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Monday, July 25, 2016

Event Report: Summertime - And The Production Is Not So Easy

In early July Brynne Peña had the enviable task of producing a series of three evening events in a gorgeous coastal setting, a private estate in beautiful Palos Verdes, California.

The Theme: A Storied Night Under The Stars at The Cliff's Edge.

The Event: three consecutive gala dinners for varying numbers of guests with changing entertainment.

The Challenge: HEAT!

Brynne is happy to share the details on how we beat the elements to keep the guests comfortable.

Brynne: "The client entertained at their own private location and we had proposed a basic look that could be adjusted each day to accommodate the very differing guest counts. On night 1 we had 45 guests, night 2 saw 100 and the final night closed with 110 revelers. We had worked up blue prints for all three nights that allowed us to incorporate existing structures and include the pool area in the setting. Exact planning allowed us to add 8' banquet tables as needed for the higher guest counts without having to take down the previous setups. 
The California coast is infamous for cool fog and nightly marine layer in spring and early summer.
We had planned ahead and rented a 40x80 clear tent to ensure the view of the Starry Nights and protect our guests from the elements."
Crystal chandeliers provided an elegant touch to the outdoor location. 

Crystal chandeliers provided an elegant touch to the outdoor location. 

The tent arrived on the first day, just in time for a change in the weather. It got unexpectedly warm and sunny for the coast! 
Brynne: "The outside temperature reached about 85 degrees. Our tent acted as a green house. Temperatures peaked near 105 degrees as we were setting up. We were drenched in sweat. It was time to make some phone calls! The tent setting was way too hot for guests. We called our trusted partners and added air conditioners and fans. Our crew then went to work, expertly setting up the cooling equipment while they adjusted tent openings at the same time to create more air flow. We worked hard and fast to create an all around comfortable environment." 

Further changes were made to the installation schedule, bringing in all floral decor as late as possible to prevent wilting.  

Brynne: "I am really thankful to our amazing crew! We managed to reorganize our setup and get the venue finished just in time for the event. During the days our crew worked in triple digit heat, under time pressure to get it all done. Our client and the guests never noticed the heat challenge! By 6pm the tent was elegant and cool. Nature provided perfect sunsets to top it off. We celebrated three beautiful nights under the stars, with mild ocean breezes."

Thank you to our crew and especially Brynne! Always the pro, she never let anyone notice that we perspired and she met the challenges all outdoor events pose with a smile.

Very best,

Monday, July 18, 2016

Good Deeds! Let's Make This Video Go Viral! #NCAMChallenge

Dear Friends!

Please join us, donate one minute of your time and accept the #NCAMChallenge!

A very worthwhile non-profit in Santa Ana, California, could win thousands of dollars if their video goes viral.
And all you have to do is click ❤︎.

"My longtime friends know that I originally worked as a school teacher in a tough neighborhood in my hometown Chicago. I moved West and entered the event production world and - as they say- the rest is history. But I never lost my passion for arts in education and that is why I have been a supporter of the Orange County Children's ARTS Center for several years. The Santa Ana based non-profit provides a large number of art based therapeutic and educational programs to an under-served community - and their successes speak for themselves. It's a pleasure to see the kids and students excel and thrive!

OCCTAC is currently participating in a nationwide campaign called #NCAMChallenge on Indi.com.  The Festival of Children Foundation offers participating non-profits a chance to win up to $50,000!

OCCTAC has an amazing success story to tell and their violin teacher Cynthia Faisst accepted the challenge and recorded the video with her reverse engineered violin duo!
These two young musicians are each missing one arm. However, they did not let this stop them from joining OCCTAC's violin program. Cynthia found out soon enough, though, that traditional prosthetic arms did not work well as bow arms. Searching for an affordable solution, she contacted the Limb Art Project at St. Margaret's Episcopalian School. High school students in a 3D printing program developed the high tech bow arms for the reverse engineered duo! The bow arms can be produced at very low cost, allowing the OCCTAC students to exchange them regularly as they grow!

Please support the violin students and OCCTAC.
Go to the video, click "Heart" and please share, share, share!

