Category Archives: Tips and Ideas

The World Is Our Playground

Even though The V!be Agency is a Miami based event planning company, we work all over the world.  Last week found us in Japan and Arizona.  Yes, the destinations are a world apart, but they both had one thing in common.  They had the V!be Agency at the helm of their events.

 How do we do it?  We have a strategic network of partner suppliers, vendors and event specialists all over the world.  We love to collaborate and team up with other reliable and high quality industry leaders. Being a part of an event community is one of the things that we appreciate about being involved in the MICE industry.  Trust us when we say it never gets boring.  In fact, working all over the world keeps us excited and on the forefront of new trends and emerging technologies.  Another benefit of being so closely aligned with a network of international and domestic event specialists is that it allows us to produce events with affordable pricing and local talent all over the world.  In exchange, our clients have and expert event professional producing their events that they know will provide them with the same quality and expertise they get in their own backyard.  The world really IS our playground!

We love to let you in on the creative events that we produce, so this week, we thought we would start here at home and give you a taste of the Wild, Wild West party that we produced in Arizona for a longtime client.  We met them in Miami and now we go where they go.  This time, they had been at a conference all week, and one of the evenings they wanted to invite their top clients to the Canyon Creek Ranch outside of Phoenix and show them some true western style hospitality.

 

Guests were picked up from their hotels and bussed to the sprawling ranch nestled at the foothills of the Bradshaw Mountains. Canyon Creek Ranch has access to over 400,000 rugged acres of land in the Agua Fria National Monument.

The evening featured authentic cowboy games, private skeet shooting, world famous horseback rides, and a variety of unique experiences.

Guests dined from buffets laden with great western styled BBQ!  It was simply delish!

The best part of the evening was that we delivered exactly what our client was looking for:  A true western experience that allowed them to spend some quality time with their top clients.

Our client trusts us, and we travel with them wherever they go with their event each year.   They said it best after the event when they sent us this thank you note.

“The venue was wonderful. Our 75 guests were thoroughly entertained with good food and good music. It was the exact result we were seeking! Thank you Vibe Agency for putting it all together for us!”

 

Are you looking for a partner that works with you no matter where you go in the world?  We manage destinations all over the United States, Europe, The Dominican Republic and many more.  Please take a moment to check out our website at www.thevibeagency.com and look through some of our other creative events we’ve designed and produced for our clients.  Then reach out to us at valerie@thevibeagency.com and let us know how we can help you plan your events!  Whether you are looking for a business meeting, hospitality event, award show, product launch or just a special evening for some of your best friends or clients, we are here to help you make the planning process easy and provide you with a special event that will show you, and your guests a great time!

*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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Summertime Event Inspirations: Go Green with the Grass Collection!

I love when companies get creative with their products, and when I saw this new grass collection furniture from AFR Event Furnishings, my mind when zippy with ideas and cool ways to create outdoor environments inside, or even create grass sculptured furniture for an outdoor theme party, picnic or BBQ.

We saw this collection in January at The Special Event in Tampa, when it was debuted in the Gala Park for an elegant cocktail hour under the stars.  I loved the idea then, and I love it even more now that summer is arriving.  It’s a cool and versatile collection and can be used to create many different looks from elegant to garden parties to laid back picnic fun.  Need an idea or ten on how to use this furniture line in a great way? We’ve got plenty.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 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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A NIGHTMARE ON EVENT STREET…

No one is perfect.  That statement provides me no small amount of comfort, because recently, I made a doozy of a mistake.  Get comfortable because this one is a little long.

 We had a client that was facing deep budget cuts in their program, and a hotel made an offer on pricing that couldn’t be beat.   Sounds great, right?  Keep reading.

 Overriding my gut instincts, I booked a hotel that was undergoing a renovation and had been taken over by new ownership. For some reason, which I cannot presently, or sanely fathom, it didn’t faze me. I willingly waded into a pool of quicksand that ultimately could have cost me an amazing client, and left my business upside down.

 Why am I confessing this to you?  Refer to the first sentence.  No one is perfect and if but one person is reminded that some things are just not good decisions, then it will provide some sense of self forgiveness for ignoring my good sense.

 Welcome to my nightmare.  I think we can all agree as event professionals that we shy away from brand new properties or ones that have not had time to work out the operational kinks due to new management or ownership.   Rather than being a criticism of the properties themselves, it is a wise choice to make if you want a smooth experience for your client. In general, it’s a risky choice.  Okay, a REALLY risky choice.

