Thursday, December 26, 2013

Why Google Plus Should Matter to You

When searching for an Event Planner, Photographer, Caterer, DJ, or Reception Hall, many clients will begin with a Google search. Businesses will often find themselves on the second or third (or sometimes tenth) page, causing them to be undiscovered by countless potential clients. One way Google’s search rank is affected is through Google Plus +1’s (similar to a Facebook like) which can only be earned if your company has a Google Plus page. Google Plus can also help to market your small business, improve your SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and gain more exposure to potential clients, here’s how:

Connect with your peers
You can do this by joining communities, creating circles, and getting others to follow you. For a caterer, joining the “catering” community as well as the “wedding” community can help gain more +1s on your posted content, as well as, your company page. Also, follow leaders in your industry and comment on their posts so you can increase your exposure to your peers. Find more relevant content and communities to join by clicking the hashtag on a relevant post, it will provide more posts and users to connect with.

Target your market
You can also separate your different potential clients by creating circles. For example, you can create a “loyal clients” circle and send only those clients a thank you message for their business. Additionally, by creating a “future clients” circle you can post promotions and samples of your work only to that circle. You can also post to “Extended Circles” which will include everyone in your circles and everyone in their circles.

Increase your reach
Post shareable, interesting content to get more followers. When a follower searches for “caterers” in Google, while they are logged into Google Plus, your catering website will be more likely to appear higher in Google search rank than before (as long as you have linked your company website with your Google Plus). This has been found to help search rank temporarily, unless you continue to get more +1s. It should be noted that Google Plus is not a two-way street, just because you follow someone and see their posts, does not mean they follow you or have seen any of your posts.

Even with many critics, Google Plus should be used seriously in order to gain exposure to new clients and improve SEO. If you’re unsure of how to proceed with Google Plus, follow this flowchart to get started.

And don't forget to +1 Inspherio's own Google Plus page!
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Monday, December 16, 2013

2013's Most Creative Photo Trends

In the photography industry, there are always new trends and evolving photo concepts. Perhaps your client wants to have a minimalistic baby gender reveal, or use photo editing software to recreate a scene from Jurassic Park for their wedding. In 2013, photographers have done this and more to turn traditional photoshoots into creative works of art. We have compiled some of the most creative photography trends from 2013.

Gender Reveal and Baby Announcement Photos
These photos are not only fun and creative, but they capture a surprise message that lets everyone know about their upcoming family addition. Just by using chalk or a box filled with balloons has become an easy and innovative way to announce exciting news.
Photo Credit: Radiant Photography

Photo credit: Creating Memories by Tabitha Runge

Instagram Event Photos
Many couples are now using just their smartphones and an extra friend to take wedding and engagement photos. This shows a shift from providing a disposable camera as a wedding favor or multiple photographers. Stylistically, Instagram also has an influence shown by shots of wedding nails, use of filters, and even asking guests to tag their photos with a custom wedding hashtag.
Photo credit: @white_lightning 

GIF Style Photo
Previously only used for memes or advertisements, GIFs (a graphic image that moves) have recently become used in event photography. Specifically by Jeffrey Lewis Bennett, who creates these moving photos not through video, but through several images painstakingly edited together.
Photo credit: Jeffrey Lewis Bennett
Photobooth Props
By setting out props such as mustaches, glasses, and picture frames, this idea allows guests to create lasting memories. This is not only for the guests, this allows the wedding party to relax and create their own photos in addition to posed professional shots.

Photo credit: kastyle photography
Surprising Backgrounds
This terrified wedding party viral trend did not last long, but this past summer several photos were edited to incorporate the most unique pop-culture inspired backgrounds. A definite change from traditional, stiff, posed photos these are sure to be an inspiration for 2014.
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dealing with Difficult Family Members

Artwork credit: The Huffington Post
They are a part of every holiday event; we’re talking in-laws, relatives, and uncontrollable kids. During the holidays, rough relationships with family members cause stressful communications, hesitant gift giving, and hurt feelings. Family members can also hinder your event responsibilities if they become over-involved to the point where you lose control and they take over your event. Don’t panic over any of these tricky family situations, we have life-saving tips to avoid the dreaded family feud.