In a world full of sad news OCCTAC provides a place of hope and happiness - thank you for your time and your help!
Let's support these kids by making the duo's video go viral!

Warm regards,

Monday, July 11, 2016

Event Report: We Built It - And They Came.

The Event:
A 4-Day Luxury Incentive Event

Guest Count: 51 VIPs

The Location: The Resort at Paws Up, Montana

Our Task: Creating a "Glamping" Western Experience for three distinct evening events.

We ❤ Montana and especially Paws Up!
The countryside's beauty is the best event backdrop anyone could ever imagine!
We were tasked to produce three separate Western Ranch themed evening galas.
Our final night was a true celebration of locally sourced food. We centered the evening around a long table, family style, for the ultimate farm-to-table experience to our guests in an open field at Paws Up. This was capped off by an entertaining performance.

In order to turn ideas into reality we had to turn the field into an event space.
For starters, we needed to build a bridge! The planned guest drop-off was adjacent to the event field but separated from the venue by a creek!
A fair amount of discussion with resort management ensued as we planned the bridge construction. Eventually Paws Up's management liked the idea of adding value by turning the open field into an accessible ready-to-go event space so much that they consented to the bridge construction and actually assigned their in-house construction team to the task to build it themselves."

Kristen Rensch: "This was the first time that we worked at a resort that provided an in-house team of craftsmen and builders. Considering the distance to the next town, 2 hours drive at least in any direction, this was heaven sent!"
Since the field was in it's completely natural state the surface was uneven. In order to create an even platform for the communal table we went about creating a 96-foot long imperial table deck. Part of that project:  a grass mowing plan to ensure that the space would be functional while it retained its natural character.
Kristen: "It is one of those details one has to think about when working in nature. There was a cast of many that played a role in the mow plan decision."
The main kitchen was much too far from the event location. We solved the issue by building a 24x36 foot catering wing.
The Country and Western band needed a stage. We created a new fire pit in the center to fend off the chill.
As they say in Montana: "If you don't like the weather just wait a few minutes."
We kept a keen eye on Accuweather reports. We had moved one event indoors on short notice because cold rain had been forecast. As a result we had sacks of river rocks, enough to build a 100-foot path, available for another purpose.
On our last day the forecast once again contained wind, cold and rain.
Our river rocks became the basis for a brand new fire pit!
Paws Up sent the excavator at 10am. By 3pm we had our 6-foot wide pit finished.
Ted Bowers: "As the temperature kept dropping it became clear that we needed more than the fire pit to keep the guests comfortable. We had to make a number of calls but managed to source a 40x100 clear top tent with five side walls that could be delivered in time."
During the evening the outside temperature dropped to 38 degrees! However, our guests were protected from wind and rain. They danced for 2 hours to the live music of the band! The program ended on a high note in Big Sky Country.
Kate Brack embellished natural beauty with gorgeous, locally sourced floral design.
This event for 51 guests took a long time in planning and a lot of infrastructure building.
We are really proud that our client was happy.
It is also very satisfying to know that the venue loved the results so much that a number of the new features became a permanent part of Paws Up.
We can't wait to go back on vacation!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July!

Please Enjoy Our Musical 4th of July Greetings!

With the help of these amazing young artists who do such a beautiful job singing our National Anthem.

 Best Wishes from
Janet and your EventWorks Team.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Special Investigation: Event and Travel Security

Event and Travel Security:
"Be Prepared, Not Scared".

As everyone we were shocked by the Orlando terror attack. In a horrible way though, headlines about terror attacks and mass shootings have become a sad new normal. Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, Orlando.... the list goes on and on. We have decided to become pro-active.
Here are the results of our investigation into current security recommendations for the MICE industry.
An Interview with TIM BRADLEY, IMG GlobalSecur Managing Partner.

