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Monday, April 24, 2017

We Loved This Industry Retreat! #FTLOY2017

Can you imagine Janet in a dawn yoga class, relaxed and mellow at 7am?
We could not, either.
But it happened a few weeks ago when Ted and Janet attended TPG's Luxury Lifestyle Reboot in Napa Valley, For the Love of YOU 2017. Janet and Ted came back happy, relaxed and glowing. 

We were excited about TPG's invitation to attend the 3 day weekend at the luxurious Meadowood Napa Valley. A weekend of great wine and great food in the company of great industry colleagues sounded enticing enough. However, it turned out that the experience left us much more inspired than we anticipated. TPG allowed us to share details.

Source: http://www.tpgfortheloveofyou.com/

There's a sea change happening in today's uber-connected world.
Employees, colleagues, partners, and friends want more purpose, more daringness, less of the scarcity caused by our 24/7 bombardment of BS.
Together we'll become Life Ninjas, our phrase for rad folks who live authentically and with clear direction. 
(Miss) Stuart Patton, Communications Manager for The Performance Group Northern California,  was so kind to share this information with us.
FTLOY2017 was a full success, starting with guest reaction.

Attendees (without a hint of schmaltz) said things like “the weekend was life-changing!” and “I’ve been on a journey I don’t want to leave.”

Many carefully curated aspects made this weekend magical.

For starters, the location. Meadowood Napa Valley, with its oak trees and tucked-away cottages, offered a totally immersive “getting away from it all” vibe.  And get away from it all one had to; iPhones displaying “No Service” caused initial panic then lasting relief. And the conference rooms aren’t very conference-y. They’re more residential retreat, complete with crackling fire, than boxed in boardrooms.

The speakers were the A-List we have come to expect from TPG, known for curating amazing talent for its clients. This retreat was no exception.

Deb Parsons, President of TPG, opened the weekend by sharing exactly what motivated her to create this gorgeous and special event. She talked about the fact that 'For the Love of YOU' was years in the making. She was driven by an internal knowing that it was time to take all of TPG’s worldly event experience and create something of their own.  It was an opportunity to connect the dots and use all the levers that TPG has in their tool box to really move, change and inspire people. Deb explained how this event was conceived as a platform to help themselves, their clients and their partners slow down and listen to their souls.

We kicked off the event with Ayelet Baron, a former tech executive who’s committed to making an impact on business, as we currently know it. Her book, Our Journey to Corporate Sanity, argues that purpose and profit must combine to bolster our next generation of corporate leaders.
During lunch, we listened to Grammy-nominated songwriter and performer Ciaran Gribbin talk about his background in war-torn Ireland, and his belief that music has the power to bring people together. When he sang Brown Eyed Girl … well, let’s just say … few eyes were dry.

David Howitt, author of Heed Your Call and CEO of the Meriwether Group, discussed the merits of a personal hero’s journey — leaving what’s comfortable and tapping into the heart to manifest what you really want in life. Drawing upon the power of “and,” we learned we can be managers and artists, techies and yogis.

Laura Munson, author of This Is Not the Story You Think It Is … A Season of Unlikely Happiness and creator of Haven Writing Retreats, closed by giving us the time and guidance needed to sort out the weekend’s common themes. She began by describing her let-down after reaching her life’s dream — becoming a New York Times Best Selling Author. The experience taught her that success is a myth. And if success is a myth, failure is a myth. Laura realized that happiness cannot come from outside circumstances; contentment comes from following one’s heart (seeing the weekend’s BIG theme yet?). She then led the group through a personally moving writing exercise, helping new and experienced writers mine their own hearts. The session ended with guests checking their calendars (iPhone service restored) in hopes of attending one of Laura’s upcoming Haven Writing Retreats in Montana.

The Yoga instructor who impressed Janet and Ted to take up yoga - and stick with the practice ever since - was one of lululemon's carefully selected yoga ambassadors.

Jessica Micheletti, yogi extraordinaire, lead the group through a journey comprised of fragrant oils, crystals, and live music. A fire was lighted in the fireplace while she helped the group climb into an alternate head-space. Yes, live music and glowing fires during our yoga sessions.

We have been to many retreats but FTLOY really delivered: it was truly inspiring and the takeaway is of lasting value.

Happy to be Ninjas and looking forward to 2018.


All photos courtesy of The Performance Group. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

How We Can Learn from Coachella

It is "Coachella Time".