  • Keep calm. With every event or family gathering the pressure is high to perfect every detail and create a memorable event. The stress can cause you to crack under the pressure. If the event doesn’t go exactly as planned, be professional and keep a positive attitude. Remain composed and offer encouragement, whether it be to the cook who just burned the ham or uninvited guests. It will all end soon, so enjoy every moment whether good or bad. 
  • It’s not your problem to fix. Attend to the direct problem (bad pictures or a flawed menu), but remain a concerned bystander when it comes to personal issues. When a relative’s deep-seated issues are brought to attention, be an involved listener, but don’t feel responsible to fix those problems in one night, be it messy relationship issues or the attack of the gossip queens, you should stay out of it to keep a grasp on your sanity.
  • Know your limits. If kids are running around, don’t scold them unless they are your own children. Even if you have their parent’s permission to reprimand them, let the child know that they need to be on their best behavior rather than waiting for them to test their limits. 
  • Let them know your boundaries. You should respect a family’s issues, but at the same time don’t let anyone treat you in a derogatory way. As a professional, if you feel that an individual has crossed a boundary, let the host know and let them handle the outburst.
  • Cut your ties. If the situation is physically or verbally inappropriate, step away and break communication completely. If a drunk party-goer is going on a tangent, there is no need to provoke them into a more aggravated state. 
With these tips, we hope you can avoid any unnecessary, uncomfortable, family tension. Above all take this time to enjoy spending time with your family, whether they are difficult or not. Also with the many holiday events, help others celebrate with their families and enjoy this holiday season.
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Keep Event Personnel on the Same Page

We've all seen it before:
  • He said, she said
  • Someone didn't get the memo
  • "Did you forget to write that down?"
  • Last minute changes
  • "I know that I called and told you about that!"
This is inevitable in any business, much less a business in the event industry where there are so many people and moving parts.

With Inspherio, however, we provide you with ample tools to make sure that everyone inside and outside your business is on the same page.

Working with clients

With Inspherio's unique Know Your Event - or KYE - questionnaire, you greatly diminish the probability that you will have the wrong information from the client. Each person that you work with will be assigned their own unique client portal. Within this portal, they can view their pricing packages, view and sign contracts, and view and pay invoices.

But it is the KYE form that will save you the most aggravation.

Within each person's individual portal, you can assign any number of questions, such as: event location, wedding colors, party theme, expected attendance, food allergies, music preferences, etc. (While you can set a standard questionnaire that you use for everyone, you can also edit it for each individual to cater to their specific needs.) The client logs in to their portal and answer these questions (especially if you mark them as mandatory). Once saved, the answers will show up within your own Inspherio account, organized and ready to go.

Not only does this save you time and endless scrolling through emails and sticky notes, but it also limits that event day second guessing by the client. Since they are the ones who provide the information, any errors can be traced directly to them.

Did I send the lead my pricing packages? What about the KYE form? Did the client sign the contract or pay their invoice? We know that surfing through emails and notes can be a pain. And you definitely don't want to have a disagreement with a client on whether they already paid an invoice or not. Inspherio helps keep everything clean and organized. You can and your client can both see exactly what the status is of the event and whether the ball is in the your court or the theirs.

Working with your employees

If you need to assign employees to specific events, you can do that easily in Inspherio. Within an individual event portal, simply select the "Assign Professionals" tab and select who you assign, their hours, and their pay rate or commission. Select to notify each employee of their assignment so that they will receive an email with the exact details. Did you forget who was assigned to which event? Simply go to your master calendar and check it out.

If you have any inventory to deal with, I'm sure at one point or another someone has forgotten to put something on the load list or truck. With Inspherio, any items agreed to in a contract (such as a rental or sale product) will automatically show up in your inventory list. All you need to do now is add event products (such as tent stakes, serving utensils, or backdrops) that you need to carry out the event. Any employee that you grant privileges to view this page can easily see if everything is  ready to go for the event.

You can also assign employees to various tasks, set deadlines, and view the status of each one.

Additionally, if either you or another account user need to add a note to an event, simply go to the notes page and everyone else (who you permit access) can view these notes as well.

As you can see, staying organized and on the same page is easier than ever, and we've barely scratched the surface of the program. If you're new to the Inspherio family, start your free trial today and see how Inspherio can help you run your business that much easier.
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Today we honor our veterans!

Across the country today, people are honoring our veterans in many different ways.

Before we get to all the specials, check out one of the most famous photographs of World War II, edited by some very talented artists to bring the moment to life nearly 70 years later.
To view more amazing photos like this, check out 22 Words.

Companies Doing the Right Thing
Across the nation today, there are some awesome examples of ways companies are going above and beyond to serve those who have and continue to serve us.

Boston Red Sox
The recently crowned World Champion Boston Red Sox will be honoring veterans and active military members with free tours of Fenway Park today.

