Beware the lure of big, sexy, wow, event focus












Why the Little Details Can Make or Break Your Event

Skilled event planners are always pushing the creative envelope to find the newest, hippest and coolest offerings for their guests.  Unfortunately, the same event planners often fall victim to the “Lure of Big, Sexy, Wow,” which, if not applied correctly, can be a potential enemy to even the best event planners.

Let us elaborate… Big, Sexy and Wow are the key components of a successful party as they provide the memorable touch points that resonate with guests; sending them back to work, friends and family to recount the amazing experiences they just encountered to the jealous ears of those on the receiving end.

The fun part of the job, often leads to neglect of the basic components that can make or break a party; no matter how many BSW components are used to delight guests.

For party planners, Big, Sexy and Wow is the fun part of the job as it allows the most skilled planners to flex their creative muscles to design and implement unforgettable experiences.  The trap, mind you, is that quite often, BSW, the fun part of the job, often leads to neglect of the basic components that can make or break a party; no matter how many BSW components are used to delight guests.

For this article, we will focus our tips on the actual party; acknowledging the importance of pre-party communication, which we will cover down the road.  For now, here are our top 8 touch points that should provide the foundation for every party:

1. The Arrival.  All too often left to chance, the arrival is the first guest touch point; get it wrong and you’re already starting behind the proverbial  8-ball.  Regardless of the venue location, guest parking, valet parking and ride sharing (Uber, Lyft, etc.) must all be contemplated and coordinated.  We’ve all been forced to drive around looking for parking spots and it is not the preferred way to start the evening.

2. Check In.  The days of dividing the alphabet into 5 tables are thankfully long gone with the developments of on-line registration tools. However, security concerns, electronic employee badging and strict guest policies have complicated the process.  There is nothing more annoying than standing in a 30-minute line to enter a party because of a poorly conceived plan and lack of adequate staffing.  And for those seeking volunteers, forget about it ­‑ let your employees enjoy the event and hire registration professionals who do this every day in efforts to expedite the process and get your party started on the right foot.

3. Coat Check.  Nail it and nobody gives it a second thought.  Get it wrong and you have a mess on your hands.  All too often coat check is glossed over by party planners and delegated to the venue or the caterer.  For larger events, we’ve done coat check for 11,000 guests, it requires careful analysis of the venue layout.  What looks to be a wonderful set of stairs during the site survey will turn out to be an epic cluster of compressed bodies trying to go both up and down following your event.

4. Get A Drink in Hand.  Let’s not complicate the issue… Make it easy, and quick, for your guests to get a drink upon arrival and you will see happy guests.  Passed beer, wine, champagne and non-alcoholic beverages help serve lots of guests quickly and take the pressure off of your bars.  Add in some attended mobile grab-and-go beverage stations for the first hour for even more coverage.  Avoid bar placement near your point of entry to avoid bottlenecking and your party is off to a great start.

5. Food Diversity and Points of Service.  Now that your guests have a drink in hand they will want something to eat and who wants to wait in a long like to get a bite?  This can be mitigated by making sure that food stations are plentiful and are spaced throughout the venue.  To take it a step further, offer different selections at each station to get your guests exploring throughout the party.  Nobody wants to see the same options all evening long.  And don’t forget to make sure your catering team has bussing well-staffed as nothing looks worse than $250,000 in décor accentuated by dirty plates, glasses and overflowing trash cans.

6. Bathroom Servicing. This is nowhere to be found on the BSW list, however, nothing can ruin a great event faster than a sloppy bathroom.  Bringing in some fresh flowers and hiring attendants to keep supplies stocked and sinks clean can transform even the most utilitarian of bathrooms into a positive guest experience.

7. The Dreaded Final Hour. Truth be told, almost every person working your party will look at their watch or phone and say to themselves “Whew, only one more hour.”  Guests have no such internal clock, nor should they.  The final hour of a party should be just as good as the first hour. How many parties have you been to where food stations are consolidated or disappear and the staff give off the vibe they’d rather be somewhere else, right at the point when the party is really getting going?  Setting catering expectations well in advance, along with defining agreed-upon service standards will go a long way toward a big finish.

8. End on a Positive Note.  Make sure you understand that departure coat check and valet will be much more consolidated than arrivals so be sure to have extra, well-trained staff on hand to handle the rush.  It will cost extra for this coverage but it is money well spent. Expedited departure ensures the evening ends on a high note.


Balancing your “Big, Sexy, Wow” with these 8 tips will set the table for a great party.  For more party tips, or help with your next event, give Event Focus a call.