Monday, April 25, 2011

What does your six year old want?

Last week I had the awesome opportunity to go to Vancouver Fashion Week and enjoy the inspired fashions being created here and from designers from around the globe. Of course half the fun is seeing what other people are wearing. My favorite was a gorgeous lady; fabulous, perfect short blond hair falling perfectly, stunning blue eyes, a ready smile and wearing an uber cute outfit, including a tutu. How utterly fabulous I thought, and said so. Her gleeful response was "My inner six year old is so excited when we get to wear the tutu." 
My mom driving the go Kart

How that made me long to do something nice for my inner six year old, the one hiding under my skirts as I go to work and plan how others will play, take time to teach people how to create great environments to engage and play in, take my kids to their sports and play places... I am on some levels failing at my self-proclaimed mission to have more fun this year. I am succeeding beyond my imagination in creating experiences and being able to share my long earned knowledge with peers and colleagues, and sharing amazing experiences and small stolen, unexpected moments (kumquat)... all grown up fun, and I didn't even realize how much I was missing her until the tutu appeared.

Thank you mysterious child woman for the reminder.  What does your inner child long for?

Blogalog Apr 25: Becoming an Event Planner - what does it take

Dear Deborah aka @projectmaven at @eventwist

This weekend in doing some reseach while preparing to review an online course for an event management degree, I came across this description for what an event planner is and I have to say that for all we do, I found it a bit vague, and well, simplified.

Education Portal Job description says this about the job: An event planner is responsible for organizing meetings, parties, weddings and other important events. They are responsible for every detail including notifying attendees, booking a location and contacting a caterer. During the day of the event, the planner continues to delegate others to ensure that the event runs smoothly. Event planners may be contracted by companies or individuals.

I found this to be a bit on the "light side", either when compared to my own list of What a Meeting Planner Does or certainly to the Canadian Standards for an event coordinator, which outlines 45 areas of competency. These competencies when combined with 3 - 5 years of experience can lead you into the area of being an Event Manager (and various other titles earned along the way depending on your specialty) and requires a huge depth of understanding and skill.
No matter what city we are in, Vancouver, New York or the many cities around the world, where the people who are creating meetings, events and weddings are doing so much more than this, and bringing so much to their clients through their innovative ideas and unique creations - our hats are tipped to you. These highly talented individuals create teams of unbelievable depth and deliver events that truly deliver messages in unique and compelling ways. So to all you event planners out there - keep doing what you do and let's keep proving our value, one awesome meeting or event at a time!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blogalog with Eventwist April 21

Check out what Deborah has to say about New York and its challenges and inspirations here Eventwist says...

What I want to know is, as an event planner in Vancouver, how do you incorporate the unique aspects of your city that you love so much into your creations? But more importantly, when I visit you, what are you going to show me that will really make me know we’re not in New York anymore?

First it will be about the cuisine. First breakfast at Market at the Shangri La is followed by a bike ride around the seawall, and then we will board our luxury yacht and heading out on the water, passing freighters in the working part and the most luxurious homes as we head around the point, docking at Granville Island for a truly unique shopping experience - imagine acres full of fresh food, local artisans and their gorgeous wares, and NOT ONE chain store! Lunch can be enjoyed at one of the amazing cafes, restaurants or market stalls you discover along the way.

For the evening event, we will incorporate the fresh food found today and while enjoying amazing BC wine, we will enjoy the sun setting over the harbour while a local musician adds the extra ambiance that ends this evening in perfection. Ten minutes after leaving the market, we will be back at our downtown hotel, sated and delighted. Hello Vancouver!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Being Green

I don't know where this came from but today it has ended up in my email inbox, and I like it so this is the fastest way I know to share it!
From Tourism Vancouver
Something to think about ......

In the line at the store, the cashier told the older woman that plastic bags weren't good for the environment. The woman apologized to her and explained, "We didn't have the green thing back in my day."

That's right, they didn't have the green thing in her day. Back then, they returned their milk bottles, Coke bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, using the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But they didn't have the green thing back her day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks. But she's right. They didn't have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby's diapers because they didn't have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts, "wind and solar power" really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right, they didn't have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV, or radio, in the house not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a pizza dish, not a screen the size of the province of Quebec. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn't have electric machines to do everything for you. When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used wadded up newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right, they didn't have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty, instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled pens with ink, instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But they didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus, instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint. But that old lady is right. They didn't have the green thing back in her day.

