Continuing where we left off....
#21 - Customize your event menu
Don't just accept the pre-set menu from the venue. Sub out certain items that are less expensive (like in-season local vegetables instead of out-of-season vegetables that must be shipped in), or build your own menu by focusing on less expensive options.
#22 - Bonus insider tip: Piggy back onto an event that the venue has already booked by using the same menu as the other event. This can help you negotiate lower F&B costs because the kitchen does not have to prepare multiple menus; you can also use this tactic to minimize or eliminate any minimum F&B spend requirements.
#23 - Always negotiate for free meeting / event space
Many venues will provide complimentary event space if you meet your minimum spends for F&B and guest rooms. If you aren't booking rooms (or if your venue is not a hotel but is a meeting/convention center or reception hall) but are still spending money on F&B at the venue, use this spend to negotiate a discounted event room rate, if possible.
#24 - Repurpose your event / meeting space(s)
If you are paying for your event space, you can potentially save money by using the same rooms for different purposes. For example, if you have an event with multiple sessions going on at the same time followed by a big session with a keynote speaker, you could look for a venue where a large ballroom can be partitioned. That way you can hold your breakout sessions first followed by an hour-long networking session in the lobby while the hotel staff sets up the ballroom for the big session. If you go this route, you should confirm with the hotel that they have adequate staff and resources to do a quick reset of the space.
#25 - Negotiate for a free hospitality room
If you meet minimum spends for F&B and guest rooms, negotiate with the hotel for a free hospitality room that you can use as a VIP suite, a lounge for your sponsors or an on-site office for you and your event management staff.
#26 - Maximize your comped room ratio
Many venues have a standard ratio of one comped guest room for every 50 rooms booked, but often you can negotiate this down to 1:40, 1:30 or possibly lower based on your overall spend on the event.
#27 - Negotiate all minimum requirements and cutoff dates
Hotels want to ensure that, if they set aside guest rooms, event rooms and kitchen/staff resources for your event, they will make a certain amount of profit; hence their desire to have you guarantee a minimum spend for F&B and guest rooms, their most profitable items.
The guest room attrition rate clause in the event contract usually states that you will guarantee a certain percentage of the rooms in your reserved block will be booked by your guests; otherwise you will pay a penalty for the unbooked rooms. Standard attrition rates start at 10%-15% (meaning that you must book 85%-90% of the reserved room block to avoid penalties). You can fairly easily negotiate this to 20% or possibly 30% based on the total value of the event.
Your goal is to negotiate the lowest minimum F&B spend and guest room pick-ups as possible, as this will protect you against incurring penalties if your guest / attendee numbers aren't as high as anticipated.
When negotiating attrition rates, set a date before which you can reduce or increase the size of the room block without penalty. In addition, have the attrition rate be based on total room nights and not rooms per night, and have the hotel work with you to conduct a post-event audit to identify attendees who booked rooms at the hotel but not in the designated room block. These room nights should also count towards your total.
#28 - Ask how flexible their service charges are
You can't really negotiate sales taxes or tourism taxes, but you can often negotiate a venue's service charges, which sometimes simply adds net profit on top of all the items in the proposal. Again the higher your total spend, the more you can probably negotiate the service charges.
#29 - Beware of the required vendor list
Some venues have a list of vendors that you must choose from, and these vendors' prices tend to be much higher than if you used your own, non-approved vendors because the approved vendors are often paying for the privilege of being "approved" by the venue.
Negotiate to be able to use your own vendors, and if the facility will not negotiate on this, get pricing from outside vendors to negotiate with the venue to drive down the costs of their approved vendors. A venue doesn't want to lose your business because their approved lighting vendor is double the price of a non-approved vendor; they would rather negotiate with the approved vendor to get the price down and keep your business.
#30 - Always negotiate the audio/visual rentals
A/V rentals are often the most marked-up item in a venue's proposal, as up to 90% of the A/V cost is pure profit to the venue. Because this item isn't tied to a fixed cost (like labor) and because the hotel is making most of its profits on rooms and F&B, they will be more likely to negotiate on this.
#31 - Bonus insider tip: Use a third-party A/V rental service to drive this cost down even further.
