Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Motivation….

Blog Post By:
Jiwon McCartney
Managing Director
As more people are independently consulting or contract working, it seems like a lot of them are now trying to throw the towel in.  The most common thing heard amongst colleagues is it’s lonely and they lack motivation working remote and on their own.  Although  working remote and independent can get lonely and motivation sometimes slips from our sight; the same condition/s can exist when working with a room full office mates.  Productivity is a self driven game and one that should be mastered either way.   If collaboration is the need unfulfilled, join a professional association or volunteer organization for a cause.  These types of commitments help balance the alone time for remote employees or an independent consultant.  This will also help sharpen your business skills.  Inadvertently you will learn to pick up skills by actively participating for an association or a nonprofit organization. So as Monday has rolled in again, I sit at my desk with a long list of daily to-do’s and I am thankful my first task was to write this blog.  It helped motivate me and start my perspective from a positive angle rather than…"It’s Monday again, blah blah blah”… 

So it Makes Sense to feel isolated working remote and independently.  It can also bring a lot of benefits so I challenge you to reconsider before you throw the towel in.  Quitting before the race is done after putting 25 miles in a race seems to be a waste!   

Here are some fabulous professional organizations you can get active with.  Pick one that suits you and make sure their mission and cause is something you are passionate about.  In my experience becoming an active member with an association has helped me understand my weaknesses and know where help is – amongst colleagues!  The beautiful part is that we all come from a different place and we help educate each other through active participation of our membership/s.

Happy Monday!

ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership
Association Forum
Biz Bash
Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau
Convention Industry Council
Concierge Preferred
Destination Marketing Association International
Financial & Insurance Conference Planners
Greater North Michigan Avenue Association
Professional Convention Management Association Greater Midwest Chapter
Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International
International Association of Assembly Manager
International Association of Exhibitions and Events
International Special Events Society
Meetings Quest
Meeting Professionals International
Meeting Professionals International Chicago Area Chapter
National Business Travel Association
National Speakers Assoc. Convention
Professional Convention Management Association
Religious Conference Management Association
Society of Incentive and Travel Executives
Tra              Trade Show                            
                 Exhibitors Association

Friday, January 20, 2012

Planning Tips & Tricks

Blog Entry By:
Jiwon McCartney
Managing Director
ALLURE is excited and honored to be planning some amazing meetings and events in 2012 for our client.  As we head into the trenches of logistics, ALLURE will share some of our findings on tips and tricks of planning with you.  I hope you will find them useful.

TIP: As you seek your location remember to think about the attendee parking.
When planing a special event where guests are arriving in their own transportation, think about offering a valet service for the attendees.  With the current trend of everyone squeezing engagement and meetings into  limited time, one of the things everyone experiences is being late or rushing to get to an event.

A valet service can give an extra 10-15 minutes back to the attendee instead of looking for a parking space.  It's a small measure to help guests from having to  stress about getting a meter fed or remembering to take their ticket with to pay.  Depending on the location of the event, parking can take up to 30 minutes on top of their round trip commute and the time investment of attending the event.

A typical cost of a valet can be anywhere from $150 per valet to $1,000 for a team.  This cost varies on the length of your event, city and the size of your event.  In the instance there are only parking deck options for cars, you can incorporate the costs into the valet cost.

ALLURE, for a recent event, paid a nearby retail parking lot for use after their business hours.  The cost was $250 for 150 parking spaces and the valet was $500 for a 3 man valet team for 4 hours.  Total investment was $750 for 150 cars for 225 guests.  That calculates to $3pp.  I cannot remember the last time I paid $3 for a valet service AND parking!  This amenity set the tone of the event with a positive experience from arrival.

It was a small price to pay for the client to ensure they would see this audience again for their next event!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Your Entrance & Exit is an Important Experience

Blog Entry by :
Jiwon McCartney
Managing Director
Ever think about your entrance or exit from anywhere?  Of course many say "no it's what I experience inside that matters".  That's right, you will obtain the experience you anticipate inside.  If you walk into a grocery store, you will find items on a shelf in the isles that you expect to see them in. You will them proceed to get checked out by the cashier and carry on your way with your "paper or plastic". 
What if your entrance experience to that store was going through a construction zone and the smell of not so pleasant greeted you.  The door is hard to open as the entrance and exit doors are backwards. Your typical enter from the right side is now flipped to enter from the left.  Then as you exit, your cart does not fit through the doors and you have to carry your bags in two shifts to your car.  Although you see an employee collecting carts, they cannot be bothered to help as they are texting their friend when their shift is over to plan their social agenda.  Oh and lets add some rain and you forgot your umbrella to get to your outdoor parking spot. 
Paint a different picture of the importance of your entrance and exit?  This experience is actually more common than not.  I actually drive a little farther to avoid this type of mental anguish...yes you guessed it, I paint this story from experience!!

