Precision Meetings & Events Blog

Where sophistication meets imagination.

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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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How Décor and Seating Arrangements Can Lead to a Better Networking Experience

How do you provide the best networking experience for an event that has nearly 1,000 guests?  This can be a bit of a daunting question.  No one can possibly network with that many people, and many find the idea of an event that large overwhelming.  Precision recently executed an event of this size and the comments heard were that it was one of the best networking experiences ever because of how intimate it was. This is how it was accomplished:

Through the use of pipe-and-drape and the seating arrangement, we were able to create an inviting, warm dinner party-like atmosphere.  We transformed a 50,000 square foot ballroom into three different ambiences.  Two of the settings were used for receptions, and the third was used for the actual dinner. The draping that was used gave the impression of a smaller area for the dinner than in the event’s past. We then had the stage set in the center of the tables.  This ensured that no one was at the “back of the room”.  No one person was more than five tables away from the stage itself.

With being so close to the stage, and tables all around the stage, it gave the illusion that there were not near as many there have been in years’ past. In actuality, there were more guests in attendance this year than last year.  Countless times, staff were asked about this and then told that the intimate feel allowed for more relaxed and better networking opportunities.

There are a few challenges with this type of seating though.  You must be sure that all of your speakers are comfortable in engaging the entire room in the “round”.  Stage directions and rehearsals are key to the success of a program.  We were fortunate that our speakers were accustomed to this, but it is something that should be pointed out prior to making this recommendation.  This was a successful event for the client and sponsors alike, because of the atmosphere that was created allowing for better networking opportunities while accomplishing the programming that the client desired.

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Excel with Excel

One of our favorite applications to use here at Precision to stay organized is Microsoft’s extremely useful spreadsheet application, Excel. There are an abundance of functions that Excel can serve for event planners. Creating budgets, tracing attendance, organizing payment information, establishing a timeline, and even creating spec sheets are just a few of the useful purposes it serves. However, learning to operate Excel at its full potential can take time and practice. We’ve put together a list of some very simple shortcuts that anyone can use to help them excel at Excel. These tips and tricks among many others have become some of our favorites and we hope they are helpful to you!

1.Organizing Sheets

One of the simplest tricks you can use to stay organized is by renaming sheets. When you open a new excel document, you automatically see three sheets (Sheet 1, Sheet 2, and Sheet 3) at the bottom of the screen. If you double click “Sheet 1” for example, the text becomes highlighted in black and you can retype what that sheet should be called (for example, total budget, food & beverage, audio visual, etc.) If you would like to delete the extra sheets, just right click on the sheet name and you will have the option to delete.

 2. Add Multiple Rows and Columns

Gone are the days of inserting one row at a time! If you’re creating a list and realize that you need to enter more rows of information, hover your mouse over the row number where you need to insert more. Instead of just right clicking “Insert”, drag your mouse down so that it highlights the same quantity of rows that you needed to add. Next, right click “Insert” and the new rows will appear!

3. Sorting a List

Sorting a list multiple ways is a very useful tool – for example, you might need a transportation manifest sorted by arrival time and later by departure time. Be careful to always Select All before sorting your list so that the fields sort properly and still correspond to the correct person. Before sorting, hover over the box in the top left corner between Row 1 and Column A in order to select all. You may also use “Ctrl +A” in order to perform this function with your keyboard.

 4. “Alt + A”

One of our favorite excel functions here at Precision is “Alt +A.” Performing this function on your keyboard allows you to enter multiple rows of information into the same cell. If you’re creating a spec sheet for example and need to list multiple bullets of information in one cell instead of having it appear as one sentence, use “Alt + A” to return/enter down so you can start typing on a new line all within the same cell. To insert a bullet or another symbol to keep this list organized, go to “Insert” on the tool bar, and then select “Symbol” which is represented by the Omega.

5. Remove Duplicates

You may need to send out an event email and want to be sure you are not sending multiple emails to the same address in the event that a couple or a group of colleagues registered under the same email. In order to do this, select the column in your spreadsheet that lists the email addresses you wanted to send your email message to and go to “Data” on your toolbar. Next, select “Remove Duplicates” and it will perform the task for you so that you don’t have to search your entire record for dupes on your own!

Again, these are just a few easy tips you can start incorporating while using Excel, but there are many, many more! Do you have any favorite tricks? We’d love to learn from you about how you excel at Excel!

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Precision—More than Just Meeting Planners!

One of Precision’s core values is that we are passionate as planners. This means that we go above and beyond our call of duty to make sure everyone—clients, attendees, and even strangers are provided what they need and more. In doing this we take on many different types of roles than just the average meeting planner. We could be chauffer, waiter, and directional, whatever the challenge might be.

We always joke at Precision that everyone expects us to know all the answers (and for attendees this is true). However, there are many times when strangers will approach us and ask us where a meeting is that we are not in charge of, where a specific room in a hotel is, questions about the museum we happen to have an event at thinking we work for the hotel or venue we are at. Typically we can answer all their questions and we just chuckle to ourselves knowing they have no idea we do not work for that hotel or venue.

In our recent travels my colleague and I have had to act on our feet as a medic for complete strangers. Luckily, because we are used to taking on all these different roles, we know how to think quickly and take action. I was on a flight on my way home from San Francisco sitting next to an older lady. I happen to wake up was overwhelmed by how hot it had gotten on the plane, although I thought to myself, it is probably just me and the heavy jacket I had on. I was in a daze when all of a sudden the woman next to me started tapping me and I look over and realized she could not breathe. I quickly called the flight attendant, who of course had to guard the pilot door as it was open and this is mandatory that they watch it. He kept giving me the please wait look and finger and I kept waving him over. He finally sensed it was an emergency and left his post (hopefully he won’t get in trouble for this) and rushed over. I explained that it was very hot and the lady next to me could not breathe. He quickly brought her to the front of the plane. The temperature on our flight had quickly risen and the flight attendant did not notice. This had caused a decrease in oxygen which is why the woman had difficulty breathing. Luckily the temperature was lowered and she was brought to the coolest part of the plane to allow herself to catch her breath.

My colleague was in Canada recently for a site visit. She had left her charger in a rental car the night before so her phone had died. She went down bright and early to fetch the charger before she began her day. She noticed a front desk attendant casually on the phone. As she waited for the Valet to return and the Front Desk Attendant to finish her phone call she glanced around the hotel and noticed she was the only one downstairs. She heard a thud and when she turned around the front desk attendant had disappeared and the phone was semi-swaying. She ran over the front desk and could not see anyone around. She thought that maybe she was semi-dreaming as it was extremely early and she hadn’t had her coffee yet so maybe she was overthinking. She called out to the front desk attendant but received no answer. She just had a weird feeling so she ran to the gift shop that happened to be open and found the saleswoman and Manger on Duty having a meeting. As she explained what happened the Manager went straight behind the desk where indeed the front desk attendant had collapsed.

Although these happenings make great stories now, they were scary in the moment. As planners, it is always good to be prepared and ready to make vast decisions. Always be ready for an emergency and who to contact if something were to happen. Although these were strangers and not associated with our meeting, it could always happen to an attendee and it is our job to know how to react and who to call.


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