#32 - Ask for free in-room WiFi (and free WiFi in the event space, if possible)
Most hotel rooms already come with free WiFi, so your guests shouldn't have to pay extra for it. However, some hotels charge as much as $5-$15/day for guest WiFi access, so use your total event spend to negotiate this down.
In addition, many venues have free WiFi throughout the venue, and you should also negotiate for free WiFi at your event. If you are holding a larger event where hundreds of attendees will all be on their smart phones/tablets, or if you are holding a high-tech event, you may need a lot more bandwith and the venue might not be as willing to comp this, so use your guest room and F&B spend to negotiate this down.
#33 - Negotiate both parking and transportation
If many of your attendees will be driving to the event, ask the venue to provide free or discounted parking for your event guests.
If your guests will be flying into town, see if your guests can use the venue's transportation options (limos, vans, buses, etc.) at no extra cost.
#34 - Make sure you have a favorable payment schedule
Whenever possible, never pay the full amount upfront. Negotiate so you pay a fixed percentage up front and then backload the rest of the payments. This counts double for any registration or ticketed events, when you will be seeing most of your revenues in the weeks leading up to the event. You want to float as little as possible in covering the hard costs (like food, room rentals, etc.) of your event.
#35 - Amend the cancellation clause
If you have to cancel your event, you don't want to lose your deposit or be on the hook for all kinds of cancellation fees. So add a clause that lets you change the date to hold the same or another event at the venue within a certain amount of time of the original event date.
Also, have the cancellation clause be on a sliding scale so that the further out you cancel the event, the lower the cancellation fee. And make sure the cancellation clause works both ways so that you are protected if the venue can't host your event after the contract is signed.
#36 - Consider booking new venues
New venues are often hungrier than established ones, and they are often more willing to negotiate and provide discounts. Just make sure that the venue will be ready for your event (this is where the venue inspection is very important) and that you have a cancellation clause that protects both you and the venue.
#37 - Bonus insider tip: Venues with bad or fair social media reviews may also be hungry to book your business and could be more willing to negotiate. Read the reviews to see specifically what people are complaining about and make sure that you inspect these items on your site visit and have the venue address these concerns and correct any issues prior to your event (and put all this in the contract).
#38 - Make sure everything you discussed is in the contract
Promises are great, but people don't always follow through on their promises, especially if they aren't compelled to. But if every item makes it into the contract, then promises aren't necessary because the venue is contractually required to carry out what is in the contract.
#39 - Sign the contract at the end of the month or quarter
Venue managers are often working to meet quotas, and often those quotas end at the end of a month or a quarter. You can even ask the manager, "Would I get a break on pricing if I signed this before the end of the month?"
Posted in Tips on 18 September 2014
Whether you’re planning a wedding or you’re a corporate event planner, you know that the logistics can make or break an event. If the guests’ memories of the event are more about driving around in circles, lost, searching for the venue than they are about the fun they had there, that’s not a good thing. One of the best things you can do as you plan either a social or corporate event is to coordinate your guests’ transportation. Even if the attendees are largely local, coordinating charter bus transportation can eliminate the anxiety of finding the venue, the potential for drinking and driving, and avoid having to ensure space for lots of cars to be parked.
As well, if you’re expecting attendees from out of town, a shuttle bus rental to transport them back and forth to airports and hotels can not only alleviate their stress, but your own, too, because you can ensure that they will arrive safely and on time. However, not all bus charter companies are created equal; here are some tips for choosing a charter bus company that will be reliable and suit your needs:
1. Safety first: Certainly, the first priority for choosing a charter bus rental company is finding one with a reputation for taking safety seriously. The website allows you check safety ratings of motor carrier companies; if you’re evaluating a motor carrier, look it up by name or U.S. DOT number on the site to discover its safety rating.
2. Check insurance: Bus charter companies have different regulations to follow based on whether they travel within states or over state lines. While you might think that’s their problem and not yours, it could be a problem for you if the bus charter company doesn’t have the proper insurance; it could get fined or impounded, which would leave you high and dry at the time of your event. Ask for proof of a valid insurance certificate that has a minimum of $5 million in liability coverage.
