yelp, make sure you display these credibility indicators loud and proud. Link to the original articles where you can.
These last two deserve honorable mentions and while they’re certainly not required you’ll definitely earn a gold star for including them in your event planning portfolio anyways.
9. Timeline Drafts
It’s a good idea to give potential clients or employers a sneak peek at what they can expect to receive when they begin working with you. You can even draft one for a fictional event to use as a sample. By the way, here are some event planning timeline tips you can try out.
10. Event Inspiration Boards
Whether it’s Pinterest or a handmade bulletin board display, sharing your event inspiration boards is a great way to let viewers know how you think. They can also view any recurring themes in your work or how diverse your style might be project to project.
So you’ve gathered all your materials. Now how do you actually make the thing? We’re so glad you asked.
Explore Helpful Event Planning Portfolio Tools
There are lots of affordable tools out there, no matter how you plan to make or share your event planning portfolio. Here are a handful we recommend using:
A Binder or Album. The debate overprint portfolios vs. digital portfolios is still raging across all professions but it’s good to have at least one digital and one physical portfolio entity, even if only to have all your bases covered. Use a high quality binder or album to piece your materials together. Get crafty but keep it classy – too much glitter or construction paper cut outs might be off putting to clients.
Website Builders & Templates. Sites like Wix and Squarespace make it easy to create your own event planning portfolio site without any coding experience. Wix specifically offers some great event planning and professional portfolio templates you can use for free.
Social Tables. One of the best things you can show on your event planning portfolio is actual statistical proof that verifies you set an event goal and reached it. Using event management software can help you track your progress, calculate ROI, and provide that extra special something to round out your already amazing portfolio.
Using all the information we covered so far, you’ve got yourself a pretty great foundation for your event planning portfolio. But we know you want to take it a step further and create something really one of a kind, so here are some suggestions for how to do just that.
How to Make Your Wedding and Event Planning Portfolio Stand Out
One of the best ways to make your event planning portfolio stand out is to customize it for every new client. Cherry pick the materials that most closely match the client’s brand, event goals, and personal tastes. This is tough to do with your online portfolio but the good news is that it’s really easy to change up your physical portfolio without actually having to give it a complete makeover.
If you’d like the mix things up with the content itself, look up other local event planners and take a peek at their digital portfolios. If you notice a pattern (like the exact same fonts or similar layouts) try to deviate from it in a way that is still visually appealing and functional. When clients search for you and your competition online, what portfolio elements will they find on your page and not theirs? These differences will help make yours more memorable.
Event Portfolio Planning and Management
At the end of the day, it’s totally possible to book a client without a portfolio. But if have any experience or event planning education at all, you’ll be giving yourself more opportunities if you do. If you’d like more tips on the business side of event planning, study these guides while you’re here:
Looking for event inspiration and education fast? We’ve pulled together some top videos for event planners, so you don’t have to spend hours searching. Each video on this list was selected because of its high-quality content, subject relevance, cool design or format, and unique perspective on the topic.
Discover 15 top event planning videos to learn fast
First, explore helpful videos for starting an event planning business
Between now and 2026, the event planning profession is expected to be very lucrative, with demand for event planners continuing to climb higher than most other jobs. If you’re interested in striking out on your own, now’s a good time. Here are some resources to help get you started:
In our bite size event planning business advice video, we break down the five best ways to choose an event company name. First, you have to know who you’re trying to plan events for (aka your target audience). Then you need to come up with some great words that show you can cater to their wants and needs using some creative brainstorming and research.
Event Company Name Ideas for Your Business - YouTube
Main Takeaway: If choosing an event company name freaks you out, just start with the basics: who your audience, what you’d like to do for them, and maybe even where you’re located. There are lots of ways to go about this process – just start with these five steps and see what you end up with.
26% of people who start their own small business do it because they want to be their own boss and 23% say it’s because they want to pursue their passion. For you, it might be both! In this great event planning video by YouTube’s Miss Event Planner, you’ll get practical advice from a successful event planner on how to get up and running as well as how you can structure your daily routine.
How to START + RUN your Event Planning Business!! - YouTube
Main Takeaway: Getting advice from someone who has been there, done that is one of the smartest things you can do when starting out.
This next great event planning video also comes to us from Miss Event Planner (what can we say, she has fantastic advice). At some point, you’re going to make mistakes with your clients and that’s okay. But there are a handful of common and perfectly avoidable ones outlined in this video that you can keep in the back of your mind.
Main Takeaway: You can’t possibly anticipate every single thing that could go wrong with your business – nor should you! But we like this particular advice video because it’s highly selective, filled with detailed real world examples, and it covers a wide area of issues that will probably come up for most event planners.
Next, enjoy videos to brush up on the basics of event planning
If you’re just starting out in this profession, you need some guidance on how to actually organize and execute the events themselves. These event planning videos should help you cover your bases for any event type you’ve got on the horizon.
Another Social Tables original, this quick video covers exactly what you need to do to bring your event idea to life. If you follow these well defined steps, you’ll be well on your way to pleasing clients and attendees alike.
How to Plan an Event: The Simple Getting Started Guide - YouTube
Main Takeaway: As you continue to improve your event planning skills, you’ll develop your own unique approach. For now, this expert-approved, step by step process should help you get all the answers you need in just under 2 minutes.
Every planner needs an event planning checklist to keep things organized and on track. It’s basically your secret weapon for planning and executing consistently impressive get togethers. We’ve gone ahead and outlined one in this video that you can tweak to suit your own specific needs.
Event Planning Checklist: The Essential Guide - YouTube
Main Takeaway: This video is a great addition to any professional event planner’s bag of tricks. Watch it to get a great foundation for your brand new event planning checklist or even revamp your existing one.
Then, watch videos for advanced event planning best practices
If you have more than 1-3 years worth of event planning experience, you’ll definitely be interested in these more in depth and technical event planning videos.
Another helpful resource from Splash, this event planning video gets into the nitty gritty of getting in touch with past event attendees and maximizing event ROI even after it’s all over.
Pulse Follow-Up Strategy: 6 Steps to Driving Post-Event Engagement | Run of Show - YouTube
Main Takeaway: Watch this video if you’ve ever wondered what KPIs you need to measure effective event follow up as well as when you should start strategizing your post-event communication (hint: it might be much sooner than you think)!
The other videos on this list were a bit shorter than this 41 minute long one. But it’s a fantastic presentation that offers some great takeaways alongside powerpoint slides explaining a unique approach to comparing event performance, demonstrating value, and what the heck you’re supposed to do with your captured event data.
A New Way to Measure Event ROI - YouTube
Main Takeaway: You know why event ROI is important but that doesn’t make it any easier to make sense of it all. This event planning video should provide some clarity as well as new ideas for your own event strategy.
Next, see the best videos for planning corporate events
Corporate events require event planners to understand the needs of a business focused audience while still delivering something fun or, at the very least, enjoyable. Here are some tips for planners in this niche:
This video is brought to us by Savvy Social Events, an event planning company that is as practical as it is creative. Learning how to sell out tickets or registrations for every event you plan is important and this video covers how to do exactly that, even when you’re running out of time.
How To Sell Tickets FAST! [Event Planning Tips] - YouTube
Main Takeaway: Jazz (the video’s host) shares what she’s learned from her own personal experiences and her advice is filled with real examples.
Office parties get a bad rap but Elevate Experiences wants to change that through event planning education and creative ideas to get you started. The key to a great office holiday party, according to this event planning video, is to think outside the box.
Office Holiday Party Ideas: 3 ways to spice things up - YouTube
Main Takeaway: How to choose the right event theme, select an interesting menu, and suggestions for group activities are just some of the things you’ll get from this great resource.
Finally, get tips for planning private events with the best videos to watch
Need some help planning your next baby shower or wedding reception? These event planning videos should help get you started.
If you’re just starting out in event planning, this video will still be really helpful for you as this professional event planner shows you her event set up process for an actual client. Most private events won’t include event staff to help you, so knowing how to successfully set up an event is a skill you’ll need at some point.
Set up Your Event Like a Professional Party Planner - YouTube
Main Takeaway: From production kits to client communication, this event planning video has you covered for all your event set up basics.
The design of this video alone makes it exciting to watch (especially if yellow is your favorite color). And, as you probably already know, working with private clients means dealing with a lot of different budget sizes so event planning videos like these can be really helpful when you want to throw an impressive event with less funding than you’d like.
How to plan a party regardless of budget - YouTube
Main Takeaway: If you need a step by step walkthrough of what questions to ask your clients and how you can translate their answers into an event that is both fabulous and affordable, this video is for you.
It’s a vital step in the reception planning process. And because it involves the people you or your client loves most, it can feel pretty stressful. This highly consumable video will take you through the process step by step in the least painful way possible.
How to Make a Wedding Seating Chart: 5 Simple Steps - YouTube
Main Takeaway: With the advice in this video, making a wedding seating chart will be a breeze. You may even discover a step or two that you’ve been missing this whole time!
Subscribe to discover the latest event planning tips in quick videos
When you search for YouTube event planners, be highly selective in your research, and seek out lists like this to ensure you’re getting advice you can trust. Subscribe to each of the channels above, and Social Tables Youtube channel, to constantly get new insights!
If you’re interested in learning more professional event planning tips and tricks, check out our articles on:
Did you know that 88% of event planners were making arrangements to host virtual reality (VR) events last year? And 87% of them planned some sort of augmented reality (AR) event too. Clearly virtual event planning is in high demand right now.
Whether you’re new to event tech or you’re looking for inspiration for that next big VR and AR event, we’ll break down everything you’ll need to know to feel confident about having this skill on your resume.