Brides Across America & Couture Bride
Brides Across America is teaming up with bridal salon, Couture Bride, to provide military brides the opportunity to make their wedding dreams come true by receiving a free wedding gown. This includes not only women in the military, but also any fiancé of a serviceman as well.

Restaurants Across America
Here is a list of several big name restaurants offering veterans with free meals and other deals. 

Daily Service
Today we honor and serve our veterans. Our service men and women, however, serve us every day. Shouldn't we do the same? Take, for example, this woman, who covered the lunch tab of a service women.
(On a side note, check out the response of Ellen DeGeneres to this kind act.)

We here at Inspherio would just like to say "Thank you" to all those who serve us every day.
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Friday, November 8, 2013

Think of Inspherio like...your own Administrative Assistant

People often ask me how I would best describe Inspherio to a new customer. Last month, we compared the program to a champagne waterfall; make sure to check out that article.

Today, we are comparing Inspherio to your own Administrative Assistant.
Photo credit:
Here's how a job description of an Administrative Assistant might read: 

The Administrative Assistant  is responsible for providing administrative and clerical services in an effective and efficient manner that will ensure that daily operations are maintained in an effective and efficient manner.
  • Completes operational requirements by scheduling and assigning administrative projects; expediting work results.
  • Maintains office files
  • Opens and distributes the mail
  • Generates reports and other documents
  • Maintains supplies inventory
  • Compose and review contracts
  • Notifies and processes invoices and payments
  • Provides information by answering questions and requests.
  • Keeps Executive up to date on the status of various projects
Hmm, sounds very similar to how Inspherio works. The whole idea behind the program is to
ensure that daily operations are maintained in an effective and efficient manner. Let's take a look at how Inspherio does exactly each of those bullet-ed tasks: 

Completes operational requirements by scheduling and assigning administrative projects; expediting work results. 
With your Inspherio account, you can schedule any of your employees or contractors to various events, appointments, or tasks/projects. Not only can you view and manage your employees' calendars, but you record your payroll as well.

Maintains office files 
Upload files to your account's Resource Library or to individual event portals. 

Opens and distributes the mail 
View online communication with your leads and clients directly from their event portal. Additionally, send emails directly to them containing information on package pricing, contracts, invoices, and more.

Generates reports and other documents
Run a variety of reports from your account, including: profit & loss, payroll, outstanding balance, payment status, and more.

Maintains supplies inventory
Manage your business' entire inventory from your Inspherio account. Set your quantity on hand, ideal count, cost of good sold, replacement fees, and more. Check items out for events and back in once they are completed.

Compose and review contracts
With Inspherio , you can create a new contract within a matter of minutes. Just follow the easy step-by-step flow and - voilà! - you have a contract ready to be sent. Since we also offer the capability for you and your client to e-sign the contract, you can close deals faster than ever. 

Notifies and processes invoices and payments
When you create the contract, you set up a payment plan as well. Once the contract is signed, Inspherio will automatically generate all of the necessary invoices based on your payment plan. Your account will also keep you up to date of invoices that you have yet to send out and payments that are due soon. Don't let money fall through the cracks ever again. 

Provides information by answering questions and requests
If a new prospective client wants to know about pricing packages, you can send that out with a couple clicks. If you yourself need to know specific information on a particular event or client, just open their event portal and see the answers immediately. After all, with our unique Know Your Event questionnaire, your clients fill out the information and it ends up in your hands instantly. 

Keeps Executive up to date on the status of various projects 
Ever find yourself flipping through notepads, sticky notes, and emails trying to figure out if you've sent out the contract or received a payment? Just stop the nonsense. Your Inspherio account automatically shows you the latest milestone of an event, including: sent pricing, sent questionnaire, pending contract, contract awaiting client signature, contract awaiting your signature, employees assigned to event, and much more.

As you can see, Inspherio essentially serves as your very own personal assistant, and we've barely scratched the surface of what your account can do.

If you're new to the Inspherio family, start your free trial today and see how Inspherio can help you run your business that much easier.
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wedding planning tips during the holiday season

Well, we're just past Halloween, which means that retails stores are - ridiculously - in full holiday mode. It seems they completely forget about Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas...but I digress.
There can be a lot of perks to planning a wedding during the holiday season, possibly a few more than your clients may have thought about. Wedding and event planners, below you'll find some great ideas from various bloggers that can really help out your clients and save them some good money.

From Love & Lobster: Coastal New England Weddings 
Hit up the after-Christmas sales 
You may not think you’ll find much for your wedding amid all the discounted electronics and Christmas decorations, but great deals abound. Snag marked-down twinkle lights and candles to adorn your reception space, or food items to stuff into guest welcome bags. Look beyond the traditional red and green décor and sift for candlesticks, containers and vases in shades of white or metallics.

