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.

Photo credit:
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

14 Ways Planning a Wedding is like Planning a Football Game, Part 2

Yesterday, we listed the first 7 ways that planning a wedding is like planning a football game. Today we continue with the second half of the list.

8. It's about everyone else but you
Whether you are planning a wedding or a football game, you are typically behind the scenes. A lot of people don't even know of your presence unless something goes wrong (see point #5 yesterday). It is your job to make sure that the client's needs are served and that the guests have a good time. It doesn't really matter what your opinion is on a topic. While you can provide all the expert advise you have, in the end, it comes down to what they want, not you.

9. Perception of your success often hinges on others
Whether or not people view you as a success is often out of your hands. Many other people have to do their job - and do it well - for people to think highly of you. Did the vendors show up on time? Were they quality professionals? The decorators, caterers, and entertainment can make an event memorable or disappointing. At a football game, you not only have to rely on the vendors, security, ushers, and marketing staff, but even more so on the players and coaches. If you ran an event perfectly, but the fans were disappointed with the game, they will inevitably find something to complain about and let you know about it. But the opposite is true as well. You may have had a bad day, or someone else didn't do their job, but if your team won in a thriller, that's all anybody will remember.

10. Everyone has an opinion
More often than not, people have an opinion on how something should have been done differently. Even though you have years of experience in the industry and understand all the detailed goings-on behind the scenes, Average Joe/Jan - who doesn't know the first thing about event planning - thinks they could have done it better. Not only that, oftentimes they will let their opinion known to someone, possibly even you. The flowers should have been placed somewhere else. Parking should have opened at a different time. The entertainment/music should have been different (more on this later). It's too loud. It's too quiet. No matter what you do, someone will always complain, so you know it is best to rely on your experience and best judgment.

11. What are the food options?
People like to eat. If there is an event with food - particularly if it's free - people will flock to it. Attendees often have a better/worse opinion based on the state of the food. Was the reception buffet  style or individual plates? Are there enough concession stands with enough variety? Oh, and do I have to mention the alcohol. Often it seems that the only reason someone attends a wedding reception or football game is to throw a few (too many) back.

12. Entertainment is crucial
Everyone loves to have a good time and for good reason. Events are supposed to be enjoyable. So making sure that the entertainment is top notch is critical to the attendees having a good time. Is it a band or DJ? Is the music good? Is there good energy or does the DJ like to hear himself talk? Even at a football game, while the contest itself is the prime entertainment, there are many breaks throughout the game. Do you have good halftime entertainment? What's going on before, during, and after the game? Am I staying engaged during timeouts or just checking my phone to see what I'm missing out on?

13. Expect the unexpected
Yes, there is some irony in this picture. But, seriously, when you have so many elements and moving parts to an event, something interesting/crazy/memorable/infuriating is bound to happen eventually. Can you quickly address the matter? Have you prepared for contingencies? Weather often is a key player that can completely change how either a wedding or football game goes. How are your improv skills and ability to react on the fly? Honestly, though, this is why we love working events. You may have a template on what to do, but no event is ever like another and you constantly have to stay on your toes.

14. To survive, you must love it
Considering the hours (point #1), the blame (#5), the stress (#6), and the vast amount of people you have to deal with (#'s 3, 4, & 9), you really have to have a passion for what you do. If you are not excited to be doing your job day-in and day-out, then how are the people you are serving supposed to get excited. People quickly can see uninspired work and will turn to someone else if you continually provide a less than stellar product.

You also have to fight to keep that passion. Inevitably, burnout happens. There will be days where you think to yourself, "Why I am doing this? Do I want to continue on this path?" It's up to you to figure out a way to stay passionate and remind yourself why you love it.

What other similarities can you think of between these two industries?
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

14 Ways Planning a Wedding is like Planning a Football Game, Part 1

Football season is in full swing now. As someone who works with wedding professionals on a daily basis - and who has worked in both professional and college football in the past - it got me to thinking:
What are some similarities between planning a wedding and planning a football game?
As I started my list, it continued to grow, so I decided to split this post into a two-part series. The following items are the first half of that list. 

1. Evening and weekend work
The hours can be brutal at times. Most of the time you are the first one in the building and the last to leave. You not only put in the time during regular business hours, but you often have to work later in the evening to attend events or accomplish some tasks, some of which cannot be done until off hours.
Wedding Planners
Need to meet the bride and groom for a cake testing or band demo? They have jobs during the day that they can't simply leave, so you have to meet them in the evening or on the weekend. This is not even considering the actual wedding weekend, when you work all day Friday and Saturday.

