I would like to take this time say on behalf of the OU Chapter of NACE, myself, my husband, and the entire 3rd Battalion 6th Marine India Company Weapons Platoon, thank you some much for all your help with our care package drive. We received enough donations to make 60 care packages!! The amount of thank you's and hugs i received as i handed out the packages were truly heart warming they all wanted me to make sure i let you all know how truly greatful they were for the supplies. They came in handy the morning of their deployment after they realized they had packed up all of their supplies. Words cannot truly describe how thankful and greatful we are for your help.
Kayla M. Peoples (Nieves)
Office of Special Events Asst.
President of OU Student NACE Chapter
Brother of Alpha Phi Omega
NACE Experience Conference 2016
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Learning is something that we do everyday, whether we realize it or not. Learning a quicker route to work. Learning how to cook a new meal. Learning lyrics to a song, Learning a better way to introduce yourself. Learning a more efficient way to return emails. Learning ways to help with stress. The NACE Experience Conference is all about learning. You’re not only learning during the education sessions, you’re learning a better way to interact with those around you during the evening events. You’re learning to be uncomfortable when you’re not around those you know and be okay with it. You’re learning how to be more comfortable when talking about yourself. You’re learning better ways to remember people’s names and what they do. We learn best when it is presented in a way that works for us.
Because of the way the presenters approached their topic, is the reason I remember it so well. The topic of this session was “Beyond Customer Service: Gracious Hospitality.” They introduced themselves as a part of the Professional Development team and then asked us to pair up with someone close to us who had the same eye color. We were to describe our very first job to them. After that exercise they talked about a more affective way in getting to know someone you’re meeting for the first time while networking. When you start off with personal questions or conversation, you tend to remember that person, rather than, Hi, I’m Michelle and I work at Bold American Events. And it’s true. You tend to remember the interesting facts about someone and you are they able to connect with them easier the future.
Everyone has stress. If you don’t have stress, you’re dead. Yes that is a powerful statement and very true, as Carlos Laguna, USMC Veteran and Stress Management Coach said. He suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & Traumatic Brain Injury, however he has learned to recognize his stress triggers and address them before it becomes too much. We often put ourselves last when it comes to being healthy for both our body and mind. In a world that is go, go, go, this is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, is take time. Take time to be thankful for what we have. Take time to say thank you to those around you. Take time to care for our bodies. This is something I will try to do everyday. Starting with just a few minutes every day, and increasing over the next few months. If we are not happy with ourselves, then we can not positively influence those around us.
NACE Experience 2016 Reflection
I truly cherish the opportunity to attend the annual NACE Experience alongside my esteemed colleagues every summer. I look forward to the education, the travel opportunity, the food, the events, but most of all, the comradery. Momentous events such as these give us valuable takeaways; tangible gems that we leave the conference planning to implement in our lives and career.
This year at Experience, I attendant numerous insightful breakout sessions, but by far the presentation on Gracious Hospitality by the Biltmore School of Hospitality resonated most with me. As Events Professionals, many of us frequently feel as though were are too strapped for time to give each individual client the time and attention they require; which can sometimes be A LOT of attention! However, what I learned in the Gracious Hospitality session was that perhaps the important part of client relationships is the quality of the experience you provide them. A coordinator or planner who is fully present in each moment with a client is more likely to provide them with the authentic, world-class service the Biltmore teaches.
Moving forward, when I am reflecting on my customer service and thinking about how to become a more graciously hospitable Event Professional, I will continue to consider the following items that made a great impression on me during the breakout session:
- Think about your “Welcome” --- how does engaging with your client make them feel? What taste is left in their mouth?
- Create a calm yet dominant sphere of influence around your clients --- this will elevate your perceived expertise as well as allow you to shape the meeting
- Always start meetings off with something personal, never business. Remember, people love compliments!
- Be a guest/client “Historian” --- remember small things about them, their families, likes and dislikes, etc… This helps you to anticipate their needs.
- Take sincere ownership and responsibility for the guest’s experience, especially when it’s a negative one. Do not be too proud to apologize wholeheartedly and thank them genuinely.
