Archive for the ‘ Event Planning ’ Category

Tip-Top Laptop

Business travelers have laptops. Business travelers rely on those laptops to keep them connected with their lives. The whole idea of the laptop becoming dysfunctional during a trip can strike fear into the most fearless of flyers. So, here are some tips on keeping your laptop in tip-top shape.

  1. happy-laptopDon’t put it on your lap. I know, weird right? It is called a “lap” top for goodness sake. However, your laptop will be better off on a smooth surface, allowing for that ever-important airflow.
  2. Don’t leave it plugged in at all times. Let’s say you have a stint of non-travel, but you are so accustomed to plugging in while not traveling that suddenly your laptop is never unplugged. Not ideal. Unplug it a few times each week. Think of it as exercise for your battery.
  3. Power down a few times a week. Though it is tempting to keep your laptop on, it is a good idea to shut it down.  Just like you, your laptop needs some downtime.
  4. While traveling, keep your laptop with you at all times. I know you know this, but we have all been in situations where we are just going to “leave it there for a second to go get a latte.” Don’t. Take it with you.
  5. If you have sensitive data on your laptop, encrypt it. For an on-the-go solution, check out TrueCrypt.
  6. Back up your data. You know this too, but do you do it? Buy an external hard drive and back it up once a week.
  7. No updating or installing while traveling. Sometimes those updates and installations do not go as predicted. Save such activities for when you have time to deal with any bugs that may come your way.

If you have any other awesome happy laptop hints, please do share them with me on my Facebook Page!!!


Thank you 2012, Hello 2013

As 2012 comes to a close, I wish to thank you all for another wonderful year! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life; both in work and in play. Thank you for your attention and time. Thank you for your part in the meetings industry; for planning meetings that teach and entertain attendees and bring your business or organization’s message to more people, in order that they, and you, can be even more . Thank you for all of this.

This year we acknowledged just how stressful meeting planning is and we talked about ways to de-stress a bit. We talked about how to take some of the hassle out of travel. We talked apps and tech,  and how to use some of the newer social media platforms for your meetings. We watched the Olympics! We talked about food trends that made it and that some that did not. We visited some scary Haunted Hotels! Thank you all for it truly has been a lot of fun!

2013I am excited and hopeful for 2013. The economy is slowly but surely coming out of its doldrums. Our industry is gaining some much needed momentum. Our attendees and participants are being able to once again attend and participate! New life is being breathed into our industry and we have all come out wiser, more focused and ready for the next set of challenges.

Keep me in mind and call me in 2013 for all you site selection needs! I already know I would love to work with you!

Happy Holidays!
~ Jill Stone

*Thank you to Mark Ramsey Media for the image!

12 Days of Meeting Planning

On the 1st day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “We need coffee for entire board room!”

On the 2nd day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “Where are my notes? and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 3rd day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “I need 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 4th day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “4 board members leaving, need 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 5th day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “We need 5 more meeting rooms!  4 board members leaving, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 6th day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “We need 6 more microphones NOW, and 5 more meeting rooms! 4 board members leaving, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 7th day of the meeting, my boss came to me. “General Session needs more chairs, we need 6 microphones NOW, and 5 more meeting rooms! 4 board members leaving, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 8th day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “2 speakers are not coming, General Session needs more chairs, we need 6 microphones NOW, 5 more meeting rooms! 4 board members leaving, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 9th day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “9 slides are missing, speakers are not coming, General Session needs more chairs, 6 more microphones NOW, 5 more meeting rooms! 4 board members leaving, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 10th day of the meeting, my boss came to me. “General session still needs MORE chairs, 9 slides are missing, speakers are not coming, General Session needs more chairs, (seriously, WHERE are those chairs??)  6 more microphones NOW, 5 more meeting rooms! 4 board members left, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 11th day of the meeting, my boss came to me.  “Get Exhibitor Booths torn down NOW, General session needs MORE chairs, 9 slides are missing, speakers are not coming, General Session needs more chairs, 6 more microphones NOW, 5 more meeting rooms! 4 board members gone, 3 dozen copies, where are my notes and coffee for entire board room!”

