Monday, February 27, 2017

Alisa Walsh Loved Working with Future Event Planners at Cal Poly Pomona

Alisa Walsh had the honor of being on the Expert Panel at the MPI SCC and ASEP Cal Poly hosted "Future Leaders Forum 2017" at the Collins College Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona on February 21st.
The 10 panelists each brought a different set of skills and experience to share. Alisa proudly represented event production services.
On the panel: Kheam Tang, Four Points San Diego Downtown, Anna Kim, LATCB,  Sacha Tani, Universal Studios Hollywood, Jamie Oakley, Revolution RFP, Alisa Walsh, EventWorks, Marc Berkowitz, California Association of Realtors, Kim Meltzer, KidKesty Productions, John Ehlenfeldt, Visit Huntington Beach, Ajit Acharya, The Waterfront Beach Resort,
and Jon Baumgardner, Society of the Promotion of Japanese Animation.

Alisa, the students wanted to know how you got to your professional position. What is your advice to aspiring event and hospitality pros?

"My first piece of advice was to take advantage of opportunities when they are presented to you, even if they seem to be very scary at the time. That is precisely how I got to where I am.  My first role in the hospitality world came about during my freshman year in college when I got the chance to live on Maui and work at the Grand Wailea Resort as a Beach&Pool Attendant. It sounds like a no-brainer but it took me out of my comfort zone, away from my friends and family, at the time. It was there that I fell in love with Hospitality and I knew from then on, that it was what I wanted to do for my career. You have to start from the bottom. When I got back to school in San Diego, I worked at a hotel front desk. I took unpaid internships, thanks to a lot of friends who worked at hotels in San Diego. I worked my way up. During my college years, I was also able to take two semesters to study abroad. First in Australia and then in Costa Rica, where I studied eco-tourism. It again meant traveling alone and experiencing and learning a lot. I met a lot of people who are still my friends and mentors today. After 8 years in San Diego I moved to Orange County where I worked as Senior Event Manager at a Newport Beach hotel. Three months after my start, my director was promoted and moved on to another property. Consequently, I was promoted to Director of Events at the hotel, which was a great honor. At the same time it was terrifying, as I was working in a senior management position while most of my co-workers had many more years on their resumes. It was challenging but I learned a lot about management and I had to live up to my General Manager's expectations. He had trusted my leadership skills and that I could fulfill this role. I finally took another risk and joined EventWorks in January of 2016. EventWorks had been a client of mine at the hotel. It was a big shift as I had worked towards becoming a General Manager in the hotel industry some day, but when the opportunity of working in event production presented itself, I was really intrigued by the new challenge. It has been a little over one year now and I really love working with the EventWorks team. I am traveling a lot. I am attending many functions and I have grown my professional network probably 10-fold in a year. The bottom-line is: say yes to opportunities. It may be a little scary but it can be a really good thing."
Alisa in conversation with student Kevin, making new connections.

You were also asked about your biggest work-related blunder and how you solved the problem.

"I guess my biggest blunder so far occurred early in my work life. I was an event manager at a San Diego hotel. As every event manager, I was very busy, all the time. I had a group in-house, about 450 people. During a prep meeting I became aware that I had neglected to place a B.E.O. for 450 lunches for the very next day. My team was completely unaware of that request. Of course, the client was expecting lunch for all of her attendees the next day. I felt sick to my stomach and turned pale white. Thanks to my efforts of building relationships, not just with clients, but also internally, I could go to my executive staff and admit my mistake immediately and work it out. It would have been much harder to confess if we had not had such a great working relationship. I was in the kitchen at 3AM the next morning, working with the catering staff and helping put together those 450 lunch boxes. The client never knew of my disaster, thanks to the support of everybody at the hotel who helped me recover from my mistake. It's important to learn that it takes a whole team to make it work. You cannot succeed alone.

After the panel presentation we had a chance to mingle in a mock networking event. The Food-and-Beverage students had even created a mock bar! In my conversation with Kevin I shared my experience with networking. It's what I do every day now and it can be very intimidating for people, especially at the start of their career. But it's hard for almost anyone. I shared with Kevin my personal approach: realize that all the attendees started off as strangers at some point and that everyone will treat you like a friend after the first time of meeting you. It's easier to set a goal of making a connection with one particular person. Maybe choose a C.E.O. or someone else who may seem difficult to approach. Once you succeed in making that connection you will gain a lot of confidence and it will become a lot easier." 

The students were very interested in all the advice from the panelists. Many wanted input from the pros on what area or field in the industry to pick for their degrees to have the best chances after they graduate.
"We told them that it does not really matter. Even if you pick one area now, 10 years from now, the industry will have changed so much that you have to evolve with it anyway. I suggested that they concentrate on communications, as communications play a part in anything else they will do. It crosses all areas."
Our Thank You goes to Sacha Tani, Manager, Group & Special Event Sales
Universal Studios Hollywood, MPI member and Volunteer, as well as a Collins College Cal Poly Pomona Alumni.
Sacha had organized the expert panel and invited Alisa.