The New Reality:
In the last 12 months alone at least 309 people were killed by terror attacks in tourist destinations: the beach resort shooting in Sousse, Tunisia, the hotel attack in Hurghada, Egypt, the downing of the Russian charter jet leaving Sharm El-Sheikh, the little reported bombings on Bali and the beach resort attack in Ivory Coast.
Attacks occur on airports, resorts, shopping malls - "soft" targets that are hard to protect and that we all visit frequently.
Terror organizations of any ilk are going global, inspiring lone gunmen or suicidal bombers anywhere the internet has reach.
If you have traveled to any larger European city in recent months you have noticed the very visible security forces. Europeans have accepted a new normal.

We decided to investigate how this new reality affects our industry in the USA as well as our clients traveling abroad.
We contacted the Incident Management Group.
IMG is a Florida-based top-rated worldwide security consulting company, helping global corporations with executive and employee security consulting, travel security for VIPs and key personnel, and consulting on topics such as international threat assessment and supply chain security.
Timothy Bradley, IMG GlobalSecur Managing Partner, is a leading expert on global and domestic corporate event and travel security with over 30 years experience as a federal law enforcement officer, corporate security director and consultant. He was so kind to give us an interview.

Q: Mr. Bradley, how do you estimate the attack threat level in the US?

Tim Bradley: "Overall it is hard to say. The nature of terrorism is very asymmetrical. We were saying it's low but then we just had Orlando. We raised the threat level significantly after that. The problem we have with resorts, hotels and such is that they are just not hard targets and I don't really see anyone moving in that direction to make them a harder targets whereas if you go overseas, for instance in Tunisia where I visited recently and where they had the attack in Sousse, they have taken those measures to screen people who come onto the property. Here it is fairly easy to access any hotel or resort property. You have to understand that these are very soft targets. This said, it is a lot harder for some of these terrorist groups to mount extensive operations in the United States because of the distance and their inability to get people here trained and equipped for large scale attacks. That's why you see more of what they call  "inspired" attacks as in Orlando and San Bernardino.
Overall, what is the threat level? It does not really matter what it is. I can tell you that between now and the end of the year there will probably be another attack in the United States. Europol came out in January, predicting another Paris-style attack and we did have Brussels. The domestic threat level is concerning. It is time for people to become aware of their surroundings and understand that when they are in a crowded venue that that might be a target."

Q: What kind of to-do list or check list would you recommend to our readers? Should they enhance security?

Tim Bradley: "The first thing you have to understand is the duty you have to the people that are there. There is just that implied belief or assumption that you have taken every reasonable step to ensure their safety and security while they are at that venue. In order to do that you really have to have what we call an "advanced event security survey" and contingency plan developed. If something does happen you want to be able to know what your likely actions will be. It is not possible to plan for every possible contingency necessarily but you have to understand what is going on and you need to understand every security aspect of the venues. For instance, who do we need to contact? We always make contact with local law enforcement and the local fire department. We know where hospitals, urgent care centers and pharmacies are. This has to be done before the event, as part of the planning process. We have developed a template for the companies we work with. You have to have a plan in place so that if something were to happen, whether it is a terrorist attack or a natural disaster, your contingency plan goes into immediate action. You have to understand how to evacuate your people, how to care for your people. What kind of assist can you count on from your hotels, your DMCs, your transportation providers? Whatever it is, you have to know this before the event starts. It should begin with the first advance site visit. Safety, security and contingency need to be part of the overall event planning."

As the resorts in Sousse, Tunisia, several global venues have drastically changed their security protocol following high profile attacks. We studied two examples.

November 2008: 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic militant organisation based in Pakistan, carried out a series of 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai, including at the 5-Star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. The attacks began on Wednesday, 26 November and lasted until Saturday, 29 November 2008, killing 164 people and wounding at least 308.
Photo Credit: Reuters

Today, the Taj Hotel still bears the scars of the trauma, with its airport-style security. Most of its entrances are sealed, including the approach to a luxury shopping arcade. At the hotel’s main portico, cars are stopped while uniformed guards check their boots and undersides; suitcases and handbags are scanned, and visitors must pass through metal detectors.
       At the adjacent Gateway of India – a draw for tourists from across the country – an armoured tank, painted in jungle camouflage and surrounded by swarms of uniformed officers, stands vigil. Large yellow barricades, emblazoned, “Mumbai police force,” dot the waterfront.
Source: Amy Kazmin and Avantika Chilkotu/ FT.com