On the 12th day of the meeting, this thought came to me:  “I’m totally exhausted!  But the meeting’s over!  It was very successful!  Because I used HelmsBriscoe! (shameless plug),  Found 2 different speakers, had great food & beverage, fixed the power point,  got the chairs in time, attendees are gone, booths are on the truck, I’ve paid all the bills. Now it’s time to plan the one for next year!!!!!!”

Pin Up Events

Have you ever thought of creating pin boards around your events? There are endless possibilities and it is really worth your consideration! Here are some great ideas for you!

  • Create boards with pictures from the event (post them throughout the day and during the event). Make sure to encourage others to participate, all you need do is invite them to pin via their email address – on the Edit board option, you will see the question “Who can pin?” Enter the email address of the person you wish to invite and invite them!
  • Create boards for your tradeshow! Pin a picture of each of the vendor’s booths along with a link to their website. Great value add!
  • Create a board for your giveaways, raffles and auctions! Take pictures of any items that will be included – Great way to get people excited! Start a conversation by having your department comment on the items and thank those that donated the items (along with a link to their website).
  • Make a board that promotes the feel of the event. Pictures can convey what may take many words to do (pictures are worth 1,000 words, right?). With this in mind find pictures that convey the feel of your event by utilizing various symbols, colors, emotions, quotes, etc.
  • Hashtags! Just as you can create a hashtag for your event for Twitter conversations, you can use the same hashtag on Pinterest. Just another way to make sure your various platforms are connected and “holding hands.”
  • If any of your vendors or participants have a Pinterest account, be sure to check out their boards and re-pin some of their pictures.
  • Make a board of helpful statistics and information about your industry with infographics. You would be surprised; there is an infographic for almost everything out there. Check out sites like Daily Infographic, Fast Company Infographics or Fastco Design.

Did you know that I am on Pinterest, come check out my boards!  Happy Pinning!

*Thank you to for the image!

This Takes the Cupcake

The setting: You are at a late afternoon meeting and the host offers a plate of cupcakes. The one you choose reveals much about you.

So which do you choose? Your choices are:

cupcakes (2)

            • Chocolate
            • Vanilla
            • S’mores
            • Raspberry Lemon Cream
            • Red Velvet
            • Carrot


If you chose Chocolate you are not afraid to take chances. You are the planner that is up with the trends, you’re willing to give what-is-new-and-hot a go! Your colleagues keep a close eye on what you do as they find you to be a respected predictor of what they should pay attention to and what they may as well ignore.

If you chose Vanilla you are a traditionalist. You have a perfect formula for your meeting’s success and will only stray when something has proven itself over and over again. You are a “count on” individual that is deeply trusted.

If you chose S’mores you can do a little bit of everything. Sure, you can plan the meeting with your eyes closed, but you can also create a logo for the event, write up copy for the agenda, and even design a respectable web page to market to the masses. You are a bit of everything in one scrumptious package.

If you chose Raspberry Lemon Cream you are spunky and colorful. This is reflected in everything you do; from your dress to the bands that rock your events to the décor and ambience you create. You can transform any space into a whole new realm, and everyone is pretty much guaranteed to experience a memorable and fun twist from the norm.

If you chose Red Velvet you are passionate. You will only do what you can stand behind with a solid stance. Your success is imminent, as you will only do what you have a passion to do and it is evident in every detail of your meeting and planning.

If you chose Carrot you are common sense and practical. Rarely if ever will your events go over budget, your events are solid and sound; you will forego any and all fluff when it comes to delivering a meeting that is all about business and getting down to the issues at hand.

So, what Cupcake are you? Tell me on my Facebook page!

Oh, and of course, there’s an app you should check out as well : )

*Thank you to the Cupcake Activist for the image!

No Oops For You

When it comes to meeting planning, there are way too many places where mistakes can be made. With the myriad of details involved, mistakes are bound to happen at times. Even though, and this is fact, meeting planners are closer to super heroes than human. Let’s look at some common mistakes, place them in that ultra-awareness of yours, and see if we cannot avoid them.