One warning: This isn’t the best time to create or add to a wedding registry. Inventory is chock full of seasonal items, even products with no obvious holiday theme, that stores are trying to clear out. Plus, much of retailers’ regular inventory has been removed to make room, so the usual items aren’t available. You don’t want to spend an afternoon with the scanning gun just to find out in January that many of your items are out of stock. 

From 1 Elegant Event 
Get a Deal on Bridesmaid Dresses 
Whats the difference between a designer New Years Gown and a Bridesmaids Dress? Nothing! If you have not chosen bridesmaid dresses, gather up the girls for a fun day of shopping! During this time of the year, you will find fabulous styles on sale and if you only have 2-4 Bridesmaids. 

Send out Christmas Cards! 
So you and your fiancée took some beautiful engagement pictures and it is a shame to keep them to yourself, so why not send out Save-the Date Christmas Cards. Make sure it is OK with your chosen photographer and use one of the quick and easy ways such as Shutterfly, Walgreen's Photos and many others to upload, design, print, and even mail them out! I have done this for family photo's and it takes minutes!

From Weddings 
Christmas Gifts, Hostess Presents, and Wedding Favors 
If you're like most people, you've been invited to a slew of parties and open houses, and have a variety of what I call "random people" to buy presents for: work colleagues, the mailman, the kids' teachers. When you're shopping for wedding favors, keep an eye out for gifts to buy in bulk. Consider boxes of chocolates, bottles of olive oil, or bath products, or goofy gifts from Oriental Trading Company. And, if you're buying the wine for your wedding yourself, order an extra case to take as hostess presents. You'll thank me later, when you realize there's yet another party to go to! 

Hold Try-Outs 
Having people to your house or throwing a party? Now is the perfect time to try-out a wedding caterer, cake baker, or florist. If you're going the DIY route, you'll have an assembled audience to help you make sure not all 50 pieces of wedding cake go to waste. For those considering DIY flower arrangements, many online flower sellers offer a "test bunch." Order it before a big party, and hit two birds with one stone. Not only will you have inexpensive arrangements for your party, but you'll find out if you're really capable of doing your own flowers, and get some practice before the big day.

And let's not forget about your own business. Check out some great advice from our friends at

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wedding Planners: Add New Revenue through Bachelor(ette) Parties

People typically see wedding planners as those who plan, well, weddings. Just weddings. But as we all know, there is so much more to the wedding planning process than just the wedding itself. What about the reception? The rehearsal?

What about the bachelor(ette) parties?

Honestly, the amount of time and energy that some bridesmaids put into planning bachelorette parties or weekends can be astounding. They have to find a venue, food, plan entertainment/games, make decorations, and invite guests.

Sounding familiar to you?

Wedding planners take note: there are a few distinct advantages to planning these events:
  • It allows you to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Your complete wedding package is truly a complete wedding package.
  • You can develop new business/vendor relationships throughout the area. By bringing them new business, you are opening yourself up to new referral opportunities.
  • Not only can you build a valuable rapport with a variety of local venues and young professional hotspots, but you can also better get to know the happy couple. And if you are a good fit, maybe the bride includes you in the festivities.
  • You never know which of the bridesmaids or other attendees may see your skills and want to book you in the future.
  • Do I need to mention the added revenue from your planning fees for these parties?

Now, your bride and/or groom may want to plan a wild night out on their own, or they may be reluctant to join in the cliché traditions of tequila shots or Hummer limos. There are, however, some viable alternatives you can offer that your clients may very well find intriguing and that may go along with the wedding theme. 

Time to Unwind
Relaxing amidst the torrential downpour of wedding woes can be the hardest thing for a bride or groom.  Search local options concerning your client's interests: visit a local orchard, a fun cooking class, horseback riding, river tubing, or creative adult art classes! Renting a cabin in the mountains and spending a weekend hiking would be an ideal retreat for the weary but restless.
These girls had the right idea 
Check out all the occasion's photos at Shelby Schmidt Imagery
Check out this New York Times spotlight below on a summer-camp themed Anti-Bachelorette Party.
Adrenaline Junky
While fly-fishing and quilting may be sufficient for the mild-mannered, some brides and grooms would rather celebrate nearing matrimony with a little flair. 
Yes, those are guys
Consider suggesting white water rafting, kayaking, spelunking, zipline and canopy tours, rock climbing, indoor skydiving, or visiting a national park. 