On Saturday 21 September 2013, unidentified gunmen attacked Westgate shopping mall, the most upscale mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The attack resulted in at least 67 deaths, and more than 175 people were reportedly wounded in the mass shooting.The extremist Islamic group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the incident,
Photo Credit: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic

In time for its re-opening in 2015 Westfield hired the private Israeli security firm International Reserve Group to ensure security with an all-around, comprehensive security protocol, including employee screening and training and the use of advanced, proprietary technical equipment.
IRG has about 25 specialist staff on site and will use about 55 guards from security firm G4S, an employee of the Israeli firm told Reuters inside Westgate.
New security features at the mall will include explosive detectors, luggage X-rays, scanners to check underneath cars, bollards to prevent car bombs and bullet-proof guard towers.
IRG has been operating in Kenya for 5+ years and the company also provides security for the American Embassy in Nairobi.

In many countries the public has accepted many restrictions on personal freedoms and comforts to enhance security. But what about Americans?

Q: Do you think that the American public could become comfortable with this level of security?
And would corporate VIP clients possibly agree to be inconvenienced by security measures to a certain degree?

Tim Bradley: "It's a double-edged sword. You want to have security. We always advocate a very discreet security presence at events. But military soldiers on the streets - you tend not to see that in America because there are certainly issues with military soldiers being used for law enforcement purposes. But will the public ever get used to it here? Probably!
There are certainly concerns when companies want to go oversees. I know that from the event planner standpoint that they don't want to scare people. We had a client recently that retained us to do a threat assessment on a location in Europe. They were very concerned about it due to the recent attacks over there. In fact, we worked with the incentive service provider and their client had insisted that they get a security plan in place. I think we see more and more clients demanding that plan to make sure they have taken every reasonable measure to keep their people safe. It is a different atmosphere in Europe since they suffered several attacks. We get almost daily reports of arrests of more terror suspects and apparently they are deploying 90 000 law enforcement and military to secure 10 stadiums for UEFA soccer championships in the coming days.It is a different atmosphere. Will Americans get used to it? Yes, I think so. Whether you go overseas or stay here, you might want to expect to see more of a police presence.
We have been working in security for many years. You want to provide security but you don't want to make people afraid. There is always that natural question: if we need that much security, should we even be going? We had a client 11 years ago for whom we did an advance. They were planning their annual incentive trip to London. London had just experienced the subway and bus bombing attacks so naturally security was a major concern. The client went forward with the trip and that moment was sort of a paradigm shift in security planning. We developed a very robust security template. The trip went well. They know always have that robust plan in place. People have to understand that the world has changed. What you have done in the past may not work in the future. A little bit of planning will go a long way to mitigate some of these situations. We have developed a smart phone app, FoneTrac, that allows people to check in and send panic alerts to our center with their geographic coordinates. This is really useful when people have time on their own, at leisure. This way they can send an alert from anywhere instantly. I still think that travel can be done safely but you have to plan for it.

Q: We have seen unrest in American cities. Is there a heightened risk within the U.S.?

Tim Bradley: "I think so. It certainly isn't safer than it was 5 years ago. You can get into just as much trouble in Los Angeles as in Paris or Brussels or anywhere else. It just may be another type of problem. You can be in L.A. and have a major earthquake. Prepare for that. You can be in New York City and have a terror attack. What is your plan? I think it is a safe country but there is a lot going on here, too.
 Talking about Los Angeles: we reached out to a number of local venues to see what procedures they have in place that they may be able to share with us. Obviously, secret security measures cannot be shared but rest assured: our conventions and entertainment venues are fully aware of growing threats - and we are told they are prepared.

"For every event that takes place at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center, our security staff meets with the client and our local law and fire agencies to discuss security and safety measures. Based on the risk factors for the event, the level of security needed is then determined and put it place. In addition, our head of security at the Center is a retired Long Beach Police Sergeant, with many years of experience protecting facilities and events.”