Augmented Reality (AR) vs Virtual Reality (VR)
Augmented reality is a hardware filter we can use to see our world but with an image, sound, or effect on top of it. It’s most commonly used through apps on smartphones. Virtual reality, on the other hand, is a totally immersive experience that often requires a full headset and controller system to enjoy.
Both technologies have become more popular thanks to the pop culture and gaming spheres. Whether its an entire AR/VR event or just an event with AR/VR elements, there’s lots to gain from including the latest technology in your event planning strategy.
How to use Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality for Events
The tools that have already come out using VR and AR for event planning are very promising. And they can be used before, during, and after any event to aid your event planning process and wow your guests on the actual day. Here are a few ways you can incorporate this technology into your events today:
Train your event staff and planning team. Brands like Mercedes Benz create 3D model videos to train their employees at every level.
Showcase sponsorship packages. The sports industry has already embraced immersive tech with companies like Coca-Cola using it to advertise at hundreds of major events worldwide.
Take advantage of fully immersive trips. Sites like Cvent’s Supplier Network let you explore interactive floor plans for venues worldwide and other such as Virtual Fam Trip have a global database of event venues you can tour without ever leaving your office. Some facilities that are under construction today might even have tours available for what their soon-to-be-built event space will look like.
Speed up the RFP process. Virtual reality also make it easier for venue managers to reach out to event planners as well as vendors and show them the insides of their space, using tools such as Social Tables photo-realistic 3D diagramming.
Adopt an AR app that drives event traffic. For example, apps like Google’s ARCore let guests interact with trade show booths and branded conferences in whole news ways through elements like educational pop ups and customizable games. Advertise these features ahead of time to help push ticket sales.
All in all, getting ahead of the curve on these two key trends will help impress clients and partners, while also making your job easier at the same time!
New Ways to Get the Most from Virtual/AR During Events
This technology makes for very a impressive addition to everything from birthday parties to high profile meetings to trade shows. Here’s just a taste of what you can do:
Offer lightweight and affordable entertainment. Visual effects glasses like the kind made by Hi-Lites can turn any light into custom shapes and doesn’t require an investment in complex equipment.
Use branded hashtags and filters for high ROI social media content. Companies like SnapChat are already doing this very successfully but you can always create your own branded experience through photo and video options with a little help from AR.
Tell stories about your brand or the origin of your products. You can use any VR equipment to tell a relevant story that all at once invites the viewer to be an active participant while also forming an emotional bond – which is what all great events do for their guests!
Offer post-event access to event content. Experts say that because the average consumer has access to products like Google Cardboard and the Oculus Rift, they can enjoy your immersive experiences even after they leave your booth or venue.
Install trust in your customer base through product demonstrations. Whether it’s a tour, a model, or an experience, pretty much anything can be recreated through VR. Seeing might still be believing but in this case your audience will get to see, hear, touch, and try out a wide range of offerings that would have never been possible otherwise.
The only limitations to virtual reality and augmented reality in event planning lie in your own imagination. These tools can be used in all facets of the event planning process. From inception to creation, VR and AR have proven to be welcome event additions for both the companies who use them and the attendees who benefit from them.
But don’t just take our word for it, check out these great examples from real life events featuring virtual/AR event planning.
5 Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality Event Ideas From Leading Brands
There are plenty of AR and VR events you can attend that will inspire your own. But if you’re looking for some quick examples to get you started, you can use any of these as a jumping off point for your own ideas.
As you’ll soon find out, virtual reality and augmented reality is far more accessible for event planning than you may have guessed. And the appeal is far reaching – even senior living facilities have found great uses for them!
As long as you create content that is relevant to your audience and your brand, any virtual/AR event planning effort is sure to be a success. Here are five killer examples that prove it:
In an effort to bring that wow factor to their booth at recent trade show and conference events, the famous liquor brand went above and beyond to include some well made content for their immersive experience. The 2 minute and 40 second video example shows an animated story of the how the product gets made. From the agave fields to the glass, Patron does an excellent job of creating a charming emotional connection with its audience and telling an entertaining story.
Main Takeaway: Adding on brand storytelling elements to your VR content make it more fun and memorable.
For Mercedes, it’s all about showing off what experiences their customers can have once they invest in their vehicles. In this immersive event experience example, the luxury car brand shared an exciting 360 degree experience of one Mercedes owner’s mountain explorations with his trusted dog Loki at his side.
Main Takeaway: Because AR and VR is all about creating an experience, you should focus on sharing event content that is relevant to the theme as a whole while also creating something entirely unique for the viewer.
Over a series of conferences, Unite LA provided guests with the opportunity to view unique and imaginative art work in a captivating way through the help of AR. After downloading the event app, attendees could use the platform to view the full extent of the gallery, magically turning barren pedestals into extravagant displays and plain, 2D posters into pop out experiences.
Main Takeaway: Even if you’re not interested in telling a story, you can display cool images, models, and products through your very own event app which helps you get the most out of the tool while also engaging attendees in a fun, new way.
CES is all about showcasing innovative tech and Intel’s presentation in 2017 is no exception. Part product launch, part press conference, part thrilling exploration, Intel gave attendees the opportunity to try their VR hardware during the keynote. Following along with the speaker, guests viewed: basketball games from courtside seats, alien spaceships, and zombie apocalypses.
Main Takeaway: Even if your event is part of a larger experience, you can take any traditional lecture format and turn it into a hands on experience without attendees ever having to leave their seats. It just goes to show that VR and AR can be integrated into all aspects of event planning, no matter what they traditionally look like.
Fans of Imagine Dragons were treated to a special live VR experience when LiveNation provided guests with exclusive backstage access. If you have some superstars lined up for your next event, you can easily duplicate the interview/VR format to create something original of your own. And the best part is that content can be captured and repurposed for other marketing campaigns in the future, making it both a special immersive experience and evergreen content all in one.
Main Takeaway: If you plan to include livestream in your next event plan, consider setting up your cameras to film the experience for VR content.
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Improving Events with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Can Be Easy
Now that you know what these two great technologies are and how to use them in your event planning and/or execution, you should feel well equipped to integrate them more and more in the coming years. As you continue to use virtual/AR in event planning, keep these key points in mind:
Virtual reality and AR event planning is all about creativity – both in terms of the content you share and the ways in which you use the technology. Don’t be afraid to add VR and AR to event elements you haven’t seen them used in before – we are just beginning to see what they can do, and pioneering is extremely encouraged at this stage.
VR and AR events and event elements are as practical as they are entertaining. From boosting sales to training customer service reps, this tech is surprisingly versatile. Make sure you use it to the fullest by aligning your tools with your event goals.
Look to leading brands and events for more inspiration. There are more and more VR and AR themed events in the works than ever before. Make sure you keep up with industry news and check out a few of these great get togethers so you can see what’s already being done.
Attendees expect sustainability. And as events commit to being “greener,” they also struggle to find meaningful ways to make good on that word. This week, two of our biggest stories showcase impactful, approachable ways large-scale events can bring sustainability to fruition — and they go farther than just recycling.
Stay in the loop with the week’s five biggest event news updates.
1. This Event Proved That Ditching Plastic is Possible (The Conversation)
Sustainability is a hot topic in the modern world of meetings. But is a large-scale, plastic-free event actually possible? Just ask the Australian Marine Sciences Association, who took it upon themselves to “turn the tide” with a completely plastic-free event for 570 people. And they did it all without expanding their budget or impacting their bottom line. (Yes, really.)
“From day 1, we were clear we wanted to eliminate plastic and reduce overall waste – everything from day-to-day rubbish to plastic take-home novelties that feature at so many conferences but inevitably make their way into landfill…Recycling is only a small part of the solution. We need to ‘refuse, reduce, and recycle’ to really tackle plastic.” -AMSA
What does it mean for planners?
Knowing the difficulty of the task ahead, AMSA started planning toward the goal a full year before the event took place. But it’s not just the timeline that planners can look to when “de-plasticing” their own events — the association used some smart, replicable tactics to replace conference must-haves that are normally produced with plastic. Some of these included:
Cardboard name tags without pockets
Bamboo lanyards with metal clips
Delegates had to bring their own coffee cups/water bottles
Plates, silverware, and glassware for all meals
No envelopes or printed conference abstracts
Perhaps the biggest reason that the AMSA was able to pull off such a remarkable feat was collaboration. All exhibitors, workshop organizers, and delegates committed early on to kicking the hard stuff (aka plastic). The time has come where sustainability is a chief concern for events and attendees alike, and the next step is accountability. When everyone involved in the event shares a goal and feels accountable to one another, even truly plastic-free events are possible.
2. Visitors Centers (and Attendees) Are Big on “Bleisure” (Skift)
With millennials making up the majority of modern attendees, many find themselves stuck between a destination and a hard place. The “experiences over stuff” generation has a desire to travel and experience new destinations in their leisure time, yet leisure time is often more of a luxury than a reality. The result? They’re using business travel to explore leisure destinations — and from destination marketing to meetings agendas, “bleisure” is evolving how events are planned.
“If the attendees can’t go out and experience a double-decker bus, we’ve had clients bring in double-decker buses into the convention center and turn them into food trucks. Or they’ve taken the exhibit hall and turned it into a giant, adult-sized ball pit. It’s taking what you have and making it as quirky and creative as you can and integrating the destination into those experiences.” -Joshua Novick, Vice President of Business Development, London & Partners
What does it mean for planners?
If attendees like the destination, 79% will generally return for leisure or even extend their stay if possible. However, this doesn’t just spell big bucks for destinations and venues, it also means that planners have to choose destination based on more than the age-old adage of “rates, dates, and space.”