3. Get references or read testimonials: Some charter bus companies list testimonials on their websites, but it’s hard to know whether they are legitimate. When contracting with a charter bus company, it’s a good idea to ask the representative if s/he can provide three references, i.e. customers who can attest to good service that the company provided. Sometimes, companies are hesitant to do this, and it may not be because they’re afraid of what the customer would say… it could be that they have confidentiality agreements or other reasons why they’re not comfortable approaching former clients. However, if that’s the case, you can use Yelp, Angie’s List, or simply Google the name of the company with the search term “reviews” and you’ll likely find a host of reviews that will give you an idea as to whether the company is reputable. Every business is sure to have a few negative reviews, so don’t just read one or two. Check them out and look for a pattern of overall satisfaction or dissatisfaction before you make a decision.
4. Contingency plans: Ask the bus rental company how it handles unforeseen circumstances, like a bus breaking down en route to an event or a driver getting sick. What is their backup plan? You don’t necessarily need to know every detail about how they handle a Plan A and Plan B for each event because it’s their business to coordinate the logistics, but you should feel confident that the company has systems in place in order to accommodate a situation that could be out of the ordinary. Whatever the procedure is, you want to be assured that if they need to substitute a bus or driver, it won’t impact your guests’ safety or comfort, or their arrival at their destinations on time. Inquire as to whether the charter bus rental company has a 24-hour number staffed by real people (i.e. not voice mail) that you can call in case of emergency.
5. Driver screening: Ask what qualifications the driver must have. Again, safety is important, and this is part of that. Find out if the company’s drivers undergo drug screens, criminal background checks, driving record checks and other rigorous application processes. Especially if your event involves transporting children, you need to know that drivers have been screened appropriately. The driver must have a valid Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with a passenger endorsement printed on the document. CDLs can be issued once a driver has demonstrated ability based on on-road and knowledge examinations. If necessary, inquire as to whether the company has bilingual drivers.
6. Cost! Of course you’re going to compare pricing of various bus charter companies before you make a decision. But, cheapest is not necessarily best. Many charter bus rental companies offer a variety of bus rental options so that you can choose specific vehicle amenities that are ideal for your group. Some shuttle vans, charter buses or minibuses have features like on-board restrooms, DVD players and wifi, so you should discuss with your representative specifically what would best meet your guests’ needs and what the involved fees would be.
These are all just starting points; the main aspect to scheduling a shuttle van or charter bus for your event is making sure that you have enough capacity to accommodate the number of guests you’re expecting and that the bus rental company is able to provide service to the venues where your event is being hosted. If you need more information about charter bus rentals, the American Bus Association has additional tips and facts on its website. Providing transportation might be the single biggest perk you can give your event guests; we’ve all been in situations where we’ve had to be somewhere on time, but we’ve struggled with maps and parking, or we’re simply too tired to drive home afterwards. Eliminate all of that hassle — it will be worth it!
Posted in News on 18 September 2014
The 3rd of September saw the celebration of the launch in Kent of claimaday.com, home to The National Events Diary, an ambitious enterprise backed by Kent County Council’s TIGER Fund initiative.
With expectations of securing 46 jobs by 2017, this project was conceived and launched by founding directors and entrepreneurs Derrick Swain, Claire Burroughs and Louise Cox Chester.
Derrick Swain, speaking at their well-attended launch event in Faversham said “We were delighted to gain backing of KCC who believed in our idea based on their own event experiences, and secured a matched fund loan of £121,213. As we see the business develop and grow to a fully national enterprise and brand we above all see the significant benefits will be felt by the local supporting business and the wider community. We’re driven by those compelling factors.”
Mark Dance, KCC Cabinet Member for Economic Development said, “You could say Faversham has become the centre of all UK events! I am really pleased to see how Tiger funding has helped yet another business set up and create employment and grow the local Kent economy. The Faversham based company, Claimaday, will provide an invaluable tool to help plan and stop event clashes for organisations in Kent and further afield.”
There are over 17 million public events in the UK each year. With increased confidence in the economy this total is set to rise. Claimaday aims to list and update these events (however large or small) by the hour, removing the previous problem of checking a date’s viability. Now a simple search on the claimaday.com database allows a perfect date to be pinpointed and claimed.
