Precision Meetings & Events Blog

Where sophistication meets imagination.


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Vermont: Versatile, Varied, and Vibrant

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This past week I celebrated my two year anniversary with Precision Meetings & Events, Inc. I found myself on that day, standing knee-high in a body of water, in waders, holding a pole, fly fishing. I thought to myself, it has been two years and I am still experiencing new things that I never thought I would in my years at Precision or in my life.

This last meeting, I spent a whole week in Stowe, Vermont. Being a city girl myself, I had the opportunity to experience an entirely different environment that Stowe had to offer. They are known for their hiking trails, fly fishing, and many different art vendors, such as jewelry makers, glass blowers, and furniture makers. We took the opportunity of being in such a different location (this particular group had never really been to this part of the world for this meeting), and immersed the group into all of these activities throughout the meeting.

We began by taking the Executive Committee Spouses fly fishing one morning. We put them all in waders, taught them how to tie a hook to a fishing line, and allowed them to practice casting. Then with our four experienced guides, we allowed the group to hike to their perspective locations and fly fish for a couple of hours. This is something this group had never done before and it really allowed them get outside their comfort zone and try something new. We even had someone catch bass which made the experience all worth it!

Next, we brought artisans in from nearby towns to our Opening Reception for our larger meeting. We had stone jewelry makers, glass blowers, wine makers, craft-brew makers, and local cheese and chocolatiers. They all had the opportunity to set up a booth to show off their crafts and tell their story. This truly allowed our attendees to experience and taste a little bit of Vermont.

One of our more overwhelmingly liked events was the presentation by Miranda Thomas and Charles Shackleton. This husband and wife duo own a Vermont based company, Shackleton Thomas. They pride themselves in their handmade fine pottery, furniture and accessories. They shared their love story and how they began their lives together and found their passion for creating items with their hands. They also told us about one of their most meaningful projects, The Naked Table Project. This allows a group to take the day to learn to make tables –bonding and creating lasting tables in an environmentally friendly manner. Participants learn about a sustainable approach to furniture making, how to prepare and assemble its mortise and tenon joinery, and how to finish their tables to look their best. To fully understand the process of sustainably making furniture, you must go into the forest. Guided by expert foresters and sawyers, they take the participants on a tour through the forest where the iconic Sugar Maple trees were harvested for the table workshop.

Lastly, we ended our meeting with an optional tour to Quechee, Vermont to visit Simon Pearce glass blowing factory. We feasted on a traditional Vermont brunch with views of the Quechee George, a spectacular waterfall. We then received a private tour to see the glass blowing and interesting machinery that creates the glass.

I have learned so much in my two plus years with Precision and every day there is always something more.  I have been blessed with many opportunities and I am fortunate to keep experiencing all the new challenges, rewards, and places. Vermont opened my eyes to another part of this world and its unique culture. To say the least this meeting was versatile (adapted our meeting agenda to Vermont’s environment), varied(offered many new options for tours and programs), and vibrant (two words: green mountains). To those who have never been…I urge you to go!


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Why Whine? Drink Virginia Wine!

What better way to enjoy the beautiful summer weather then going to a wine festival? Coming home from a long day last week, I was listening to the radio and heard them talking about a wine festival and I thought – that’s exactly what I need right now. I decided to give them a call and try to win the tickets they were giving away, and I did!  

This past weekend, my friend and I went to the Vintage Virginia Wine Festival where over 30 vineyard owners and representatives from around Virginia came together to showcase their best wines. The event was held at Bull Run Regional Park, only about a 40 minute drive from D.C. Luckily the tickets I won included a bus that took us there and back from D.C.  

I have taken a few classes about wine and taste when I was in Mendoza, Argentina and also when I was in southern Spain, but I’m certainly no sommelier. Although, after meeting some of the vineyard owners and listening to their explanations of different wines, I’d like to think I’m a step closer! They enthusiastically described how to drink wine (let the young red wine breathe!), when to drink certain wines, and what foods to pair with this wine or that wine, but the best part was actually tasting the wines.  

The vineyards represented at the festival had every type of wine imaginable. I think I tried every fruit flavored wine that exists, and I must say my favorite was a raspberry cabernet franc. I am more of a dry wine girl, but it’s always fun trying different flavors! There was a ghost pepper and habanero wine and I love my spicy foods so I wanted to give it a try. As you can imagine, it was incredible spicy! When I could breathe again after trying it, I tried a chili hot dog flavored wine. They gave us a piece of cheese with the wine and it tasted exactly like a chili cheese hot dog- definitely an experience! 

The festival wasn’t ALL about wine though; they had live music, food trucks, and craft fair vendors to shop around as you sipped on a glass of your favorite wine. In the end I found a favorite; the Vidal Blanc from the Rockbridge Vineyards called St. Mary’s Blanc, which they told me pairs well with warm baguettes and brie. I will definitely be having a wine and cheese party with my new favorite wine this week!

 

 


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International Meetings are Sizzling

According to a recent study done by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), the United States ranks as the top country for hosting meetings, but it is the international destinations that take the top twenty slots in the ranks for the most trending cities to host meetings. Over the last ten years, international association meetings have grown exponentially.

With improved relations with other countries that were once off limits to US travelers, such-as Cuba, cities like Havana have seen an increase in their meetings industry. In an age where meetings are competing for individual’s time and attention, planners are forced to create truly memorable experiences instead of just average meetings. With this, planners are seeking to offer the “once-in-a-lifetime” experience to their attendees, by giving them the “opportunity” to travel internationally.

