Category Archives: Informational

Celebrate Good Times – Come on!

We’ve covered some pretty serious topics in the past few weeks. While it’s important to keep on top of everything to run our businesses successfully, we also must remember to stop and soak in all that we’ve accomplished.  Far too often we rush from one project to the next, push our business forward, work our teams even harder and worry non-stop to make sure all the bases are covered.  It’s easy to forget about celebrating.   While we are professionals at creating celebrations for others, what about our own achievements?  STOP RIGHT THERE!  It’s time to take a breath and bask in the glory for a moment.

celebration

Recently, we received this thank you letter from a client, and not only did it energize us, but it gave us a taste of that glorious rush that comes with a great sense of accomplishment (not to mention it made our tired and achy feet feel SO much better)!

Email Subject:  Your VIBE was AMAZING!!!

Dear Valerie –

I hope you knew throughout last week’s conference how much your assistance was appreciated.  I want to take this opportunity to tell you one more time how essential you and your team were to the successful outcome of our very first Global Leadership Team conference.  Every little detail was taken care of and no one – or thing – was left unattended.  I personally enjoyed working with you and look forward to doing so again very soon.  Thank you once again for everything you did and a special thank you for Friday night’s dinner at Zuma.  It was very special.

All the best,

Susan

So, stop and look around you…there’s something to celebrate within arm’s reach. We’re sure of it!  It doesn’t have to be huge, but something that you can feel proud of and give you pause for a moment of peace and appreciation.  After all, it’s the little things in life that add up to the big ones! 

 For more information, please contact valerie@thevibeagency.com

 

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RISK & DISASTER: If You’re Not Prepared…You’re Risking Everything!!!!

Have you ever been at a meeting or event and a natural disaster has struck?  Has your conference ever been attacked by terrorists?  Have you ever had a fire break out?  Has your client’s proprietary information been stolen during a meeting you were producing?  If you’re saying no….then trust me, it’s only a matter of time in this day and age.

RISK

It can seem like a mind numbing topic, but it’s one that is extremely important.  It’s so easy to get complacent, but now is NOT the time to do it.   Risk assessment is a key part of planning any event, meeting or conference.  While easily over looked and often pooh-poohed as unnecessary since there can be cost associated with it, when disaster strikes…you will be regretful if you don’t spend some extra time assessing the risk and putting together a management plan in case something catastrophic happens.

Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind as you assess the risk of each event, meeting and conference you plan.  These next questions are just the beginning of a long list we all should be asking ourselves before every function we plan.

  1. How high profile is your meeting?  Who are the attendees and speakers?
  2. Do any of the speakers have personal situations that might heighten risk?  Ie.) a military leader, controversial speaker, etc.
  3. How much media coverage is the meeting going to generate? This one should be a red flag for any planner.  Risk goes up substantially with high profile or controversial events. (think about the G-8 Summit over the years).
  4. What health issues may come to the forefront?  Is there an outbreak of bird flu or   whooping cough that is presenting itself in the region or country you are in? Providing a healthy environment is an integral part of risk assessment and management.  Have you ever been to a conference where some mysterious illness spreads like wildfire through a convention?  I have and I was in another country.  To say it was concerning is an understatement.  I was thankful to make my flight and not be quarantined for days.
  5. Are there going to be proprietary unveilings at the meeting? What steps do you take to prevent corporate theft?

Of course, these are just the beginning of one very big topic.   Here are some questions to ask yourself as you think about how well you are currently prepared to stare risk in the face.

  1. Have you checked the facilities evacuation plans and procedures?  Have you communicated them to your attendees and key personnel?  Does everyone have an assigned role in case of emergency? 

 

  1. How will you control access to the meeting or event? Can people register on site?  If there are high-profile speakers present (say for instance a past President) have they cleared security?  Do they require Secret Service clearance?  Are there extra security precautions that need to be considered in the production elements (ie.) bullet proof glass)?    Can everyone on your staff pass a security clearance?  There are a lot of questions to be answered when dealing with high profile VIP’s. 

 

  1. Do your vendors have adequate experience, training and experience to deal with an emergency?  What happens if a rigged truss tower falls on a guest?  Do your vendors all have insurance in force?   How big of a risk is the design of the event?  Are there safety hazards to the general attendee?

 

  1. What if a tornado hits?  Do you have a plan?  Who’s in charge?  Is there a space to adequately get people out of harm’s way?  Do you have local emergency numbers?  911 is not enough!  Where’s the nearest hospital?  Do you have EMT’s on site?  Where’s the local police station?