- Demonstrate to your guests and clients that you appreciate and value the team that supports you.
As a Catering Sales Manager, locking-in and executing unique, curated event experiences is at the heart of what I do. In the weeks since the conference, I can see a tangible difference in my client relations by simply remembering to implement some of these objectives in my daily interactions with existing and potential clients. After all, as a consumer, I can speak for myself to say that I would quickly buy from a salesperson who I gathered to be compassionate, attentive, and connected to my needs and desires over someone who simply had a great product that I left me feeling unsure or uneasy. I believe graciously hospitality in a fast-paced, competitive industry is a merit commonly overlooked but rarely forgotten by the clients who experience it.
I attended the NACE Experience in Ft. Lauderdale in July of 2016.
When I arrived at the Diplomat Hotel, I quickly checked into my room which had a fabulous ocean view. The first session on Sunday that I attended was the Demystifying the Wine Tasting and Evaluation Experience. I had been to wine tastings in the past but this was different in that we were told to smell about 20 different cups and had to write down what we thought was in the cup without being able to see it. It was harder than it looked and I didn’t realize how much sight has to do with being able to pinpoint different aromas. This is the technique that sommeliers use to train their nose how to detect certain aromas within wine.
That night the Experience kicked off with the Opening Reception on the Pool Deck. We got to watch the Miami Dolphinettes perform a synchronized swimming performance, listen to a local DJ and drank beers from an area brewery. We then moved to the ballroom which had a fabulous under the sea theme. There were Tito’s ice luges, stations featuring plantains, tacos, and other local fare from the area.
The next day we were up early with a full day of learning opportunities. We started by attending the Production Design Experience which featured Marc Summers, host of Restaurant Impossible. He was a great speaker and his session was very interesting with regards to his experiences working with restaurants that need a little help. He actually brought out a owner that was on the show to get his experiences as well.
The first breakout session I attended was the “How effective are your menus” with Patti Shock. She is part of the International School of Hospitality and additionally is a published author on various hospitality subjects. We were told about common errors both grammatically and from a sales perspective. I took away a ton of great information that I have since shared with my team.
We then had the Design Experience and Luncheon in which we heard from Lenny Talarico. It was great to hear from someone that has SO much experience within this industry. He had spent much of his career in Las Vegas which made for some really great talking points about hospitality and events. Our Lunch was a fabulous farm to table spread served family style. Following Lunch we learned about trends in event lighting and technology. At first I was skeptical about how I could apply this to my own career in Catering Sales, but the speakers gave excellent suggestions on ways that lighting can effect all aspects of sales.
Following the main session I attended the smaller break out session Marketing and Selling Seasonal and Sustainable Food and Beverage with James Fitz. This has always been a huge request and trend with the groups and weddings I have worked with so I was eager to hear what the speaker had to say. James discussed the benefits to us as professionals, but also the benefits to the environment and community using sustainable food and beverage brings.
That evening we boarded the Queen of South Beach for a cruised around the Floridian Intercostal. We had a live band, Tito’s cocktails and an amazing spread of hors d’oeuvres.
The next morning was the Marketplace Expo in which different companies set up booths to promote their product. I was excited to learn about Honeybook, and of course the NACE Experience in Houston in 2017. The lunch menu that they put together was fabulous – a selection of sandwiches, salads all served in a Bento Box. Yummy and functional!
The next breakout sessions I attended was the Working in Unconventional and Historical Spaces with Alicia Crosby whom works at the Boston Museum of Art. I enjoyed her presentation and even came away with some new ways to update a current project of mine – outside vendor agreements.
The next breakout session I attended was the 2016 Tech Apps for Your Event Company in which I learned about all the new and useful technology that is available to our industry. Some of my favorite new apps that I learned about were Black Pearl which manages customer email signatures, LiveChat – to book direct business, and appy couple.
