Learning from the Best – A Harvard Business School Experience

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Overall, I think Harvard Business School offers a brilliant learning environment coupled with exposure to global thought and business leaders, which cannot be accessed locally in Australia. 

Last June, Event Planet’s Managing Director Amy Merriman packed her bags for Boston, USA and went back to school Harvard-style, participating in Harvard Business School’s Executive Education course on ‘Leading Professional Service Firms.’

Amy was keen to learn about how other professional service companies from around the world managed their businesses to identify ways that she, and in turn Event Planet, could improve and adapt for further and future success.

Event Planet consistently strives to increase its knowledge and experience base and this 7-day course was an intensive program, covering key interest topics such as leadership, strategy, governance, innovation and organisational performance. It was also taught by full-time Harvard Business School faculty members.

The course gave participants a wide range of business perspectives and cultural insights by bringing together thought leaders and practice managers from all over the globe. The variety of service industry sectors represented included finance, legal, advertising, public relations, accounting, architecture and design, IT and management consulting.

“Managing and maintaining talent while sustaining high levels of client satisfaction is a delicate balancing act in any service-based business,” Amy says, “Effective communications, both internal and external, are vital to achieving the optimal equilibrium.”

“Event Planet has always prioritised professionalism and high quality event delivery, along with trying to continually strengthen our culture and brand profile. When this chemistry is right, in a constantly evolving environment, it is dynamic! We’ve produced some of our finest work in recent years and I attribute this to the efforts we have made to continually refine our processes and methodology, year on year for over a decade.” 

For Amy, one of the most valuable aspects of the course included learning how to apply different techniques to align team capabilities and client relationships to drive organisational performance for long term growth.

“Gaining a more sophisticated understanding of the evolution of a client relationship within a service firm was also very revealing,” she adds, “because the delivery of specific event projects demands so much attention, it can be easy to lose sight of the holistic client relationship. Since returning to the office, I have made a significant effort to analyse our clients and their brands to ensure we, as an agency, share both the vision and values required to drive mutual successes.”

Consistently updating and upgrading skills to stay on top of our game is something Event Planet values and Amy says this course surprised her in that the depth of knowledge and variety of experience amongst the attendees who came from over 25 countries, each with extensive knowledge in their own area of expertise.

“Overall, I think Harvard Business School offers a brilliant learning environment coupled with exposure to global thought and business leaders, which cannot be accessed locally in Australia. The sessions and days felt like they went for minutes, not hours, as the content was so interesting and relevant to Event Planet,” she says.

Surprisingly, she adds, there were more Australians in the course than women. “We are definitely an ambitious nation,” she said, adding that she expected greater gender balance. We’re proud to say that she represented both minorities, being women and Australia, in this unique course. “The biggest challenge the gender imbalance presented me was trying to keep up with my study group on the daily 5am jogs we decided to do together before breakfast. I did a few less flights of stairs on the Harvard Stadium (a tradition) but never got left behind!” 

Now, 6 months down the track, Event Planet has been realising some very positive commercial and cultural outcomes from the initiatives introduced by Amy since she attended the course. “I believe the investment in my time to undertake this course has generated an abundance of rewards for both Event Planet and our clients, which I hope will continue well into the future.”

Benefiting from Experiential Marketing

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Once upon a time experiential marketing simply meant handing out some bumper stickers, t-shirts and baseball caps or maybe included hiring promotional staff to give away free samples of a product. But with the rise of social media and hype around customer engagement, experiential marketing has certainly come a long way. Just as traditional advertising can visually or verbally communicate your brand’s benefits, allowing consumers to experience a brand gives them the opportunity to create a memorable and often an emotional connection with a brand. This can give you a big boost in generating brand loyalty. The photos below are some examples of recent experiential marketing activations that we have produced.

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Working with us to create an experiential marketing activation can heighten your marketing campaign and add benefits in a number of ways.