Steve Goodling, President and CEO
Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau

“ Guest safety has always been of paramount importance at The Forum.  We continue to work closely with Inglewood Police and other agencies to have the most current information regarding our events and any concerns.  Our staff has been trained and we continue to drill on different scenarios and the proper response to all types of emergency situations.”

Nick Spampanato, General Manager, Fabulous Forum/ The Madison Square Garden Company

Contact Information for Tim Bradley is available upon request.
Please contact EventWorks.

It is a changing world. We have personally experienced very enhanced security traveling in Israel, African countries and some Asian cities. Long gone are the days when we just sauntered onto a plane here in the U.S. minutes before takeoff. We got used to the striptease at our airports. We may have to get used to much more security in all public places.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Our Floral Decor For A Good Cause: The SITE SoCal ALL IN Charity Poker Tournament

SITE Southern California's 3rd Annual ALL IN Charity Poker Tournament offered us the opportunity to stretch our creative wings, have fun and participate in raising funds for the San Diego Brain Tumor Foundation.
Rebecca Motus enjoyed the challenge of creating floral decor that would hopefully dazzle a ballroom full of event pros and Alisa Walsh met the Poker challenge!

We sponsored eight different arrangements that were used two-fold: as decor to embellish the night and as raffle prizes to help raise funds for the beneficiary of the night.

The tallest arrangement became the center piece for the buffet tables.

Two identical bamboo backed arrangements book-ended one side of the buffet. 

A spiraling arrangement enhanced the second buffet table. 

Single tall vases for smaller table rounds. 

A floral wheel greeted guests as they entered the patio area.
Cork backing added more interest and contrast to an orchids and roses display. 

Twists and spheres added character to the dessert tables. 

Meanwhile Alisa discovered a yet unknown talent at the poker table!
"The night was a blast, a very fun opportunity to mingle AND play poker. The food was delicious, the Fairmont did a great job. Everyone was laughing all night long and loving that our competitive natures were working for a good cause. Somehow (beginners luck!) I ended up winning and moving to the big time poker table!"

Alisa and Vicki Kern from JNR could not believe their good luck at the tables! Both were really happy to raise funds for the San Diego Brain Tumor Foundation at this industry event. 

SITE truly succeeded at turning an industry mingler into a very fun night for a good cause.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Event Report: Branding The Black-and-White Ball

The Event:
The annual Los Angeles Professional Services Black&White Ball for National Jewish Health,
consisting of a 90-minutes reception and a 3.5 hour Gala Dinner

Guest Count:
544 very distinguished industry leaders and philanthropists.

Location: Skirball Center

Our Task:
The creation of an elegant Black&White, custom branded decor for the night.

Brynne Peña was so committed that she chose her own outfit to match the decor. True dedication!

Brynne: "This annual event is one of the most elegant affairs in Los Angeles and its guest list consists of the Who's Who of  philanthropists and industry leaders. The Black&White Ball has two purposes: fundraising and celebrating the 2016 honorees. Our bar was set very high to provide an elegant, branded look for the decor throughout. We developed a black-and-white floor plan and tied it all together with splashes of yellow in floral decor and centerpieces."

Arrivals: a 200' black carpet, black rope and chrome stanchions, white check-in tables with black chair covers and yellow floral and a branded photo backdrop.

3' branded door clings honored the cocktail party sponsor. 
We wrapped the 24x12x24" stage, matching the look of the customized 18x18 white dance floor.

We added sparkle to both black and white.

And tied it all together with white and yellow floral and Manzanita branch statement centerpieces that were adorned with suspended votives. The manzanita branches were chosen as a visual representation of lung tissue that is so central to National Jewish Health's medical mission. 

Every little detail was considered. Custom, branded, black and white napkins and coasters were provided throughout the cocktail reception event and dinner table linens were chosen with sparkle and high end fabric choices in mind.
The overall result: a very elegant, classic look and atmosphere for this outstanding soiree.
Knowing that this annual gala in Los Angeles supports the mission of the world's leading hospital in respiratory health, especially the treatment of childhood asthma, makes this assignment even more rewarding for us.