Attendees are looking for authentic interaction with their host cities, and a chance to experience all that gives a city its unique culture. For planners, that means planning events in ways that give delegates a true taste of the culinary scene, a chance to imbibe in nightlife, and easy, walkable access to city centers. In many cases, that means turning to unorthodox venues and meeting spaces to make it happen.
As the desire to interact with host cities grows, that interaction won’t just happen outside of conference hours — it’s going to define conferences and enliven agendas. In fact, events such as the Forbes Under 30 Summit are already spilling into the city and turning the destination itself into the convention center. But this sort of paradigm shift in agendas will also make it paramount that the city aligns with the overall message and purpose of the event.
3. Clean Air Affects Events More Than You Might Think (Meetings Today)
Most conventional buildings are lacking the proper ventilation to truly purify the air that attendees are breathing. With pollutant concentration 2-5x higher indoors than out, that’s a pretty big deal — one that has the full attention of the CEO of Luxury Associated Hotels International, Michael Dominguez.
As he reports in this piece for Meetings Today, a recent review of 15 air-quality studies reports that improved ventilation, and in turn higher air quality, can actually improve cognitive function by as much as 11%.
“Breathing is an unconscious activity for us all, and as such we tend to take for granted the importance of the quality of air we’re inhaling. The average person breathes in more than 33 pounds of indoor air daily, and as we age, our body’s ability to compensate for the effects of air pollution become more limited.” -Michael Dominguez, CEO of Associated Luxury Hotels International
What does it mean for planners?
Think about it: If your brain was a car, an 11% gain in speed would be the difference between going 70 mph and 78 mph. Which means that by kicking dirty air out of the left lane, your events can benefit from better networking, higher engagement, superior panels, and more.
To take advantage, planners need to inquire about air quality at venues and look for purifying elements such as indoor foliage, which filters air naturally via plant-based decarbonization. It might even mean taking the next event outside.
The wellness movement has grown steadily in the industry, and, as it continues to grow, so too will the level of sophistication. As it does, many of the things we take for granted at events will fall under the scrutinizing lens of behavioral science. Colors, spatial layout, and, yes, air quality, are just some of the many environmental factors through which planners can produce productive meeting mindsets amongst attendees.
4. Face the Facts: Facial Recognition Comes With a Moral Dilemma (NY Times)
Facial recognition technology has exciting implications in the hospitality industry, especially for hotels. However, as the New York Times reports, it also poses an ethical dilemma. Dozens of facial databases are compiled without any knowledge of the general population, and then being shared around the world — potentially with entities such as foreign governments and even private enterprises.
While it’s well-known that tech giants such as Facebook and Google have sophisticated facial recognition compilations, it’s far less known that the camera at the local coffee shop might be storing the same type of images. Or, to that fact, what those images might be used for.
“You come to see that these practices are intrusive, and you realize that these companies are not respectful of privacy…The more ubiquitous facial recognition becomes, the more exposed we all are to being part of the process.” -Liz Sullivan, Activist and Former Leader at AI company Clarifai
What does it mean for planners?
While events and venues alike may be eager to implement the latest in facial recognition technology, the question becomes at what cost? And simultaneously, is there really much of an improvement in the guest or attendee experience over RFID technology? With facial recognition being used in potentially invasive ways, investing in the technology with good intentions could ultimately still be funneling money toward more questionable outcomes.
Technological development is ultimately a race, one in which urgency can sometimes overshadow outcome. Yet as our privacy dwindles, the awareness of the phenomenon is increasing — and so too is awareness of some of the many trade-offs that come with minor conveniences. With that awareness could come a potential backlash calling into question the necessity of invasive technological elements in the world of events and beyond.
5. How One Sorority Used Excess Food in a Barry Thoughtful Way (CNN)
Hurricane Barry might have shut down the Delta Sigma Theta National Convention early this past weekend, but that wasn’t going to stop the sorority from making a positive impact on the community. Instead of letting food for the weekend go to waste, the organization and its catering partner Centerplate donated their remaining 17,000 meals to a local food bank to help offset some of the negative impact of the hurricane for at-risk populations.
“With 16,000 attendees and two food functions canceled — our Sisterhood Luncheon and closing Soiree Celebration — there was inordinate amounts of food that would have been wasted. Kudos to Centerplate.” -Beverly Smith, CEO of Delta Sigma Theta
What does it mean for planners?
While the convention had plenty of leftover food due to the hurricane, most events that run their full course are still laden with plenty of leftovers when it’s all said and done. Planners and venues are well-equipped to proactively work with local shelters and other humanitarian groups to put that food to good use — so the question becomes, why aren’t more events doing it?
It shouldn’t take a hurricane for events to find creative and positive ways to eliminate food waste. Just as importantly, it’s something that most major events are well-equipped to do. As sustainability and authentic community involvement become ingrained in attendee expectations (and thus event planning), eliminating food waste is one area of focus that has the potential to feed two birds with one stone.
If you’ve ever scoped out a Code of Ethics for professional event planners, you already know that there are a lot of issues worth keeping in mind no matter how much experience you have. But what you might not know is exactly what kind of gray area scenarios you can find yourself or your staff dealing with over time.
Here are the main ethical issues in event management you can expect to face at some point in your career – along with what to do if/when they happen!
10 Common Event Planning Ethics & Etiquette Violations 1. Not communicating with clients and partners in a timely manner
Falling behind on emails or texts isn’t a crime. But if you don’t respond to clients and partners in time, you run the risk of putting them in uncomfortable positions.
Example Scenario: A vendor forwards you a proposal that is far more complicated than you anticipated, and your client is waiting to hear back about their budget limitations. You’re really busy and don’t get to the proposal for a few days. By that time, the vendor has accepted a competing offer and is no longer available.
What To Do: You don’t have to stay glued to your inbox all hours of the day, but the average person returns a business email within 1.87 hours. So try to keep your replies to this time frame (during business hours). Or, if you’re super overwhelmed, at least let everyone know you received the message and plan to review it by a specific date/time.
2. Fraudulent familiarization trips
Just because you scheduled this trip months ago doesn’t mean you get to snag a free vacation out of it once you’ve picked out your official event venue.
Example Scenario: After much deliberation, you’re pretty sure you’re going to choose the local grand ballroom venue for the gala. But your FAM trip to New York is already paid for, so you consider keeping your decision to yourself and going anyway. You can always consider that venue for another event in the future, right?
What To Do: Even if no one finds out, you’re actively using company resources for your own personal benefit. Be up-front with the financial decision-makers at your company – they may still let you go anyway!
3. Using travel points from business trips for personal events
Like most ethical issues, this one is a little gray, especially if you’re forced to use your personal account for corporate expenses.
Example Scenario: You’ve flown across the country twice this past year for work, and your vacation is fast approaching. You have enough airline and hotel points to upgrade your next trip to First Class or even a free night in a luxury suite.
What To Do: Ask for your own spending account if your company offers it to employees. If they don’t, ask HR about their travel points policy. Again, there’s a good chance they’ll be fine with it, but it’s more ethical to ask for permission in these situations.
4. Bribing guests
Awesome gift bags are part of the event experience, especially when you’re trying to land some new accounts or upgrade high paying clients to bigger, better packages. But are new iPhones and bottles of Chanel perfume considered a generous gift or a full-on bribe?
Example Scenario: Your event sponsor wants to make an excellent impression by giving away $500 worth of their product to every attendee. They’ve asked you or your team to sort and hand out the gifts at the door.
What To Do: The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics defines an appropriate gift as something that a guest will enjoy, but is not economically disproportionate to their profession’s average income level and is not considered unusual to receive at this type of event. Good rule of thumb: if you heard your favorite political candidate accepted that gift from a business of any kind, would it make you cringe? This issue is highly speculated in the public sphere but it also applies in the private one, too.
5. Not being realistic about serious weather concerns
A little rain is one thing, but if you are planning an event in an area prone to wildfires, tornados, or some other sort of extreme weather, you need to build a bad weather plan into your event contracts and policies.
Example Scenario: Planning a client event that takes place in an open, isolated field during wintertime in Northern Canada? If you know perfectly well that the weather at the event might cause possible discomfort, injury, or sickness to your event guests, you have to either guide the client toward a better option or cancel the event altogether.
What To Do: Just because a client is willing to pay you for it doesn’t make it a good idea. No one likes to cancel or postpone an event they worked hard to plan, but guest health and safety comes first. When in doubt, do what is best for your guests, even if your client disagrees at first.
6. Stealing event design ideas
Who doesn’t love perusing Pinterest for some event inspiration? Well, it turns out there’s a difference between inspo and theft, so you need to know what that is.
Example Scenario: You see a great design for an identical venue layout and copy everything you can find from the set up to the decor.
What To Do: Event design is an art form and the artist should be respected. If you’re going to use their idea, make sure you put your own special twist on it to make it distinctly different.
Turns out, being a negative Nancy in meetings and email threads is an ethical consideration for event planners.
Example Scenario: Your client is trying to be helpful, but they keep coming up with impractical ideas for the event. You find yourself saying, “No” over and over again, getting frustrated every time, attempting to explain why their idea isn’t going to work out. You might even vent about it with one of your vendors.
What To Do: It’s okay to occasionally, internally disagree with or be critical of clients and partners. It’s also okay to educate them on the issue. But every negative response should be followed up with a constructive alternative so that their original idea is still honored but in a more realistic way. And even though it’s tempting, do not share your frustrations with vendors or other team members – it puts you in a negative light!
8. Making promises you know you can’t keep
You’re an event planner, which makes you on par with literal superheroes. But even superheroes have their weaknesses. Trying to cover them up might lead to bigger issues down the road.