  1. It’s a win-win for everyone. From a simple sampling experience to a large scale campaign, people love the feeling of being a part of something. By giving your customers an actual memory or experience with the brand they enjoy, they’re more likely to recommend it to friends and family, ‘follow’ it on social media and become a loyal customer.
  2. Word of mouth travels. Word of mouth recommendations are the best free form of advertising you can get and as more and more people continue using social media the impact grows. When people like (or don’t like) something they typically don’t stay quiet about it. Giving someone a positive experience with your brand and the opportunity to share their experience via social media can result in positive responses that are invaluable to your brand and image.
  3. It provides meaningful feedback.  Experiential marketing opens up the lines of communication between your company and your customers. It invites them to provide genuine interaction with your product or give feedback on your services. Smart brands know that playing a key role in direct conversations with clients gives the opportunity to influence their opinion of a brand, which is pivotal to a successful marketing campaign.
  4. It enhances your traditional advertising campaign. While booking advertising and sponsoring events are a great way to have your brand seen, including an experiential element to your traditional marketing or advertising campaign is truly the best way to connect with customers on a more humanistic level.

Marketing your brand to stand out from the crowd of competitors can be tough. Providing your customers with a memorable experience through brand engagement is only way to stand out. Contact us to discuss how we can help you with experiential marketing at your next event.

Spice News: 2015 Leaders Forum

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Spice News – originally published by Spice Magazine. 

Last year, Event Planet had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of events from racing carnivals to brand activations, awards nights and more. We were consistently challenged to discover new ways to reinvigorate annual events, develop creative theming and design concepts, manage suppliers and maintain the level of professionalism our clients have come to expect. Each year, we work with several clients who are particularly challenged to create a ‘new’ event from a regularly occurring one. One that keeps the excitement for the event alive as it continues serving its purpose of marketing, educating, fundraising, and so on. Last year was the third consecutive year we were given the challenge to create a new experience for special guests of Tabcorp’s Birdcage Marquee at the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington. Annual events can often run the risk of becoming familiar and predictable, taking place at the same time each year, at the same venue, with similar content, and hosts. We know it doesn’t have to be this way. So with just a little innovation, industry knowledge and attention to detail, events such as Tabcorp’s Birdcage Marquee can still generate plenty of enthusiasm for guests and deliver value for hosts and stakeholders.

Last year, we saw everything from ‘English Polo Garden’ to ‘Love Boat’ to barefoot beach bars to bold and traditional blacks and whites. One theme that stood out for us was the ‘Spring Fling’ where we used a clever mix of geometric shapes and lively patterns such as stripes, houndstooth and stylised floral prints to create a bright and modern event atmosphere. The use of bright colours and pastels alike in colour blocking fashion or mixed with simple black and whites created a sophisticated look that kept guests talking. We took this bright geometric style and adapted it to the annual event, designing and activating a vivid, colourful atmosphere for Tabcorp’s Birdcage Marquee. The design for the marquee’s inspiration was drawn from the spring colours of the racing season and on trend geometric patterns which created a visual and textural feast for guest’s eyes. The guest journey began at the oversized entrance where everyone was individually greeted by three beautifully presented hostesses in bright pink dresses. The reception foyer featured floor-to-ceiling geometric wallpaper in fresh colours and clustered copper pendants suspended from the ceiling.

The main staircase steps were individually labelled with a past Melbourne Cup winner while the main bar area was abundant with block coloured spring florals in textured white geometric vases, white furniture with pops of hot pink felt chair pads, natural timber floors, an upholstered duck egg blue banquette setting and a central pressed metal bar lit with 15 spherical copper pendant lights overhead. The culinary feature of the marquee was a dumpling bar by GingerBoy’s Teage Ezard which was extremely popular among the guests. Vintage G.H. Mumm Champagne was served from the exclusive Champagne bar along with fresh Pimms cocktails. The keen race goers enjoyed watching all the action from the open bay windows on Millionaire’s Row and on 16 internal plasma screens. Keeping on top of event trends and knowing when the right mix of concepts will create just the best idea for keeping a regular event anything but routine is something we enjoy and will continue to look forward to in 2015. As styles and trends continue to evolve, we also look forward to bringing creative concepts to all our future events.

