A panel of five veteran event professionals shared tips on developing and sustaining a special event business in "130 Years of Event Experience: Ask the Experts," held Jan. 15 at The Special Event Show 2010 in New Orleans.
Panelists were wedding expert Marcy Blum, based in New York; Tony Conway, CMP, head of Atlanta-based catering and event management company A Legendary Event; Mona Meretsky, CSEP, head of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based COMCOR Event and Meeting Production; Kelly Murphy, founder of Pompano Beach, Fla.-based rental company Panache, a Classic Party Rentals Co.; and Joann Roth-Oseary, founder of event/catering company Someone's in the Kitchen, headquartered in Tarzana, Calif.
Don't wait for clients to find you. Conway revealed that one of his company's major clients—superstar director/actor/writer Tyler Perry—became a client only after Conway cold-called Perry's firm, asking if the company might be hosting events and need his expertise.
Give clients what they ask for—and a bit more. With today's tight budgets, Meretsky urged attendees to give clients event proposals that meet their budget specifications, then add two higher priced options. "Eighty-five percent of the time, the client will choose one of the higher options," she said.
Know who the gatekeeper is. When Blum was asked how to crack the celebrity client base, she noted that a star's publicist is often the person who hires event talent. And for vendors who want to work with Blum herself, she urged them to create a win-win relationship. "Start by sending me a client," she noted.
Curb costs fast. When business started to fall off in the recession, Roth-Oseary was quick to trim operating expenses. "Don't wait; too little too late and you won't survive," she said.
Be flexible. Murphy recounted a humorous story from her rental company's early days, when to supply enough tabletop items for a party, she sent over virtually all her inventory, which didn't match. The mixture of styles became its own fashion trend.
To win new clients, take good care of old ones. Thanks to great referrals, "Our clients are an extension of our sales team," Conway noted.
See a complete wrap of The Special Event in the March-April issue of Special Events Magazine. />
Photo by Catch the Moment