The personal experience of entrepreneur Claire Burroughs inspired the concept of Claimaday. Claire said: “I once had to cancel an event due to a clash and I vowed to find a way never to let it happen again. When cost and reputation are at stake, it is vital that those behind any event are able to mitigate potential disasters.”
With its innovative and timesaving risk management capability, Claimaday has created an essential tool that has already attracted industry professionals. Marcus Chrysostomou, Head of External Communications at Kent County Council said: “By helping us to collaborate with partners, we can quickly find the best date and avoid event clashes with other major events in Kent. I can see Claimaday playing an important role in our crucial planning processes – another key piece of kit that my team can use to deliver fantastic events in Kent.”
Claimaday Ambassador Kaddy Lee-Preston Claimaday.com is a free service that aims to revolutionise the way events are planned. The essential website also draws on experience from industry experts with tips, links and guides to maximise event success.
Ultimately attendance will make or break an event’s success – and the reputation of the planner. Using claimaday.com can reduce the risk of sharing a valuable audience with someone else.
Posted in News on 18 September 2014
Even for a tech titan, $2.5bn is a lot to pay for a gaming platform. But Microsoft sees Minecraft as an investment for its future.
It’s fashionable these days for enormous American technology firms to spend exorbitant sums buying smaller, edgier companies. Amazon bought the video-game streaming service Twitch for $970m in August, Facebook acquired the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset for $2bn in July, Apple got down with the kids with its $3bn purchase of Beats headphones in May, while Google has been on an M&A spree since February 2010, buying one company on average every fortnight.
While it’s tempting to see these as nostalgic attempts to reconnect with their own days as young, energetic companies out to change the world, the explanation is almost certainly harder-headed. So what does Microsoft want with Swedish developer Mojang and its product Minecraft, a lego-inspired online game?
The simplest explanation is often the correct one. With 54m copies sold and another 100m downloaded, Minecraft is a multi-platform gaming phenomenon, and this translates to the bottom line. The game, which allows enormous freedom to create buildings and objects within its virtual world, brought Mojang over $100m in profits last year.
But on its own, this can’t be the reason for the purchase. Even if the profits from Minecraft continue to rise, as they have since it was created in 2009, the game is unlikely, possibly unable, to become much bigger than it already is. And at $100m a year it would take 25 years for Microsoft to recoup the cost of purchase.
It’ll bring in fresh blood
When Apple bought Beats, the firm made a point of saying how in many respects it was paying for the genius and connections of Beats’ bosses Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre, as much as for the headphones business itself. It makes sense – if they created one super-successful business for themselves, they can do it again for you.
This is clearly not the case here, however. Although most of the Mojang team will join Microsoft’s games division, founder and creator Markus 'Notch' Persson is leaving big business altogether. ‘I'm not an entrepreneur,’ he said. ‘I'm not a CEO. I'm a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.’
One of those opinions that may have rubbed Microsoft up the wrong way related to his price tag. Back in 2012, he joked it was $2bn. 'Give me two billion dollars,' he tweeted, 'and I'll endorse your crap'.
It’ll boost Xbox
Minecraft is the most popular online game on Microsoft’s Xbox console, with more than 2bn hours of play logged in the past two years. While Microsoft has promised to continue supporting Minecraft on rival platforms such as Sony’s Playstation 4, it’s possible the firm will provide subsequent console versions of the game exclusively to Xbox.
But again, this wouldn’t justify the purchase. It would help Xbox gain market share, but it would also cost Microsoft profits from Minecraft’s sales elsewhere. Besides, boss Satya Nadella has said that Xbox is a valuable asset, but not core to the business.
It’ll help Windows Phone
This is the most plausible explanation. Microsoft is desperate to establish itself in the mobile market, of which its Windows Phone has only a 2.5% share. Minecraft is extremely popular on mobiles, being the top paid-for app on both Google Play and iOS Store in the US. At present, however, it is not on Windows Phone, as Mojang’s Persson claimed it wouldn’t be worth the effort.
Clearly, this will change, and Windows Phone will gain access – and later, possibly priority access - to Minecraft’s loyal gamers.
