Archive for January, 2013


Hiring an event management partner

Heidi Brumbach, CMP, CTA

Heidi Brumbach, CMP, CTA

This post is authored by guest blogger Heidi Brumbach, CMP, CTA. Heidi is the general manager of Technisch Creative. Email:

So you’ve decided to have an event, and you’re not sure whether or not you need professional assistance. A good event management company should be an asset to your event, not a liability. They will bring knowledge and experience to the table which can help you save time and money. But not all event managers are created equal. Here are a few tips to help you find the right professional.

Ask about their experience. Event planning sounds like a glamorous job, which is one reason why event planning and management companies are popping up all over the world. However, there is no licensing or education required for one to call themselves an event planner, so ask to see examples of past jobs. And if they have beautiful pictures to show you, make sure they explain what their involvement was in the event pictured. Did they actually manage the event, or were they a volunteer helping with a small portion of the event?

Ask for references and follow-up with them. It’s invaluable to find out what a past client’s experience was like. Make sure that you get a list of past client references and not personal references. Also, does the company have a list of repeat clientele? Consider checking with these clients, because repeat business is a testament to the quality of their work.

Ask about the company’s relationship with venues that you are considering for your event. An experienced professional should be able to work in most environments, but it can be an added bonus if they are experienced working with a particular venue. This can help save you a lot of time and expense with labor scheduling, site visits, and any union issues that could arise.

Ask how the company will charge for their service. Is it an hourly charge or is it a percentage of the event? Are they contracting and paying the vendors or will you be responsible for payments? If the company is responsible for paying the vendors, do they have good credit terms? If they are not responsible for contracting and paying the vendors, you will need to make sure that each vendor is properly licensed and insured.

Ask if the company owns/operates their own equipment. Some event management companies are able to provide services such as audio/visual production, decor, rentals, etc. in-house, which may help reduce the end price. If they do not own or operate the equipment themselves, find out who are their partners in service.

Ask about the company’s network. Do they have access to unique ideas and services for your event? Are they current on industry trends?

Ask the name of the individual on staff who will be in charge of your event. After the contract is signed, will you work with an event coordinator throughout the process? Will that individual be on site for the event? If there is an intern or assistant coordinating the details during the planning phase, how are they being supervised?

Ask if they will be responsible for assuring the load out and clean up will be completed according to the facility’s requirements. Every event has an ending, and the clean up is an important part of the production. There may be fees involved if anything is left behind, so someone needs to be in charge to be sure the job is complete.

Ask for an example of how they’ve handled an emergency. If there’s one thing all experienced event managers will agree on, it’s that things never go exactly as planned. A good event manager will be able to analyze the situation and make quick, informed decisions to keep the event on track. The ability to make good decisions is what makes a good event manager great.


How to publish a book and why you should care

ape-1667x2500As a featured association management blogger on Alltop, I was recently given the opportunity to receive and review an advance copy of a new book written by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch titled, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book.

For those that don’t know, Kawasaki is the author of 11 previous books, including What the Plus!, Enchantment, and The Art of the Start. He is also the cofounder of and the former chief evangelist of Apple.

Likewise, Welch is the author of From Idea to App, iOS 5 Core Frameworks, and iOS 6 for Developers, and is also the developer of several iOS apps. Previ­ously he worked as a senior media editor for Pearson Education. He also helped pioneer many of Pearson’s earliest efforts in iPad solutions.

But enough about them, what did I think of the book?

The short version: Pick up a copy today. It’s totally worth it. The Kindle ebook is now available for just $9.99 (with other versions hitting the market soon) and you’re bound to stumble upon something interesting or helpful that’s sure to support or otherwise enhance your work.

The book is broken down into three distinct sections: author, publisher and entrepreneur. As a blogger (and someone who’s dabbled more in professional writing as of late), I found the author section chock-full of tips, tricks, tools and techniques for further refining my approach to this craft.

Likewise, I secretly (or not-so-secretly) hope to write at least one book in my lifetime. Without even the slightest clue of where to start, this book (given the experiences of both Kawasaki and Welch) provided me the foundation to do so confidently (when the time is right).

The second section focuses on the reader’s role as publisher. Regardless of whether you ever plan on publishing a book, those even remotely interested in writing will find this section interesting. From editing to book cover design, distribution, sales, file conversions, pricing and everything in between, it’s a behind-the-scenes look at what makes the publishing world tick.

Finally, the book closes with a section on entrepreneurship. Again, whether or not you ever plan to author or publish a book, this section is relevant to anyone reading this review. It includes information on marketing, branding, social media and blogging – from the perspective of a little fish in a big pond. These are lessons we can all apply to our development as both leaders and professionals.

