When planning a program, which is more important, the logistics or the design? The answer, just as with the proverbial “chicken or the egg?” question, depends on your perspective. The bottom line is that you can’t have one without the other. Whether you tackle a project from the creative or logistical aspects, all bases have to be covered and given equal attention and care, especially when you’re in the business of exceeding expectations.
We all have skills and areas we need to develop. We should never stop learning. Whether you are considering a career in meeting planning, are already a savvy planner or find that you’ve been tasked with planning meetings in addition to your other duties, there are things to be learned and accomplishments to achieve.
To help you continue your professional growth no matter what point you’re at in your career, we’ve created “Beauty and the Brains,” a column designed to give you creative and logistical insight, stories from the trenches, and some tips and tricks you need when planning the many components of a successful program.
Each topic will give you both a design and logistical perspective of many aspects of the planning process. James Rota, owner of Dazzle Creative (the Beauty) and Christy Lamagna, owner of Strategic Meetings & Events (the Brain) have combined companies to form an entity called: DazzleSME, which is designed to bring our areas of expertise together. This column is the first step toward one of our main goals: to share our knowledge, enhance the way planners think and open your minds to a side of planning that may not come as naturally to you as another.
These columns will be part of your roadmap through the complexities of the Meeting and Business Event Competency Standards (MBECS), which lay out the 33 essential skills you must master to be an efficient and effective meeting planner.
I’m James Rota, planner extraordinaire, and the voice of the “Beauty” perspective in this and future articles. What has allowed me to flourish in this industry is my ability to transform any space into something spectacular. I think in color, texture and shape, so when I walk into a room, it’s all about its potential. Using my inner guide, the creative vision is born. I first design the room marrying form and function, and from there I pull from my many years of experience and choreograph the performance that takes it from the initial inspiration to the moment of visual impact!
Many years ago, in my professional evolution as an event designer, I dreamed of the day when meeting planning would be considered a true profession and not just a job that was handed to you because no one else wanted it. Over the years we have seen many changes in our growing industry. It’s exciting to be a part of it, and I am proud to be in this wonderful field.
I’m Christy Lamagna, the “Brains” half of this duo. While James is seeing in color and texture, I am thinking logistics, timing, measurements, distance between rooms and kitchens, traffic flow, signage placement and more. I live to make forms, put data into spreadsheets and manage the minutiae. So if you’re not the person who can turn a room into something magical, do not despair. For those of you who are more literal and logistics-oriented, this is still the field for you for without the engine, no matter how beautiful the car, it won’t drive.
Regardless of where your strengths lie, one truth remains universal. Before planning can begin on any meeting, you need an answer to a key question: “What are the meeting’s goals?” If you don’t have an answer to that question, you can’t start the process. Without a clearly defined destination, where do you start and how do you know where you’re going? Once the goal is defined, you may then create a roadmap that makes sure all components of the program lead you to that goal. From food to room set to guest speaker, all the details support the endgame. Bottom line: Understanding and then delivering on a meeting’s goals is the most important element of any program. To achieve it, you must create a balancing act between the beauty and the brain.
So, between us, James and I make a perfect pair. We work with clients from any industry and help them achieve their meeting goals, whether it be in the next town or the furthermost reaches of the globe. We’re here to help you round out your planning skills from a creative and a logistic perspective. So whether you answered “chicken” or “egg” earlier, you were right. Our goal is to guide you through the many steps of the planning process and take the mystery out of how to execute and design your programs.
We’ll tackle a wide variety of topics that you may have questions on and will continue the conversation online so that we can keep it going. Topics to look forward to include food and beverage planning, budget management, designing on a budget, project management, floral design and more.
This column is the first step in creating an open forum where all levels of planners and designers can participate, grow, share, contribute and learn. Look for the “Beauty and the Brains” feature regularly and then start following us on Twitter and our blog. We promise to make you a better planner and answer as many of your questions as we can.
If you have suggestions for future columns or blog forums, or have questions you’d like to see addressed, please send them to BeautyandBrains@DazzleSME.com. Until next time, remember, smart is beautiful!