Training Your Staff on New Technology

If you’re looking to take your business to the next level, it can seem easy to bring in the latest technologies you’ve been hearing about through your network. After all, the possibilities that lie in new technology are virtually endless. Streamlined processes, collaborative content creation, and expedited communication are just a few potential benefits.

 Ultimately, the best businesses are those that work smarter, not harder. New technology provides a framework that can keep your team players on the same page, as well as automate many of the processes that take up time unnecessarily. However, it’s important to keep in mind that implementation of new technology requires an adjustment period.

Going from zero to 100 can leave employees feeling confused and overwhelmed. As a leader, it’s up to you to determine what kinds of tech fit into your existing structure and will jive well with your team. Providing the support and training necessary before, during, and after implementation will set you up for success with a well-versed team at peak efficiency.

Pre-launch Preparation

Prior to implementation, set aside some time to sit down with your team and walk through the new platforms they will use. Be clear about why you are making the shift and what impact you expect it will have on their workflow. Explain how the program is used, how it will play a role in their day-to-day responsibilities, and answer any questions that will inevitably come up. Create a place to store login information, customer support information, and other resources that is easily accessible for everyone.

Training Your Team

The training process can look differently between companies and relies heavily on the existing culture. Virtual training is a very convenient solution for larger companies, as it provides employees with the freedom to train on their own time. With virtual training, you still want to make sure employees have a go-to person or resource for questions that come up. On-site classes can also be a great way to train your team, as it fosters discussion about practical usage.

In other cases, training may be more effective on a one-on-one basis. Everybody has different learning needs, so you may have one employee that picks up the new technology within a few days whereas another may need some extra hand-holding. Be attentive to what your team members are struggling with and be prepared to coach them as needed.

Regular Check-ins

Once your staff is all trained up, it doesn’t mean that your job is over. Keep an eye on their progress by tracking metrics, whether that is through sales, social media engagement, time management, or another KPI. Be generous with your praise in the early stages to build confidence and empowerment to embrace the new technology. Check in with each team member individually to see how their experience has been and if there are any ways you can help. The key to ongoing success is to ensure that your employees recognize that the lines of communication are open.

 Bringing new technology to your business can be extremely rewarding when done strategically. Be prudent in your planning and preparation, communicate with your team, and enjoy the benefits of increased efficiency.

With over 20 years of experience in the international events industry, Sandy Hammer is the co-founder and CMO of AllSeated, a collaborative network for planning events that offers tools including floorplans, 3D view, Guest List, RSVP, Seating, Timelines, Mobile Check-In and more.

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Tips for a Creative 2019

One of the biggest challenges for creative entrepreneurs is jumpstarting the next season or the New Year. If this resonates with you, don’t worry. You haven’t lost your edge; you simply need to fuel your genius. Below are some of our top creative growth strategies to help you have a great 2019.

Get Ahead of the Trends

One way to ramp up your creative business is to be the first to adopt, embrace or produce something that is cutting-edge. This requires you to be a leader, not a follower, and to know where to look for the next big thing.

Learn how to monitor the top influencers on different aspects of the industry such as wedding décor. The fashion industry, interior design and retail merchandisers are always in the know, anticipating next season’s big hits months in advance. Follow their Instagram accounts, set alerts to remind yourself about events like Fashion Week, and be a shrewd observer as you peruse new catalogs or walk the aisles of your local stores. Once you are attuned to the signs, you will recognize them all around you.

Don’t Sit Down!

When your motivation wanes or your enthusiasm seems to be too tempered to create, get out of your seat. Seriously. It works. The rut that comes from staring at your screen all day long with your fingers molded to your keyboard is a direct threat to that beautiful impulse you need to get your creative on. Go outside. Run a mile. Take a walk. Open your eyes and see the world around you. The world will provide all of the inspiration you need if you’ll just take the time to get away from your desk and see it.

Toy with Tech

If you are not already using top apps and programs to make your business life easier, hear this loud and clear – It. Is. Time. Easy to use, affordable, and way better than even your mad business skills on your best day, there is a vast selection of productivity, business management, client management and communication apps that can be your best friends. They will make you not only more efficient, but also more accurate and effective. Use them to get back the time and attention you need to devote to your art.  

How much more could you achieve this year if you were to get back hours, or days, worth of time to spend on what you truly do best? Start searching for your perfect apps today. 

Make a Friend

…or, hire one. In other words, bring in help. If burnout is killing your mojo, or you are so far behind on the business of being creative that you’ve put actual creative endeavors on hold, you need help.  