Finally, I attended the Don't Lose Sleep - Find Solutions: Catering Solutions Round Table in which we literally sat around a large table and collectively mapped out issues that we had as individuals. I can’t tell you how awesome it was to sit around with other people whom had real solutions or had experienced some of the same things I had. I came away with solutions for balancing work and life, and other best practices.
That evening was the Awards Gala, in which the trophies were presented to the best of many different categories. As a chapter we didn’t come away with a win, but we were able to spend time with each other following the awards at the reception. The reception featured lighting displays, DJ and some of the best food stations.
The final day of the conference I attended the You’ve Sold It! Now What? Session which outlined some of the best practices when executing an event. I enjoyed the presenter, but did wish we would have explored the topic even more – there is so much to learn. Following this breakout we had the Culinary Experience which was such an amazing treat. We learned about Buffalo Fish and smoking techniques from the fabulous Chef Rick Moonen. We got to watch the execution and preparation and then sample the final product. Delicious.
The NACE Experience is a truly wonderful opportunity for any hospitality professional and it was a pleasure and privilege to attend the Ft. Lauderdale Experience in 2016.
My NACE Experience 2016 by Henriette Ostrzega, CPCE, CHSP
I have been a member of NACE since 1999 and for the first time ever, I had the opportunity to attend NACE Experience this year in Ft Lauderdale. What a rewarding experience! I had the privilege of meeting some of my peers from all over the country and build new business relationships; I was privileged to support NACE and the CPCE program by volunteering as a facilitator for (2) breakout sessions and of course privileged to learn from the best in the industry.
I arrived on Sunday early afternoon and immediately headed to my first session, “Demystifying the wine tasting”. As Nancy Chong would say: “Taste everything, finish nothing.”! Then it was on to the poolside opening reception.
Over the next couple of days, I attended the following breakout sessions in addition to the general sessions, the fabulous NACE Foundation Fundraiser, and the NACE Awards Gala:
? Excellence in LGBTQ Customer Service – we discussed how to use relevant language and terminology; gender identity and common misconceptions. Loved the “Genderbread Person” analogy.
? Advanced Social Media Strategies – I had no clue about the social media site Snapchat! We discussed why we are on social media as businesses and why we actually should be; the general rules and resources of social media marketing; the tips and tricks for some of the major social media platforms.
? Working in Unconventional and Historical Sites – All venues are not created equal. Understand and follow the rules when working at a venue, Be creative and respectful
? A Brief History of Salt, Bread and Olive Oil – My favorite session!! I now better understand how salt, bread and olive oil have affected governments and changed the course of human history; I learnt how those items are engrained in our Western world as well as in world culture as a whole, and how they have been regarded in world religions.
? Make New Friends and Keep the Old - Cultivating and Maintaining Business Relationships – Reviewed the types of relationships, where can those people be found and how to nurture business relationships. “Give for the sake of giving and don’t keep score.”
? You’ve Sold It! Now What? – The logistics of a large event. From managing the client’s expectation to timelines and checklists, internal and external communication, to execution!
And if you are looking for free software for floor plans, check AllSeated.com
And in between, was able to catch up some sun on the beach for 45 minutes, strolled thru the marketplace, and represented you all at the NACE Board of Directors Candidate Meet and Greet followed by the new National Board Elections!
Until next year.
NACE Experience Article by Carlton Brown
My experience at NACE Experience was a good one, but perhaps for different reasons than most. Although I found many of the classes somewhat underwhelming for me, there were a couple of gems that I appreciated and were glad that I took. I had heard so much about the Experience that I think perhaps my expectations were higher than they should have been, but I was told many times that this did not reflect the true experience that was received in the past. Therefore I will not hold this experience as the standard. The reason that I did really enjoy the Experience, was because it allowed me to create much stronger bonds with my board members that perhaps I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to do so. That in itself made the trip well worth it to me. I got the opportunity to see the real side of everyone outside of the board room, and that was valuable to me.