OMG...that was MY day too!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Event Planning in Vancouver - Blogalog with @projectmaven

MPI WEC10 Welcome Reception on the VCC Terrace
 So here is the thing about event planning in Vancouver. We are truly a cosmpolitan city that has been dropped into an amazing natural west coast rainforest. An utter oasis of delight, whether you are under a centuries old tree, or heading out over a cliff or simply enjoying the view from the Convention Centre or one of our many meeting hotels that overlook the harbour and the coastal mountains. In a heartbeat you can go from sitting at a conference table to being in a kayak paddling into silence, or hopping on a bike for a 7 mile ride around the Seawall, enjoying a picnic along the way.

In the nearly two decades I have been planning meetings and events, I have been at a PCO where we worked locally and traveled with our clients; at a destination management company; at an incentive house where it was back to traveling around the world planning events; and back to a DMC - because I love my family and didn't see them for three years pretty much... but also because I am truly excited to share our destination with people from around the world. Our supplier partners are amazing, innovative and have both a ton of experience to share but also are excited to try new things with me.

Yes, New York you are full of great producers and stunning venues (BizBash has been my home page since it launched) but if you want to really connect, slow down, work in a city that leads the world in sustainability, and be pleased with the service you receive along the way... let's talk Vancouver!

Friday, April 15, 2011

EventTwist and TahiraLovesEvents - a blogalog begins!

Recently, Deborah Parnell aka @projectmaven sent me a (very long) email asking if I had ever thought of guest bloggers. I had not but I really think of this as "my little blog". Apparently this is all perception - and really, I like Deborah's perception better.

So her idea is that some of us blogging out here in the event world could be having a conversation through our blogs - an ongoing dialogue on topics we are excited about, that also has relevance to the business of special events, meetings and event production. A veritable blogalog!

Deb and I both realize there's already a terrific discussion going on in the Twitterverse among a very talented and diverse group of event professionals. In fact, it doesn't stop! Plus, it contains everything a good conversation should - useful information, good jokes, random comments, sly remarks and clever observations... what else could one ask for?

Well I'll tell you - more than 140 characters!

Now Deb has noted that as skilled an editor as she is, and a lover of the simple elegance of a good haiku, she'll admit, she does love to go on. ("ya think?") And, well, a blog is a little more accommodating of the stream of consciousness style of communication that is, frankly, her element.  Then she found me....

In Deb's words....
"So in choosing my first online pen pal, I naturally gravitated to Tahira Endean whose blog, "Events, Life and Impact Points" she describes this way: "Exploring event experience design and the positive impacts we can have when planning relevant and thoughtful meetings. Includes musings on the cool people and lessons along the way."

And I didn't have to dig too far to discover that she embodies the same appetite for blending personal anecdote with professional observation as I do. When I contacted her with the idea, she reacted with great enthusiasm. In fact, as our correspondence got underway, she remarked, "I like when you write me because yes you may be the only person I have met that writes more than me..." I am so glad that my wordiness is making someone else feel good!"

I do love that someone else writes more than me. I do fear though that when Kiki L'Italien and I show up in New York and hang with Deb - we simply won't have time to sleep and will never, never, never shut up! (which I am ok with)

We decided that our first topic would be a comparative look at New York City and Vancouver, BC, the cities we each live and work in, as segments of the event planning world. Having never been to Vancouver, Deb is excited to get an insider's view of that city, particularly from someone like me, who is so passionate about work and life here!  I have planned events on three continents, but NEVER New York, so I too am pretty excited!

Stay tuned as we launch what I hope will be an informative and entertaining back and forth. Who knows? You may even want to blogalog with us!  (please!)  
photo by the italian voice
what she said

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Scars and Healing

I have been thinking a lot about scars lately and today a post by the fabulous green-eyed Midori inspired me (if that is the right word) to talk about how I feel about scars.