 I rationalized to myself that perhaps this time the odds would play in our favor, and this would be the time that a property under new ownership and new operations would prove my gut wrong and perform like a well-oiled machine.  With an optimistic attitude, my fingers crossed (the fact that they crossed on their own should have stopped me), and a check list full of questions and details to take care of, we set to work to put together a great program for a first time client.

 Let me also preface the following with the fact that the hotel, without telling us, had booked out a large portion of their rooms a group of college aid kids that were leaving on a party cruise. To put it mildly, the two groups are not exactly compatible.  With those facts in mind, here’s how it all added up to the perfect recipe for disaster.

 Challenge One:  Just prior to guest arrival we found out that not all the rooms had been refurbished as promised.  Undaunted, we viewed each and every room and approved room assignments to ensure that guests were placed in the “new rooms” that the client had signed off on.  We thought we’d avoided disaster, and the hotel promised us that it would be fine. Yet upon check-in, many old rooms were assigned to our guests (picture train derailing here).  What should have been a simple process took hours to straighten out as we insisted that the newer rooms be provided to our guests as agreed and each had to be vacated, then cleaned before we finally got everyone settled in.

 Challenge Two:  When I went down to check in on breakfast set up very early the next morning, they had one person on duty to set the room.  Yes, one.  Emergency dialing my staff at the crack of dawn, we were able to get bodies on site to help set the room just in time for the first guests to arrive.

 Next, we were dumbfounded to learn that internal communications were nonexistent and that sales had not communicated with the kitchen about the group breakfast.  They were set up for individual orders. Pushing down the feelings of panic, my staff and I did absolutely everything short of cooking breakfast ourselves to get through the ordeal. It became our goal to get the clients and their guests off on their adventures for the day.  What else could go wrong?  Additional tip:  NEVER, NEVER ask that question.

 Challenge Three:  The hotel forgot to mention that they had booked out the pool area for a private party on one of the days our group was there and our guests could not access the pool.  Try telling your guests they can’t get in the pool at 4PM on a hot and humid day after they’ve been out and about and are ready to relax.  A red level of high irritation should be noted here.

 Challenge Four:  Remember the college kids we mentioned earlier?  Riddle me this.  What do you get when you add college students and a lot of alcohol?  Fights. Yes, as in fist fights.  I cannot even accurately tell you how many complaints there were during the evenings due to fighting, security pounding on doors and the coup de grace with the police showing up.  Suffice it to say that it was not a restful night of sleep for my guests and cranky didn’t even begin to describe my state of mind.

 I was furious both at myself, and the property, and I stormed over to talk to upper management and find out exactly how every single detail that we’d gone over and over had never made it off anyone’s desk.  Drum roll…there was no upper management available and they could not be reached.  SHOCKER!  It appeared that anyone short of the overwhelmed and harried front desk staff had disappeared to parts unknown and would not be returning anytime soon.

 Challenge Five:  The icing AND cherry on the cake was on departure morning, when my guests were checking out to make their international flights, the other group was checking out at the same time.   It was CHAOS.  I physically had to block off one of the agents to get my guests checked out in time to catch their flights.  Again, no internal communication between departments in the hotel, let alone with me, left us in a serious lurch.  Two dedicated checkout stations and simple signage would have easily alleviated the problem.

With a sigh of relief as the hotel faded in the rearview mirror, we got our group to the airport and on their way home.

 When hotel management returned from parts unknown, we worked to secure reparations.  Does financial compensation replace the lost experience?  No.  Does it endear your client to you?  No.  But the one thing that I believe created a stronger relationship with my client is the fact that I was accountable.  I accepted full responsibility.  I did everything in my power to make it better and to create situations throughout the program that would help overshadow the terrible mistake I’d made in choice of hotel.

 Does it feel good to share my mistakes with you?  No, no and NO! The situation still makes my stomach hurt.  What it does do is help me realize is that in spite of my dance with a nightmare that I can be proud of the way that my staff and I handled the situation.   I can also tell you that it will never happen again.  I am a true believe in learning from a mistake and not repeating it. While we proudly profess to be problem solvers, sometimes it’s OUR OWN self-inflicted problems that we have to solve.

 If I can stop you from overriding your better sense of judgment and save you from a Nightmare on Event Street, then it makes this writing worthwhile.  I’m not perfect.  I will make mistakes again (but not THIS one). Was it my fault that the hotel didn’t follow through on their end?  No. Nonetheless, it was my professional judgment that had led us down the rocky path.

 It doesn’t all end badly.  Even with the hotel fiasco we gained a loyal client – one that truly valued all that we brought to the table even in knowing we weren’t perfect.

The bottom line is, never compromise the quality of a program for a cheaper price.  In the end, it’s a reflection on our companies, and the quality and value of the experience we offer.