Look for someone who fits your business lifestyle. That might be a full-time go-getter who can bring in sales and organize your whole office before breakfast. Or, it might be a confirmed part-time pal who needs a side gig and has the skills to do what you simply don’t have the bandwidth to address. You choose the business relationship that is right for you – but get yourself some help right now. 

2019 is yours for the taking. Follow these strategies for propelling you into the New Year with renewed energy and capacity for greatness. Success will be yours.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner ofFantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

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Weathering the Storm: Preparing a Social Media Plan for Emergencies

On Friday, August 26th, Hurricane Harvey touched land in Rockport, Texas. It had already wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and it was about to devastate the coastline of the U.S. By the time it spun itself out, it had caused 125 billion dollars in damage – one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.  

Time Magazine called it The U.S.’s First Social Media Storm.

During the hurricane, people took to social media by the thousands, using hashtags like #sosHarvey and #helphouston to flag citizen rescuers instead of using official emergency channels. As the towns and cities in Harvey’s path flooded with rain,  Facebook and Twitter flooded with pictures, videos, pleas for assistance and constant commentary.

Harvey showed us that, for better or worse, the online environment is just as affected by disasters and emergencies as the physical landscape.   

Of course, you hope never to face that kind of crisis. But from wildfires to floods to civic emergencies, the possibility that you might is ever-present. The last thing you want is to be caught without a plan during an emergency.  As an individual, you want to be prepared to respond to an emergency with all your supplies ready and in place. As a business owner, you want to think about how you use social media during a crisis as well: You want your online emergency response to be beneficial to you, your community and your clients.

So how do you prepare a social media plan to weather the storm?

  1. Make sure you have emergency protocols in place. Be clear on what steps you’ll take and who you’ll contact.

  2. Be informed; know where to get official, reliable information. Social media is the wild west at the best of times and, during a crisis, it’s worse. Have a list of reliable sources like your local police or fire department, the Forest Service, Red Cross, FEMA and other established emergency services and responders that you can turn to in dire times.

  3. Establish when you will respond publicly.  If your business can provide a real service during an emergency, you may want to be online and make it available as soon as possible. Otherwise, it’s best to wait and evaluate the situation.  

  4. Establish how you will respond publicly.  Have an idea of what you want to say given the situation: “if the incident is this, I’ll do that”. While it may be tempting to publish videos of your storefront window being blown out, consider the impact that information will have on your clients and community. Is it useful or adding to the sense of disaster or panic? Is it insensitive or crass? If you have a reason to reach out and offer help or service or consolation, consider who you want to reach and how that message will land. Be aware of how you and your business look and the impact you’re having.

  5. Determine ahead of time which types of incidents will affect your brand and your clients.  Not every crisis will impact you or your customers directly.  Formulate plans for those that will and those that won’t. Be prepared to respond to concerns and questions in ways that are clear and helpful.

  6. Stay on brand with your social media presence, even during an emergency. This can sound superfluous or even mercenary, but during a crisis people take comfort in being able to count on constancy and familiarity. Don’t freak out and add to the chaos. After an emergency, people need to know that their community can still function and services are still available.  A disaster can have deep economic effects. Being on brand and maintaining your brand voice and image can help offset the damage and help speed recovery.

As Hurricane Harvey showed, social media is becoming a crucial way of communicating during a crisis, from calls for help to disaster relief to rebuilding. That means it’s increasingly important to know how you want to be a part of that response during a disaster. By creating smart social media protocols, you can participate during a crisis in a way that’s thoughtful, on-brand and sets you and your local economy up for recovery.

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that brings in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA and the ABC Conference.


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Looking Ahead to 2019 Trends

The New Year is here! With the holiday season behind us, and engagement season well underway, it is time to turn our focus to what’s new and upcoming in our industry. 2019 promises to take personalization, especially via technology, to levels unseen at most weddings to date. Here are just some of the exciting trends to expect this year.

Client Communication – Messaging Apps

On the business side, we anticipate clients moving away from using email for communication towards messaging apps like WhatsApp. These apps not only provide numerous enhancements over email, but also allow people to stay in touch in real time with or without access to cellular service. As long as you can patch in to a wireless connection, messaging apps are your friend. They are useful for keeping whole teams in the loop and are accessible on practically any kind of device.

Instagram

It is mind-boggling how a single social media platform can have such an enormous influence on an industry, but this one is making its mark. Everyone wants an Instagram-worthy wedding! Couples are seeking personalized, unique designs, executed to perfection and photographed professionally from an irresistible perspective.