Example Scenario: After a dry spell that felt like forever, your client roster is suddenly overflowing. Then you get another new opportunity – one that would only be possible if everything else was perfectly timed and nothing went wrong (a rarity in this industry). The money is great, so you take it anyway. You think it’ll be hard, but you’ll try to juggle it all.
What To Do: Sometimes being overly optimistic about your own abilities comes at a price, which your clients will have to pay. Don’t be afraid to turn down work, just make sure you explain why you won’t be available. The care you show your current clients and partners will be sure to attract repeat business in the future.
9. Undercutting your competition
Pricing for any industry that relies on freelancers is a tricky beast. You might see lowering your prices to attract more clients as a smart way of doing business, but it’s actually an event planning ethics disaster.
Example Scenario: Your local competitor plans birthday parties, too. Since you’re just starting out, you decide to charge half of their advertised rate and start reaching out to clients they’ve worked with in the past to let them know a new, more affordable option is available.
What To Do: Not only is this point an ethics issue, it’s actually illegal. Predatory pricing, as it’s called, is hard to prove in court, but that doesn’t mean they can’t. Instead, offer the going market rate for your services with perhaps a modest discount for first-time clients.
Whether you’re expanding your in-house event planning staff or just your preferred local vendor list, diversity should be a top concern for your workplace.
Example Scenario: After a recent string of event-related tasks (flipping through resumes, attending local career fairs, going to professional event planning networking events), you realize that everyone you met came from the same background, had the same look, and were largely a homogenous crowd. You’re ready to wrap up this networking marathon, so you figure it’s not your fault there weren’t more diverse people at the events.
What To Do:Diversity and inclusion in the workforce isn’t just a good thing to do – it can actually help improve team decision making and create a more favorable business practice overall. Do your part by going outside of your routine to seek out opportunities to work with or meet people of different races, religions, and abilities than you.
These 10 issues come up most frequently in the event industry. But there are a few worth mentioning that you might encounter one or twice during your career.
11 Surprising ethical event examples that might catch you off-guard
You may find yourself in one or more of the following situations:
Lying about your skill set. Everyone pads their resume a little bit, but with professions like event planning where your skills are always being put to the test, it’s better to remain realistic than optimistic in this arena.
Abusing intellectual property. Double-check that your name or concept isn’t already taken during the preliminary planning stages so there are no legal surprises down the road. Also, don’t be afraid to own up to ripping off someone else’s idea – either get written permission from the creator or work with your client to find some left of center alternatives.
Blowing up at a difficult customer. As an event planner, your patience will be tested often.Even if a customer or event attendee is being inappropriate with you, it does not give you permission to be inappropriate to them. If they go overboard, though, don’t be afraid to defer to another event host or any legal authorities to protect yourself.
Harassing an event guest. If you wouldn’t speak or act a certain way at noon on a weekday in a well-lit open office space, don’t do it at an event in the evening where alcohol is being poured. In a nutshell: always be professional.
Choosing not to sign the requested NDA. Sometimes venue managers or celebrity assistants forget to send or request documents. But that doesn’t give you permission to.
Accepting inappropriate gifts. We’ve already covered giving them, but the same applies to getting them.
Paying off staff. In the heat of the moment, offering a staff member some extra cash on the side to save the day sounds like a good idea… until somebody doing the same job points out that they’d like to get paid the same amount, too.
Participating in activities that discredit your organization or partners. Keep your opinions about clients and partners to yourself in-person and online. Like mama always said, if you don’t have anything nice to say!
Not Reading Your Client’s Code of Ethics. If they have one, it’s part of your job to make sure you follow it. Even if it’s all repeat information.
Failing to address unethical behavior in others. Your sponsors, team, clients, vendors, and even guests are all a reflection on your and how your work as an event planner. Make sure everyone is representing you (and themselves, of course) the best they possibly can.
Asking event staff to wear inappropriate attire. Even if a client demands it, there really isn’t any reason to subject your staff to revealing or restrictive clothing choices. Offer more appropriate outfit alternatives or, better yet, skip it altogether. For the good of your event and the individuals in charge of making it run smoothly, this issue is well worth butting heads with your clients over.
Everything You Need to Know About Ethical Issues in Event Planning
These situations are obvious on paper. But in the real world of everyday event planning, they can feel a little surreal to encounter and you might not be clear on what to actually do about them.
Which is why writing your own personal code of conduct or keeping lists like these handy will keep you on the straight and narrow no matter what curveballs the industry throws at you!
For more on being the best event planner you can possibly be, check out these articles on:
Over 33.1 million American viewers tuned in to watch professional golf last year, proving that this is still one of the most sought after event types in the country. Whether you’re planning a tournament or a charity drive, all golfing events require a timeline and checklist to make sure they run smoothly.
How Do You Plan a Golf Event?
Like most events, you’ll need to understand this event type, what audiences love about it, and what you can do to give it your own unique spin. Most golf event ideas involve low key award ceremonies but you can also include traditional event add-ons like putting or hole-in-one contests or even a catered meal for players.
Besides these theme specifics, you’ll have to use other event best practices to do things like partner with vendors and sponsors, market your event, register attendees, and more. Basically all the things you’d normally do but include some golf stuff in there while you’re at it.
With a little help, you’ll be able to master this event type in no time. So without further ado, here’s the only golf tournament planning guide you’ll ever really need.
How to Come Up With Great Golf Event Names
What is your golf event really about? Whether it’s a charity or just a good time, golf events are rarely just about the sport by itself. Unless you’re planning a tournament, you’ll need to come up with a funny, clever, and/or memorable name people will like.
It should give attendees a sense of what to expect if they sign up. And because this event is all about playing a game, there should always be a sense of fun to the name, even if it’s for a corporate crowd.
MDA Topgolf Tournament. Golf events that are charity-focused should include the name of the nonprofit like this one does.
Women’s Golf Day. Straight to the point, this simple golf event name tells us who the audience is and what they can look forward to at the event itself.
As you can probably tell, you don’t need to go over the top with your golf event name. Whether you choose something creative or practical, your attendees will still enjoy the day. Just remember to look up golf events in your area and make sure your chosen name doesn’t resemble any of the others!
The Essential Golf Outing Checklist
There are some minimum requirements all golf events need to be a success. The great thing about this event type is that you can often find eager volunteers and free or donated goods to fulfill your golf outing checklist, especially if you’re fundraising for a good cause.
One or more sponsors, depending on your event goals.
A list of potential golfers for the event itself.
A ticket sales and marketing strategy, which will include tools like an event website.
Event insurance for any possible injuries, weather-related cancellations, and more.
An event photographer.
Trophies or awards for the winners.
Directional signage for the course.
Promotional signage for any event sponsors.
Water and snacks available for players.
Golf event management software.
T-shirts for participants and/or volunteers.
Granted, the things on this list make up the majority of what you’ll need for any golf-related event. But if you’re looking to expand your event beyond what people usually expect, you can get a little fancier by hiring caterers to prepare a delicious lunch, offer more extravagant prizes, or even give out goodie bags to participants.
One of the points worth highlighting in the above list is golf event management software. Most planners don’t realize it but there are already a ton of great tools out there that can help your golf event run smoothly. Here are the ones we cherry-picked.
3 Best Golf Event Planning Software & Tools
Your event is only as good as the tools you use to plan it. So make sure you have these or other, similar event planning helpers with you as you begin to figure out your next big golf event.
Social Tables. Our free (yes, free!) event management solution is great for event planners at any experience level.
Event Caddy. If you’re planning to host a full-on tournament, Event Caddy offers tools that will help you organize, manage, and promote it.
BirdEase. Another great tournament planning tool, BirdEase also helps planners set up a dedicated and professional-looking e-commerce website.
Now that you know what to expect, what you’ll need, and the gist of the process, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of how to plan a golf event.
Your New Golf Event Planning Template & Timeline
Some people start planning golf events 9 months out but it’s always good to get a head start when planning larger events like these. Even if you only have 6 months until the big day, you can still hit all the points on this golf event planning timeline. Which, by the way, you’re more than welcome to use as your very own template — just make sure to customize it and adjust as things come up!
Decide on how you’ll run the event and what extra games, entertainment, or awards presentations you’ll host.
Personalize this (or another) event timeline template to fit your specific needs.
Meet with your team to go over core event elements and assign tasks.
Contact your list of top golf course choices then compare prices and make your selection. Putting your deposit down this far in advance will help make sure you get the date you want, especially during busy seasons.
Set up pricing for participation and create your sponsorship options.
Purchase any event insurance you or the golf course would like you to have.
3-6 Months: Getting the Word Out
Choose your golf event name.
Send out your save the date notice to sponsors and potential players.
Begin selling sponsorship packages. Make sure to update your website and other advertising materials with the appropriate sponsor information as you go.
Create social media accounts (or use existing ones) to promote the event on social media. Connect with past event attendees, current clients, and mailing list subscribers. Have event committee members share the posts with their personal networks, as well.
Create or order all your event signs, posters, banners, and t-shirts (for both players and volunteers).
Book a golf event photographer. Or, if you or a volunteer plan to handle all photos, read up on these golf tournament photography tips.
Review your event plans with your chosen venue. Make sure they sign off on everything in writing.
Choose a credit card processor or money collection system for the day of the event.
2-4 Weeks: Check In & Adjust Where Needed
Review the current number of sponsorships sold versus your goal amount. Adjust where needed and make additional efforts to follow up with potential sponsors. Even if you haven’t met your goal yet, there are lots of ways to sell last-minute event sponsorships.