  1. Meeting Objective – what is it? If you are not sure what the objective of the meeting is, then it is a  bit difficult to plan.  Know the reason for the meeting, the goal of the meeting, and the why of the meeting inside and out. Some companies are not aware that their meeting planner should be involved every step of the way; from conception through to post-meeting follow ups and analytics.
  2. Checking References – there is too much at stake! One of the most difficult meeting planning truths is the fact that we must rely on too many others to make everything work. Oh, if we could just do it all on our own, then we would not need worry! Unfortunately, we do have to rely on staff members (our own and the property’s), entertainment, outside vendors and more. Have those involved provide references and check them!
  3. Audio Visual Checklist – get one from everyone! Anyone who is doing any type of presentation is going to need some sort of A/V. Make sure that the property’s A/V Department, or whomever you hire, is aware of who needs what, when and where, as well as any equipment changes that may need to take place in between presentations. Some presenters will put your mind at ease and tell you that you need not worry about them as they will use their own laptop, and bring along their own connections; think twice before allowing this. If possible, have them send their presentation to you and put all presentations for any given room on one laptop so you can use the same connection throughout.
  4. Market to Your People Where They Are – know where they hang out. Once you have all your meeting ducks in a row, you need to market it and market it in all the right places. Where is your audience, what trade mags do they read, what web sites do they often view, what social media platforms are they utilizing – meet them often in all the right places and you will fill your meeting attendee quota for sure!
  5. Providing the Right Ambience for Each Event – no bright lights at the after party! Think through each event as if you are an attendee. Does the room set up, the lighting, décor and more fit the “feel” of the event. Make sure it all makes sense, or your audience will have a hard time paying attention and staying engaged.
  6. Property and Contract Mishaps – oh my! Here is where it can all just fall apart right before your eyes.  Your meeting must fit with the property from the get go, the property is more or less a structure with definable boundaries – you cannot change room sizes, location, etc. Make sure the property you choose has exactly what you need. Then there are those wordy contracts! Failure to fully protect your company, your event, and your attendees could easily spell disaster. If you want some peace of mind in this area, I know just who to call! Me! I know properties worldwide, I negotiate on behalf of my clients every day, I have read more contracts than you can shake a stick at (not sure why anyone is shaking anything, especially sticks, at contracts, but you get the idea –lol!). Call me, Jill Stone, at 636-797-3405 and I will assist you in finding the perfect property at a price that makes sense with a contract that will help you to sleep soundly before, during and after your event.

*Thank you to The Blue Skunk Blog for the image.

When Meeting Meets Disaster

Disasters are rare, but they can be so big and devastating. having a bit of upfront knowledge can go a long way when you are called to act quickly. Here are some things for you to keep in mind should disaster befall your meeting.

  • Keep the Lines of Communication Open: Your attendees are privy to the same information you are when a disaster is about to hit, but they still need to know that you are aware of the situation. Make sure to send out updates via email, on your website, and on all your social media channels. Let them know that if the meeting will need to be cancelled or re-scheduled that you will let them know immediately, or even if you are in a holding pattern until additional information comes in.  In any case, let them know.
  • Put Yourself in Their Shoes: There is great comfort in knowing that your organization is on it and watching. They will look to you for information. Recognize that some people have a very difficult time with last minute change; your meeting was in their plans and now those plans are changing. Though they realize you did not actively seek to plan a meeting at the same time as impending disaster is about to hit – how you handle your communications can help to put many a mind as ease. You will also gain their trust.
  • Be in Constant Contact with your Host Property: Make sure you are working with them on a “Just in Case” Plan.  What is their flexibility on dates? Can they help you to find another property for the meeting? Explore your many options. If you were lucky enough to have a site selection manager help you find the property, their expertise will definitely come in handy at this time!
  • Learn about Insurance Now: Depending upon the size and scope of your meeting, it would behoove you to take some time to look into insurance before booking your event. This can save a lot of money down the road and help you avoid a disaster of the financial kind.
  • But We’re Already Here! If the disaster strikes while you are there, be prepared ahead of time. Make sure you have all important contacts easily accessible in both digital and written form; this will be contact information for speakers, your webmaster, your social media manager, senior people within your organization and more. Just like a good Boy Scout, make sure you carry a flashlight, bottled water, battery operated radio, charged back up batteries for electronics, etc. The most basic of items can make all the difference. Also, have copies of your insurance policies and contracts on hand.

You do not have control over disaster, but you do have control over your being ready, to the best of your abilities, if you end up in disaster’s wake. Let Hurricane Sandy serve as a reminder to all of us the importance of being prepared.

*Thank you to PetHub for the image!