Shoulda, woulda, coulda isn’t going to fly in any disastrous circumstance.  The only thing that works is preparedness, training and giving RISK, the attention it deserves.  I know, I know…we’ve been talking about a lot of things lately that require preparation but this is not an area you want to skimp on. 

So how can you prepare?   Conduct emergency training sessions that address the most common types of threat.  Be aware of all threats that may exist in whatever city, state or country you are in.  Whether your event is on the beach in Miami during hurricane season, or a past POTUS is speaking at your function, there is an inherent risk that needs to be planned for.  Political unrest and economy performance can greatly increase the risk of disaster – what’s going on in the country you are in?  Being aware and well informed of possible situations that could possibly arise during the time your event is going on can go a long way in getting you on the road to preparedness.  On a personal note, I remember being at a Lakers game when the Rodney King verdicts were issued many years ago.  Riots broke out and the crisis management teams not only at the Great Western Forum, but around the City of Los Angeles, had their hands full.  When we arrived at the game all was peaceful…after the game, chaos reigned.  I often wondered what their management plan was since no instructions were given besides leaving from a different exit because there was rioting.  The short announcement ended with be safe.  My friend and I had to literally duck and cover and crawl several times before we made it to the car.  I saw people beaten, fires being started, bottles being thrown, and cars driving the wrong way down the street.  Looting was rampant.  We were on our own.  It was truly terrifying.  You just NEVER know what’s going to happen, so preparation may be the only thing that will see you through. 

So YOU have a great plan.  What about your staff?  Are they trained and ready? Do they know how to effectively implement a disaster response?  The success of any plan is only as good as the people that execute it.  What-if scenarios are quickly becoming when-it-happens scenarios.   From natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes to god forbid a terrorist attack to the less adrenaline rushing disasters of corporate theft, risk assessment and management/response are key factors in responsibly planning and executing an event.    

There are so many ways to get training that are low cost or free.  From community CERT programs (while they are not specific to events and meetings specifically) to having a professional come to your office and do a training seminar, there is absolutely no reason to not spend the time making sure your company is not prepared.  In fact, your life and the life of your staff and guests may depend on it. 

These are just my thoughts…big, fat, unpleasant, yet important thoughts.

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RFP’s – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

As business owners, we all love receiving those RFP’s (Request for Proposal) because when they cross our desks because they mean there’s an opportunity to win some business.  But I’m not going to lie, there are times they make my heart sink.    A poorly written RFP can drive me over the edge of a cliff in frustration.  It costs time and money when it’s not complete and thorough.

A well thought out RFP makes me smile…it means we can be more creative, more productive and save our clients extra phone calls, emails and often times MONEY.  Most importantly, our clients receive better quotes to help manage their budgets.   Let’s face it, these days it all comes down to the bottom line after all is said and done, doesn’t it?

RFP’s area consistently hot topic and one that will most likely keep coming up over and over…so in the meantime, until we figure out a solution to fix the problem, here are some things that MUST be included when putting together an RFP for a program.

  1. Include the program and its history.  This should include destinations and locations where you’ve held the program before (especially if it’s in the same city every year and you are looking for a venue or theme that’s different).
  2.  What are the dates of the program?  If you don’t know, then give your preferred dates.  When dealing with destinations and hotels, rates can change between high and low seasons which can have a major impact on the overall budget.  If you start planning early enough, there are many ways that event professionals can help you save money when choosing a destination or venue for your program.
  3. What’s the objective of the program?  Is it a sales meeting or an incentive trip? Tell us why you are having the event.  There are many different ways we can tailor a program to deliver your message from start to finish.
  4. Tell us what’s important and what’s not.  What level of food and beverage do you like?  What amenities do you want the hotel or venue to have?  Do you want room gifts?  Group transfer or individual car service.  Do you want headline entertainment or a show band?  Every detail helps an overall picture emerge that will help us provide you with exactly the right program.
  5. Tell us about the demographic of the guests that are attending.  How many people will be attending?  What is the age range?  Level within the organization?  All men?  All women?  Will there be spouses or significant others? Can they understand or speak English or are they all from Japan or France and we need to consider translation in the budget? I would propose a completely different idea for a Japanese client than I would for a Turkish client.
  6. PLEASE give us a budget.  It saves time to know rather than guessing and redoing a proposal and budget over and over.  Even if it’s a first time program, there is still money allotted to it, so put it out there.  I promise we will still be creative no matter the budget!
  7. Give us an agenda or outline of the program. If you don’t know, then we can assist you in creating one from those objectives that you’ve given us above.  That way we have parameters to base the proposal on – again saving time and money!
  8. Do you have any existing contracts that you need to respect which could impact your program?  It’s important to consider anything that could have an impact on your budget for your program.
  9. What are your audio/visual needs?  We’re going to ask questions like how many speakers?  How many awards?  Do you need A/V in breakout rooms?   No detail is too small.
  10. Do you need Team Building? What about recreational components? What have you done in the past?
  11. Tell us what worked and what didn’t in past programs.  Share as much information from your last program as possible.  We need to know so we can either capitalize on them or stay far away from them. Investing the money into a proposal and then pitching something the CEO hates or was disastrous hinders our ability to win the business.  In addition, we like to be original, if we know what you did last year, we don’t want to suggest the same thing again – we want to raise the bar!