Double check that all event items (goodie bags, trophies, t-shirts, etc.) have been delivered or will arrive early. If not, call your providers and see what can be done.
1 Week: Finishing Touches
Send out official event reminders.
Confirm your volunteers and vendors again.
Prepare any last-minute decor or entertainment items.
Day Of the Event: You Totally Got This!
Set up your registration area along with any signs, banners, and decor items.
Gather your volunteers to go over their individual tasks, establish a schedule, and determine how you’ll communicate as a group when everyone is spread out. Use this time to answer any questions they may have and hand out their t-shirts.
Set up extra event activities.
Grab your golf measuring and tracking devices for any additional games or activities that need them.
Stage your carts in a single area and place goodie bags on the seats.
Offer sign-ups for next year’s event.
Pat yourself and your team on the back after a job well done.
Golf Events Are Easier Than You Might Think
Congratulations, you did it! The process of planning a golf event is similar to most other event types. You have to have the right tools, a strategy, and an understanding of what attendees have come to expect from events like these.
Now that you have all that down, you’ll have no problem creating a completely original and fun golf event of your own!
For more event planning inspiration, read these related posts:
If you’re in charge of organizing icebreakers for an event, it’s helpful to think of how you react when you hear the familiar chords of the ‘Macarena’ at a wedding. It could be ‘Yay!’ ‘Ugh!’ or ‘Meh.’ This is the likely breakdown of reactions from event attendees when they hear it’s icebreaker time.
But even though some people won’t be excited, icebreakers are a “thing” for good reason. Done well, they build engagement for the event ahead while helping attendees relax, get to know each other, and express themselves. Executed poorly or not well thought through, they can feel pointless, confusing, or uncomfortable—and actively undermine the goal of the exercise.
Read on for some must-know tips on choosing icebreakers that attendees will actually like. Then take a look at some useful, in-depth, and fun ideas for meeting and networking icebreakers.
How to match the right icebreaker to the event and the attendees’
A quick internet search will give you fistfuls of icebreaker ideas, but not every activity is created equal, and some are unwise choices. No matter the event, the icebreaker activity should be:
Don’t put people on the spot or ask them to talk about failures or group problems. Keep groups fairly small. Asking people to interact before larger groups transitions the event into public speaking rather than simply networking or team building.
Easy to understand:
Choose something with SUPER-simple rules, and explain those rules clearly.
You want people to interact with each other, not focus on what they’re going to say when their turn comes.
In line with social norms of the group:
Don’t ask people to share about their personal lives or touch each other in any capacity unless you know for sure it is comfortably within that group’s established boundaries. In a workplace, it is okay for an icebreaker to help people take new group roles or level the playing field, but it should not subvert established hierarchy norms.
Relevant to the event:
One thing the participants have in common is their presence there; capitalize on that and get them focused on the work ahead by tailoring the icebreaker to the content of the event.
In line with logistics:
How much time is in the schedule? Ideally, the icebreaker will serve as a warm-up for the event purpose itself, so the time isn’t entirely lost from the schedule. Is there space for people to move around? In that case, you can choose an icebreaker that incorporates movement. Is the event layout fixed lecture-style seating, consider polling. Either have people stand to vote—then they can look around them to see like-minded folks—or use an app like Sli.do.
How to pick the right icebreaker for a specific purpose:
Use the icebreaker to help attendees get the most out of the event.
1. Team building:
Are people going to be working as a team to solve problems? They’ll need to connect and establish their roles on a team. (Ideally, you want to make sure you hear from everyone in the first 15 minutes— before the group has a chance to establish who is going to talk the most and who is going to be silent in this context.)
Is the goal to expand professional networks? You can ease things along by helping them kick off some small talk with a form to fill out with their top favorites from categories like food, books, or movies. Then have them share the list in small groups.
Are attendees going to listen to presentations and then ask questions of a panel? They might appreciate the opportunity to organize their thoughts in pairs or trios before the question-and-answer period.
Is this mainly a social event? Then the purpose of the icebreaker can be to get people comfortable in the group, relaxed, and even laughing.
A good icebreaker for a meeting should get people comfortable contributing aloud in a group setting. If the group is manageably sized, you’ll want to have everyone speak briefly to the entire group. (For large events, divide attendees into smaller groups.) If time allows, it’s great to break the crowd down into groups of three or four, so individuals can make a more significant connection with one or two other people before speaking to the whole group. See the icebreaker questions below if this fits into the agenda.
Remember that you want people listening and interacting, not worrying about what they’re going to say when it’s their turn. So give out paper and pens. People can write down their thoughts, instead of trying to keep their talking points straight in their heads while they’re waiting. Introverted event attendees who prefer some lead time to organize their thoughts before they speak will especially appreciate this gesture.
Meeting icebreakers can be short, and they can definitely be fun. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Common ground:
Divide people into pairs and have each pair come up with the two most interesting things they have in common. Each individual presents one of their commonalities to the entire group.
Pairs that don’t know each other well begin connecting based on commonalities, which fosters a feeling of collaboration, while those who do know each other should push past the obvious commonalities to and discover new shared qualities and interests.
2. Common ground (slightly larger group edition):
Have people count off (thereby breaking up clumps of people who know each other well already) into groups of three to five. The groups must find one non-obvious thing they all have in common, and also something unique about each member. Present to the whole group as above.
‘Non-obvious’ is the key here! No, “Well, everybody’s got a nose…” answers. A meeting of CPA’s should not find that everyone is an accountant. (Or, they might find that, but they should definitely keep going beyond their shared profession.)
3. Lists of five:
In groups of 2-5, participants come up with a quick ‘list of five’. Five what? That’s up to you. Tailor the topic of the lists to the topic of the meeting, and people will discover friendly commonalities and differences on the subject that brings them together. At a tech trade show dinner, maybe make it ‘Five apps you can’t live without’ or ‘Future technology you can’t wait for.’
At mandatory meetings, expect an unenthusiastic response from some participants. They may feel forced to be there and are unlikely to bond over interest in the topic. In that case, it may make the most sense to choose an icebreaker that will accomplish more (like ‘common ground’, above) and/or take less time (like ‘one-question check-in’, below).
A non-tailored ‘list of five’ can be easy and fun for a group that’s already game (Five worst pets? Five best superhero powers?). But the same activity can feel like an irritating time-waster, in the tradition of “I-totally-hate-icebreakers,” to a reluctant group. So read the room.
In the Harvard Business Review, Tammie Plouffe describes an unusual, memorable and purpose-oriented icebreaker. For this activity, the meeting leader focuses the group on one question, and then participants choose from a deck of black-and-white photographs the image that captures some of their thoughts on the issue. (You can find photo decks online or print stock photos.) Everyone shows their image and describes how their choice reflects their thoughts. Finally, the meeting leader helps the group discover common themes, dig into insights, and plan for the future.
This option requires preparation ahead of time and active facilitation during the activity, but it is unique and won’t likely elicit groans from attendees. The same photographs can be used for just about any subject. And it is especially good for teams and people who will be working on a project for some time: The combination of images and words makes people’s insights and contributions very memorable.
5. One-question check-in:
This is for the whole group at once, and it’s probably the quickest and simplest icebreaker out there. Everybody answers one question.
You will know by now to tailor the question to the group. Choose a question that encourages positive thinking, and let people choose how personal to get: What is something you are looking forward to [this season, or related to event purpose]? When was the last time you did something [perhaps event-related] for the first time? When is the first time you remember hearing of [company, job type, product type, etc]? What is a little-known fact about you? (This last one is fantastic if people are unenthused about the meeting purpose.)
6. Two truths and a lie:
A list of icebreakers is hardly complete without this activity, but be wary! It has its drawbacks. It can take a surprisingly long time, and the random “facts” about other people tend to go in one ear and out the other. This one is perhaps best suited for groups that know each other a little already, but keep an eye on the clock.
Discover lively networking event icebreakers
Networking icebreakers should get people moving around and talking to many other people. Overall, these take more prep work than meeting icebreakers, but they are outstanding opportunities to foster social ease and help people start making connections.
1. Human bingo:
Prepare a bingo-like grid with an identifying statement in each square. Distribute a copy to each participant. Participants must gather signatures in their squares to fill their sheets. Catch: Each person can only sign once per sheet!
Don’t forget to customize the squares to the event. Each square can provide a jumping-off point for networking, so make them count. Create event-specific items like: ‘Has had two or more jobs outside this industry.’ ‘Swears by [industry-specific tool/instrument/software].’
Consider also attributes that can easily lead to further conversation: ‘Has lived outside [this state or country].’ (Cool! Where?)
Maybe throw in a few squares that make it easy to identify someone to approach: ‘Has brown hair’ or ‘Is wearing glasses.’
Overly broad, and common identifiers like ‘Has an older sister’ aren’t great conversation starters; best to leave those out.
2. Throwable mics:
This one is fun—which is lucky, because gamification is all the rage. Get a soft, throwable mic cube and put questions to the audience. For example, “What did you want to be when you were little, and how does it relate to what you’re doing now?” This game’s got motion to keep people loosened up, talking to give people ideas for conversation-starters later, and also the sheer delight of tossing and catching a squishy mic.
3. Do you know me?:
This is an outstanding activity for introducing two or more groups that know members of their own group, but not the other. Everybody gets a card with the name of someone from the other group. Each participant approaches people to ask “Do you know me?” If the answer is yes, they may ask one or two follow-up questions of each person, e.g.: “What’s my job title?” “What color hair do I have?” “How would you describe me?” and make a note of the answers on their card. (Consider creating and posting a list of possible questions tailored to the group.)
This activity gets people moving around and talking, specifically with people they don’t know.