The Insta-movement has even swayed entertainment options. Static photo booths are out. Look, instead, for models with bells and whistles that are compatible with Instagram, like gifs, video, green screen and the immensely popular boomerang option, all of which make sharing more exciting and interactive.

Entertainment – Silent Discos, Variety and Video Mapping

A somewhat surprising trend for many will be the rise of silent discos in 2019. Guests can wear individual light-up headsets, choose one of three or more music streams mixed by live DJs, and dance to the beat of their favorite drummer. Multiple simultaneous music experiences offer the ultimate freedom, allowing dancers to interact with each other even when they are listening to different tunes. It is definitely something you have to see to believe, and it will be a completely new option for couples who want to do something most of their guests have never seen before.

We will also see more clients hiring combinations of entertainers to engage their guests. They might pair live musicians with a DJ, or augment music with performers like impressionists, caricature artist or acrobats. Additionally, video mapping will continue to rise in popularity thanks to more affordable and accessible technology.

Design: Neon Signage

Long associated with 1980s-era streetscapes, neon signage is making a comeback and getting a new look. As with digital video-mapping, the technology has advanced to a point that makes it a more reasonable choice for many couples, so designers are putting their spin on the look and presenting it with a 21st century feel.

The focus for 2019 is enriching the guest experience through wow-worthy technology and the growth of interactive opportunities. Look for these trends and more to shape your clients’ events in the New Year.

Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE, and national vice president for WIPA.

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What's In and What's Out in 2019

New year, new trends — thanks to the evolving preferences of engaged couples, the wedding industry is always changing and growing. As a wedding professional, it’s up to you to meet your clients’ needs and understand what is inspiring their vision. Keeping an eye on trends will keep you abreast of what’s hot and what’s not — that way, you are well prepared to present design ideas and inspiration that is fresh, trendy, and stylish. Here’s what industry experts have to say about what is up-and-coming, what is here to stay, and what is on the decline.

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What’s on the rise

New metallics

“We are seeing more experimentation with mixed metallics, and a comeback of silver and chrome,” shares Vaishali Shah of Ananya Cards. “In particular when using darker colour palettes, silver highlights can be an effective way of lifting and elevating the look of stationery. We’re seeing a decrease in the focus on blush, rose gold, and brass, which have had a fantastic run over the last 12 months.”

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Tasting menus

“The majority of foodie restaurants are loving tasting menus, and so are we,” expresses Hannah Martin of Goose & Berry. “With anything from five to 12 courses, this style of service is a great way to show not only an insight to a chef’s brilliant mind, but how it works, engaging the consumer to go on this journey with them. Long gone are the days where dining used to be about three courses, eating and leaving — food and service is becoming a show itself and we are ready and waiting for the next act.”

What’s sticking around

Rich foliage

“The love of bringing the outside in continues,” explains Jane Riddell of Planned for Perfection. “Lots of greenery and foliage to enhance the floral arrangements to create natural and romantic displays, which can include as little or as many flowers as you would like to suit the couple’s individual requirements.”



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Lounge areas

“Living spaces are still on point,” says Amy Abbott of Amy Abbott Events. “Lounge and beautiful area rugs, ambient lighting and stylish coffee tables, where couples and their guests can sit together and enjoy the energy and all the love that is in the air.”

 

What’s on its way out

Plated dinners

“Traditional sit-down dinners are going away,” predicts Heather Jones of Wente Vineyards. “No more formally plated foods or huge passed platters. Buffet style gives guests the most variety, and food allergies are so prominent that it’s easier for guests to control what they’re being service.”

Old-school photo booths

“Simple photo booths are on their way out,” assures Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services. “Clients are now looking for Photo Booths that have more bells and whistles, whether it’s video, green screen, boomerang, GIFs — anything that is more interactive!”


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Cupcake towers

“Cupcake towers have already been on a slippery slope in the past few years and will definitely be on their way out in 2019,” tells Rosalind Miller of Rosalind Miller Cakes. “They may be practical, but they are old fashioned and don’t provide the wow effect of an extravagant wedding cake and/or dessert table.”

For more insight into the trends to look out for in 2019, sign up for the newest issue of the International Wedding Trend Report.

Kylie Carlson is the CEO of the International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning. With seven locations globally, the academy boasts an internationally recognized accreditation program that brings professional training to wedding planners, designers and stylists.

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