Football Planners
Let's face it: no football game is going to be during regular work hours. Nearly every college game is on a Saturday, while NFL games are on Sunday. You may occasionally have a Thursday or Friday night game and work late hours just to make sure everything set.
2. Multitasking
Simply put, events are not simple. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of components involved. As the main planner, you are the one that has to make sure everything is done right.
Wedding Planners
Gather client info, meet with vendors, arrange for hotels, go over the guest list, do a site walk-through, meet with the clients again, confirm the correct decor and food, follow up, follow up, follow up.

Football Planners
Send info to teams and officials, coordinate with security, coordinate with marketing and sales, meet with the teams and officials, work with sponsor parties, check the weather report, deal with obnoxious fans, etc.
3. Dealing with ego
You have a lot of big egos to juggle. Everyone thinks their needs/responsibilities are more important/pressing than yours. Sometimes they are right, but many times they are not. Whether you are dealing with brides, vendors, fans, players, or coaches, you have to be patient enough to address their needs without losing your cool.

4. Making sure everyone is on the same page
The nature of events is that there are many moving parts and even more people. Does everybody understand not only their specific responsibilities, but what everyone else is doing, how they fit together, and why?
Wedding Planners
Does the venue know when the DJ is arriving to set up? Does the caterer know about specific food allergies? What's the first dance song? What time do the bride and groom arrive for the ceremony? When and where are photos being taken?
Football Planners
Does the stadium know about each team's walk-through? Are ticketing policies in line with compliance's policies? Which credentials are allowed on the field? Who is the entertainment and when should they be on/off the field?
5. Everyone blames you if anything goes wrong
Sometimes you wonder if this shirt is your work uniform. When something goes wrong - and it eventually will - people automatically look to you to assign blame. After all, a good scapegoat is nearly as welcome as a solution to the problem at hand.

6. Nerves/stress
Because of point #5, the stress level is high. In fact, last year listed event planning as the 6th most stressful career out of all careers. And it isn't just the worry about getting blamed if something goes wrong. You also don't want to mess up an extremely memorable moment for a bride and groom or a specific player or coach. The number of eyes that are on you at all times and the volume and variety of tasks you must complete (see point #2) just adds to your burden that much more. 

7. Months of planning for a few weekend hours
This can be simultaneously satisfying and exasperating. You spend months of your life planning, pulling out all the stops, and stressing yourself out to make a perfect event. Then, in a matter of hours, the event is over. On one hand, you think, "All that planning was worth it for a great event." On the other hand, since you typically won't have something tangible to show for your work, you may think, "All that planning for a few hours?" The main takeaway for you is the satisfaction that you (hopefully) put on a fantastic, memorable event that served a lot of people.

Tomorrow we will focus on the second half of our list, many of which have to do with the attendees/crowd.
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Monday, September 9, 2013

Follow up to Last Week's Guest Post

Inspherio would like to thank Sharon Hill for her guest post last week. She has a lot of experience as a wedding and event planner, so her expertise is always appreciated.

Sharon provided several good tips on ways to reduce any stress or worries you may have as a wedding planner. We will now take a closer look at each of her points and discuss how Inspherio can resolve each matter.

1. Quit trying to keep all the details in your head 
"By getting things out of your head and onto paper or into your computer, you won’t have to keep worrying that you’ll forget something."
Inspherio is a one stop shop for organizing your event details. Whether it custom pricing, client/vendor information, or invoice/payment status, your Inspherio account keeps everything organized for you.

2. Enter all of your appointments and deadlines into a calendar 
"Keeping an up-to-date, fully detailed calendar will reduce your stress and the possibility that something will fall through the cracks.
Your Inspherio calendar allows you to add events, appointments, and tasks. Additionally, you can invite clients, vendors, and/or employees to appointments or assign employees to events and tasks. Add reminders to these calendar items so that you and others will not forget anything.

Furthermore, Inspherio acts as your own personal assistant. It will remind you whether or not you have sent out invoices, if you have payments due from your clients.

Also, by adding deadlines for your client to send you information for their wedding, you greatly minimize the risk of letting any information fall through the cracks. More on this in the next point. 

