The Breakout – Sharing Insights

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On Monday 3rd August, Brittney Levinson, Editor of Spice Magazine & A LIST Guide was joined by an all-star panel of seasoned event professionals including Amy Merriman, Managing Director of Event Planet; Aaron Dart, General Manager of Austage Events Sydney and Darren Taylor, Executive Director and Head Chef of Harvest by Darren Taylor to deliver The Breakout – a virtual internship.

Developed as an additional learning experience for event management students who have had restricted opportunities for event internships this year as a result of the current COVID-19 crisis, The Breakout brought professionals from different sectors of the events industry to share their thoughts and insights on the industry today.

Kicking off the session, Amy Merriman of Event Planet spoke in detail about the impact COVID-19 has had on the industry. As a specialist corporate event management agency, Amy noted that Event Planet felt the impact of COVID-19 immediately and in a significant way. She recalled the immediate response for projects to be delivered in March that were completely dissolved – either postponed or cancelled. For a company that is underpinned by its mantra of bringing ideas to life, the team at Event Planet was in a phase winding projects down. Of all changes, relocating out of the office to work effectively from home was one of the easier aspects as Amy noted ‘given the nature of the business, our staff are often working remotely while delivering events out of the office’.

When asked her opinion on in-person events and their relevance to the corporate sector post COVID-19, Amy strongly believes that there is no substitute for face to face communication. ‘It is clear that clients have an appetite to be in front of their staff or customers in a physical sense…we have to look at how we can deliver impact without the ability to offer scale’.

Reflecting on the changes we will expect to see in events going forward, Amy expects a lot of changes. In the short space of a few months, the industry has gone through 5-10 years’ worth of innovation! A notion echoed by General Manager of Austage Events, Aaron Dart. Sitting in front of the camera was a different experience for him noting that he is normally on the other side of the camera with a set of headphones running the show from a logistics perspective.

With 26 years’ experience delivering live events, the team at Austage Events has experienced a shift from delivering complete technical production in wild and wonderful venues to adapting to the current climate and shooting from a studio built within their own warehouse.

With the changes occurring within the industry, Aaron noted there is a real need for hybrid events, almost as if every event is a live studio audience style experience. Clients are either electing to use Austage’s studio or stream live from their event venue with a reduced audience. Whichever way, hybrid events are clearly here to stay. Aaron predicts the industry will be heavily focused on semi broadcast style event delivery for at least the next 12 months as brands, clients and consumers regain confidence in hosting and attending events. Could this be a permanent option for clients looking to reach a larger audience than their selected venue allows? It is a real possibility!

Students were treated to a back of house tour of the technical production ‘engine room’. This tour showcased the studio set up, who and what is involved in delivering a virtual event – a side of events that few get to experience including audio, vision, show callers and online event platform management.

Darren Taylor, spoke of how his business, Harvest by Darren Taylor, pivoted as a direct result of COVID-19. Overnight, their focus shifted from event and corporate catering to a packaged meal concept.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, Darren’s team of 20 staff would be preparing for and delivering up to 50 events a week, however experienced an immediate cessation of majority of their business, including the Sydney Writers Festival at Carriageworks days before it was scheduled to commence.

With this change, a concept that was coincidentally in the making and originally intended to be a 6 month roll out, their packaged meal concept, Harvest at Home, was brought to life overnight. With urgency, an online retail page was developed where consumers could order via a website, distribution channels were negotiated, marketing and social media strategies were designed and delivery partners engaged. What was once an events catering company transformed into a food manufacturing company and for the foreseeable future, this is where Darren sees the growth of his business. Their focus is to continue to develop Harvest at Home, going into the corporate sector within the CBD, meeting the needs of the limited workforce who have returned to working from the office and found cafes and restaurants closed.

Students were then kept informed of the various industry publications and resources available to event professionals, specifically Spice Magazine and A LIST Guide. As Editor of both publications, Brittney noted that part of her duty is to interview experts and share their knowledge with the readers. Not only do these publications keep event professionals abreast of the latest industry news, they are also share information on venue openings, technology, trends, sustainability, event case studies and destination features. A wealth of information is available at your fingertips and students were encouraged to subscribe as they start their career as event professionals!