4. Plate match game:
If there is food at an event where you want to encourage people to mix, turn the meal into a low-stress networking opportunity. Label tables with colors or numbers, and label the bottoms of plates with stickers of the same. Have people check the bottoms of their plates before filling them at the buffet. People will sit in random groups without the stress of coming up with those groups on their own.
Provide some questions for discussion, but basically let people eat their food.
See 20 engaging event icebreaker questions for your next event
Grab some of the icebreaker questions from the list below, or let them inspire questions customized to your company, industry, or event focus. These questions are best used to spark discussions at tables or in small groups. If attendees are standing, the host can put the question to the entire room and have groups share their answers with each other. If they’re sitting at a table, have multiple questions in the center and let one person pick and read a question, which they then answer themselves before letting everyone give their answers. Here goes!
If you were stranded on a desert island, which historical figure would you want to be stranded with and why?
What was the most influential book you ever read?
What was the biggest challenge you faced at work that you found a good solution for?
What is your favorite area of professional learning?
What’s the best trip you’ve ever taken?
What’s your biggest workplace flaw?
What workplace change do you think would most benefit your company?
Do you work best independently or in collaboration with others? Why?
What were your top two favorite courses in school?
Could you live without social media?
What would your superpower be?
If you were going to Mars and could only take things, what would they be?
What technological advancement do you appreciate the most?
What’s the 5th picture in your mobile phone?
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? Color? TV show?
If you had to choose where to vacation forever, would it be near water, in a city, the mountains, or the forest?
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
If given the opportunity to join a trip to the moon as a civilian, would you go?
What’s your hidden talent?
What do you hope to take away from this event?
If your event timeline allows, leave people a short, unstructured period following the icebreaker activity. This is often a valuable time where attendees have identified conversation topics and people they’d like to talk with further; give them the opportunity to develop those connections.
That means it’s the perfect time to jumpstart charity fundraising, host ticketed or private events, and take advantage of the many fall event themes on this list while the weather is still decent for outdoor activities.
What do you do at a fall party?
Like any seasonal event, your fall party should include tasty food, drinks, and activities that go with the theme. But regardless of which fall event theme you choose, you can always incorporate the following ideas into your autumnal get together:
Halloween costume or sweater contests
Football games (in-person or on tv)
Leaf raking (a great fundraiser or volunteer activity)
What are some fall event name ideas?
We’ve included some fun event names in the suggestions below. But really all you need to do to come up with a great fall themed idea is to make a pun, reference something seasonally appropriate, and/or use your theme as the name.
Names like these often get a few smiles and stick out in people’s minds:
The Great Pumpkin
Who You Gonna Call, Leaf Busters!
What event types will I find on this list?
Fall event types can widely vary since it’s the start of the holiday season, back to school time, a popular pick for Millennial wedding dates, and the last chance for people to enjoy the outdoors until next year. Here’s some of what our 25 fall event themes will cover:
Fall birthday party themes
Harvest party ideas for adults
Outdoor fall party ideas for adults
Fall corporate event themes
And now, without further ado, here are some event ideas we know you’ll just fall in love with!
25 Fall Event Themes to Try This YearSeptember Party Themes1. Quidditch Tournament
Harry Potter fans, rejoice! Although we don’t have flying brooms and golden snitches to play with, there is an official muggle version of the beloved magical sport that you can turn into your very own event. While USQ, the official league, has its own locations and teams, you can always take a break from flag football and try this amusing activity instead.
2. Glitter & Gold
Sparkly glitter isn’t just for winter festivities. With fall colors set in, gold offers the perfect compliment to nature’s own gorgeous display. Paint pumpkins with gold glitter glue, drape lush fabrics on banisters and walls, and try some sparkling gold candles as your event centerpieces to complete the look.
The leaves are changing colors and that’s worth celebrating. Whether you choose to host a raking party that ends with some epic leaf pile jumping or you’d like to keep it low-key with a guided nature tour, the options for this theme are plentiful.
4. Wine & Dine
Wine experts say that fall is the perfect time to enjoy full-bodied whites and light- to medium- bodied reds. Pair this with a chef-prepared dinner or hold a wine tasting night filled with plenty of tray-passed hors d’ouevres and overflowing cheese boards. You can even bring in a wine expert to teach the group more about what they’re drinking.
5. Farm Tour
Fall is also harvest season which means farms are at their best during this time of year. Many locations offer educational tours of their growing process, machinery, and livestock care. They may even have fun workshops like canning or pie-making. Even if they don’t currently offer those programs, you can always call and ask if they’d be willing to run one for a private group.
6. Corn Maze Extravaganza
Depending on your proximity to Halloween, you can make this event spooky or tamer. If you don’t live by any farms with public corn mazes, try making your own version with trash bags, sheets, or cardboard. Expand on the theme by offering corn on the cob, cornbread, those Halloween candy corns as take-home treats.
7. Grape Stomp for Charity
Even if your guests can’t attend the World Championship Grape Stomp this year, you can give them the thrill of the event at your own get-together. Have your guests sign up in teams of two with all participation fees and donations going to a charity of your choice. All you really need are the right barrels, fun event t-shirts, and a leaderboard.
8. Fall Craft Night
If you’re looking to host an event the whole family can enjoy, why not try crafting? Hand turkeys, leaf-themed candle holders, and anything having to do with pumpkins will make up the bulk of your activities. You can even work together to create a craft that can be donated to organizations like Citymeals on Wheels, a nonprofit that works to deliver food and handmade cards to older, isolated New Yorkers on a weekly basis.
Biergarten is German for beer garden. The phrase is often associated with pubs that offer a wide selection of beers with some outdoor seating areas and tasty bar food. However, there’s no reason why you couldn’t hold your own Biergarten! Grab some locally made brews, a few picnic tables, and you’re good to go.
10. Tailgate Cookoff
Fall is also football season. From pro to high school, there are lots of games going on that need some great entertainment before, during, and after. Tailgates are a popular option for communities to gather together and turning the traditional event into a cook-off makes for a more active (and competitive) shindig. Judge your master grillers on their burgers, hot dogs, and chili at this super tasty event.
How to Create an Event Timeline: 5 Simple Steps - YouTube
October Party Themes11. Pumpkin Patch
Picking pumpkins from a pumpkin patch is a great outdoor event that people of all ages can enjoy. Whether you organize a bus to your nearest farm or bring the pumpkins to your own event space, pumpkin patches are the kind of nostalgic activity that can be enjoyed outdoors, is affordable to host and attend, and often involves delicious foods (like ciders, hot chocolate, and cinnamon sugar donuts).
12. Scarecrow Decorating Contest
A scarecrow decorating contest can be judged based on a few categories, including best dressed, most creative, and scariest. Offer tiered prizes for each area and display the creations as the focal point of your event design. Local businesses can even use the contest as a way to advertise their stores.
13. Halloween Costume Run/Walk
If you’ve ever done a charity walk or run, you probably know that it’s even better when everyone is dressed up in silly clothes. Which is why a Halloween costume themed event makes perfect sense for this time of year! Hold a contest and reward the funniest and/or fastest costume creators.
14. Hay Ride (Spooky or Scenic)
A lot of people love haunted hayrides. But if that’s not your style, you can always organize a nighttime, electronic candlelit journey or a fall foliage tour instead. For event planners looking to put together an all-day affair, consider pairing this as an activity along with a farm tour or pumpkin patch event.
15. Cider Tasting Night
We’ve already covered wine and beer for the season, but why not add this tasty treat into the mix too? Served with or without alcohol, an evening of cider tasting goes well with homemade pies, jams, or a locally sourced artisanal cheese sampler. You can even offer a home brew competition and have guests vote on their favorites.
Who needs to fly to Germany when you can enjoy your own folk festival right at home? The Bavarian cultural tradition has been held annually since the year 1810. Get into the spirit of traveling beer and funfair with carnival rides, games, tastings, and more.
17. Country Life Fair
A country life fair is an event that celebrates all the things there are to love about the great outdoors and rural areas of America. From farm animal petting zoos to farmer’s markets to homemade candles, there’s a lot to love about taking a break from normal city life and enjoying a taste of the country.
18. Hot Air Balloon Adventure
Where’s the best place to see the prettiest fall foliage? From the air, of course! Most of the world’s largest ballooning events take place during this season thanks in part to its good weather and stunning views. Private companies will rent out several balloons and pilots so your guests can take turns enjoying the ride, even if it only goes a mile or so. Add a screening of the now classic animated balloon adventure film “Up,” and you’ll be all set.
To host this tasty event, all you need are some mini pie crusts, an assortment of fillings, and some delicious homemade whipped cream. The DIY portion makes it extra fun as guests can mix and match their fillings while trying out new combinations. Offer classics like apple and pumpkin alongside some more unusual options like mint chocolate chip, avocado, and cheeseburger pickle.
20. Flannel Festival
There are three perfect months you get to wear flannel for both style and comfort. Invite guests to come dressed in their favorite button-down and hold an ugly flannel contest while you’re at it — because why should sweaters have all the fun? Offer party favors with a flannel-patterned kerchief tied around them and use matching tablecloths to complete the look.
21. Bonfire Bash
Planning to host an evening event? Try a bonfire bash. Simply light one or more bonfires, set up some chairs, and set up some tasty food options. Bring tools you’ll need to roast marshmallows, pop some corn, and cook hot dogs. This kind of event also goes well with live music, so consider hiring a professional guitar player to serenade your guests with fun and relaxing tunes.
Fall candles are one of the best things about the season. Which is why a candle-making event is sure to be a hit. Host a DIY workshop or organize a professional company to come in and do a tutorial. Use mason jars and seasonal scents like apples, pumpkins, and cinnamon.