View the full PDF article here. 

 

Below are some photos from Tabcorp Birdcage Marquee. You can view the case study here.

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Life through the eyes of an Event Planet Intern

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If working in the event management industry sounds like it’s for you, there are plenty of opportunities to get that much needed experience for your CV. Here’s how Event Planet’s Event Co-ordinator Lauren Willis got the experience she needed for a successful start to her career in event management.

Lauren contacted Event Planet whilst studying and even though she only needed to complete 120 hours of internship time, (roughly around 3.5 months) she ended securing the role up staying for 10 months. Lauren says that being able to continue with an internship whilst studying gave her the opportunity to simultaneously use what she was learning at college in a hands on environment.

Here’s what she said about interning at Event Planet:

What drew you to working in event management?

I think what drew me into working in event management is that no two days are ever the same. You are always constantly doing different tasks or working on a project which 95% of the time is completely different to your last. I think this is one of the real attractions of events.

What’s your favourite part of working on an event?

My favourite part of working on an event is being able to see the finished product. Whether it is actually being there on the day of the event or just seeing the photos post event. It’s exciting to see things you have helped to source being used on the day. I think no matter how much you try to visualise what it looks like beforehand nothing compares to seeing what the overall finished product looks like.

What was one thing you didn’t expect to learn?

It would be hard to pin point one thing that I didn’t expect to learn. I would say that it is everything that happens before the event day(s) and the amount of preparation that goes into an event. There are so many different aspects to event and it’s not just turning up on the day and putting the chairs in place! The Directors and Producers put so much time and preparation in beforehand. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes, which is what people don’t always see.

What’s been your favourite event to work on so far?

The favourite event I have worked on so far took place at the very end of last year. We had a 4-day conference program for 200 people from 81 different countries in Sydney. Each night was a different themed dinner event and venue plus there was a team-building afternoon of sailing on Sydney Harbour. It was enjoyable to experience so many different events in such a close space of time. The majority of our Event Planet team also worked on this event as well so it was great to do something all together.

What advice would you give someone looking to take on an internship in the industry?

My advice to someone looking to take on an internship is to try to stand out and put in the extra effort to get noticed by the employer. I think the more you make yourself feel part of the team rather than just a student doing work experience, then you are able to gain so much more knowledge from everyone around you. There were so many things that I wasn’t taught in college that I learned during my time as an intern. Hands on experience is crucial so whatever opportunities you can get make sure you take them and learn as much as you can from them so you can grow your skills and knowledge. 

Event Planet announced as Australian Event Awards Finalist for Event Organiser of the Year

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For the 3rd consecutive year, Event Planet has been named among the most innovative and outstanding businesses in the Australian events industry.

Event Planet has been announced as a finalist for the prestigious Event Organiser of the Year title, to be presented in November this year. After winning this award in both 2012 and 2013, (the first time it has been won twice by the same company), this is an outstanding honour to be nominated as a finalist once again.

The Australian Event Awards is the national awards program to reward innovation, recognise excellence and unite the Australian Events Industry.

Event Planet was selected from hundreds of entries from across Australia and an incredibly diverse range of industries to make the list of just four finalists in this category.

The Event Organiser of the Year category award recognises an individual or business that has delivered an event or events in Australia at a consistently exceptional level over a 12 month period. As the current Australian Event Manager of the Year, Event Planet has continued to perform as an excellent ambassador for the Australian events industry, through continually committing to encourage clients to pursue innovative events and brand activations as part of their overall marketing strategies.

Managing Director, Amy Merriman says  “it is a fantastic honour for Event Planet and our passionate and dedicated team of event professionals. We really believe in the value of events and the power, influence and commercial results they generate for our clients. It would be an extraordinary outcome if we were to win for a third consecutive year and make a hattrick.”