This festival strives to add new bells and whistles each and every year, that set the bar higher for us in the event industry.

In 2017 everyone is talking about "festivalization" of meetings and events.

Here is our round-up of top trends and inspiring aspects.

“All experiences are morphing together into the festivalization of events. Concerts add conferences, meetings add new styles of collaboration, trade shows add consumer elements. Training conferences are like going to Lollapalooza. In a competition for our attention, event organizers are engaging all the senses."

- David Adler/BizBash Medium

"The meetings industry is evolving beyond its preoccupation with event technology and the impact of Millennials over the last five years. The new focus for 2017 revolves around developing more multidisciplinary business events, integrating education and entertainment, to engage attendees in new ways on different levels."

— Greg Oates/Skift

How can we learn from Coachella after 18 years? 

Does the Music and Arts Festival still remain fresh and new?
It certainly remains relevant.There is a lot more going on than arts and music. After all, the festival itself has become the catalyst for hundreds of smaller branding, marketing and pure party events surrounding it. 
Maybe due to its proximity to Los Angeles, Coachella attracts more celebrities and influencers than any other festival.Young show business A-listers park their private jets on the tarmac at Palm Springs.Every model-of-the-moment, Instagramer and YouTuber is heading into the desert. 
Los Angeles Times tallied the revenue generated by three festival weekends, Coachella and StageCoach, for the Greater Palm Springs area last year: ticket sales and tourism alone brought in $770 million! 
We are paying attention!


Kate Brack, Director of Floral and Event Design:

"I am truly inspired by the inventiveness and ingenuity of the fashion pop up shops created using shipping containers and airstream trailers. They are forward thinking, green builds that not only lend an eye to design but hit the mark as an experiential marketing piece. As events move further away from the hotel ballroom and into unexpected settings, Coachella, like Burning Man, is at the forefront of creativity in the field of live events."

We asked DJ Matt Cornwall, who is always at the forefront of trends in music.

"Coachella is offering an impressive VR/AR experience. See the  description in VR Scout":

In their never-ending attempt to continually top themselves, the marketing team introduced a slew of new augmented reality features activated by the welcome box itself. By simply downloading the Coachella VR app, available for free on IOS & Android, users can now activate an augmented reality mode and view a colorful spectacle right on the cover of the box containing all your festival necessities. Pointing your camera at the design reveals a circling group of neon sharks, a bright hot air balloon, tangled roller coasters, the infamous ferris wheel and more enchanting sights all colorfully illuminated by a spectacular light show.

The app doesn’t stop there however, as the Coachella team has actually hidden several augmented reality ‘easter eggs’ that festival-attendees can hunt for while on the official grounds. Combine this with the stellar catalog of Coachella VR content continuously being uploaded and you have a powerful VR/AR mobile app that should just about cover all your festival needs.

Coachella continues to be a game-changer.
However, the biggest draw has been and still is: MUSIC.
Matt is happy to share his recommendations.

DJ Matt Cornwall’s
Top 20 Coachella Acts Not To Be Missed! 

1. Los Angeles natives and local favorites, Classixx - Sat April 15th and 22nd.
2. Devendra Banhart - Sun April 16th and 23rd. 
3. Bonobo - Fri April 14th and 21rst. 
4. DJ Shadow - Fri April 14th and 21st. 
5. FKJ (French Kiwi Juice) Sat, April 15th. 
6. Gaslamp Killer -Fri April 14th and 21st. 
7. GBV (Guided By Voices ) -Fri April 14th and 21st. 
8. Little Dragon- Fri April 14th and 21st. 
9. Thundercat - Sat April 15th and 22nd. 
10. Tove Lo -Sun April 16th and 23rd.
11. Real Estate - Sun April 16th and 23rd.
12. Porter Robinson & Madeon - Sun April 16th and 23rd.
13. New Order! - Sun April 16th and 23rd. 
14. Tycho - Sat April 15th and 22nd. 
15. Nicholas Jaar - Sat April 15th and 22nd. 
16. Sampha - Fri April 14th and 21st. 
17. T.S.O.L - Sun April 16th and 23rd. 
18. Preservation Hall Jazz Band  - Fri April 14th and 21st. 
19. Kaytranada - Sun April 16th and 22nd. 
20. Kendrick Lamar - Sun April 16th and 23rd. 
Lighters Up! ~ DJMC

Don't feel bad if you don't know many of the bands by name! 
By bringing new music, new bands and new trends Coachella inspires us to look for the next big thing, in every regard.