Let's translate this "Entrance & Exit Experience" theory to Events and Meetings world.   We  consult all the time with clients about registration desks - "the entrance".  Registration desks are there to serve a purpose and to support positive survey results.  If attendees experiences a put together, pleasant staff greeting them with a little assistance in guiding their direction; like what to do first, where to sit next and just in case, point the direction to the restroom before asked, this would set a whole different level of expectations for experience. Even if the event itself was not everything they expected, they will not deny a positive feedback with such service.   Those who seem to NOT be listening are listening and the most importantly...they will remember this experience!!!   

ALLURE co-hosted a client reception at the Hard Rock Cafe Chicago and from the moment of parking, the guests were greeted with what to expect from their experience.  Staff were waiting to direct them and their experience began from the point of parking!

Exit...what about it?  Why not have staff waiting to thank them for coming and  send them off with a parting small "something" to remember your event or meeting?  After all, you should be marketing your next conference date or event to the target audience that you spent time to give a great experience to.  This does not mean over the top gifts, no one has the budget to give away extravagant gifts.  A simple token is all it takes and be strategic of the contents!  There is nothing wrong with giving them a calendar of what's to come or branding an item to let them know who was involved in producing the amazing experience!

ALLURE co-branded glasses with the Hard Rock Cafe Chicago giving them a unique memento.  A small logoed gift bag was distributed with all of our sponsor information as well as a little takeaways and savings opportunity for the guests.  Nothing over the top and they had a parting memory that they are still talking about.  These glasses were a HIT!

Entrance...this experience sets the tone.   Exit...this experience will keep them coming back.  So as you plan the next conference, meeting or event; put careful, strategic thought into your Entrance & Exit experience, it matters!

Photos by edenhurststudio

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Do You Have a New Years Resolution for Your Business?

Blog Entry by :
Jiwon McCartney
Managing Director
Every year at this time we clean up our business plans make our tweaks and set our sites for a fresh start.  It's a practice that sometimes is done begrudgingly as it means for all, that the year is ending and we are assessing what has happened throughout the year.  This delivers a rainbow of good the bad and the ugly findings of what we managed to achieve.  The truth is, bottom line does not always match our valiant efforts to achieve our annual goals.  So what is that magic blue print that works to get closer to achieving our goals?  There is no "one" blueprint.  We need to take a piece of many and own that list.  Whether you are a company building strategies to increase revenue or a average home maker managing a household expense, a good agenda to refer to periodically throughout the year should be a must have to begin a New Year!

Here is an inspiring list of resolutions to consider, from Guy Kawasaki's article in the January 4, 2011 Open Forum Blog of  Shawn Parr the CEO of Bulldog Drummond's 2011 list. 

1. Dare to be different.
Be daring and take steps to ensure your company and your products stand out from the crowd. Look at what you did well in 2010 and what you could have been different. Take bold steps to help your brand stand out in 2011.

2. Have a clear purpose.
Make sure you go into the New Year with a clear and compelling mission and ask if you were living it in 2010. Make sure everyone on your team knows what it is, what business you’re in and what is expected of them. Look for creative ways to bring it to life with your team.

3. Listen and have something compelling to say.
Make a commitment to be a better listener in 2011. Commit to listen and then formulate your response. Actively seek your team’s input and feedback for new ideas. Listen to your consumers and understand what makes them tick. Listen to what they have to say and build a relevant and compelling conversation with them. Remember, if you’re not interesting or relevant, people will ignore you.

4. Pick a fight.
When you’ve got an opponent to beat, it increases your motivation to win, so choose an enemy to fight and rally your team around this battle. Make the enemy a competitor, a trend or an element of your internal culture, and put it up on the wall so your team can find motivation and focus in it.

