Just like its at-home counterparts, a successful destination event requires teamwork--there is no such thing as a "one-man show" in the events industry. With that in mind, it’s important to put together a solid team to ensure that the final celebration goes off without a hitch.
Let’s look at some of the considerations to keep in mind when crafting the ideal team.
Destination events are made up of moving pieces that come together for a truly incredible spectacle. Although it depends on location, there are typically several key players involved--the head of decoration and technical director are often the lead roles of any destination event. The head of decoration plans out the decor and sees what we already have, while the technical director scouts the venue and determines what still needs to be done
This is where the production team comes in. They’re responsible for putting everything together to be ready for the day of the event. From designing elaborate arches to ordering truckloads of candles, the production team is the backbone of the operation. A logistics team may also be necessary to ensure the event flow is not impeded--this can include a lighting director, a transportation coordinator, and even a traffic conductor.
We generally use all of our key players in-house and then source suppliers and helpers from the local area, as they have the best knowledge of the region. I like to test people before taking them on the team--whether it’s showing us a simple set-up or running through a sound test, the best way to qualify a vendor is to see their work in person.
As with most things, open communication is essential with destination events, especially considering many team members may be spread out over multiple regions. We live by phone and Skype--lots of miscommunications can happen via SMS, so we’d rather have a quick call to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Throughout the production process, after the ideas and concepts are concrete, we speak almost every day--sometimes we’ll even Skype multiple times per day.
Luckily, there are plenty of apps and programs to help teams communicate from around the world. We use two applications in particular—SketchUp and Cast’s wysiwyg—that allow us to collaborate on decor, lighting plots, gobo lists, and more in real time, no matter where we’re located. It makes it much easier to interact with one another and pre-cue an event.
I can’t stress enough on the importance of communication. It really is the key to a successful event, so always be sure you’re in contact with the rest of your event team. Weekly calls may make sense for everyone to share updates, but it’s really up to the preferences of those involved to figure out what works best.
ON THE OTHER SIDE
Arriving at the destination is when the magic happens. Depending on size, the event team may need to arrive as early as one month prior or as late as three days before the event. If it’s a large and elaborate set-up, the team may need to oversee the construction and decoration done by the local assistants. On the other hand, smaller events may not require as much time. We worked on a destination wedding in the south of France, but didn’t have to show up until a few days prior since we had already taken four scouting trips to the venue and felt adequately prepared.
Once everyone is on-site, it’s up to the head planner, head of decoration and technical director to make sure everyone is doing what they need to be doing to put on the perfect event. With that said, while we may be the ones coordinating drop-offs and the like, we make a point to ensure that every team member knows everything else that’s going on.
Every aspect of an event ties into each other, so prior to the big show, we have a large meeting with everyone--from the caterer to the photographer to security to the restroom staff. We discuss the final result that we expect, and it’s important that everyone is involved in this step.
I never want to hear someone refuse to help because it’s not their specialty--we are a team and we work like a team.
Fabrice Orlando is the CEO of Cocoon Events Group, a luxury event planning company based in Marrakech, Morocco, that specializes in high-end weddings and special events worldwide.