Have a great week!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Event Report: Brynne Peña Took Over Petco Park

The Event: a 3-day Conference in San Diego
Event Dates: March 19-21, 2017
Guest Count: 1400+
Our Tasks: we provided full production services for a series of events surrounding a conference, culminating in the Closing Night Extravaganza at Petco Park.

We had spent 2 years on planning this event, especially the Closing Night Extravaganza in Petco Park, in great detail.
And then Murphy's Law applied.
The weather forecast changed, TV announcers were aflutter, RAIN was in the Southern California forecast for event time. Our event was planned as an outdoor event.

Brynne Peña explains: "After two years of discussing, planning, drawing and sourcing the event we literally had to do a 180 with 48 hours to go. We went back to the drawing board, created new diagrams and put the whole event under cover.

The entire Field portion of the event had to be moved up off the field because of the impending rain.
We moved the bars into the locker room to create a sort of secret, "hidden" Speakeasy kind of bar, giving exclusive access to this area that normally the public would not be allowed entrance into.
We placed the interactive activities inside the stadium and set up the concert stage in a weather proof area. We did dress our band in baseball uniforms!
By the end of the night, the skies were dry. Our closing fireworks went off without a hitch! Yes, I drank even more coffee than usual!"

"Part of the fun was the unusual access to the stadium. Not many of us get to enter the field in our lifetime. Did I mention that this event took place two weeks before the season opening? A lot of diplomacy was involved in making the client's dream come true without damage to the Padres' lawn.

"Ron Burgundy" proved irresistible to all of us.
Lauren, Brynne and Debbie.

"We checked Twitter. Some commented on the unexpected 8-minute custom fireworks and guests shared their excitement.
We love to see great reaction!

We also got to stretch our creative muscles for a
beach-themed, indoors Welcome Reception.
We had the opportunity to fulfill our design
wish list, a lot of updated, modern,
fun beach decor.
Kate Brack designed, Carolyn Vasi sourced.
Manuel built and Frankie painted.
We delivered new customized pieces."

Wishing you a fabulous week now that the boys of summer are back! 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Alisa Walsh Reports from the Brand New House of Blues Anaheim

Alisa Walsh had the pleasure and the honor of chairing the MPI Orange County Spring Social and Fundraiser on March 22, 2017.

The Theme: "Back to the Blues".
The very appropriate Event Location:
the brand new House of Blues at the Anaheim Garden Walk.

The excitement among MPI members to be the very first to experience an event during opening week at the new location was palpable.
Alisa: "The event was very well attended and we raised over $12,000 for MPI! Everyone had a great time!
The new House of Blues Anaheim at the Garden Walk is much larger than the previous HOB at Downtown Disney - and it is a great event location!"
Here is our location report.

The excitement among MPI members to be the very first to experience an event during opening week at the new location was palpable.
Alisa: "The event was very well attended and we raised over $12,000 for MPI! Everyone had a great time!
The new House of Blues Anaheim at the Garden Walk is much larger than the previous HOB at Downtown Disney - and it is a great event location!"

Here is our location report.
Alisa: "The new House of Blues still retains the classic character and feel of the known brand, but the Anaheim location is an updated, more modern version of the Southern juke joint. It alludes in design style to a gospel church. It is more eclectic and upscale. We used the Foundation Room and the Restaurant for our event. I was moving around all night long to check the event flow. The HOB staff was fantastic! No first night mishaps! "
Alisa: "Having The Foundation Room, the traditional space for HOB members and VIPs, at our disposal allowed us to treat our VIP planners and top donors to a private area. We raised funds through live and silent auctions. Our auctioneers appeared dressed as the Blues Brothers at the beginning and ended the night in Elvis costume. They matched the decor and the mood perfectly. HOB made our work easy! Everything is included and in place: decor, staging, lighting. Catering and Beverage Service is provided by House of Blues. The variety of spaces allows for many different styles and sizes of events in the center of Anaheim. The more upscale, modern design is a great match for corporate events, just steps from the Anaheim Convention Center."
A BIG Thank You to Katie Pederson, | Director of Sales - Special Events, House of Blues - Anaheim, for allowing us to use their photo material, all shot by Alexander Mo.