Sacha Tani:
"We were looking for a variety of planners to inspire the next generation at the Collins College of Hospitality Management at Cal Poly Pomona. Alisa is great at speaking with the student population as she is passionate about the industry and she is also an advocate for MPI. Her being part of Eventworks also helped the students understand, that there are various stages to planning design. Alisa was able to explain how a production company works with third party planners and end users."
Thank YOU for reading and....
Happy Mardi Gras!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Event Report from Miami: Inspired by Art All Around Us

The Event: 3 days of events supporting a high profile car reveal in the Automobile Industry
Locations: Mana Wynwood and Fontainebleau, Miami, Florida
Date: January 2017
Guest Count: 750

Our Challenge: Tailoring the look and feel the client's brand prefers into the overall design, and integrating the local art-infused atmosphere into decor settings for an international VIP group. Furthermore, we were tasked with creating all events surrounding a high-impact reveal of a new car model.

Ted Bowers, Kristen Rensch, Rebecca Motus and our crew just returned from 10 days in Miami and Kristen confesses that they still have post-event blues. "We had the great fortune to be able to work with a very creative client in a wonderful environment. Despite some challenges - we had a tornado warning call waking us at 3:45am on the night AFTER our tent install, and some last minute changes - it all turned out perfectly! The client was happy. We were happy!"

Our main tasks: creating and producing decor, lighting and sound for the two nights.

Night 1 took place at Mana Wynwood. We had visited the ultra cool, artsy neighborhood during pre-production and our client and we were very inspired by the public art that infuses every wall and locale in Wynwood. We decided to bring the art inside.
We had 100,000 square feet of blank canvas event space at Mana to work with. We used about one third for the event.
We brought graffiti art and the brand's favorite hue of blue into the event.

Night 1: Welcome Reception and Car Reveal     

We selected a black-and-white decor and very linear design to highlight the artistic neighborhood.
Voile was used as perimeter treatment.
We separated the room into three spaces -
1) Reception/After Party Salon
2) Reveal
3) Production spaces
using voile wall curtains to hide the cars prior to the reveal and to hide the after-party space.

Table tops were covered with a custom-printed black-and-white graphic design.
Pillows to match and white floral to complete the modern look.

Four display cars and an art car had to be integrated in the After Party space.

The view of the After Party and what was to come was concealed during the Reception and Reveal phase of the event. 

Lighting effects highlighted the display vehicles, that were eventually revealed by the voile in the After Party.

The Entertainment: a DJ in company of a live saxophonist.

Our BIGGEST Challenges:
a) turning the reception space into the after-party space while the reveal was taking place. We made it!
On cue, we created a kabuki drop of the voile to reveal the reset space for the After Party, inviting guests to freely flow around the now combined, open space.

b) Due to logistical challenges, we had to set up our furniture before the four cars came in. We had to plan the floor plan and setup in a manner that allowed us to accommodate the last minute move-in of the cars in a fully setup space. 

Night 2: Dinner on the Lawn with Entertainment                                     

We got to work at the beautiful Fontainebleau and we are honored that hotel management allowed us to occupy both lawns to set up TWO separate 40x99 foot clear-span tents on the Ocean and La Côte Lawns. We received permission to build a new custom, wood walkway to compliment the existing walkway and connect the tents on the lawns. 

Iconic South Beach hotels and museums were the inspiration for the sophisticated beach design and decor.

Each tent received its own design treatment and seating arrangements. We alternated weathered wood and white-washed furniture, natural wood chairs and custom weathered, white-washed boxes. 

Our Floral Artist, Rebecca Motus, created signature, one-of-a-kind floral art pieces. 
Low-profile driftwood-and-orchid centerpieces were placed on all dinner tables. 
Cylindrical orchid arrangements were suspended from the tent ceiling. 

The Challenge:
a) Last minute enhancements to the floral design.
Rebecca worked miracles, sourcing the flowers and materials locally in record time. Once she found the great source, she also hired their local floral arrangers to assist with the assembly of the hanging orchid columns. 
b) did we mention the tornado warning? 😄 Thankfully, the tents survived high winds and rain. By event time, Miami had the best weather in a long time: blue skies, mild temperatures and beautiful sunshine.

Entertainment: live music, consisting of a singer and a 5-piece band. 

We are very grateful for the feedback we received from the
Fontainebleau Convention Service Team.

"The creativity and unique design presented by this talented team had transformed this space into a magical element. It was a beautiful production that left us amazed!"

We loved this production in Miami! We had a wonderful time. The locations were just beautiful and such an inspiration.
Yes, as usual, it took very long work hours and and an army, as they say.
Thank you to our Friends at TPG and our local partners!
We could not have done it without you.

Wishing everyone a Great President's Day and a good week! 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Alisa Walsh Honored to Co-Chair MPISCC 2017 (WE)CON

Our Director of Sales, Alisa Walsh, is grateful to have had the opportunity to co-chair the MPISCC 2017 (WE)CON event this past weekend.

