Expecting the unexpected: the keys to successful event planning

March 26, 2014 |

If you’ve ever thrown a birthday party or organized a wedding, more than likely, something may have happened that was perhaps a little unexpected. The name on the cake was spelled wrong, the bride spray tanned and turned orange, or someone missed the memo that the official color of the wedding party was supposed to be deep blue, not hot pink.

Situations like this can certainly intensify one’s stress levels but for Travel and Transport corporate event planners, Tami Reier and Mary Beth Jenson, they thrive on the unexpected twists and turns that can occur at any meeting or corporate event and they battle these unforeseen situations so their clients don’t have to.

Jenson and Reier are both Certified Meeting Professionals, while Jenson is also certified through the CMM Designation Program. These certifications are globally recognized and associated with a high standard of excellence.

We recently sat down with these two experienced meeting planners to take a look at some of the situations they have been up against.

What is their method of success?

“Arrive early, stay calm, expect the unexpected, and oh yeah, reconfirm the details over and over again!” says Jenson.

Reier and Jenson have seen the worst and survived some pretty crazy situations for almost two decades. From clever fixes to last minute miracles, Reier and Jenson have championed the art of corporate event planning.

They have also built up a collection of stories that will leave your jaw dropping and sides in stitches. If you think life isn’t like the movies, they have a few stories to prove you wrong.

Once, during an outdoor cocktail reception hosted by a large corporation, guests were so busy networking they neglected to enjoy the appetizers. When someone finally became hungry, they looked over to find the wind had blown the table linen over a candle, lighting the entire food display on fire. Thanks to having a crisis management process in place, Jenson contacted the on-site banquet captain who made sure the venue’s staff was able to control the situation and all guests were removed from any danger by the events team.

Unfortunately, fire, or at least the threat, is a common theme.

Two minutes prior to the doors opening of a 260-person client dinner, there was a loud crash and sparks flew around the ballroom. Lights had been strung across the ballroom ceiling and the décor company had secured them to a few of the door hinges. The doors were not to be used, but a few people missed the message. Wait staff entered through the doors and the lights crashed down on the dinner tables. The lights knocked over large glass centerpieces filled with fruit and water, breaking the glass and spilling the water, leaving the live electrical wires exposed. Luckily, the events team worked with the décor company and managed to repair and reset everything with minimal delays to the event. For those of us who have had any cake disasters on the other hand, Reier has the perfect solution.

A client of hers was known for his love of Hostess cupcakes, but upon delivery of the specially designed cupcakes, a planner transporting the baked delicacies was forced to make a sudden stop while driving, leaving imperfections in the icing of the cupcakes. After calling the bakery and discovering they couldn’t deliver a new batch in time, Reier and her team decided to take matters into their own hands. They cut up the cupcakes and put the pieces in a large bowl, topping them with whipped cream and strawberries. The “truffle” dish was a huge hit.

There is no doubt Reier and Jenson have been through it all. They’ve taken guests to the hospital for torn Achilles tendons from dancing too enthusiastically in a kick line, they’ve seen fruit centerpieces taken apart and used as costumes for dancing (alcohol may have been served prior) and dealt with a broken toilet that flooded three floors of a Ritz-Carlton hotel.

Their stories are endless and their corporate event planning knowledge knows no boundaries. Travel and Transport is lucky to have a team of quick-thinking individuals who are experts at saving the day. If you are looking for a corporate event planning company, contact Tami Reier at treier@travelandtransport.com today for a free consultation on your next corporate event or meeting.