Whichever is the real reason, Microsoft’s purchase is still a gamble. The gaming market is notoriously fickle, and for any of the above benefits to be worth Microsoft’s investment, Minecraft will need to retain its popularity for at least the next five years.
Posted in News on 18 September 2014
IBM has created a crystal ball for companies, but there’s no way of knowing if it will be a success.
Launched Tuesday, a new Watson Analytics tool is available at no charge for companies to upload data to and, in return, receive insights to where the company is headed and what may be in the future. The idea behind the project is to give companies without data analysts a program that works for them.
“This is an analytic journey and we’re dealing with people with varying skill sets,” Marc Altshuler, vice president product management for business analytics, told ZDnet.
The freemium model works on desktops, Android and iOS. The model is only one possible tool with IBM still determining costs and fees for more advanced models. While the current free model is available, IBM’s ultimate goal is to have companies ask for more analysis and pay for the more advanced models.
Forbes reported IBM will put sample data on the Watson Analytics site to assist users. The site will also feature tutorials and guides so users will quickly learn how to both supply their data but, also, understand it once it is analyzed.
The site is also protected with IBM’s cloud security support.
However, the free aspect of the site does have a limit. Companies using the site will, in time, reach a cap in space and, if they want to continue, will have to pay to upgrade to one of the next levels.
Posted in Jobs on 18 September 2014
Fly Away Bride is an online bridal editorial that provides information and inspiration to couples planning their destination weddings in Europe. We are looking for an enthusiastic, ambitious and creative digital marketing intern to join our growing team.
· Carrying out Keyword Research
· Develop and lead the implementation of search engine optimisation strategies including meta tags and content updates.
· Implementing Adword Campaigns
· Generating and Presenting reports from our analytics packages
· Manage and improve our social media presence including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter
· Idnetify new opportunities for Fly Away Bride to increase monthly readership
· Work with the sales team to pioneer strategies that will encourage our readers to connect with our advertisers
· Plan and Implement Effective Email Marketing Programmes
· A keen interest in Digital Marketing, Digital Publishing and Online Business
· Digital Marketing Qualification an advantage but not a requirement
· Self motivated and keen to learn
· Ability to work independently and as part of a team
· Creative and flexible mindset
· Strong communication skills
· Ability to multitask
· Ambitious and keen to lead a team, not just be part of it.
· Committed to monitoring, managing and improving FABs social media presence
· Hands-on Experience managing communications campaigns and leading experiential marketing efforts
· Opportunity to work with a fast growing, fast moving digital start up.
· Be part of a creative, hands – on and supportive team.
· Pending excellent intern performance, the potential to develop into a full-time paid, position
· 3 Month Internship with option to extend to longer period
· Ideal candidate to start in November
· 4 days a week, total of 28 hours/week, usually between the hours of 9am-5pm
· Based at least two days in our Rathfarnham, Dublin or Ennis, Clare Office and two days from home, if preferred
· Own laptop required
To Apply, please email your CV, along with a brief cover note and photo to email@example.com
Posted in News on 17 September 2014
Frugl, the UK based start-up launched six months ago as an event discovery app for Londoners on a budget has acquired Tickethelden, the Munich-based last-minute ticketing solution. Tickethelden is one of a number of investments made by Sedo.com founder Tim Schumacher since his exit from Sedo in 2012. The year-old ticketing company has an active user base of roughly 100,000 mostly 20-30 year olds spread across Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg and Munich.
The purchase will enable Frugl to launch in Germany with an existing customer base as well as a large audience on Facebook.
Suzanne, founder and CEO of Frugl, says “We have been looking for the right opportunity to bring Frugl to the German market and this opportunity with Tickethelden was too great to resist and now gives us the perfect reason to launch in Germany quickly.”
“We are delighted that we have found a strong international partner in Frugl and Suzanne, whose expertise will drive the last-minute ticketing success-story in the future.” says Tobias, CEO of Tickethelden.
Final negotiations took place at last week’s European Pirate Summit in Cologne, and the deal was signed shortly thereafter.
Posted in News on 17 September 2014
On the eve of Scotland’s historic moment, events company mclcreate has used state-of-the-art digital technology to bring new life to the most familiar of Scottish design motifs: the tartan.