"We had a 1:1 ratio of planners and suppliers, which was a great way to meet and connect with colleagues and build relationships, that will be really valuable to all of us. But besides the business aspects, we had a wonderful time mingling, learning and participating in great group activities.
As co-chair, I was in charge of hotel logistics, which ties in so well with my previous professional life. It was an interesting experience to work with a hotel from the "other side". I know how hard it is to impress 130 meeting and event planners and suppliers. Our host hotel did a fabulous job."

Looking swell under professional pressure!

Alisa Walsh, Co-Chair,
and Michelle Thornton,
Chair of the Weekend Education Conference,
got ready with a professional blow dry at Fashion Island.

Alisa: "We had a truly outstanding and inspiring group of Keynote Speakers.
We learned a lot about loyalty during James Kane's session on Friday morning." 
"We were thrilled to experience the high-energy presentation "The 10 K's of Personal Branding" by Kaplan Mobray." 
"Amanda Armstrong presented "Evolving Trends in 2017",
Mike Staver reminded us how to manage "Staying Calm Under Pressure".
Michael Dominguez's closing speech was the perfect match in a changing time in our industry!
"The Impact of the New Administration on Our Industry" will have everyone talking and sharing for quite some time to come!

However, it was not all hard work! We had time to play! Thanks to MGM Resort's sponsorship we experienced a SoulCycle class.

Saturday morning at 7am sharp we enjoyed an organized fitness class that was a part of the program led by Joe Martin of BDI Events. Joe is also VP of Education for MPISCC." 
 "Thank heaven for all the workout activities! We splurged on a delicious dinner and drinks at a Lego-themed party with a CSR component on Friday night."

"(WE)CON was also  great way to reconnect with friends!"

Alisa with Suzanne Alsnauer.

Here at EventWorks, we are all grateful for Alisa's endless energy! 7am workouts after a late night - now that is true dedication to her work!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Valentine Floral Design - From EventWorks with LOVE ❤

We have seven days left to turn Valentine's Day into a personal success!
We asked our Floral Artist, Rebecca Fernandez Motus, to  share easy-to-do, romantic and very personal design ideas that will amaze every Valentine!
Instructions included!

Question: What materials and flowers can our readers use that are
1) easy to find and
2) not outrageously expensive and
3) on trend and fresh ideas?

"Roses are extremely expensive as early as a few weeks before Valentine's Day.  The wholesale vendors at the flower market in downtown L.A. usually triple the pricing for the roses to all the flower shops/ florists, so, as you can imagine, the consumers buy them for four times the normal price if they get them from the flower market (which is usually a very inconvenient trip because of traffic, parking and just walking around the flower market itself) and more if they buy roses at a flower shop.

A very good substitute for roses are ranunculus. These are becoming a very popular choice of flowers, not only because of pricing, but because they look very similar to the roses when they are open. Because of the many varieties that have evolved with ranunculus, they are becoming the florists' favorite and the customers as well.  They come in all colors and sizes too… yes, the local ones are the small variety, the medium-to-large ones are from Holland and the giant, big-as-palm-of-your-hand ones are from Japan or Italy. They are a fraction of the price of a rose and they are easy to work with since they don't have thorns. An insider wholesaler trick: during the summer when the ranunculus is out of season,  cut a rose head in half and you get a ranunculus!!! That’s exactly how it looks.

Combine the ranunculus with lisianthus which is also commonly called paper roses, and you will have the perfect Valentine bouquet.

Other flowers that are a good rose substitutes would be hyacinths and sweet peas (my absolute favorite ). They have the sweet fragrance at the fraction of the price of a garden rose.

For vases and containers, be creative. There are mason jars that are cheap and available on Amazon or at your local store. But if you want to use what’s readily available at home, my first recommendation is your ceramic coffee mugs. They come in different sizes, colors and some have those witty quotes and prints. If she loves those big 3-wick scented candles in a glass container, then she must have a lot of the used ones, this can also be used as a vase.

Question: can you share any tips on how to put them together into an easy, beautiful bouquet?

1) Get organized first. Line up about 3 to 5 different coffee mugs.

2) Clean up the stems of your ranunculus and lisianthus, stripping it off greenery by hand.

3) Put together the flowers like a bridal bouquet by alternating the ranunculus and the lisianthus stems and arrange the flower heads all at the same level.

4) When you have a handful that will fit the coffee mug, measure the length of the stems to the height of the coffee mug, and with sharp scissors cut the flower stems, drop in the coffee mug and repeat.

This will make an impressive grouping of arrangements that looks like so much effort has been put into it, but it’s really a very easy and economical process for all the guys out there.

This may also be done with mason jars, pitchers, or those decorative glass candle containers.

A few bunches of hyacinth or sweet peas in a variety of colors can be cut and dropped in one of those used decorative glass candle holders and placed on her bedside table.

What is your personal favorite in Valentine floral?
This is my favorite bouquet because it contains all my favorite flowers: white sweet peas (top on my list of favorites), double pink tulips and Sarah Bernhardt peonies. These are usually very expensive flowers and a bouquet like this easily costs about $500 retail.