It takes a wide range of skills to be successful in special events. And that explains the successful career of Mark Wells. His background includes stints doing everything from scenic design and tending bar to event development for big corporate clients. It's the ideal mix for the post he holds now — vice president of creative services for big DMC Hello Florida, with offices in Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Born in the Bahamas, Wells caught the performance bug early. At age 14, he had his own entertainment company dubbed MC — Mime and Clowning.
After college, he served as a DJ, nightclub marketing manager and entertainment programmer in California. He headed east to Orlando in 1994, where he learned the ropes of the convention market while working in a hotel banquet department.
He and his wife, Dana, opened their own event company in 1998. After three years they closed up shop, and Mark worked for a few other event companies in the U.S. and Mexico before joining Hello Florida in 2004.
The company has been a great place for Wells to show off his event chops. With a staff of 70 full-time employees, Hello Florida stages more than 1,200 events a year, offering a range of services from full-on event management to key elements such as general sessions, tours, dinearounds, off-site events and — of course — transportation.
Hello Florida's event talents were on display in January at The Special Event in Phoenix, where Wells accepted the Gala Award for his company's work on the 100th anniversary celebration of oil refiner/marketer CITGO. For the event, the corporation treated some 600 guests to a custom, immersive experience that showcased dramatic decor.
Wells calls the CITGO event, which teamed Hello Florida with Metropolis Productions, also of Orlando, the source of his greatest pride. He explains, “The number of participants that contributed to a flawless two-hour experience while overcoming significant time and space challenges makes me proud.”
But Wells doesn't dwell on his past successes. In fact, “I stay original by forgetting about the past,” he explains. In a business where novelty is a given, he cautions, “You can never cook the same meal twice.”
Innovation in event tools has helped him stay original. Since he started his career, “All the products associated with events are better,” he says. “The ability to access them is better. The level of interrelated knowledge is better among the disciplines of the event industry.”
What factors are shaping the event expectations of guests? Just turn on your TV set. Thanks to reality TV shows such as “Food Truck Wars,” “Whose Wedding is It Anyway” and “American Idol,” “Average clients are seeking truly unique experiences,” Wells says. “Attendee-tainment is the new hallmark of today's events. The attendees want to be the star.”
Hello Florida! 3840 Vineland Road, Suite 200, Orlando, FL 32811; 407/425-5300; www.hello-usa.com/hello-florida
MARK SAYS ...
- WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW
“Technology has improved the ability to translate ideas into reality for our clients. Products are much more ROI-driven; the days of the 14-foot Eiffel Tower on the buffet are mostly over. Environments wrapped in purpose are the norm today.”
- FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE
“The ability to communicate concepts across disciplines is the skill I use most in my job. I wish I were better at responding to e-mail.”
- FOR THE NEWBIES
For young people entering the event industry, “Do as much as you can. Volunteer to participate in any capacity. Ask questions — lots of them. Above all, be patient!” And what does he wish he had learned sooner? “To be patient!”