To conclude the session, Brittney ran a poll to determine how the students were feeling with the changing nature of the events industry, how they felt about entering the industry in light of the current pandemic and how they felt about their career in the events industry after participating in The Breakout.

The results of the polls speak volumes to the current situation and shows that leaders in our field need to be proactive in encouraging and mentoring up and coming event professionals. Opportunities such as The Breakout are great ways to reach our next generation of event professionals to ensure they feel supported and aware of the realities of the industry.

As Merriman noted, there is no substitute for face to face communication. The events industry will continue and it will rebuild. People will gather once more and we will be ready!

Thank you to our distinguished panel from Event Planet, Austage Events, Harvest by Darren Taylor and Spice News & A LIST Guide.

Thank you also to the supporters of The Breakout; Harry the Hirer, Arvin Prem Kumar and Joyce Design.

If you missed out on The Breakout, you can view the entire recording here.

If you would like to know more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

 

Internships in the midst of COVID-19

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Whilst we are slowly returning to life back in the office here at Event Planet, we have been reflecting on the past 12 months; where we are now and where we are headed. One of the biggest differences, besides the obvious, is our inability to offer our robust internship program to budding event professionals. This is a part of the job that we delight in – watching our interns grow over their time with Event Planet, taking on their perspectives, teaching them and hopefully imparting some wisdom along the way!

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we celebrated the conclusion of an internship with a student from UTS who summed it up perfectly for us: “One of the best experiences in my university life ended today. Thank you for offering me an impactful and inclusive internship that introduced and connected me to the real world of Events!” This is what it is all about for us – not only bringing ideas to life for our clients but also engaging with the next generation of event managers.

For a number of us, both past and present Event Planet staff, the best part of our degree at UTS was the professional internship. What better way to experience the industry than to dive headfirst into an agency. An opportunity to get into the industry, get hands-on experience, meet people, network and expose ourselves to the excitement and challenges of the job. For me, it was all about finding who I wanted to be as an event professional.

Today, we fear many university and college students now find themselves at a crossroads, perhaps even questioning if there will be an industry to enter once they complete their studies.

In response to this uncertainty, Event Planet has developed The Breakout – a virtual internship experience for the events industry which we are delighted to be presenting in partnership with Austage Events.

You may be asking yourself, what does a virtual internship look like? For us, the key to a successful internship is providing the student with hands-on experience covering all aspects of event management. That is what we are aiming to deliver to event management students from UTS, Torrens University and ICMS in the format of a live-streamed session on Monday 3rd August.

The 1-hour session will feature leading industry figures addressing key event management topics as well as a live Q&A moderated by the editor of Spice News, Brittney Levinson.

We are thrilled to bring together three seasoned event professionals to present, all of whom are actively working within the industry in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Amy Merriman, Managing Director, Event Planet
  • Aaron Dart, General Manager NSW, Austage Events
  • Darren Taylor, Head Chef & Director, Harvest by Darren Taylor

Our hope is that students will leave the session with a broader view of the industry as well as insights into the future of the industry.

For any other universities or colleges that may be interested in participating, please contact us. We would be delighted to bring this opportunity to as many up-and-coming event professionals as possible! Alternatively, register at the link here to attend The Breakout.

Watch this space as we delve into the insights shared by our partners following The Breakout!

Belvedere Retreat

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For the second consecutive year, Event Planet was engaged by Belvedere Vodka Australia to host 18 of Australia’s top bartenders for a three-day retreat as part of the Global Belvedere Retreat Program.

Being whisked away to a bespoke Belvedere Retreat at Makepeace Island in Noosa to the lush and peaceful rainforest surroundings was the perfect way for the bartenders to unwind from everyday life and focus on their health and wellbeing.

The Australian Belvedere Retreat program included a sublime sunset cruise and private yoga classes. A custom-designed and locally sourced menu was created by the island’s private chef.

Some of the standout highlights of the retreat included guests starting the day with a “Waves of Wellness” surf therapy session with renowned Occupational Therapist Joel Pilgrim, which was then followed by a “Naturalness Masterclass” with award-winning restaurateur Danielle Gjestland.

Guests left feeling rested, revivified and relaxed after their incredible and fulfilling Belvedere Retreat.

 

Venues we are keeping our eyes on!