3. Take copious notes 
"Whenever you get a call or have a meeting, immediately record all of the relevant information."
 Inspherio's KYE (Know Your Event) Form is a thing of beauty for wedding planners.
  • First, set exactly which questions you have for the bride and send them to her with a couple clicks of the mouse. It is now the bride's responsibility to provide you the correct information, which means you not only save a lot of time, but she also cannot come back later and say you had the incorrect information. Once she fills out the questionnaire, the answers save to your Inspherio account automatically in real-time.
  • Should you want to fill out the information yourself, or edit any of her answers, you can do that, too. The same fields are readily available to you.
  • You can set deadlines on when certain questions are locked and the answers cannot be changed. By setting these deadlines, you are guaranteeing that you receive the information in a timely manner and that the bride cannot change the information without your knowledge.
  • You can choose which information will automatically populate into your contract and itinerary. By doing so, you avoid having to double-enter any information (potentially incorrectly).
Your Inspherio account also lets you add notes, tasks, and uploaded documents to each individual event as you see fit.

 4. File all of your information in one place 
 "[E]verything that has to do with a bride and her wedding should be organized and kept together in one place. This way whenever you get a call or need to do some research, all of the information is at your fingertips."
Not only does Inspherio let you keep all your information in one place, but it also lets you access it anywhere you want. Working from home instead of the office? Simply log in and have all your information at your fingertips rather than having to move data back and forth via a zip drive. Out on the road? Access all your client data via your iPhone or Android app.

Also, this applies to all of your clients and vendors. If you are planning multiple weddings at a time, you can have access to all of each bride's information at hand and neatly organized at all times. 

5. Share with your assistants 
"Always make sure your staff knows where they can get information when they are assisting you with a wedding."
Your Inspherio account allows you to manage your employees as well. Not only can you assign them to events and input their hours/pay, but you can also grant various privileges to each individual employee as you see fit. Should you want a certain employee to be able to send pricing and sign contracts, no problem. If you just want them to be able to view the bride's information, you can do that, too.

As you can see, Inspherio is a dream organization tool for wedding planners. You never have to worry about losing detailed information or letting anything fall through the cracks. Your account is there to make your job less stressful and more efficient.

If you are new to Inspherio , start your free 30-day trial now (no credit cards required) and experience what Inspherio can do for you!
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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Wedding Planners – Stop the Wedding Worries that Keep You Awake at Night

This is a guest post by Sharon Hill at

As a wedding planner, you’re great at taking away a bride’s wedding stress. But it might mean that you’re now the one with nightmares about possible wedding day catastrophes. You stay awake worried that you’ll forget an important detail, that you won’t get everything done in time, and that you won’t do everything it takes to give your bride her vision of her wedding.

Here are 5 tips that will help reduce your worries so you can start doing your best:

1. Quit trying to keep all the details in your head

First, take the time to note everything you need to do for your next weddings. By getting things out of your head and onto paper or into your computer, you won’t have to keep worrying that you’ll forget something. All the information will be available and easily accessible and you can concentrate on doing your work.

2. Enter all of your appointments and deadlines into a calendar

Once you know what you need to do, schedule the time to get it done and don’t forget to note all of your appointments and meetings in your calendar. Also, schedule reminders to call vendors to verify they are on track with the commitments they promised for your weddings. Keeping an up-to-date, fully detailed calendar will reduce your stress and the possibility that something will fall through the cracks.

3. Take copious notes

Whenever you get a call or have a meeting, immediately record all of the relevant information. If a vendor has made a commitment to you and your bride, send them an email, state your understanding, and confirm their commitment.

4. File all of your information in one place

Whether it’s information about a bride and groom and their wedding vision, vendor information, wedding timelines, meeting notes, emails, contracts, or invoices, everything that has to do with a bride and her wedding should be organized and kept together in one place. This way whenever you get a call or need to do some research, all of the information is at your fingertips.

5. Share with your assistants

Always make sure your staff knows where they can get information when they are assisting you with a wedding. In case the unforeseen happens and you are not available when a bride or vendor needs a question answered, your assistants can step in and cover for you. 

About the Author:

 Sharon Hill is The Wedding Planner Mentor. Sharon has been a wedding and event planner for over 20 years. In 2008 she began mentoring and coaching new wedding planners. She also maintains a blog with tips for marketing and running successful wedding planning businesses and regularly posts answers to questions from new planners. She is the author of the e-book, “Become a Top Wedding Planner – Start a Successful Wedding Planning Business.”
Sharon Hill Social Media: Twitter, Facebook

UPDATE: Check out how Inspherio can help resolve each of these issues in our follow up post.
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