First, I think scars are beautiful. They are part of our story. If you look here you will see two large scars that go across each side of my neck. These life-changing scars were at first "hideous" and then inconvenient, and now I barely / rarely see them. more of this story here

A note about this picture - a day with my favorite girl cousins - two generations (from 1yr to 4o+) of laughing, giggling, hair-curling, makeup experimenting and just being goofs in piles of shoes and closets of clothes - and the photographer my gorgeous cousin - this picture shows the energy of that day, a day of treasured moments.

Scars can be on the outside or the inside, and like many before me, as the scars inside have healed over time, there is no need to reopen them now. But they are deep and they give me a deep empathy for anyone suffering from loss of loved ones, damage inflicted without warning, and pain that you think will never heal. I know every day how lucky I am, how fortunate my family is to be whole and healthy and while there may be moments that are difficult, I know they will pass.

If you look closely at this or any other picture of me, one eye is always a little smaller, a scar of sorts. When I was 15 I had Bells Palsy. Imagine being 15 and having half of your face paralyzed suddenly one morning; enduring a five week treatment of Prednisone and its side effects; and returning to school to find out the uninformed had spread horrible and untrue rumours about why you had missed school. I understand the pain of teen angst, and again, empathy for anyone suffering temporary or chronic pain. Interestingly, Bells Palsy doesn't hurt - the one "benefit" of paralysis, but the emotional turmoil, at any age but certainly as an insecure teen, that changes you.  (side note on social media, the person that built and helped spread the rumour that caused me so much pain keeps trying to friend me on FB... guess what, I will never accept, because heart scars are deeper)

I believe that the reason we have scars is because we have gone through or are going through a healing process. Before Christmas, Lindsay (you know who you are) had shared a post about a painful and meaningful time in her life, and I began thinking about my story and what I might share then. As Midori sagely said, it is the scars on our heart and brain that make us more complex, more interesting, more of who we are...

The other part comes from the great people, the positive energy we share all around us, and for all the pieces of you that have contributed to who I am, I thank you.  Keep sharing.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Creativity, Innovation, Imagination, Truth

Scrap Art Rock Band by Nicholas

Today I read an article by Maddie Grant at Social Fishwhich made me think, as always thank you Maddie for your thoughtfulness! In this article she references an article by Rich Becker that also has some great points. Check these out too.

They are not the first people to comment on the keys to success in business and in doing business in a social media forum require that you have imagination, creativity, innovation and truth. This sounds great, but what does this mean - to us in our work at Cantrav, to me as an Event Producer, and most importantly to our clients as they share their concerns about creating an "ultimate guest experience"? First stop,

the faculty of imaging, or of forming mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses.
We never think of any event in isolation, we instead imagine it in the context of the overall experience. Then we combine the transportation, venue, food, beverage, entertainment and decor selections into a unique and seamlessly woven concept. For our team, the only way to approach it is from the beginning, and with consideration to all the senses. What our imagination, combined with research into your organizations' culture and resourcing the appropriate partners for all the above components - we imagine for your guests the entire experience and share our concepts with you.

the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination:
We often are asked "to think outside the box". There is only one way to say this... WE HAVE NO BOX. When we approach event design, whether it is a meeting environment or the most out there concept ever, we are always considering how we can break the rules, and twist a little on norms.

something new or different introduced:
I have just said we like to push it... But it is important that when something new is introduced that guests still are comfortable. So as we innovate - from including social media into events; creating new experiential spaces, and more - we always play within the boundaries of understanding the human psyche and create events that are essentially comfortable, but always interesting and ideally thought-provoking. If you are not creating a sense of reward, improving knowledge or creating a base for transformation, then what are your goals and what are the new approaches we can take to support you in achieving these - this is when innovation counts.

honesty; integrity; truthfulness
It is impossible to have an unauthentic or not relevant event that is successful, it is just that simple.

In Social Media, in face to face business relationships, in personal relationships, if you don't approach LIFE with honesty, integrity, and interest, you will not have a very rewarding life, so truth is the only way. While we always prefer to say "yes" when that is what a client wants to hear, being truthful about challenges and offering solutions and ideas, that is where our job satisfaction truly comes from. If we really think something will be a roaring success, we will suggest it; if we know something will not create a comfortable guest experience, we are going to share this as well and seek alternates with you.