23. Cranberry Cooking Class
In the days leading up to Thanksgiving and other food-centric occasions, cooking classes are welcome ideas for guests who want to learn new recipes or techniques. Cranberries, in particular, are seen as challenging for some wannabe kitchen superstars, which is why having a class on this seasonal delight is so great for the fall. Learn how to make your own sauces, muffins, or even ketchup with this versatile treat.
24. Pecan Party
Pecan pie is a seasonal all-star, but there are plenty of other tasty treats made with the sweet nut that you can make, serve, and sample at your next fall event. Breads, pies, cakes, and even cocktails benefit from the addition of pecans. Serve a bevy of small plates or offer a full-course meal for your guests.
25. Gratitude Gala
Looking for a more formal event idea? Consider the gratitude gala. Part charity event, part social gathering, a gratitude gala gets people in the mood for the season by bringing them together to appreciate what they have. Offer additional activities like silent auctions to boost fundraising efforts.
Main Takeaway: Fall Event Ideas
If you’re looking for a great fall event theme, all you really have to do is pick a seasonal food, concept, or activity and run with it. Get creative with your event decor and activities using the ideas from this and other sources of inspiration.
If you’re looking for more seasonally themed event ideas, be sure you check out our other articles:
Is there something lurking in the shadows, waiting to potentially derail your event? For planners who are proactive and vigilant, probably not — but as we know, vigilance starts with awareness. This week, our main stories cover some of the areas in which planners can proactively solve event problems before they ever happen.
Don’t sleep on this week’s five biggest event news updates. 1. Hotel Hackers Are Hiding Behind the Remote Control Curtains (Bloomberg)
Hotels struggle with basic cybersecurity, but they house massive amounts of data, including personal information and behavior. It doesn’t take a data nerd to see why that’s a big problem for chains and patrons — and a huge opportunity for hackers. And it’s not just credit cards they’re after: Savvy hackers may be targeting personal behavior of high-profile hotel guests for blackmail and beyond.
With the industry’s giants — Marriott, Hilton, & IHG — already falling victim to cybertheft, it’s past due for hotels and chains to pinpoint and fix some of the many hidden doors that roll out the red carpet for hackers. But at the same time, it’s imperative for planners and attendees to protect themselves by taking smart steps toward greater individual security.
“Hotels might be a less obvious target, but they’re hacked almost as often because of the valuable data that passes through them, like credit cards and trade secrets. Thieves have targeted electronic door locks to burgle rooms and used malware attacks to log credit card swipes in real time. They’ve even used Wi-Fi to hijack hotels’ internal networks in search of corporate data.” – Patrick Clark, Bloomberg
What does it mean for planners?
Events can’t take hotel cybersecurity for granted, plain and simple. And that doesn’t stop at the level of the event. If attendees’ personal devices are connected to venue WiFi, they’re susceptible to being hacked too. Not to mention the credit card they used to book their share of the room block.
Hotels need to make moves to lock data down at both the chain and franchise levels by targeting issues like outdated legacy systems. Still, in the meantime, there are some simple steps attendees should take to protect themselves — and it’s on event planners to help spread the word. Some of those tactics include:
Using plan data over WiFi on handheld devices
Booking with credit cards over debit cards (which offer more protection and more opportunity to recoup fraudulent charges)
Turning off file-sharing functionality when it’s not in use
Using a VPN for web-browsing, especially for banking and other sensitive sites
For hotels looking to beef up security, it’s not that simple. For one, outdated legacy systems such as PMS software are often used because there simply aren’t many more advanced options for hotels on the market. Meanwhile, many of the advances in services — mobile check-in, facial recognition, etc. — demanded by guests often come with potential security trade-offs. Hotels are stuck between a rock and a hard place on multiple fronts and need major technological innovation to help close the gap.
2. Boosting Female Participation Isn’t As Simple As Increasing Attendance (Mirage News)
A new Stanford study shows that closing the gender participation gap at scientific events isn’t as simple as boosting the number of female attendees. It’s also a matter of finding ways to encourage female attendees who do show to participate.
By analyzing four years of meeting data, researchers found that women asked fewer questions than expected, proportionate to the overall percentage of attendees who were female. Even in fields such as Ethical, Legal, & Social issues where women made up a majority of the audience, they contributed a minority of overall questions asked of speakers.
“I think there’s an idea that as soon as you reach proportionate ratios then the issues go away. But no. We found that even when men were 33 percent of attendees, they asked 55 percent of the questions.” -Natalie Telis, Study Creator
What does it mean for planners?
Events would do well to take a page out of the book of Natalie Telis, one of the two graduate students who carried out the research along with collaborator Emily Glassberg. Her solution was accidental, and quite simple: At a session at the 2015 Biology of Genomes meeting, she tweeted that only 11% of the questions came from female audience members, who made up 35% of the audience.
In response, the meeting made a rule that the first question in each session had to come from a trainee, who made up a more diverse group. Women immediately began asking more questions and continued to do so throughout the course of the event. And while it may not be clear whether Telis’ tweet or the new rule had more of an impact, it’s very clear that both types of moves could make a positive difference.
As the example from the BOG meeting shows, increased participation can be a product of smart event design. With this data coming to light, events need to think how they can proactively set up to hear from more female participants.
Book more female speakers! The study showed that women are more likely to ask questions of female speakers, so booking more female speakers should result in more female participation
Create smart rules like the BOG did. The rule encouraged more female participation without actively focusing on or calling out women, perhaps making it more successful.
Draw attention to the problem. Attendees can’t collectively solve a problem, unless they’re collectively aware that it’s a problem.
3. 5 Key Ways Brands Should Be Marketing to Generation Z (BizBash)
Generation Z, aka the 74 million Americans born between 1996 and 2012, are slowly gaining a larger share of the consumer marketing spotlight. And with $44 billion in spending power, it’s no wonder they were a hot topic at this year’s Digital Media Wire annual expo. Here are the five takeaways from DMW that events and brands can apply to their marketing mix to woo this demographic:
Be real & authentic – As children of tumultuous times and the information age, they don’t appreciate when brands beat around the bush.
Activists are their celebrities – Corporate responsibility is the expectation, not the exception.
Incorporate their input – With so much information and connectivity in hand, Generation Z has no shortage of opinions or desire to collaborate.
Don’t make them check boxes – They see identifiers such as gender and race more fluidly than any previous group.
Make it interactive – For Gen Z, involvement equals engagement.
“They see the world as it really is, and they are prepared to act and react accordingly… Zs are far more interested in the journey than what it’s going to feel like once you get there.” -Jayne Charneski, Founder of Front Row Insights & Strategy
What does it mean for planners?
For planners, each of the five takeaways point to the questions that need to be asked in an upcoming era where Gen Z calls the shots:
Connection > Consumption – How can events be designed to create meaningful, deeper connections between attendees?
Think globally, plan locally – In what ways are events leaving the world a better place in accordance with Gen Z ideals?
Less talking, more sourcing – Is there room in sessions and panels for attendees to make their voices heard and drive the conversation?
Make inclusive more than a buzzword – Does every attendee enjoy the same opportunity to feel safe, welcome, & heard?
Leave linear at the door – How can you put the remote control in the hands of attendees?
In 2016, millennials became the largest segment in the U.S. labor force and events felt the shift as personalization and purpose came to define success. As millennials pass the torch to their younger Gen Z counterparts, another significant paradigm shift is inevitably in the works. These five takeaways start to illustrate that evolution, but for now are merely smoke signals from a fire that’s yet to burn.
Don’t sleep on esports as a viable and rapidly-growing market segment. At least that’s what cities like San Diego, Dallas, Arlington, & Las Vegas — who have all seen massive return on their esports investments — have to say. As a global industry, esports is set to surpass $1 billion this year alone, with 380 million viewers tuning in just last year (165 million of whom qualify as “frequent viewers”).
“Corporate America has woken up to this phenomenon and they’re pumping dollars and investment into this market in unprecedented levels. These events bring in significant [revenue]…citywide events that are putting heads in beds and a market segment that’s new and growing.” -Neil Johnson, Director of Global Sales, MGM Resorts
What does it mean for planners?
With large-scale event bookings lagging for 2021, destinations and corporate planners alike are on the hunt for recession-proof segments. Competitive video gaming looks as though it could be one such candidate. In fact, as Mike Hunter, Director of Convention & Event Services for Arlington points out “Esports is already on track to have a global monthly audience larger than Major League Baseball or the National Hockey League.”
In 2016, the bi-annual gaming convention TwitchCon took up 1.5 exhibit halls at the San Diego Convention Center. This year, it will fill four to five. Meanwhile, in early June, 31,000 attendees turned out for DreamHack, a gaming convention in Dallas that occupied a whopping 300,000 sq. ft. of events space. There’s seemingly no end in sight for esports growth, which promises to pump timely money into the pockets of planners, venues, & destinations via massive events.
Hotel occupancy declined 3.8% in Q2 of 2019, according to the TravelClick May 2019 North American Hospitality Review. Meanwhile, the same report projected a 0.7% decline in group bookings over the next 12 months.
“While recent statistics show encouraging news, there remains concern on 2019 overall demand.” -John Hach, TravelClick Senior Industry Analyst
What does it mean for planners?
With home sharing popularity on the rise amongst planners and event patrons, these numbers may not indicate anything of alarm. However, with event bookings trending toward a potential dry spell in 2021, it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.
The Q2 decline in bookings wasn’t just a group occupancy phenomenon — it spanned all travel segments. If the trend continues, it could potentially slow down development in the hotel supply pipeline, to offset potential declines in ADR (average daily rate). That could mean less new options for planners looking for fresh venues.