 Listen to your gut (and experience).  It’s usually never wrong for a reason.

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Raising The Bar on Industry Events: A Case Study: TSE 2012

One of the things that I think is so very important at conferences and tradeshows in our industry is really showcasing the new and extraordinary.  In addition, the experience should really be there.  This year, I think that TSE2012 really got it right!  Every event that we attended this year was well done, and really put the spotlight on new products and creative ideas.

 

                        First off, the Opening Night Celebration at the  Carte Event Pavilion was such an incredible event.  From the moment of arrival until announcements were being made that the last coach was leaving every single minute was well done.  Hats off to Showorks who designed the evening. Each of the areas was stunning, well thought out and so innovative. The ancillary entertainment only added to the fascination as the evening unfolded.  The focal point in the main room was a beautiful tree that just took our breath away.  Food was delicious, creatively styled and delicious.  Drinks were imaginative and fun. The cirque entertainers that performed in the tree were just ahhhhmazing.  The entertainment was well thought out and people danced all night long – on AND off the dance floor. (If you missed our blog on Professor D – you will want to check them out)..  The evening of Tempation was just so well put together that I don’t really have much to say except BRAVO!

 

The Wedding Event was also a vision to behold.  The wedding luncheon evolved into an evening event and WOWSA is it ever an event not to be missed. Take a look at this beautiful red carpet lady. She took the arrival to another level.  Of course, with Sean Defritas of Designs by Sean at the helm, I wouldn’t expect anything less.  His work is always surreal and full of beauty and innovation.  This evening only served to underscore my admiration.  Held at the Florida State Fairgrounds, it was magical from beginning to end.

Now what would a trip to TSE be without the GALA Awards.  The Oscars of the event industry promises a night full of glamour and fairytales.  This year, it was REALLY was glamorous and fairytale-esque.  Held in three separate venues, the evening started off with the GALA Award show.  Held in a separate all white theater tent, the stage set was simply elegant and well done.  The show was to the point, and quick moving with entertainment that wowed in its raw talent and creativity.  Personally the guitarist really pulled me to the seat of my chair.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved all the acts but the raw talent of the guitarist and dancer was moving.  After the show it    was into GALA Park  with outdoor lounges and bars where drinks flowed easily and guests could hold celebratory toasts before moving towards the two-story dinner tent.  Yes, it was really two-story and it was magnificent both from the outside and the inside.

This year the GALA Dinner was serviced restaurant style which was both interesting and a challenging undertaking for the caterer for sure.  The décor inside the tent was lovely and it was hard to believe that we weren’t inside a supper club. The entertainment only added to that feeling as the evening was in constant motion on stage, but not so overbearing that you couldn’t hold conversation and enjoy time with friends.  Dinner was served as it would be at a restaurant, and we ordered off menus with choices.  Loved it.  After dinner, a burlesque show or you if you wanted a something different, you could head to the Gala Garden for a drink and quiet conversation or the Award tent, which had been turned into a smoking hot dance club.

The hours FLEW by that evening, and I couldn’t believe when it was all over.  From beginning to end, it was an amazing and well done.  Hats off to the Tampa team! In my humble opinion, you really outdid yourselves in demonstrating what producing extraordinary events exemplify.

 I can’t wait to see how Chicago is going to raise the stakes next year!  Start making your plans now, and we will see you there!

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“The Power Mompreneur”

I am a mom.  My husband and I have one beautiful little girl, and within the next couple of weeks, we will welcome another little blessing to our family. I am also an event planner.  It is a stressful career by anyone’s definition, unless your knowledge of the industry is based on the movie, “The Wedding Planner”.

 With the long demanding hours I spend with my clients, staff and on site in various destinations around the world, intertwining the two most important parts of me seems like an insurmountable task.  My family always comes first, and I’m always trying to find the perfect balance to make both parts of my world work like a well-oiled wheel.

 One side of me is fueled by the maternal desperation to be a “super mom” and the other part of me is driven by the desire to be a successful entrepreneur.   It’s been difficult enough with one child, but as I contemplate the impending arrival of baby number two, I began wondering how I am going to manage the time and the energy to tend to both my business and my growing family.  I realize that I’m not the first mother to ponder this thought, and so I turned to the Internet to see what I could find.

 In between the web, and talking to colleagues I have discovered there are many other women out there that struggle with the same challenges and they are eager to share ideas, provide support, and engage with other women (and dad’s too) about being both a great parent and a successful “Mompreneur”.

 I’ve found several great examples of women that are managing both worlds very effectively.  Let me share a success story with you.