Nostalgic Night Out
Timeless vintage style. Trending everywhere now.
Check out more photos at The Hen Planner

Vintage trends are still making big waves in the world of wedding style, and it never hurts to have a few hip cards up your sleeve.  Orchestrating a fun vintage photo shoot, trip to the state fair, carnivals, fall festivals, amusement parks, snazzy wine-tastings, or museum tour can be a simple departure from the steady bustle of planning a wedding.  A music festival or VIP table at a local jazz club can add some music to your clients' memories.

As you can see, ideas for these festivities, just like weddings, are endless.

And remember, you can plan and organize all of your weddings, parties, and other events on Inspherio . If you're new to the Inspherio family, start your free trial today and see how we can help you plan your success.
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Wedding Market Expo in Atlanta this week

We will be in Atlanta the next couple days for the Wedding Market Expo.

This is not an expo for brides-to-be, but rather for wedding professionals. Attendees will enjoy a stellar group of keynote speakers, plenary sessions, and a state-of-the-art expo (which we, of course, will be part of). Here is schedule of events for the week. 

Inspherio will be on site to show off our comprehensive business management program and how it can help wedding professionals do more business.

Check out this short video for a preview of the event and why you should be going if you are a wedding professional in the southeast.

As Alan Berg says at the beginning of the video, spending time being creative helps you once you have the business, but it does not help you do more business.

That is where we excel. 

With Inspherio , you can manage your entire wedding and events business from one cloud-based program. From leads to contracts to employees, you can manage it all anytime, anywhere, all in one place.

If you're new to the Inspherio family, start your free trial today and see how Inspherio can help you run your business that much easier.
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Wedding Industry Legal Tips: Q&A with Rob Schenk

In the wedding industry, there are contracts upon contracts, clauses upon clauses. With contracts, inevitably, will come lawsuits. Even if you think you have done everything perfectly, if one tiny thing involved with the wedding goes wrong, the search for a scapegoat will begin.

In order to protect yourself against frivolous lawsuits, you want to have a good grasp of the law. That being said, I contacted business law attorney Rob Schenk, who represents wedding industry professionals. He was kind enough to take the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions.
Wedding Industry Law: Rob's online resource for legal news and education about the wedding profession
What is the strangest wedding industry case you have seen? 

I love the lawsuit where the Groom sued his Wedding Photographer SIX YEARS LATER claiming that the photographer showed up late, failed to capture portions of the event, and did not have knowledge of the venue as claimed. What makes this one awesome is that the Groom demanded $48,000 to fly everyone back to NY and reenact the missing portions of the Wedding! What makes this one TOTALLY awesome is that he's now divorced! You can check out more info on the case here. 

If a contract does not explicitly say that a retainer or deposit is refundable/non-refundable, how will a court view any dispute between a vendor and their client? 

It will depend on other language in the contract, and sometimes, who the Judge believes. This is why it is extremely important that contract terms are explicit and the age old question, "What happens if I cancel the wedding X days before the wedding," should be clearly spelled out. 

Do you have any recommendations for wedding/event planners regarding injury liability? For example, say a guest gets hurt at a venue that the planner booked for the event. 

I routinely see Wedding Venue Operators requiring that the Bride/Groom acquire Event Insurance to cover these type of issues. Better safe than sorry.

Who owns the rights to wedding photos/video: bride & groom or photographers/videographers? 

This will depend on what the contract says. Generally, the person capturing the images (still or video) is the copyright owner. This means that the photographer/videographer has exclusive rights to distribute, duplicate, sell, burn, whatever. This would be the case even though the services are paid for by the Bride/Groom. Unless, as stated, the issue of copyright ownership is laid out in the contract. 

What is the top piece of advice you would give wedding professionals across the board?

Work only with a written contract. Work only with a written contract that you understand and that covers the issue of MONEY, CANCELLATION, and VENDOR DUTIES. 

We'd like to thank Rob for taking his time to provide us with some excellent legal advice. You can check out some case studies and more great advice from Rob at

About Rob:
As a business law attorney representing wedding industry professionals, Rob Schenk concentrates his practice in two areas: advocating for clients currently engaged in litigation and counseling clients on how to avoid litigation. Understanding the common disputes that arise from the ‘big day,’ Rob provides advice on a daily basis regarding contract provisions and business methods that help reduce the risk of a lawsuit with Bridezilla. 
Robert's Social Media: TwitterFacebook
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Think of Inspherio like...a Champagne Waterfall

People often ask me how I would best describe Inspherio to a new customer. Considering we're all about the event and wedding industry, it seems appropriate to describe Inspherio as a champagne waterfall.
I can hear you now: what the heck does that have to do with anything?