Wishing you a fabulous week!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Event Report: #UrbanArt Decor in #DTLA - The Ultra Hip Event

The Event:
Budtender Appreciation Day Southern California

Event Date:
March 12, 2017, 6-10PM

Event Location:
The Container Yard in Downtown Los Angeles,
a "creative collective with the capacity to facilitate and welcome collaborations that align with their ethos".

The first event of this kind in Southern California was "invitation only" and featured many sponsors from the industry.

We were tasked with providing event support: creating an art-inspired decor to match the space and the unconventional event style, as well as interactive, fun activities for this mostly young group of guests.

Here is our event report.

Visitors to our offices in an industrial area of South Los Angeles had gotten a "whiff" of our greenhouse neighbors in the past. We have been surrounded by budtenders for quite a while, literally just around the corner from a Sheriff station!
Well, it's now legal. California voters passed Proposition 64 in November 2016, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in California.

This allows California's arguably largest agricultural industry to go mainstream.

Dope Magazine, among many others in this industry, is expanding and organizing events.
It allowed us to stretch our event design and decor muscle in a very free wheeling, creative, fun environment. Brynne Peña had the pleasure of producing this event.

Besides enjoying all the goodies the sponsors generously distributed in gift bags, the guests had a blast playing trendy games: air hockey, giant jenga and skee ball.                      

Happy to report that the event was a success!
Dope Magazine reports: "Guests at this event sported smiles from ear to ear, and said the party was a smoker’s paradise.....As DOPE’s first event in Southern California, the B.A.D. Party set the bar for the Los Angeles cannabis scene, and started off the spring season with a bang."

Or should we say bong?

Wishing you a fabulous week - and thank you for reading!                      

Monday, March 20, 2017

Live from Austin, Texas: Cindy Lo Reports from SXSW

SXSW 2017 just concluded - we asked our friend Cindy Y. Lo, DMCP President & Event Strategist from Red Velvet Events in Austin, TX, to share the latest news.

Cindy has 14 years of hands-on experience, either producing SXSW related events or attending the conference and festival, for "unparalleled discovery, networking, and inspiration".
It's also about having fun, as you will see!

We are happy to share Cindy's expert report.

Cindy: "We have been going to SXSW for 14 years and we have seen it change, as in "grow"! Obviously, the interactive events became more popular over the years. Attendance has grown dramatically. As the conference and festival expanded, we were getting more agency work.

Attendance was up again this year, but the event aspects involving local help of SXSW decreased. In previous years, the conference was always incredibly chaotic for us. This year, my team could handle our workload very well, allowing me to actually attend the conference. On one hand, our team has grown, so we can handle a bigger workload. But since I heard from multiple local agencies that they, too, were not as busy, I started to wonder what may be the cause. Perhaps this is the necessary correction we needed after all these consecutive growth years."

"This is an example of the activations we had grown accustomed to as SXSW grew over the years, but surprisingly there were not as many this year. And when they did happen, they only lasted a maximum of 3 days, instead of the whole week-and-a-half in the past.

We are still wondering about the reasons. Did companies cut their budgets or did they just not get the ROI they anticipated and desired? Or did they just cut down on activations and events due to the new permit regulations? SXSW has always been a decent indicator for us on how our year will shape up. Next year will really tell. If the trend continues, we’ll definitely have to pivot our position. Again, I feel that the conference itself was very strong, but have the local event needs changed?"

The Trends
"I saw a lot more augmented reality, and more virtual reality head sets everywhere. The more it is out there, the more the prices are going to come down to reasonable levels, and the more people will bring VR into their event. One great example was D.C. House. They invited you to get on a bike and put on the head set and start pedaling. It gave you the experience of riding a bike in D.C. which is a great use of VR.  I think more companies will bring this kind of experience to their events, but the price point has not come down quite as much as I would like to make it affordable for everybody."

Cindy laughs: "You would have felt left out if your booth did not have VR! Every activation I went to had some form of it.
One great example: Spredfast, an Austin-based technology company, did a great job with their activation. They provide social media analytics for large retailers, media partners such as ESPN, any business that has an online presence. Each year during SXSW, they host a 3-day "Social Suite" at their offices in Downtown Austin where guests can just relax and enjoy social media friendly activities. This year women could get their hair braided and some nail art while Men could get a trim; best part was that the services were provided by a local barber shop. Spredfast had a beautiful dessert station where you could create your own dessert. And throughout the suite attendees were encouraged to post the experiences to their social media and use the hashtags. Spredfast displayed an analytical wall that showed how many times the items were posted and how far it reached. They showed off their product and gave clients a very good reason to come to their offices!"