Great RFP’s set your suppliers up for success…and when we are successful…you ARE the star.  As an event planner, I realize I have sounded like I’m addressing only clients, but we all must pause and remember…we are OUR suppliers, clients…all of us need to be specific and thorough in requesting proposals.  If we do that, we all will win in the end.

While I realize that these ten questions are just the tip of the iceberg, I’d love to hear what questions you think are good to include in addition to the ones I’ve listed out here.  Perhaps once I your suggestions, we can begin to create a standard RFP form that will make everyone’s life a little easier.  What say you?

I’ve got to run – that RFP that prompted this blog topic is calling my name.  Please don’t forget to send in your RFP question suggestions to valerie@thevibeagency.com

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Is the Florida Adventure Drying Up? NOT!

As one of the premiere attractions for groups spending time in Florida, the Everglades National Park has always held a pull of adventure and mystique.  But, with a lack of water and the severe drought we are experiencing, it has made the popular airboat tours and adventures all but impossible to offer to clients.  So what do we do?

While we are all busy doing ‘nekkid’ rain dances at the Vibe Agency and praying for the return of the airboat tours in full force, we have alternative tours to offer to clients. You can still get up close and personal with native wildlife, and experience the thrill of an airboat ride, you just have to know how to go about it.  And, we know how!!!

Are you ready?  Good.  Time to buckle up for some adventure and fun!  Let us help you create a tour that will put the thrill of adventure back into your program. Check these ideas out!

Adventure Option 1

Our first stop at the edge of the Everglades will be a remote, old-fashioned, roadside fruit stand, entertainment venue and watering hole – “Robert is Here.”  This storied roadside attraction is a popular Everglades family destination. Locals order at the counter, pick up their hand-made milkshakes and shop amidst the hustle and bustle and the various exotic animals on location.

Then we are off to experience a hike at the famous Anhinga Trail at the Royal Palm area of Everglades National Park. Follow the trails and boardwalks to get a close-up view of wild gators, turtles, Roseate Spoonbills and abounding varieties of wading birds and aquatic species.  The Anhinga Trail was so beautiful and indicative of the Everglades that a group of women petitioned for its protection as a state park in the early 20th Century.  This state park was the genesis of the Everglades National Park established in 1947.

This tour is breathtaking in scope and engaging in detail.  It will reward us with an intimate look at “another Florida”, off the beaten path, little known and charming.  The mixture of Florida’s legendary Everglades with rural and agricultural institutions makes a perfect case for promoting the various “watering holes” of our region.

Adventure Option 2

From the moment you arrive in the too quaint fishing village of Goodland, your senses are wide awake; a small fleet of working fish boats line the tiny harbor; three prominent seafood restaurants vie for your business; (one, the vintage 1869 Old Marco Lodge moved there by barge); little cottages occupy the small grid of streets.  When you step onboard the airboat, you can catch the strong, salty smell of a place that lives on nautical terms.  Departing from the village into the shallow, open, sun-dappled bay, we prepare to pass through “Hell’s Gate” into the maze of islands at the bottom of Southwest Florida’s official civilization demarcation.

Following the Black River as it winds through these islands, we will watch for dolphins, manatees, wading birds, and raptors.  Slipping down Smuggler’s Creek, we may find one of the elusive American Crocodiles that inhabit these waters.  A special treat would be to see some of the rare Roseate Spoonbills that feed in the shallows.  Oftentimes mistaken for flamingos, these brilliantly pink-feathered birds have started a remarkable recovery in this area.