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As restrictions begin to ease, we start to look inward for travel and experience inspiration. The time has come to once again embrace Australia as a destination for business events. With international travel likely to be on hold for the near future, we accept the challenge to find new opportunities for brands, companies and employees here in Australia to re-engage and to create experiences of celebration.

What the events ecosystem will look like in the coming months is unknown, but we at Event Planet, are excitedly looking ahead to what the future has to bring and how we can connect with your brands and your people on home soil.

With whispers of new products, services and venues opening, there are a few that we wanted to share with you.

Very close to our heart is One Barangaroo, which we launched in 2018 together with our clients Crown Resorts and Knight Frank. Due for completion at the end of the year, this will be the premier destination for guests to experience a world-class venue on the harbour. An opulent hotel, decadent restaurants and an extravagant spa are only a few of the amenities available. Whilst there are no conferencing spaces within the property, there are plenty of locations available in close proximity to accommodate your conferencing and meeting requirements.

Also, in our backyard in Sydney, the W Hotel is set to open by 2021 on the old IMAX theatre site in Darling Harbour. Featuring 593 guestrooms, serviced apartments, an infinity pool, bars, restaurants and 925 square metres of event space – this is a property to keep in mind for upcoming events in Sydney. As only the second W property to operate in Australia thus far (with the third also opening in 2021 in Melbourne), these spaces will be highly sought after by all brands and organisations.

Photography courtesy of W Hotels

 

We’re also keeping our eyes on the Barossa Valley with The Oscar, a new $50-million 6-star property rumoured to be opening at Seppeltsfield winery in 2022. The property will have 70 rooms and suites available. Our last visit to the Barossa in 2019 saw us visit Seppeltsfield and we can’t wait to see what this new development has to bring to the region!

Photography courtesy of Spice News and Travel Weekly

 

Looking for an Australian escape immediately? We’re loving Tourism Australia’s virtual backgrounds! Engage and excite your team and/or customers, with a number of stunning photographs of Australian destinations available for you to download here. What’s our choice of destination you ask? The Great Barrier Reef of course! What would your ideal destination be?

Photography courtesy of Tourism Australia

Australian Event Awards 2019

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Congratulations to all the finalists and the winners at Wednesday night’s Australia Event Awards.

Event Planet were delighted to receive two nominations at the prestigious awards, with Mikaila Sparkes selected as a National Finalist for Young Australian Event Manager of the Year & Event Planet nominated for Best Australian Event Agency of the Year.

It’s a privilege to be part of an amazing and talented industry!

BVLGARI Chadstone Boutique

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The launch of the newly refurbished BVLGARI Chadstone Boutique saw guests enjoy a night filled with Italian-inspired cocktails and mouth-watering Bibelot desserts. DJ Chloe Wilson hit the decks whilst guests had the opportunity to try on beautiful BVLGARI pieces and were treated to a sneak peek of the ever so stunning Seduttori time piece range. Produced with passion by Event Planet.

National Finalist for the Best Australian Event Agency of the Year

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Event Planet is proud to announce we have again been selected as a National Finalist for the Best Australian Event Agency of the Year. We are hoping to win this for the third time in 2019!

We are also thrilled to announce our own Event Manager, Mikaila Sparkes, has been selected as a National Finalist for Young Australian Event Manager of the Year.

We can’t wait for the event industry night of nights in Perth next month! Check out all the National Finalists here.

Will you be joining us at Events Uncovered this year?

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Our General Manager – Laura Sage, is confirmed to join the speaker panel to discuss “Measuring Success – how to measure the overall success of an event and what to do when things go wrong” as part of the @spicenewsmag Temple of Knowledge program.

Events Uncovered is a boutique trade show giving event planners as well as EAs and PAs the opportunity to discover the latest venues, suppliers and trends in corporate events.

The expo is free to attend – register now at www.eventsuncovered.com.au

Meet you There!

Event Planet Company Showreel

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Check out our latest showreel #soundon

At the heart of what we do is an unbridled passion for creating the extraordinary, the original and the powerful.

Events are a unique opportunity to invite your guests to experience a meaningful connection with your brand. This is the moment to engage, entertain, educate, surprise and most importantly – influence hearts and minds.

Take a break from your day, press play and escape into our world if just for a moment.