My perspective is that in the event and meeting planning industry we get with each live event, ONE opportunity to succeed, and with creativity, imagination, innovation and truth as key overriding principles - we are going to have fun, learn and build amazing relationships; ultimately so will your guests and participants.

I would love to hear your comments too.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Awards Shows - an Addictive Time of Year

The stage is set... literally, for a Night of Stars
What I love about this time of pre-spring the most is the Awards shows - Grammy, Oscar, Juno, even the Country Music Awards draw me in. I am not alone in this, and we all have our own reasons; some of us watch all the movies, some of us listen to the latest music, some are in it for the fashion, and some for the show.
  • Who will host and how will they do? Let's face it - some are better than others... I will leave your to your own opinions on this.
  • What will the hosts AND the guests be wearing? The fashion always ranges from the stunning to the simply surprising
  • Even more importantly - the hairstyles. A true sign of each passing decade is surely the hairstyles. 
  • What acts, and even better, awesome combinations of acts will we see? The musical awards shows excel at this - from Beyonce in a painting to Dave Grohl with Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga or the Black Eyed Peas weaving magic on the stage...
  • The staging - oh the staging... how I love to see what the directors and production teams come up with and how they will outdo what they have done before!
As an Event Producer, what fascinates me the most is how will they tell their story of what has come to pass in the last year of music and movies, I believe this is a key reason we all keep watching.

What I love about producing awards shows with our clients is exactly the same thing... what can we do to make each person feel rewarded, recognized, and know that this award they have spent at minimum a year working towards was well worth the effort. Bring on the magic, please!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Kids in Charge

wolf mom in the den
This year my daughter's grade five class had to do an expert file, so Julia did hers on Paris where we went last year, and a friend did hers on Great Wolf Lodge. When it turned out I had an event in the middle of Spring Break limiting our time to be away, we took the 10yo advice and headed off for three days at Great Wolf Lodge (one of about ten in North America) to enjoy some family time over Spring Break. With about 1,000 other families. The basic premise is to provide lots of indoor safe fun geared to kids of nearly any age, and it works.

The advertising - moms lounging in bed, or at the spa, or enjoying romantic dinners while the kids are engaged. Here the kids have fallen asleep in the big bed, so off to the bunk with mom...

The highlights
  • a massive water park with lots of slide rides, wave pool, play parks and a 1,000 gallon bucket that dumps out every few minutes
  • check in as early as 1pm and start using the water park, your room might not be ready until 4pm but that is a-ok with them. Check out time is 11am, but you can use the waterpark until 9pm on check out day!
  • a hot tub with a locking gate so the wee ones can't accidentally get in
  • alert and attentive lifeguards that rotate stations about every 30 minutes, staying fresh at each station
  • clean water - about 340,000 gallons of it
  • clean and non-slip floor surface - a feat in itself
  • margaritas, and other beverages of choice available for the parents who might feel the need for some stronger refreshment
  • clean and family sized rooms, with a variety of style options - ours had the wolf den - bunk beds with gaming station built in and a cute wall mural
  • lots of food choices - yes all the "crap" you would expect including smiley face fried potato patties, but also lots of delicious salads, breakfast choices, wraps and other healthy choices - plus the family size s'more fondue for dessert
  • a massive lobby area where story time and other activities happen - but also a good place for parents to hang out while
  • a Starbucks in the lobby
  • a fitness centre for adults (think of this as the quiet zone)
  • MagiQuest - buy a wand and it is good and ANY of the Great Wolf Lodges around the country! Seriously, a well done game that children from 4 to 15 were easily participating in and enjoying, ideal for siblings - one kid invited me along, the other wanted to know why I was following them...
  • a teen zone and a teen ice-cream themed spa
  • well appointed gift store - all the basics and more (it would be ok if they lost the giant pucker power sugar station, but other than that...)
  • an adult spa "the vacation from your vacation" in their words
  • a massive arcade - but one where the pay to play is not too too expensive
  • incredibly friendly staff - no matter how many people were inundating them with the same questions over and over again... friendly ruled - excellent customer service at every touchpoint
  • free wireless - know your market, right?!
Check it out for yourself Great Wolf Lodge

If you don't have kids or grandkids, there are other choices you can make. If you do have kids, it is pretty great. Just ask them, they will tell you!