Well, let me explain. You've heard of the "trickle-down effect," right? Well, while we're not dealing with government economic policies, we have the same idea when planning events.

One of the beauties of Inspherio is the time-saving nature of the program. Our mission is to save you from the headache of constant double and triple entering of the same information. A lot of event professionals waste a lot of time typing out pricing options, client info, or event info in an email...

...then a contract

...then an invoice

...then a year end report

Before you know it, you've written down the same information 4-5 times. With Inspherio, you enter your data once. That's right: ONE time. Here's how it works...

Once you establish your packages, you can send them over and over without every having to re-type the data. Need to send various pricing packages to your leads? That only takes a couple clicks of the mouse.

Trying to gather all the information from a lead or client? Well, you don't even have to do it. With our KYE (Know Your Event) form, you put that responsibility into your clients' hands. They fill out the information and it updates in your Inspherio account in real-time. This not only saves you time, but it severely limits the times that a client comes complaining that you got something wrong. After all, they are the ones that provided the information.

What's next? The contract. All the info received from the KYE automatically populates into your contract template, as does the pricing option you sent earlier. No more filling your hard-drive with "Save As" or accidentally saving over other documents. No more embarrassing slip-ups when you forget to change a name or address while sifting through and editing documents. All you have to do is enter your payment schedule and - voilà! - your contract is ready to go.

After that? Well you want to get paid, right? Invoices also auto populate with the prior information. Not only that, but Inspherio will create as many invoices for you as your payment schedule dictates. If you set three different due dates with three different amounts, Inspherio will prepare those invoices for you without asking, due dates and all. What about the actual payment? Well, your client can pay each invoice immediately via a number of online payment gateways.

At the end of the year, you're going to want to check out your Profit & Loss statements. Don't go wasting time looking through each event to calculate your numbers. Data from every one of your events will total up when you run a report.

And taxes? Well that's easier, too. Simply run and print your report, hand it to your accountant, and forget about the rest.

Let's take a look at that photo again, with a small change. Now it makes a little more sense, huh?
If you're new to the Inspherio family, start your free trial today and see how Inspherio can help you run your business that much easier.
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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Class Up Your Wedding Blog to Keep Readers from Fleeing

This is a guest post by Kathy DalPra at Bride Appeal.

As a seasoned wedding professional, having an engaging blog can keep visitors perusing your website longer. It gives them more time to get to know you and fall head over heels with your work. Of course, with all the time you spend maintaining your blog, the last thing you want is to set it up in a way that turns readers off or sends them on their way. So here are a few simple ways you can add some extra class to your blog and keep those readers staying longer.

1. Add a Search Bar

I know it seems simple and obvious, but I’m continually surprised at how many website themes fail to add this amazing little tool. A search bar, or search “field”, makes it effortless for your visitors to find the exact information they’re looking for by allowing them to type in any keyword.

I’d add this field to the very top of your blog sidebar, if possible, so that it can’t be missed. The quicker visitors can find what they’re looking for, the happier they’ll be and the less likely they are to abandon your blog.

2. Eliminate Distractions

Years ago, during the upswing of the social media craze, I used to recommend installing full-scale social media widgets into your blog sidebar to grow your social media following. However, after having some time to really test this approach, my tune has changed a little.

When you really think about it, the purpose of your blog isn’t to grow your social media following…it’s to attract visitors to your website where they can learn about your products and services. In fact, that’s the purpose of your social media profiles too! Because of this, these days I encourage my clients to only place simple social media buttons that are linked to their profile rather than interactive widgets. They are less distracting, but still allow readers to connect with you off of your website if they want to.

3. Reduce the File Size of Images

I realize that not everyone is a Photoshop wizard. Nonetheless, you simply can’t afford not to optimize images on your blog if you want to avoid losing traffic. The reality is that today’s millennial couple doesn’t have the patience to sit around and wait for large images to load. They’ll simply move on to the next blog.

Reducing the file size (kb, mb) of your images is easy with free tools like PicMonkey. You can still use photos with a large width and height, just reduce the actual size of the file before you upload it to your blog. I typically suggest keeping your image file size under 50-100 kilobytes, if possible. The smaller, the better. 

