Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Authentic Experiences

Authentic experiences. Transparent information. What matters to you? In the last couple of years we have seen a shift in what matters to our clients and our guests. When I first started in the industry, we still had a telex number, and the focus was “education and networking”. When travel became tighter, we heard that videoconferencing would be the new wave. While this is an option, as human beings, we are experience seekers, and we want to talk face to face with others, and build relationships with people, so fortunately meetings and events continued to flourish. Through the late 1990’s it was all flash and excitement, a fun time to be on the technology and entertainment side of the event planning business! In the early part of this century, a global concern with the environment was all around us, and it was all about “green” meetings, which always mattered to us and is now simply the way we do things across all aspects internally and with our events. During the boom times, the focus shifted to corporate social responsibility, as organizations continued to give back, but also began to publicize how they were giving back, and to build CSR programming into their events. With the advent of the internet, how organization delivered messages internally and externally has shifted exponentially, with blogs from senior executives becoming nearly a norm, for example. With social networking, including blogging, live journals, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter-ing, the world has gone from six degrees of separation to almost none, with information accessible with the click of a mouse on any subject imaginable, from anywhere in the world, from anyone who chooses to share it. What does this mean when you are planning an event? To us it means beginning with what happens in the workplace to create the need for a meeting or incentive reward trip – how does your organization measure value? When you come to us looking to take care of your guests and enhance your meeting and event experience, we are going to find ways to be your best partner to do this. We want you to talk to us, tell us your needs and your challenges, and together we will create the best solutions for you. We understand the changing optics of perception, and ultimately we want to create events and environments that will inspire your guests and deliver memorable experiences, but that can also stand up to the scrutiny of our current times. We know that people still need to meet and share knowledge, that travel rewards still remain a top motivator, and that building relationships within your organization, with clients and prospective clients face-to-face, has a validity and value that can’t be fully measured. We feel fortunate that Western Canada is known for its ability to deliver natural, authentic, high-quality experiences in a setting that is unmatched, and that we get to share it with so many!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 14 - this week I learned

This week I did not learn about anything to do with school or work as I was on holidays. What I did learn though was equally important as it was a reminder about how we can live without technology while we enjoyed a wedding and a week with 42 people, some who we knew and many who we just met, at a resort in Mexico. This was a group of people who all work, and who all rely on blackberries, laptops, cell phones (at a minimum) and computers every day, and we all made a conscious decision to leave it all behind and focus instead on sun, sand and friendship. For me, this was the first time in five years that I went on a vacation with my family without any electronic devices, and boy were they happy. Me too.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tablescape and other terminology

I am a very practical person at the core, and I tend to like to use plain English when speaking to people - whether they are peers, colleagues, learners or clients. Lately though I have been meeting people who like to use very "fancy" terminology for the things we do every day. I definitely have some favorites. "Scenic crew", as in "We will have our scenic crew arrive at noon to begin the setup". Yes, they were referring to the people that were setting the linens and centrepieces, and in the past we would have called these people our set dec crew or our set up team, but scenic crew does sound so much more involved / important that I am planning to begin using this. No matter how simple or complex the set up is! "Tablescaping". In times past, we have referred to what goes on the table as a centrepiece, but when it goes beyond the centrepiece and becomes a story... well that is when it becomes a tablescape. The best example I have seen of this was for a man's 60th birthday, where the tables had highly elaborate stories of times in his life, his experiences and adventures brought to life through props and pictures, and these can be absolutely spectacular in their detail. "Soundscaping" - so much more important sounding than "background music". "Experiential" - what a truly fabulous word all around although the dictionary definition of "relating to or derived from experience" is not nearly so delicious as we make it sound when we create an "Experiential environment" "Bump in" and "Bump Out" - really so much more accurate given the size of loading bays and elevators that we typically have to use; and way, way more fun than "set and strike". Definitely more European and who does not want to be perceived as being more European? Those are just a few, I am going to keep seeking more!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanksgiving and how we change, one step at a time

On Thanksgiving, we have time to reflect on what matters, and on how we can all contribute. Last summer, I read a story that made me sit back and reflect. Thinking of what makes "moments" for people, that is what keeps me planning events, and I want to share this with you now. Picture yourself in a perfect moment. You are at the side of a lake, the mist is low, the sun is rising, the light beams down. You think, “I will remember this moment forever.” Your friend stands beside you, terminally ill, and says your thought out loud. He says, “I am remembering it now.” I approach each event with the attitude that my role in the puzzle of an event is to create the environment that enables memorable moments. Whether that is a hug shared with a new friend, or an engagement during a quiet moment of a glacier picnic, or a group of people holding hands, swaying together and singing along with the soloist sharing “Leaving on a Jetplane”, or a gasp as you see the sun set over the spectacular mountainscape that is our backyard… we never know what that moment will be, and never lose sight of our part in bringing memories to life. When a group is brought together, whether it is for a reward and recognition program, a world-class sporting event, a fundraiser, a gala dinner, a meeting meant to inspire collaboration, or any of a hundred other reasons, there is always a deeper objective. The objective is to create an emotional connection where shared values are celebrated and memories are made. What continues to drive us, what gets us through the challenges, is passion; a belief that we are not just here to ensure the logistics of your meeting work, we are here because we believe that together we can create special moments. For me, this is what keeps me up at night, fills my mind during long runs, making them shorter. It is what has kept me at this, around the world and for a huge diversity of groups for many years. Every step we take with you can make a difference to someone. Every day, we are presented with new possibilities, and every day, we know we are lucky that this is what we get to do. With each new opportunity, we get to start with fresh inspiration and excitement, and we look forward to each connection, each moment. I appreciate my moments, and look forward with great anticipation to what might come next.

Executive Cohorts

What a fun name for our Hospitality Management Degree Program. Executive Cohort.
From –noun
1. a group or company: She has a cohort of admirers.
2. a companion or associate.
3. one of the ten divisions in an ancient Roman legion, numbering from 300 to 600 soldiers.
4. any group of soldiers or warriors.
5. an accomplice; abettor: He got off with probation, but his cohorts got ten years apiece.
6. a group of persons sharing a particular statistical or demographic characteristic: the cohort of all children born in 1980.
7. Biology. an individual in a population of the same species.

Origin: 1475–85; < class="ital-inline">cohorte < class="ital-inline">cohort- (s. of cohors) farmyard, armed force (orig. from a particular place or camp), cohort, retinue, equiv. to co- co- + hort- (akin to hortus garden); r. late ME cohors < class="luna-Img" src="" alt="" border="0"> 3. was the original meaning - one of the ten divisions in a Roman Legion, numbering 300 - 600 soldiers. It does feel through the past year and its economic challenges, that we have had 300 - 600 leaders in the hospitality industry in the Lower Mainland area who have been to battle, and are now on the cusp of turning to victory. It is a pleasure to be among this group of people who are all thoughtful, committed and keen to see our industry as we thrive beyond the Games in 2010.