Where do you start when your client asks you to handle their cocktail reception at an industry conference such as the Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) in Hawaii or the International Telecoms Week (ITW) in Chicago or elsewhere?
Here’s how we handle these events at STC.
Define the goal For many companies their objective for hosting this type of event is to say “thank you” to their clients for their business. Networking and finding new business contacts is also important. Less frequent, is a client’s desire to salute a new division of their company or to introduce a new product or the opening of a new facility.
Ask questions Planning should begin with a budget. “Some clients are flexible about this while others are fairly strict,” says Aurore Quercy, Account Director at STC. “To start, the client gives us the date, number of guests, how long the reception will last and a budget figure.”
Choose a location Another factor is where the reception is to be held. It may be in the same hotel as the conference itself, e.g., the Hilton in Hawaii or, an offsite facility that meets with the client’s approval.
Hire vendors “If your party is in a location that offers a catering service you can use their staff to handle food and drink,” says Aurore. “If not, we’ll suggest three or four caterers and give their menus to the client to peruse.”
Create a theme Along with these activities, STC creates a theme through the decor, signage or tabletop items that is reflected in the overall atmosphere of the event. This begins two months ahead of time to allow for approvals and production.
Invite the guests “Clients supply the guest list,” explains Aurore. “We design the invitations and send them out via email. We start with Save the Date which goes out two months in advance — followed by a RSVP Invitation.” Printed invitations are created for the conference itself so the client can invite people on-site.
Handle the action It’s wise to arrive two days before the actual event and hire extra people to help out. Why? For starters, there are always unexpected things that happen. A primary factor is the weather. “In Hawaii,” says Aurore, “we planned to have floating lanterns in the pool, but when we arrived, it was noticed that because of the wind, this was not possible. On another occasion, we had to buy patio umbrellas for an outdoor terrace because of a rain forecast.”
Hire an expert When dealing with sound equipment it’s a good idea to hire a vendor who really knows what they’re doing. It’s not smart to do this yourself. The same applies to taking photos, so it’s a good idea to hire a professional photographer.
Pack useful items “I’ve found that there are certain things you always need,” says Aurore, “and you don’t want to start dashing around looking for them. So, be sure to bring pins, scissors, batteries, paper, clipboards and a lighter. You always need a lighter.”
Relax and be positive If you assiduously follow the nine steps we’ve listed here — and plan with care — everything will turn out fine. “Only you will see things that you think are wrong,” notes Aurore, “no one else will.”