 New York Fashion Week: Stephanie Winston Wolkoff Empowers Fellow Mothers with ‘Strut: The Fashionable Mom Show’  Read here

In addition, I found some social networks that offer support to women in business that are moms:

 Social Network:  Circle of Moms: Circle of Moms

 Mommy Masters™:  Mommy Masters™ was created by mom blogger Ellie Hirsch, who has become known as “The Mommy Master™.”  She is the proud mother of two little boys under five, along with baby number three on the way.  She often functions as a single married mother while her husband travels during the week and spends her free time and nights tirelessly building her Mommy Masters™ business.  Mommy Masters allows women to share their experiences, both triumphs and hardships, enabling them to become better mothers, wives and friends. She has become the go-to mom blogger for moms who are seeking motherhood blog advice in the form of ideas and encouragement, living up to her title of a woman to watch in 2012.

 So you see, “Mompreneurs” are taking the world by storm, and even within our own industry of special events the idea is really taking hold and businesses are creating better, more flexible opportunities that support being a mother and a successful businesswoman.  We are a powerful group of women!

 That’s what the WOW! Moms session at the 2012 The Special Event Show in Tampa, Florida was all about – mothers inspiring and supporting other mothers in the special event industry.  I didn’t personally get to go since I can’t travel until after the baby arrives, but a colleague and friend of mine, Ruth Moyte from Red Dandelion Creative was one of the panelists along with eight other industry moms in various stages of motherhood all moderated by “WOW Moms” founder, Michelle Bergstein, Marketing Director at Exhilarate Events in Orlando.

 The group shared, inspired and engaged with mothers and mothers-to-be who are business owners and businesswomen in the industry.  I’ve heard nothing but great feedback from the session, and you can bet that I will be front and center next year if they offer it again.

 Ruth was kind enough to share with me her Survival Guide from the session. She has a 25-year old daughter, so she closed out the session and this was her portion of it.  Reading these made me laugh, and lord knows I need to laugh right now.   I think we can all relate to some of these:

Top 10 Survival Tips for Event Moms:

 10.  Don’t forget your child at school.  The police will call and your child will ask you…”Do you want me anymore?”

 9.   Do make sure that your child gets to see an event you produce.  They WILL think you are a superhero for creating such magic.

 8.   Don’t expect your child not to ask you a question when you are on an important phone call at your home office.  That’s the only time they need something.

 7.   Do use your child as a resource for opinions and ideas.  They are bundles of inspiration and creativity.

 6.   Don’t forget to pay attention when your child says they have a surprise for you.  It might just be an “event” they created to get your attention.

 5.   Do create an event for YOUR child.  They will know that you use your “magic” for them too and you’ll be the coolest mom on the block.  I still am.

 4.   Don’t expect your child not to say something embarrassing in front of a client.  That’s part of their job and they take it very seriously.

 3.   Do plan play dates with your child.  It’s your special event time, and they become important communication sessions.

 2.   Don’t try to push your child to be an event planner when they grow up.  Chances are, they are going to see that it takes entirely too much time out of their day.

 1.   Do take steps to make sure that your child knows that the sun actually rises and sets on them.  Those two very important moments during the day ensure that you will have a healthy and happy relationship…even when there are moments you will surely wonder.

I know that I haven’t gotten the whole “Mompreneur” thing figured out perfectly yet.  I do feel better knowing that there are millions of other mothers out there that, like me, are looking to interact, share tips, laughs, tears and stories and together figure out how to manage everything in our worlds.  I feel inspired, joyful and ready to take on the challenge.  So, I guess I better get the nursery ready – cause according to this little bundle kicking away inside me, I’m going to need it VERY soon.

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COOLHAUS: Mobile Food Craze Hits Miami!

At the VIBE Agency, we always love finding new and cool products and COOLHAUS has definitely cornered the market on cool, not only in concept, deliciousness and designer food – but for your next event as well!

 If you don’t know COOLHAUS, let us tell you a little about them.

Let’s start with three intriguing words that when stuck together create something that might raise your eyebrow – artisanal ice cream.  Yep, you read that right!

 It’s no secret that food trucks have taken Los Angeles by storm and are popping up in cities nationwide.  In act, I’d say there’s a cult following that is ready to take the whole country by storm.    If you’re not hip to the secret…you can now get cuisines from all over the world served up from trucks that we used to call the Roach Coaches.  Mixing a great idea with a foodie’s dream, mobile dining is reaching new heights on the “coolest thing ever” billboard.