"I did see a slight increase in vehicles, wrapped and just driving around Downtown Austin's traffic - think "mobile billboard". This is, again, nothing new, but it's effective."

The Themes:
"We saw a lot of jungle, natural plants and earth themes. It seems that everyone wants to be one with earth at this time. Everyone had dramatic green decor. Maybe it is a good counter balance to all the cold metal."

"We had a blast at the Mashable Photo Booth! Mashable always knows how to capture the pop culture moment! The Beyonce reveal happened less than a month before SXSW. Mashable reacted immediately. Everyone took this fun photo. Here it is our Red Velvet team member LeeAnn."

Cindy: "It was interesting and enjoyable for me to be an attendee this year, versus a producer. I got to experience the conference from the other side. I took lots of mental notes, about what worked and what did not from the attendee point of view.

I think pricing around SXSW events and venues needs to get back in line with norms - prices outstripped value this year and a lot of spaces went unused as a result.  Permitting requirements have gotten more stringent, which cuts down on last minute activations - no last minute permitting allowed.  And there are just fewer open spaces to get street-level visibility. Maybe Austin needed a year to step back and re-assess - or maybe the big corporations needed a breather as the sponsorships and events rotate to a new set of innovators and brands.

I will definitely remain in observation mode the next couple of years to see where events at SXSW are going. Was this year just a correction or a blip? Austin is a great city. Downtown is so pedestrian-friendly. Attendees can walk everywhere. There is so much brain power in Austin; the University, technology companies and SXSW. And people here are really friendly.  Austin and SXSW have real value for sponsors and attendees. My prediction: 2018 brings a moderation in prices, and an increase in event activations, which will be great news for everyone."

A Texas-sized THANK YOU to Cindy for taking the time to share her experiences and insight!

Wishing everyone a fabulous week!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Brynne Peña's Childhood Dream Came True: She Worked at The Academy Awards!

Just to clear one question up immediately:

Brynne Peña had absolutely nothing to do with the envelope mishap!
But Brynne did fulfill a childhood dream and worked behind the scenes at the
2017 Academy Awards!
Yes, it was all she dreamt it would be and she did fulfill several "bucket list" wishes in one evening!

Brynne, still glowing from the experience, explains how she ended up at the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood's biggest night:
"One of my friends at church is also an event producer. Mary is specialized in award show production and I have helped her out in the past when she was short staffed. So when she called just four days before the show looking for experienced producers, I jumped with joy and said YES!"

If you watched the show you know, that host Jimmy Kimmel let candy rain on the VIP audience. The Candy gag was added just days before showtime, thus requiring 10 trustworthy event pros on very short notice. What you did not see on camera were the Candy Servers who distributed candy to everyone inside The Dolby Theatre during the commercial breaks.

Brynne's work title: Candy Server and Aisle Captain.
"After each of the three candy drops we entered the theater during the  commercial break immediately following the to distribute candy to all attendees. I was in charge of an aisle with 6 candy servers working under my wings."

 "As Aisle Captain on the stage right I wore one of the official radio head sets to be able to listen to all the director's queues. As the three drops happened we were stationed at the aisle doors - "Candy on Stand-by" - and, upon queue - "Candy Go", I had to make sure that all 7 of us entered "my aisle"  in order to surprise the attendees with a choice of candy. I presented my candy in a portable tray, like a cigarette girl. In order to make the candy serving work, we had priority to enter the theater. At times, we were allowed to dash past the winners and stars, who were waiting to get back into the auditorium.
It was so much fun!
I delivered candy to Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Viola Davis, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, Lin Manuel Miranda, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Denzel Washington and MERYL STREEP!"

Faithful readers recall that Justin Timberlake is one of Brynne's favorite artists. Meeting JT and Meryl Streep while working at the Academy Awads: a dream come true.

"I still can't believe that I got to offer red vines and junior mints to all the stars. I accidentally brushed against Denzel Washington - and I talked to Justin Timberlake! Yes, we are used to celebrities in Los Angeles and in our business, but JT and Meryl Streep are among my childhood idols. It was really an incredible experience to meet them up close."

Early on Monday morning Brynne was back in her usual role as account executive for EventWorks, and on Amtrak heading down to San Diego where she is producing a series of events this month. With bucket list memories for a lifetime!

Wishing you a fabulous week!