5. Set a big goal.
Set at least one wild and audacious goal for 2011 -- something you’ve never tried before. Outline the goal, share it with your team and challenge them to play their part in achieving it. Make sure you celebrate the small victories and successes along the journey.
6. Inspire your team.
There’s nothing more important than your people, and there’s nothing more engaging than a team who feels acknowledged. Inspire them with your own attention and regular updates on the business. Also bring in relevant speakers and articles to keep them challenged.

7. Laugh a lot.
One of the best motivators for your team is a great work environment, and one of the best elements of a vibrant team environment is laughter. Next year do small things that make your employees smile. Along with laughter and a light-hearted environment, small gestures or events can make a big difference. And the benefits won’t just stop with your team -- they will show through everything that your brand does.

8. Plan the plan.
Commit to setting time aside to plan your year next year ahead. Set two days aside at the end of November every year to plan for the following year. Then take a day out every quarter to review how you’re doing against the plan and revise it where necessary. Every brand needs a plan. Make a commitment to write one.

9. Make friends.
Chart a “circle of love” and identify brands with similar values that you’d like to partner with in 2011. Assign someone to explore potential relationships and collaborations. You’ll be surprised by the results, even just the initial conversations you’ll have about your own brand.

10. Show your appreciation.
Do what your mother told you! Thanking people goes a long way to create valued and appreciated fans -- internally and externally. This year, find new ways to show you appreciate your team, your customers and your partners, in ways that truly make a difference in their lives. You’ll be surprised and delighted by the results.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Having a little fun ... at a board meeting?? What will we think of next?

Blog Entry by :
Jiwon McCartney
Managing Director
Wouldn't you like to know?!  Today, some of the board members of Meeting Professionals International - Chicago Area Chapter met for a marketing brainstorming round table.  A mere 10 of us brainstormed on some amazing marketing initiatives for the chapter!  It was engaging and inspiring to be amongst such talented individuals with passion to meet for an association they are volunteering their time for.  Not only that, it was a Friday afternoon meeting!  Yes we are a bit extreme the lot of us.  To bring a little fun into our mix, we passed around a leisure snack basket instead of a "coffee break".  A simple investment low in cost and what a cheer we started the meeting with!  How excited are we to see Kit Kats, Cheetos and Ding-Dongs at 2pm on a Friday anywhere?  Extremely!  It broke the ice and gave way to peeling our stress a little to share some truly creative brainstorming.  OK so we are an easily amused crowd and simple things please us.  That is my favorite part about this team of passionate, creative and tenacious individuals!  Sometimes it's hard to see the sparkles and we need to give ourselves a little "treat" and have some FUN in our plethora of meetings.  If we can find ways to leave "sterile meetings" in the past we can open our minds to a more efficient future.  Just imagine what a board room full of happy people would look like....I saw a little of that today.  As the saying goes "it's not what you say sometimes, it's how you say it"!

A Little Fun ...

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Power of Conversation ...

At ALLURE we have some amazing relationships with our clients and vendors.  What makes them return year after year and what makes them send us more business?  This is a question we ask every year to benchmark what we will be doing the following year ... differently to do "it" better and bigger.  What is "it"?  We believe it's Conversation.  Conversations that lead to other conversations that potentially lead its way to business...relationship...and some priceless PR.  Through Conversation we have been allowed to push our creative boundaries, try something different and gain truly unique experiences. 

Conversation allowed us to bring a small group to experience something completely outside the box for their excursion.
Conversation allowed us to create some amazing marketing collaboration events.

Conversation allowed us to coordinate and plan some extraordinary weddings.

We are looking forward to many Conversations in 2012!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Smart Marketing - Gives Smart Gifts

'Tis the season of gift giving! Yep it's here again. I received a totally cool marketing gift that I could not throw away! Why you ask? Well maybe it had something to do with the fact that every photo for some reason had my NAME on it! And as the old saying goes, everyone loves to see their name in lights, and this time I proved it true. Do I really need another piece of something on my already crowded desk? Especially another calendar? The answer may be "no" but it sure worked for me! Call me a sucker, I'd rather send kudos to Claudette Bouton with Goldner Associates for being a smart marketer hitting her audience at the right time...nicely done my friend!