These designer spin-offs are nothing like their predecessors and offer up delicious gastronomy in a variety of styles while inspiring flash mob style gatherings wherever they show up. COOLHAUS has taken the concept of mobile dining to another level with their take on savory and sweet ice cream sandwiches and architecture…and…they are RIGHT HERE IN MIAMI!

COOLHAUS, an architecture- inspired ice cream truck owned by partners Natasha Case and Freya Estreller, can usually be found parked at farmers markets, crafts fairs and the like. Their only product is an American favorite, an ice cream sandwich – AKA a generous scoop of gourmet ice cream wedged between a pair of chewy cookies, and served in edible rice paper.

Flavors are named after well-known architects.  Try out delicacies like Brown Butter and Candied Bacon ice cream on Chocolate Chip cookies. Or maybe our seasonal Olive Oil Rosemary ice cream on Brioche cookies will do the trick. Going classic never hurt either – Mies Vanilla Rohe (Vanilla ice cream + Chocolate Chip cookie) or Frank Berry (Strawberry ice cream + Snicker doodle cookie) are both very respectable choices.  Designer and ice cream lovers should seek out the pink-topped, converted postal truck to indulge in a unique take on everyone’s favorite snack!

On top of just being plain cool, COOLHAUS is SUSTAINABLE!

But first and foremost is our dedication to quality and sustainability. Every COOLHAUS Ice Cream Sandwich is all-natural, handmade and organic whenever possible. Our dairy is sustainably produced and artificial growth hormone free. We use local and seasonal farmer’s market fresh ingredients. Plus, every ice cream sandwich is wrapped in a customizable edible wrapper that is all-natural and calorie-free. Talk about being Green! Instead of throwing away your wrapper, you get to eat it! Not to mention, the wrapper can be printed on with edible ink, which means it can sport your company logo, birthday mug-shot, or a message to friends.  Now if that deal wasn’t sweet enough on its own, we can book them for your next private event.  With packages to rival any sweet tooth or tickle the fancy of a the most distinguished palate here is a new take on food for your event that will have your guests going wild. We agree that it’s the perfect marriage of creativity and sustainability.

So, where can you find these outrageously delicious ice cream “sammies”?  Check out their website at www.eatcoolhaus.com or follow them on Twitter @COOLHAUSMIA to find out when they will be near you, or you can reach us at valerie@thevibeagency.com to get information and a sweet deal for your next event.

*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 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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A FLAT OUT Awesome Idea!

You all know how tired your feet are after an event or a long week at a conference or convention! You’ve taken a moment to sit down before you walk the floor one last time, start strike or limp to your car.  Your feet are burning and they painfully ache.  We’ve all been there, right?  Well now, there’s an answer.  Flat Out of Heels! Let’s take a look at these little gems!

Flat Out of Heels or ‘Flat Outs‘ are rollable flats for women with aching feet after wearing high heels for hours. The idea came to CEO, Dawn Dickson after doing events for many years and observing ladies sitting down, leaning, and even walking barefoot due to the excruciating pain that most high heels cause. Some women keep flats in their car for relief but what good does that do when they can barely stand let alone walk to the car?? Most flats on the market will not fit in a small clutch, however, Flat Outs roll up so tightly they can fit in the palm of your hand…and they are cute! They come in 3 sizes and 4 colors… They also come with a bag to carry your heels once you take them off.

Please check out their website at www.FlatOutofHeels.com  There you can learn more about the product and you can purchase your very own pair (or pairs) of Flat Outs

And, coming soon, if you forget your Flat Outs at home, you’ll be able to purchase them from vending machines at major venues throughout the country. The stylish and compact relief flats are designed for women with aching feet who want to “step up in comfort and step out in style.”

Our feet are already thanking, Dawn for her innovative idea.  This could really be a game changer for those of us who have to be in those painful high heels all the time.   

On top of the relief that we can feel coming on, there’s another way you can feel good about purchasing a pair of Flat Outs!  Being passionate about giving back to worthwhile organizations Flat Outs currently offer non-profit organizations an option to integrate Flat Outs into their fundraising campaigns and receive proceeds from sales. You can contact Dawn Dickson at Dawn@FlatOutofHeels.com or by phone at 786-853-6981 for more information on how your organization can take advantage of this opportunity.

 The girls at the VIBE Agency think this may be the most brilliant idea since sliced bread, and we’re going to be ordering ours very soon.  In fact, we may order a pair in EVERY color.  Our feet are already dancing with joy at the thought.  We’d love to hear what YOUR feet are saying about the idea, too.  Reach out to us at valerie@thevibeagency.com  Until next week, be safe and have a FLAT OUT great weekend! 

*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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