What advice do you have for someone looking to start their own event planning business?
I started my business because I loved the work. But as you grow a business, you find the work starts to take a backseat to the other priorities required to run a business. In the business world, it’s often said that entrepreneurs need to shift from working in the business to working on the business. I didn’t understand that until many years went by. That, along with having enough money to sustain you and the right advisors who can help you, is priceless. This may not only lead to potential clients, but it can help you navigate situations quicker because you have access to the right people who can offer you valuable guidance, perspectives and insights.
When things go wrong at an event, how do you solve them?
With improvisation, strong communication and never letting them see you sweat. This will also largely depend on the actual issue, but one thing that is needed is to show that you’re in control and handling the situation whatever it may be. This may require calling an immediate meeting to address the issue, or if it’s happening live then to work with whoever may be the best person to bring about a solution. After it’s resolved—after the event—is then the best time to discuss it further. It’s also important to be honest and keep only those who need to know regularly updated.
How do you stay on top of trends in the industry? Are there any trends you’re intrigued by?
I regularly attend industry-related conferences that offer new perspectives and highlight industry trends. Professional development is important in the event industry since the industry changes quickly and is very visual. As for interesting trends, there’s technology such as facial recognition, virtual reality headsets and holograms that are quickly vying for a place within the event industry. They’re already being incorporated, but not across the board. I think certainly technology will move into becoming the rule rather than the exception as that of smartphones.
What are some unique things JDC has done for clients?
We’ve built customized tours for clients around select locations for them to get a feel for the spirit and offerings of a destination. Such activities include Segway and water tours, unique performances at performing arts venues and tastes of cities by hopping to different restaurants for each meal course. We’ve also hosted customized tours of the U.S. Capitol showing clients areas the regular public wouldn’t get to see. We’ve featured entertainment from marching bands to the Sugar Hill Gang and other headliners, while also featuring special guests including former presidents.