“Australia is blessed with one of the great event industries of the world. It hasn’t come about just through good luck but through the skill and dedication of a lot of great companies and a lot of great people,” says former Olympic Chief and co-chair of the Industry Judging Panel Sandy Hollway.

The Australian Event Awards Industry Night of Nights will be held at Doltone House, Darling Island Wharf in Sydney on Tuesday 11th November, providing national recognition and celebration of outstanding achievements across the whole of Australia’s thriving events industry, from small-scale events in regional Australia, to multi-million dollar festivals and public events.

Visit www.eventawards.com.au

Management Today: Get Bang for Bucks

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By Ian Porter – originally published in Management Today

Event Planet Managing Director Amy Merriman tells us how setting up product launches and promotions requires ingenuity and flair to stand out from the pack.

Read the full article as published in Management Today magazine.

Strutting our Stuff to end breast cancer

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Event Planet raises funds for breast cancer awareness

We did it! Team #eventplanet crossed the finish line at the City 2 Surf last Sunday in an effort to help #endbreastcancer.

Did you spot us and our cheeky ‘boobie’ shirts?

Here are some photos in case you missed us on the day! For more laughs and photos from the race, visit our Instagram account.

Thanks again to everyone who donated. In total we raised $2,816.59 to help move one step closer to achieving the goal of zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030.

See you again next year!

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WIN 2 tickets to the Sydney Swans!

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Event Planet is giving you the chance to WIN 2 tickets to the Sydney Swans vs. St. Kilda match at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 16 August 2014!

To be eligible to enter:

1. Follow us on Instagram

2. Like and repost the contest photo posted by Event Planet to your followers and tell us in 25
words or less: ‘Who’s your favourite Swannies player and why?’

3. Tag the photo with @eventplanet and the hashtags #goswans and #eventplanet

Full terms and conditions can be downloaded here.

Good luck!!!

Micenet Australia: Game, Set, Moët with Roger Federer

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Original article published in June/July 2014 issue of Micenet Australia.

Event Planet was tasked with activating the Australian “Game, Set, Moët” event campaign that introduced the newly appointed Moët et Chandon global brand ambassador, the 17 grand slam champion, Roger Federer, to VIP media and key guests in Melbourne. Event Planet was engaged to produce a premium event which incorporated stylish, interactive tennis elements. Event Planet’s solution was the tiny tennis court, featuring the distinct Moët et Chandon cream and gold colour palate as well as the characteristic Australian Open ‘blue’ court border. In addition, there was also an order of play board, umpire chair, a bespoke swing tennis game, and Moët et Chandon branded racquets, tennis balls, and tennis outfits for the models.

Read more from the article here.

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CIM: In the Spotlight – Amy Merriman

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Article originally published in CIM March 2014 issue.

Event Planet managing director, Amy Merriman was one of five event theming experts to sit down with Anna-Louise McDougall from CIM to talk about the theming trends with “wow-factor” and what’s in store for the rest of 2014.

One of the quintessential elements to making a corporate event one to remember is addressing the five senses. Physically creating warmth is important too – having the right temperature is the metaphorical idea of a hug. It softens peoples and opens them up to a journey or experience that they perhaps don’t expect.

People appreciate subtle touches these days, as opposed to big, bold, gestures. There is a general move away from the print production as a visual; sensory impact can be achieved through technology and sound. We’ve seen more demand for VJs [vision jockeys], instead of disc jockeys, who create moving imagery on walls.

People are activating their brands in ways that are both clever and subtle, but long lasting. For example social media brings with it the opportunity for longevity, rather than the event being limited to when it starts and finishes. There is often an element of surprise – people will never tire of that – it’s just being delivered in a different way. For example, event organisers are only announcing secret event locations two hours before the event happens.

One of our favourite projects we’ve been involved in was a bar for Veuve Clicquot at the Paspaley Polo In The City event. We used an Airstream caravan reconfigured as a hospitality bar; it was instantly popular with guests as something quirky, fun and different.

You can view the original article here on page 39.

 

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