Other than content, what else makes this book a must-read? Well, the approach is conversational and neither Kawasaki nor Welch takes themselves too seriously. It’s also an easy and quick read. In fact, I recommend getting through it once without stopping and then returning, as necessary, to reference specific sections or passages of the book.

Likewise, the text contains approximately 400 hyper­links. It’s the modern-day choose your own adventure. If you’re reading the ebook version, you can simply click on the links. If you’re reading the print version, you can visit the book’s dedicated website. Here you can also access a variety of free downloads, tests, templates and sample contracts.

But what’s the connection to the association community? That, my friends, is simple. The role of professional writing (particularly when it comes to curating industry content and publishing original research) continues to grow. As associations strive to remain both relevant and valuable, the author-publisher-entrepreneur model provides tremendous opportunity in the pursuit of this vision.

So, my question to you is this: Of the author, publisher and entrepreneur roles, which does your organization currently fill? Do opportunities for growth exist in these areas? If your organization doesn’t currently dedicate resources to each of these three roles, what might change if it did?


The Meetings Report: Five game-changing tactics redefining education strategy and success

MeetingsIn December 2012, I was pleased to finally release Event Garde’s first research project. In a nutshell, The Meetings Report strives to describe the state of the Michigan association meetings industry.

Alex Kontras, a data manager for the City of Grand Rapids, and I were delighted to author this report. Likewise, it was edited by Kristen Parker, a media communications manager for Michigan State University. Finally, the finished product was jointly published by the Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE) and my Grand Rapids-based consulting firm Event Garde.

The 16-page research report represents the first-ever Michigan association meetings industry survey and key recommendations examining the characteristics of senior education/professional development staff, characteristics of association meetings, professional speaker hiring practices, industry speaker preparation and compensation, and meeting evaluation practices.

While respondents primarily represented statewide trade associations (meaning the resultant benchmarking data is largely Michigan-specific), the five key recommendations precipitating from this 65-question survey and follow-on analysis are not only instructive and actionable, but remarkably universal across state lines. In fact, when applied to any association’s annual education strategy, these simple but effective tactics can substantively redefine how success is measured.

And the report is equally valuable to suppliers.

Whether you’re representing a CVB, a hotel, a consulting firm or a product/service provider, you’re bound to find the report – and its data, trends, tables and figures – incredibly helpful. Key findings and statistics include annual budgets, meeting revenue, fiscal year comparisons, meeting types, exhibits and cancellations, outsourcing, speaker bureaus, decision-making, contracting, room pick-up, funds/contracts, site selection and much more.

A copy of the report may be ordered via MSAE’s website. This invaluable resource is free to contributors, $59 for MSAE members and $99 for non-members.

Additionally, I’ll be speaking about the five key recommendations precipitating from this research throughout 2013. Following are select dates in February and March representing the launch of this series:

Feb. 13
The Meetings Report Seminar
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Okemos, MI

Become one of the first to hear the results from the first-ever meeting practices research conducted in Michigan. Core content with include report findings, organizational and meeting professional demographics, professional and industry speaker best practices, and evaluation trends. Expect a highly engaging and discussion-filled seminar that drills down into each key recommendation. Register here.

Feb. 20
The Meetings Report: Five Game-changing Tactics Redefining Education Strategy & Success
12 – 1:30 p.m.
Atlanta, GA

Join me as I reveal each of the five game-changing recommendations guaranteed to transform your organization’s programs and events into dynamic (and profitable) professional development experiences your members will value. Register here.

Feb. 20
From Theory to Practice: Applying Game-changing Tactics to Your Association’s Education Strategy
1:45 – 3:30 p.m.
Atlanta, GA

In this highly interactive follow-on session, evaluate your organization’s current education strategies and develop actionable next steps to operationalize The Meeting Report’s key recommendations. Focus on ways your association can elevate the quality and sophistication of its events, build the reputation of its meetings department and improve the association’s bottom line. Register here.

March 19
The Next Generation of Meetings
9:15  10:45 a.m.
Troy, NY

Learn about the five game-changing recommendations guaranteed to transform organization programs and events into dynamic (and profitable) professional development experiences. Likewise, evaluate current education strategies and develop actionable next steps designed to operationalize the report’s findings. Register here.

In the meantime, you’re ready for that list – aren’t you? Following are the five key recommendations discussed in this report:

  • Tactic 1: Diversify revenue
  • Tactic 2: Reward difference
  • Tactic 3: Value context
  • Tactic 4: Maximize opportunities
  • Tactic 5: Prioritize learning

Together, these key recommendations are intended to provide the executive summary for this study’s research findings. Should your organization wish to further explore the intricacies of this study’s data, including the application of these game-changing tactics to your organization’s current practices, I recommend purchasing the report, attending a program (or two) and exploring one-on-one consultation.

So, my question to you is this: Which of these five key recommendations represents the single-most important action your organization could take in 2013 to make your education department even more successful?

meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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