About the Author:
Kathy DalPra is a former bridal-preneur who unexpectedly fell in love with web design and SEO. Today she helps other wedding professionals use their website to get more traffic, leads and inquiries so they can create a thriving wedding business in any economy. Learn how to turn curious visitors into paying brides™ on her website at

Kathy's Social Media: Twitter, Facebook
Check out more great advice from Kathy at her blog
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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Government Shutdown Affecting the Wedding Industry

Well I guess we can't say this was unexpected. Congress failed to come to a budget deal, so as of today, the government shut down.
Many people may think, "What's the big deal?" Others may think the whole economy is about to collapse. While it may not be that dramatic, there are many areas that could affect people's life, some of them that many people did not think about.

For example, consider the wedding industry. While weddings will still take place and people will party on at receptions, many dreams will be altered significantly.

According to the USA Today, The National Mall and Memorial Parks issued 24 permits for October weddings at the Lincoln Memorial, George Mason Memorial and the D.C. War Memorial. Brides and grooms who applied for permits up to a year in advance were notified that a government shutdown would cancel all those events. 

Weddings at some hotels at Yosemite National Park are being moved a few miles away, and a wedding set to take place at the Grand Canyon has been canceled as well.
Furthermore,  the shutdown also means D.C. Superior Court won't be accepting new applications for marriage licenses.
Clearly, regardless of anyone's political opinion regarding the shutdown, there are some victims. As a wedding planner, how would you handle this situation?

UPDATE 10/4:
So leave it to TV comedian Stephen Colbert to have fun with this very topic. On last night's show, Colbert married a couple after their original wedding plans were ruined by the government shutdown. The couple had planned to wed near the Jefferson Memorial until their wedding site was closed by the shutdown. Check out the video below to enjoy the nonsensical awesomeness that ensued in very Colbert-esque fashion.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Taking off with our new office!

Due to the continued rapid growth of our company, Span Enterprises, we moved into its new office in Old Town Rock Hill. As our CEO Agie likes to fly, the new office is inspired by all things airplanes. Among some of the unique features of the office include:
  • When you get off the elevator to the office, you are greeted by an airplane tail.
  • Exterior aluminum panels from a Malaysia Airlines Airbus serve as "walls."
  • Seats from a Boeing 737 form the employee lounge, complete with fold out tray tables.
  • Drinks are dispensed from galley containers from Japan Airlines. 
  • The clocks for various time zones don’t have names on their faces, but instead have three-letter airport codes. 
  • The hallway is painted to resemble a runway. 
  • Three aviator chairs serve as the guest waiting area. 
  • Two of the light fixtures are built with airplane emergency exit doors. 
We were recently featured in a front page ad on our local Rock Hill Herald and also appeared in The Charlotte Observer. Below are links to the article as well as a slideshow and video walk-through of the office with Agie.

Tell us what you think of our new office below.
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Office Pranks for our CEO's Birthday

Yesterday was our CEO Agie's birthday. Seeing as we are a laid back company with a family atmosphere, we decided to have a little fun.

In our brand new office, Agie's glass walls for his office. Well, this fact was just too tempting for us. Agie hates sticky notes, so we made sure to rid his desk drawers of these pests.
After some lunch and cake, we dispersed for the weekend, leaving Agie to think the prank was done. However, we were simply setting him up to let his guard down; we had other plans.

Come this morning, we made sure Agie had enough balloons for his birthday. The fact that the sticky notes never got removed just made it that much better.
Agie appreciates a good prank (or two) and had a good laugh. Of course, that didn't stop him from making us clean both messes up.

What are some fun office/birthday pranks you have pulled before?
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Four Tips for Saving Money on Event A/V

As event and wedding planners, you typically must consider audio visual components to give your event that extra wow factor. But what should you look for and what should you be aware of when choosing an A/V company? I contacted A/V professional and social media superstar Jenise Fryatt, who provided the guest blog below.
This is a guest post by Jenise Fryatt at Icon Presentations. The original article can be found here.

Understanding Objectives of In-House vs. Outside Audio Visual Companies

Going with the in-house audio visual service provider at your venue may be easy, but it won't always save you money, let alone provide you with the best bang for your buck.

In-house AV companies have to pay a significant percentage (40-50% is not uncommon) of every sale to the venue. This makes it very hard for them to give you a good deal.

Also, hotel audio visual is usually where new techs cut their teeth. So while these guys may adequately handle breakout sessions, more involved productions can be a bit of a stretch for them.

Beware of Hidden Fees

Hotels and convention centers are very motivated to get your business, so they will take measures to counteract the attractiveness of outside AV companies.

Beware of contractual fees they often slip in to make up for the loss in sales to outside AV companies. Fees for power or "required supervision" by in-house techs can be waived if you catch them BEFORE signing these agreements.