In the last three months, Precision has been to five different countries that we have not hosted meetings in before.  These destinations have ranged from France to the Caribbean to Central America. Each of these destinations offer their own unique qualities, and through creative planning, the attendees of these meetings are sure to have an “once-in-a-lifetime” experience.

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Tom Boy, Tattoo, Today

We are all aware of how much people change over the course their life. Of course, we are not the same person we were at age 5 or even a young teenager. At that time in my life, I was a tom boy and I wasn’t afraid to play in the backyard and get muddy. Growing up with 3 brothers, I was competitive, probably a trait I developed growing up with boys, I played multiple sports and my favorite professional sport has always been football and basketball. I loved “girly girl” things too! My favorite artist was Britney Spears, I was a boy band lover – #teamNSYNC, and I always had painted nails. My dream job was to be a teacher and my biggest worry in life was if my friends and I had the same lunch break at school.

Now as I approach my 25 birthday this summer – I reflect on the person I am today , some things are different, some are the same! There is still a big part of me that is a tom boy – I still love watching football (Redskin Nation) and I am glued to the NBA Finals like everyone else (#gowizards). I am competitive in life – I like to do my very best in everything I do. So in that sense these traits about me have not changed in the past 20 years. On the contrary, while I still love Britney, I’d say my favorite artist is Jason Aldean and I love country music now! My career has changed from teacher to event and meeting planner, and I’d say my biggest worry is paying bills!

With all this being said, one of my biggest changes I have seen in myself is how much I have changed just in the past 7 years. After leaving home to go away to college, I decided in my first semester that I wanted to get a tattoo. A decision that can be defined as: ‘impulsive 18-year old, I’m a “grown up” now’.  Without thinking through how hard tattoos are to cover when you are in the working world, wearing professional attire, suits, heels, I decided to get my tattoo on my left foot. No personal or significant meaning of the tattoo – just a pretty design. I liked the design, I liked tattoos, and I decided to go for it! I was happy with the tattoo, I liked it, and I didn’t regret the tattoo after, not even or year or 2 after. But now 7 years later, I just finished my first 4 of 16 sessions to get my tattoo removed and a total of a 1 year before it is gone entirely.

As I reflect on this change in myself, I have learned that the person you are at 18 years old is not the same person you are at age 25 years old. Some of the choices you make in life are permanent (or very painful to correct!). I’ve learned to think things through deeper and not make impulsive decisions. I have learned it is important to live in the moment because you will never get that moment back but don’t forget that the decisions you make in that moment can be a “forever thing”. Most importantly, be true to yourself by making decisions that make you happy – no one else!


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Inspection Perfection

Conducting a site inspection is a critical first step that any planner should take in order to ensure for a successful meeting or event. Precision has embarked on more than a dozen site inspections so far this year with our clients. We’ve traveled to fantastic destinations in our own backyard here in the DC Metro Area as well as thousands of miles away to the West Coast, Canada, South America and even Bermuda! While we’re always excited to travel to new places and even revisit some of our favorite local venues, we know that there are countless hours of planning that must go into preparing for a successful site inspection; one that is productive, educational, and maximizes your time. We wanted to share a few of our favorite tips that are important to keep in mind when going on any site inspection.

  1. Pre-conference Meeting with Hotel/Event Venue Staff

The first and most important appointment on your list should be scheduling a meeting with your host hotel or event venue staff. A pre-conference meeting such as this is essential in order to familiarize yourself the team who will be working with you to produce your event. Items to cover include an overview of your event schedule, a production timeline, and a few key hot buttons that will help ensure a successful partnership. In turn, it’s important to learn how the hotel or venue you are going to work with operates and what their internal structure is like. Your pre-con also serves as a wonderful opportunity to negotiate concessions and other items in a contract such as venue rentals and food and beverage minimums.

  1. Facility Tour

After the pre-con, you should plan for an hour or more, depending on the size, to tour the property or venue. Check what the proximity of your meeting or event space is to the main entrance/lobby and even your sleeping rooms. Take note of the facility’s cleanliness, ceiling height, lighting, room acoustics, the ability to adjust room temperature, proximity to restrooms as well as exits, loading docks, back-up space, and so much more! A facility tour is also a wonderful opportunity to envision signage placement or where registration should be situated. We’ve found that using a note taking app on an iPad such as Evernote or Notability are really helpful during a facility tour because it’ll allow you to jot down your impressions and take photos so you can remember everything you’re seeing and feeling while on site.

  1. Food and Beverage/Audio Visual Experience

Make sure you allow time to meet with the specialists who will handle your food and beverage and/or audio visual. It’s not only important to establish a working relationship with them, but to also assess what they will provide to you. If you’re having a menu tasting, be sure to take note of the presentation, creativity, pricing, and selection. If you’ll be utilizing audio visual for your meeting or event, you’ll need to evaluate the equipment condition and communicate what you’ll need from event technicians on site.

  1. Surrounding Area

Another important part of any site inspection is to familiarize yourself with the surrounding area. How far did it take you to get to the venue from the airport? Are there restaurants or shops nearby? What will the weather be like during your event? What is the walk score or will you need to plan for additional transportation? Are there unique activities you should plan to organize for your attendees? Take time to experience local restaurants and activities as your attendees would. This is your time to become an expert on the destination!

What are your favorite tips or things to keep in mind when planning a site inspection? We’d love to hear from you to see if you utilize certain apps or vendors to help plan your trip. Safe travels everyone, and remember to plan ahead for inspection perfection!

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