Friday, March 27, 2009

Going Local – and almost “loco” - In Puerto Rico

EW Executive VP Ted Bowers and event coordinator Chris Gerstenblatt returned from EventWorks’ March 09 Puerto Rico event assignment with a tan and many stories to tell!
Ted Bowers: “The client was a large professional association. We had more than 1000 guests but since this was not an incentive trip, we also had to work within a restricted budget. At the same time, we wanted to fulfill the client’s high expectations.”

High expectations are Ted’s specialty. “Some of you know that I grew up in this business. My father started the company that is now EventWorks. He was a perfectionist. He did not cut me any slack. All aspects of our events had to meet his high standards. Nothing less than perfect will do and I have inherited that trait from my dad. This said our Puerto Rico assignment posed some challenges.”

Eventworks produced general sessions as well as the special theme event on the final night.
Janet Elkins: “Ted is really the partner in charge of the technical and logistical aspects of our events. We had determined during or preparation that it would be best to hire all decorations, sets, stages and entertainment locally in Puerto Rico. First of all, we needed to stay within the budget. Secondly, we are concerned about the environment and we do think about our carbon footprint. Flying it all in from the mainland would have been undesirable from all those points of view.”

Ted visited the location in the planning stages of the event.
“I always keep the overall production and picture in mind so I wanted to be very clear on all of our possibilities. I establish a Plan A, B, C and more. We need to anticipate problems to be able to avoid them.”

Ted’s fastidiousness usually makes his EW colleagues chuckle.
Janet: “He definitely has many backup plans for all occasions!”
Blame his education in engineering; Ted is a stickler for details.
It saved the day in Puerto Rico!

Ted: “During the inspection we had found local providers for all the general session sets. We had gone to the warehouse and everything seemed to be in order. Well, at load-in they noticed that some parts of the sets were missing or damaged. The provider admitted that the sets had not been used in 6 years!”

Set bits and pieces arrived at the El Conquistador Resort.
Chris: “Ted always keeps his composure!”
They got to work.
Janet: “Ted can build anything mechanical or technical for any event. His Plans B, C and D did save the day!”

The general session rooms looked professional and functioned perfectly.
Chris: “You know how it is when things go wrong at an event. Once it starts, everything goes wrong!”
In the midst of a general session the El Conquistador fire alarms went off without any reason! As usual, Ted stayed calm and found the mechanical problem and fixed it.

The final theme party night was planned as a tropical Caribbean outdoor event on the resort’s private island.

Ted: “The hotel has a barge to transport all equipment from the main island over to their private island. The load-in overlapped with the on-going general session. Unfortunately, the barge had a mechanical problem so we were stuck on shore with our loads.”
Ted’s mechanical and logistical talents were put to the test.

Chris: “We had to figure out how to get our theme party equipment – we are talking about staging, lights, sound, decorations and more – as well as our staff over to Palomino. Just then the local meteorologist forecast a 30 per cent chance of rain for that night! Our hotel friends told us that 30 per cent means it will rain! So simultaneously, Ted had to come up with not just one Plan B but also alternate Plan Bs for several possible locations. And he still kept his cool!”

Ted: “We did inform our client of the situation and our back-up plans. We assured them the party would be great.”

While Chris checked out possibilities for moving the theme event indoors, Ted stayed on top of barge repairs. Four hours later the barge was running again and miraculously the sky cleared.

The Caribbean Night on Palomino started just a little late but it went very well!
Chris: “The local band we had hired was amazing! We already had pianists and local musicians for smaller assignments. All the music was incredible! Keeping everything local really provided the event with flavor. Decorations, food, and music - it all really fit into the beautiful tropical island setting. It made the event really authentic.”

Ted: “In the end it all worked out great! The feedback we got from the client and the guests was incredible!”

Conclusion on going local: EventWorks would do it again in a heartbeat.
Ted: “Although using local vendors and talent produced some headaches along the way, the huge advantage is that we provided the client with an authentic Caribbean experience.”