Maybe the venue is offering you a great deal on meeting rooms if you use their AV services and your breakout meetings don't require highly technical audio visual. This could certainly save you money in the long haul. However you still may wish to consider hiring an outside AV company for your general session or gala.

Remember, you are in the driver's seat at least until you sign that contract.

Think Ahead and Build Relationships

To get the best deal and help ensure the equipment and service you hire is top notch, aim to build a long-term relationship with your AV provider.

If you use the same company for all or most of your event audio visual needs throughout the year, you can sit down with them at the beginning and negotiate a screaming deal.

Knowing about your needs in advance will also allow them to plan and give you priority attention - the kind you are likely to get as a returning customer.

Consider Hiring Local Labor

Calling a local union or labor company can save you up to 20% on your audio visual labor costs. Again, make sure that you scratch out any hidden fees for bringing outside labor in before you sign that contract with your venue.

For more good advice from Jenise, check out her blog.

About the Author:
Jenise Fryatt has been involved in the event industry for more than 20 years as Co-Owner/ Marketing Director of Icon Presentations AV for events. She writes for three blogs, manages three Twitter accounts and three Facebook pages. She serves as Social Media Manager for The Conference Publishers and moderates a weekly Twitter Chat for event professionals called #eventtable. She also gives presentations on social media strategy and uses improv concepts to teach leadership and team building skills.
Jenise Fryatt Social Media: Twitter, Facebook
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Monday, September 16, 2013

Aspiring Event Professionals: Gain Event Experience without Leaving Campus

For those college students who are aspiring event planning professionals, as I'm sure you have heard time and time again, you need to gain as much experience as possible while in college. But what if you don't have a car on campus or can't find a good internship off campus?

Here's a nice piece of advise: you don't have to leave campus for good experience.

A college campus can be a great place to gain some valuable work opportunities, particularly for a large school. Here are just a few different areas you can gain some type of event experience: 

Development/Fundraising Office
If you learn how to consistently raise money, you will always find job opportunities. In addition to putting on alumni events each year, many non-profits typically have event planning positions that require fundraising experience, so having this skill in your back pocket gives you an advantage when applying for these positions.

Facilities Management
Do you want to run a venue someday? Start working with your campus facilities department (or with a specific building) and learn the everyday skills and knowledge needed to perform the job. This can include maintenance, audio/visual, scheduling, landscaping, and more. Facility managers work with event planners to see events through, so it is a good way to see the planning process and, more importantly, grow your network.

Food & Beverage
On campus dining departments typically also do much of the on-campus catering for events, so this a good place to get some quick experience and, again, meet new contacts and grow your network.

Student Life
The student life department typically puts on larger events: orientation and convocation, commencement, on-campus concerts, movie showings, Family/Parents Weekend, as well as educational and cultural opportunities.

Admissions Office
The admissions office has a number of events it can put in an attempt to attract the most qualified students to the school: campus tours, info sessions, open houses, career fairs, etc.

Residential Life
Dorms are always looking to plan various events. This could be a cookout, holiday party (Christmas, Halloween, St. Patrick's Day, etc), beach trip, hike, night out on the town, and more.

Greek Life
Take the lead on planning events for your fraternity/sorority: formals, social events, philanthropic events, retreats, chapter, etc. You can gain a lot of experience doing this and, if nothing else, learn of the demand an events career.

Wellness Center
At your college's wellness center, you can have opportunities to plan intramurals or campus-wide dorm tournaments. You can also gain scheduling experience when juggling multiple classes and classroom space.

Athletic Department
Athletic departments, especially for larger schools, run like independent entities and are a great place to gain experience. Student interns are always needed and there are many ways to get involved:
  • Marketing - Planning events for fans (FanFest, pep rallies, open practices, Midnight Madness, etc)
  • Sales/Ticketing - You not only work a lot of events, but you talk to a lot of people on the phone and make a lot of connections with other ticketing offices. Have I stressed the importance of growing your network?
  • Development - Planning events and travel for boosters who donate money to the athletic department. This is a good way to get to know a lot of successful and influential peoples.
  • Event management - This department works with every other department to plan those events for boosters, season ticket holders, fans, as well as every home athletic contest.
  • Facilities management - Regardless of the event type, they are held in some type of venue. This department is often part of the events department.
  • Individual teams - This may require planning recruiting or alumni events, coordinating travel, and team functions.
Plus, if you're at a well-known athletic department, it really can stand out on your resume.

If you've been paying attention, the most critical aspects of working in college are: a) gaining valuable experience and skills, and b) growing your network. Doing these two things while in school - with fewer bills and responsibilities - can really give you an advantage when you start looking for a job after graduation.

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