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The competitive landscape for existing hotels is more challenging than ever, with new brands, concepts, and distribution channels opening frequently. In this crowded environment, smart lodging operators are finding creative ways to stand out from the competition. While gaining this edge won’t happen overnight, these 10 keys to creating a competitive advantage in the hotel industry can guide your strategy.
Explore 10 ways to hone a hotel competitive advantage strategy1. Identify the competition’s advantages to tailor your own
Knowing the specific advantages the competition leverages allows you to create your own stand-out features and services.
First, create a short list of direct competitors that are similar to your property in terms of location, price point, audience, and concept. Now that you know who the competition is, you can focus on their strengths and weaknesses. Where are they the clear winner? Do they have on-site F&B that draws in groups? Are they a select service property that commits to 5-star customer service? Where do you take the lead? Do you clearly outshine the competition when it comes to in-room amenities?
Mirroring your competitors’ strategies won’t win the battle, but awareness of their specialized niches and unique vulnerabilities can help guide your tactics. Highlight your nearness to the beach and stellar ocean views if they outdo the partially obscured views of competitors. If your indoor pool can’t match the themed rooftop pool next door, find another outstanding feature to call out in promos.
Porter’s Five Forces Framework is a helpful model for evaluating the competition, measuring opportunity and profitability, and guiding strategic decisions.
2. Create authentic relationships through guest feedback
It’s more expensive to attract new business than to cultivate relationships with returning groups. Listening to guest feedback offers valuable insight into what you’re doing right—and where to improve. Engage with planners via social media and travel website reviews to build relationships and increase brand loyalty.
Responding to all reviews (positive and negative) is essential. These reviews may also highlight improvement opportunities. If you note overwhelmingly positive check-in experiences for individuals but sluggish and confusing check-ins for large groups, perhaps you need to streamline your group check-in process.
Rewarding guests creates a sense of trust, and trust leads to repeat stays. A loyalty program earns extra data, which can be used to design personalized experiences and targeted offers. Forge long-term relationships by offering a group loyalty program to encourage corporate events, conferences, and more at other hotels across your portfolio.
Well-implemented perks and extras are a gateway to competitive advantage, as long as they are tailored to your audience and property. While ‘free’ can be a strong selling point, the word may devalue the service for some audiences. Value-conscious traveling sports teams will appreciate free breakfast, while corporate retreat executives may prefer luxury add-on excursions or experiences, such as a brewery tour with dinner and a tasting flight.
Value for your audience may depend on the guest receiving something extra that they would not have gotten otherwise. But, if the incentive doesn’t align with the customer’s values, there’s a missed opportunity for connection. A complimentary bottle of champagne at a romantic dinner is not a one-size-fits-all offering—draw in youth athletic leagues with kid-friendly welcome kits or tempt conference attendees with unrestricted access to the internet or video streaming services during their stay. Finding appropriate perks for your audience can differentiate your property from the competition and help you attract new guests.
4. Streamline Direct Booking
In this age of instant connection, planners value a quick and easy booking experience. OTAs and travel booking services lure guests with convenience and promises of low prices, but guests who book directly are 12.5 percent more profitable for hotels. Leverage direct booking with price incentives, upgrades, and added perks—and ensure a convenient, simple, and mobile-friendly process. Make sure the booking option is easy to spot, streamlined, and no more than a few steps from start to finish.
Booking through the hotel website offers an opportunity for add-on services, too. Provide direct booking incentives with offers for room upgrades, free food and drink, complimentary shuttle services, vouchers, and discounts.
Finally, direct booking offers the opportunity to connect with group event planners before they set foot on the property. Try emailing vouchers for free desserts for the whole group, sharing events that are happening in the area during their stay, or offering additional nights at a discount for guests to extend their stay after the conference has ended.
5. Modernize: Stay ahead with high-tech solutions
Staying on top of innovative technology can make all the difference. An outdated website won’t earn the same trust as a website with a modern look Likewise, antiquated methods within your property are likely to turn guests off.
Allow online check-in/check-out for added convenience.
Ditch the room key: Provide an alternative with a mobile app or RFID card that unlocks the door based on proximity.
Upgrade business centers to high-tech, comfortable co-working spaces that will appeal to traveling professionals and local remote workers alike. Locals who use this flexible space close to home may prefer the brand name while traveling, especially if a loyalty program is available.
Often, website visitors are looking for answers to specific questions, and live chat is their preferred method of customer service. Deploy hotel chatbots for instant answers to common questions, booking assistance, local recommendations, room service requests, and more—leaving front desk staff available to focus on the guests in front of them.
Customize reports and gain insight with hotel CRM software to provide personalized service.
Establish your property as the local expert for group activities: Integrate a digital itinerary builder on the website so guests can create a plan for where to go, what to see, and where to eat—before they arrive. Include the list, vouchers or discounts, and additional recommendations with their check-in materials.
6. Build unforgettable brand experiences across the portfolio
Garner attention and buzz with elements (on-site and off-site) that offer guests a unique experience. From simple touches to extraordinary gestures, help your brand stand out in this world of ‘copy and paste’ group business. Go above and beyond to provide an unforgettable experience, ensuring offerings apply across the portfolio to establish brand consistency guests can count on.
Some ideas to inspire your own:
Upgrade the morning coffee routine with in-room latte brewers in each hotel.
Exhibit artists local to each property on a gallery wall in the lobby; your locations will become micro art museums worth browsing.
Cater to kids’ sports leagues by scheduling Friday night magic shows or a movie night.
Include a personalized ‘welcome’ sign in the lobby on check-in days for family reunions.
Call out conference-going thrill-seekers looking for excitement by touting a nearby adventure experience—and arrange for a shuttle service for after sessions have ended.
Build a fondue or s’mores bar guests will remember, share on social media, and brag about when they return home.
7. Streamline access and polish interactions
Prime locations are an undeniable draw: Proximity to the airport or a central position in a bustling neighborhood can earn a competitive advantage because your property is front and center.
But whether your hotel is in the thick of it or further afield, make sure you help your guests get around with ease. Groups, in particular, don’t want to grapple with complicated logistics to transportation hubs, or to reach local restaurants and entertainment.
Ensure area maps are easy to find in the lobby and guest rooms. Offer regular van service to and from local dining and shopping districts. Offer a fast and streamlined valet service, so guests never feel stranded. A welcome email with travel information, local attractions, and transportation links can go a long way towards making guests feel welcome.
Prioritize the reliability and availability of staff and support personnel through every step of the process—from the research phase, booking, and check-in through the entire stay, check-out, and necessary follow-up. Avoid the bland “How was your stay?” at check-out—instead, ask open questions to facilitate thoughtful responses or consider a questionnaire to gauge customer satisfaction.
8. Leverage digital content to engage with guests
As more hotels offer free Wi-Fi, there is an increased opportunity to engage with guests directly through digital content. Properties can cater to the connected traveler with location-specific offerings, valuable area information, or offers tailored to that guest’s stay.
Make it easy for event planners and event attendees to become brand ambassadors by highlighting hashtags throughout the hotel and on the properties’ digital assets. Create engaging visual displays on-site so that guests can share images via Instagram. Real-time social feeds on a hotel website can generate excitement and, as a bonus, increase the amount of time visitors spend on the site. Create a guest-generated hashtag mosaic and harness the power of User-Generated Content (UGC) to grow brand affinity.
All of your digital efforts will create opportunities for engagement with your guests and increase their feelings of loyalty to your hotel.
9. Solve problems—but welcome them, too
While preventing problems in the first place may be regarded as a mark of success, there is a benefit in problem-solving. A Gallup poll suggests that issues that seem ordinary to hoteliers—limited table availability or check-in snafus—can be enough to ruin a guest’s experience or create an actively disengaged customer. The vast majority of guests won’t bring up the issues with hotel staff, so a problem can go unnoticed and uncorrected, leading to more unhappy guests.
Providing phenomenal customer service to resolve problems for group business shows responsiveness and care, which creates engagement and loyalty. Group CRM software can track performance, help identify problem areas, and facilitate collaboration across properties. For example, consider a family reunion organized at one hotel that would be a far better fit at another nearby property because of outdoor amenities and family-friendly local attractions. The sales team can make the pitch to the group, which demonstrates thoughtful attention to detail and is a customer-service win no matter the family’s final decision.
CRM software can also flag loyal customers and priority group engagements portfolio wide so staff can keep an extra eye on them to ensure satisfaction—and save the day should issues arise.
10. Stay agile to sustain your advantage long-term
Business sustainability comes from versatility and relevance in your market. New competing properties emerge, prices fluctuate, and the playing field shuffles. Without making creative changes and upgrades, offerings become stale and the competition can creep in to gain the advantage.
Free Wi-Fi and early check-in may have been the gold standard, but keep in mind that cable TV—and prior to that, color TV—used to be a sign of luxury, too. Guests are looking for more in their stay than channels they’ll never watch or Wi-Fi that crawls, especially with a speedy unlimited data plan in their back pocket. Listening to the target audience and anticipating their needs and wants can keep properties ahead of the curve for a sustainable competitive advantage. Keep an eye on the market and trends relevant to your group business segment with these tactics:
Scour reviews websites to see where your competitor needs improvement, then deliver those services impeccably.
Pay attention to indirect competitors as well as the brands with whom you compete directly.
To create a competitive advantage, know your strengths and weaknesses—then compare them with the competition. A key to gaining the advantage lies in improving the groups’ experiences. Providing outstanding service means going above and beyond what is considered standard. These 10 keys can guide the process as you build a portfolio’s strength and gain an edge.