A group of digital artists and photographers used the latest 3D projection mapping techniques to create the spectacular nocturnal light display, transforming the barns and log cabins of Leyden Farm in West Lothian.
Conceived and commissioned by mclcreate in Edinburgh, the project took months of design and preparation by street artists Ross Blair, Brian Mcfeely and Craig Robertson, known in artistic circles by the pseudonyms TrenchOne, Elph and Purshone.
Collaborating as the Art Collective Projector Club, the team also included film maker Mike Guest and musician Jennifer Austin.
The climax took place on a cold and rainy September night, when the artists and crew braved the elements to project and capture the final light designs on film.
Ross Blair, project art director and assistant general manager at mclcreate, shared the inspiration behind the work:
“The eyes of the world have really been on Scotland this year, and so we thought, ‘why not give them something special to look at?’ We’re used to using projection mapping for business events, but we wanted to push the boundaries a little bit.”
Hinting at the timing of the display, he added:
“This project stands for all that’s vibrant and fresh about today’s Scotland, while paying homage to the history that has made us who we are. We wanted it to say that whatever happens, Scotland has a rich past and a bright future ahead.”
Posted in News on 17 September 2014
Global Experience Specialists (GES) today announced the acquisition of international audio visual (AV) specialist Blitz Communications in a move that expands GES’ range of services and supports its strategy to become a full-service supplier to the live events, conference and congress and exhibitions markets.
Jason Popp, GES’ executive vice president international, said, “The acquisition of Blitz Communications combines AV services with our existing range of services, allowing GES to offer an increasingly comprehensive and convenient approach to service delivery for our event and congress organisers and the end-user clients across the EMEA region.”
Blitz has offices in London and Manchester and is the in-house AV service provider at five major UK conference and exhibition venues – ExCeL London, Earls Court, Olympia, Manchester Central, and the NEC, where Blitz was recently appointed as the in-house technical event staging partner. Blitz has considerable experience and expertise in the delivery of a wide range of creative AV services, including specialist divisions that will add value to GES’ offerings: digital media, lighting, theatre, set and stage, graphics, audio and video. The combination of services and locations provides GES with comprehensive coverage of the UK and allows GES also to use its international reach to deploy its services in Europe and the Middle East.
Paul Hutton, managing director of Blitz Communications, added, “Blitz has grown and developed since its formation in 1989 and during that time we have had a close working relationship with GES. Both companies share a similar business culture and ethos. We are thrilled to be part of GES’ dynamic and customer-focused organisation and we are looking forward to growing the overall business through the new opportunities the acquisition presents.”
Posted in Tips on 17 September 2014
Recently, a writer at Newsweek published a story recounting his weeklong experiment to read and reply to every PR pitch he received within 36 hours.
Given the volume of pitches that landed in his inbox, it was a noble effort. Some of the experiences he relayed made me chuckle, but a lot of his story also made me cringe as he enumerated the pitches that were completely irrelevant.
Every PR pro worth their salt knows that one of the basic tenets of PR is to appropriately target and personalize your pitch. Nothing will land your pitch in a journalist’s deleted mail folder faster than a pitch that is off base and irrelevant to their beat.
Yet why do PR pros continue to break this cardinal rule?
Most PR practitioners are exceptional professionals who strive to deliver outstanding results for the organizations they represent as efficiently and expediently as possible. However, it would not be too far-fetched to say that more than once in his/her career, a PR pro has sent a pitch that was off target.
Reflecting back on my own experience, there are a number of reasons why this might occur. One of the most notable reasons: Having press lists so large that having the bandwidth to do the homework required to develop a personalized pitch and send the individual email is nearly impossible.
Here’s a tip: Rather than going after, say, 100 publications, hone your list to the top 10-15 outlets that are the most relevant to your company/client and that will move the needle for their business.
Once you’ve identified those outlets, drill down and identify the appropriate writers, read their articles and follow them on social media. Get to know their beats and the topics they cover.
It may take a pitch or two to pique their interest, but being laser focused on the outlets that matter—and reaching out to journalists with news and story ideas that are relevant to them—will reap greater benefits.