 The 10,000 Islands have been witness to powerful Indian nations, Spanish shipwrecks, pirates and murderous outlaws.  “Bloody” Ed Watson still haunts these backwaters in the long tales of pioneer fishing families.  Still considered the wildest, most unknown place in America, the 10,000 Islands is a good example of time uninterrupted.

Come on! Let’s go!!!  Exciting adventure awaits you!  For more information and pricing on these and other tours, please contact valerie@thevibeagency.com

*This blog does not accept any form of advertising, sponsorship, or paid insertions. We write for our own purposes. However, we may be influenced by our background, occupation, religion, political affiliation or experience.
**The owner(s) of this blog is not compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blog owners. If we claim or appear to be experts on a certain topic or product or service area, we will only endorse products or services that we believe, based on our expertise, are worthy of such endorsement. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

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DMC’s: Fluffing Your Dollar

With the economic downturn everyone, everywhere is looking to find ways to trim back their budgets and save money.  The hospitality industry is no stranger to budget cutbacks and literal business eradication, after suffering through a devastating wipe-out of events/hospitality industry in the first 18 months of the stormy economy.  Established companies went out of business within days due to business simply dissolving into thin air with cancellation after cancellation and corporations going underground to avoid public scrutiny or perceptions that they were holding extravagant events and trips on the taxpayer dime.

But times are a changing and while business most likely won’t necessarily return in the same way, we are smarter, stronger and more aware now than ever before of the value that we bring to the table for our clients. We’ve had to re-evaluate, restructure and find new ways of doing business.  In doing so, we’ve really had to focus on the value that we bring to the table and how to increase what we call the “benefit effect.”

As a corporate event planner, it’s important to understand what really saves you money and what doesn’t when planning your meetings and events.  I want to share some thoughts with you that I am hopeful will  help you better understand the value of a DMC and our services as you are looking for that return on investment and budget accountability.  While  some of theses thoughts are not new, they are good reminders of how much monetary worth a DMC can bring to your programs.

1.       We are local. You are playing in our backyard.  We know the ins and the outs, where the best value can be found, where to go and where not to go.  We are your boots on the ground.

2.       We have relationships. We work with the very people you go to directly thinking it saves you money.  The difference is that we bring our local businesses a lot of money.  Often times we can offer special rates that you won’t get when approaching a hotel or venue without us.

3.      We are a lifeline. When something goes wrong, who are you going to call?  Another vendor off the internet?  DMC’s are your ally.  Your partner.  Your success is in our best interest and more often than not, we can literally be your lifesaver when an unexpected situation arises directing you to a solution that is cheaper, faster and reliable.

4.      Knowledge is power. We know the quality suppliers, the reputable business owners and who aren’t.  With the internet at the fingertips, businesses spring up over night.  We’ve vetted our vendors and worked with our local people.  These are our colleagues and business partners.  We have the relationships to make great things happen when you need them the most.  Take for instance, you are in a foreign country and there is a taxi strike (which actually happened to a me when I was in Rome).  Who are you going to call for transportation?    How do you find out information as to when the strike will end. Your local contact has the know- how and the contacts to create success for you rather than being at the mercy of someone looking to make a great dollar off your misfortune.

5.       We save you money. From entertainment to hotels and transportation, we can save you money.  We work with the local people all the time.  Often times, we can get a special rate with a hotel, a venue, or even a caterer.  In addition, we know what’s available locally so that you can save substantially in travel and hotel costs for elements that can be obtained locally.  The savings we offer you most times more than not offsets the cost of our services AND STILL saves you money.

To maximize the savings, bring your DMC into the loop early. Once you’ve begun negotiating with the hotel, it’s too late for the DMC to get you that special rate.   Pick up the phone and call us as soon as possible.  Bringing us in sooner will only help you save money since most of us base our fees based on the final services that we offer to clients.  The side benefit of that is that it’s only going to make your program stronger but more creative.  As they say, the early bird gets the worm.

I hope that you will find these tips to be helpful as you consider your next destination and the team that you will use to make it your best program ever.  At The VIBE Agency, providing our clients with great value and benefit is one of our biggest commitments.

For more information on the Vibe Agency or your next program in Miami, please contact valerie@thevibeagency.com.  We look forward to helping you make your next trip, an experience of a lifetime.

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