Happy 2018 from Event Focus

Song: “Enthusiast” by Tours, used under CC BY / Trimmed for length.

Beware the Lure of Big, Sexy, Wow: Why the Little Details Can Make or Break Your Event

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.



Does your Event Food and Beverage Pass the Boring Test? It’s More than Just the Menu

We have all been to the corporate party – serving good, and sometimes great food via passing, stations or small plates.  However, for those that often attend these type of events, there is a certain feeling of sameness that permeates the room.

But what if we start to think about presenting food and beverage as an art form; serving food and beverage in a unique way that can create excitement, surprise, and take guests on a culinary journey?

Here are five things to think about to see if your event passes the Boring Food Test.


Unique Presentations

We are assuming that the word “buffet” is not in your vocabulary and that at a minimum you’re utilizing a variety of food stations. If so, you’re in the game.  Now, how about upping it a level with a wall of drawers where guests can explore the different offerings while catering staff serves from behind?  Another unique style: pop-up stations that come to your guests then quickly disappear.  What about a mobile dessert station that floats by with the aid of balloon clouds? Just think about what would get your attention and let that be your starting point of reference.



A bar is a bar is a bar.  Well, not really! Sure you need to make sure you have the proper number points of service for the guest count and the types of beverages you are offering, but what makes your bars memorable? How about mixologists creating unique concoctions and serving them in artful ways?  What about a visually stunning taste wall that bartenders use to create the perfect drink of choice?  It may even sway the white wine drinker to try something new.


Play with the Theme

Does your event have a theme? Have you creatively woven that theme into the design?  Your food and beverage offerings can creatively decorate the venue and enhance your theme.  With an urban theme, use fun ironing boards to heat up custom paninis.  For a nature theme, incorporate trees and branches into the displays and let people explore.  What about a motorized train that actually delivers small plates for a fun and whimsical fairy tale theme. The options are endless and just require some creativity.


Play with Color

Food is naturally a fun and colorful event element and can take many unique forms. Food stations can act as a blank canvas to which you can add fun pops of color through the cuisine, linens and presentation elements to really make your stations visually enticing. Arrange your food by color, or keep everything monochromatic for a sleek, modern look. Add color and height with glowing pedestals or other unique elements. Remember, there’s a reason restaurants garnish their plates before serving.


Entertainers as Servers

No, for heaven’s sake it does not need to be a waiter that sings (unless you want your guests to feel like they are in the 90’s).  For a hipper crowd, think flair bartenders, a costumed performer that serves glasses from her glowing dress, or aerial performers that pour champagne from above.  Performers, dressed to the theme and playing a role, can make a simple experience of getting a drink or bite to eat into the most memorable part of an event.


Did your event pass the test?  Are you utilizing these fun tricks of the trade to elevate your event? How you incorporate these type of ideas will make the difference between blending in with every other event your guests have attended or breaking from the clutter of sameness and truly producing a memorable guest experience.

If you didn’t pass the test, don’t fret. We can help you create something truly special for your next party!

Happy 2017 from Event Focus

Song: “Enthusiast” by Tours, used under CC BY / Trimmed for length.

5 Myths about using an Event Company

5 myths about using an event company

There are many misconceptions about hiring event companies to help produce your events. We examine five common myths and explain why they aren’t true if you pick the right event partner.

Myth #1: It will cost too much.

Oftentimes event companies pay for themselves in savings, and a great event company works within your set budget parameters. They make your money go further by designing a strategy that prioritizes elements which will make the biggest impact, identifying elements you can do without, shopping around and negotiating on your behalf. You will benefit from the fact that they are volume buyers and can secure rates significantly lower than those you would receive if you went directly to suppliers.

Myth #2: It will make my role obsolete.

It is critical to understand that event companies are your partner – not your competitor – and their sole reason for being is to make you look good and produce a successful event!  A good event company is happy to work behind the scenes and let you shine.

Your role as an internal planner – whether it’s your full-time job or one of many other responsibilities – is only enhanced and supported by an event company. A good event company will serve as a turn-key event department, supporting you as the event lead. You are indispensable as the expert on the ground, with insight into the needs of your attendees and the concerns of your stakeholders. Just like a manager is recognized if their department does well, you will reap the praise for an event well done by an external event company.

If you are an inexperienced planner your event company can also serve as a teacher and trusted advisor, guiding you through the process, sharing their reasoning and making your life infinitely easier.

So rather than vetting a bunch of freelance contractors or recruiting a handful of volunteers to temporarily enlarge your event team (or worse, trying to do it all yourself) consider using an event company which possesses a well-oiled team and a multitude of best practices.

Myth #3: They’ll take over all of the fun, creative parts of event planning that I enjoy.

When working with an event company you get to dictate how hands-on, or off, you would like to be. If you want to pick the theme, venue, and entertainment they will take your direction. Just let them know what tasks you prefer to do yourself. Then they can take care of everything else such as logistics, floor plans, vetting, negotiating, paying and directing vendors.

Vendor management can be especially beneficial if your company requires vendors to go through an approval process. Instead of setting up dozens of vendors in your company’s system you only have to get approval and payment for one vendor – your event company. They can then pay and manage all of the other suppliers on your behalf.

Therefore, don’t stop assembling that Pinterest board for your event. Your event company will appreciate your ideas and input.

Myth #4: They won’t add any value.

Top-notch event companies possess a wide and knowledgeable talent base. They can help you think of things you’ve never considered, clue you in to the newest trends, and lend you their wide base of experience to help predict what will and will not work for your event. Their fresh perspective can also help you solve event problems that you may have thought were simply unavoidable in the past.

A great example of this is venue selection. Anyone can find a venue online and assess its capacity and rental fee. But a truly experienced planning team will help you assess venues on multiple levels and uncover hidden costs or pitfalls at a venue such as costly union requirements, exclusive vendors which limit flexibility, city and county regulations which could impact your party and other factors which can make or break an event.

Myth #5: All event companies are basically the same.

Just like employees, every event company has its own strengths and sweet spot. Be wary of companies who try to be everything to everyone. When evaluating event companies, try to discover which types of events they really excel to ensure that aligns with your event’s profile. The top trade show producer in the country probably wouldn’t be a good fit for planning a wedding, just as an award-winning wedding planner probably wouldn’t be well-suited to plan a 10,000 person corporate event. Be sure the company you select is well-versed in the type of events you host.

Before you plan your next event, drop us a line to see if we may be able to help you save money, time and stress.


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