Out of all of the classes, the one that was the most powerful to me was the “10 tips for drafting air-tight employee and independent contractor agreements”. Although not a sexy topic, the speaker had a mannerism that came across fresh, hip, exciting and interesting. I learned a lot of valuable info as well. The other class that stood out to me was “Ch-ch-changes: Communication Strategies for Company Changes”. This class although I was expecting more content, did give some valuable takeaways to consider.
Third…err FOURTH times a Charm! My 2016 NACE Experience (pun intended)
Having just attended my fourth NACE Experience, I can certainly say that it lives up to its name…EXPERIENCE! Every year I have attended always offers a different Experience, and this year, it truly was the education. Being an Event Planner/Non Caterer member, I used to find that the sessions did not offer a lot of education to benefit my career (except the occasional “self-help…be a better you” sessions.) While those certainly have their place, and I always had a great time, I left without the excitement of many other NACE members. However, this year was a 100% improvement and I returned home having attended three really good sessions that offered tools I have already began to implement in my work day.
In the world of social media, I constantly find myself behind the latest app to showcase my work; not to mention the best way to post…what to say, when to day it, etc. I’m always asking which app do I use for what reason? It’s can be a full time job just making sure your social media is up to date and “correct” …whatever that means.
In the session, “When Building Your Brand, A Picture Says 1,000 Word”, photographer, Dan Mamone, offered many words of wisdom and examples of how to take the best picture. He proved that the best camera to have is the one we carry every day! Yes, there is still a need for those great style shoots, but with a little practice and patience, you can get some great pictures. Later, in “2016 Tech Apps for Your Event Company”, Kevin Dennis, JWIC, offered more apps and software than I could keep up with! However, his delivery and explanation peaked my interest just at the right time to come back with several new ideas to help my team with getting the word out on to MANY platforms of social media. What was so important to learn were the many apps that help make your post look better, help you schedule them in advance and allow me to get back to selling, planning and producing!
Having missed the previous two years, I attended this year’s NACE Experience in the hopes that the education would finally match the membership and the new name. I can say it certainly has, and I’m already looking forward to seeing everyone in Houston next year.
NACE Experience! 2016
The Diplomat Hotel and Resort
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
This years’ NACE Experience! Did not disappoint. We were treated to a fabulous hotel experience at The Diplomat Hotel and Resort, a Curio property by Hilton.
Here is a summary of the sessions I attended and the key educational points I gleaned from each:
Sunday Afternoon- “The Business of Relationships: Building your wedding business by networking like a pro~ Meghan Ely- OFD Consulting
- Megan gave us important insight into how essential referrals are to our current and future business. Leveraging relationships and asking for referrals should be our number one priorities.
- Focus on meeting 3-5 people per event. Don’t attend meetings/gatherings just for the sake of going. Make your time and efforts COUNT. Strategize and follow up.
- This session wasn’t JUST about weddings. She touched on a wide variety of scenarios in which we could all benefit from her refreshing approach.
Monday Morning- “When Building Your Brand Says 1,000 Words”
Don Mamone is a photographer from Dallas. I was very impressed with his thoughts on collaborating with others to help achieve the desired end result. His “tribe” mentality was unique as he said he’s got a group of others who work really well together and that it’s OK to NOT get along well with everyone. Much like volunteering, he said you have to be mindful of “kicking others out” and be sure to be thoughtful , but stern if one of your team isn’t in sync with the others.
Monday Afternoon- “Chardonnay: The Queen White Grape”
Monique Studak- Pernod Richard- Once again, Monique injects good humor and a wealth of knowledge into her sessions. She has a wealth of knowledge on all varieties of wines and this session focused on Chardonnay only. We tried 5 from various countries. Some were Oak Aged, and some were not. She spent a lot of time discussing the difference and what it means to our clients. They view us as the “experts” and we need to make sure we stay current with all the various trends going on in our areas. She made us taste each of the samples and then had us go back to the first one and talk about the difference. It was amazing! Monique travels the country and offers sound and tested advice on how to up-sell in the catering arena and how to effectively drive profits through appropriate pricing.
Evening Event- South Beach Lady
The NACE Foundation hosted us aboard the South Beach Lady as we travelled up and down the Intracoastal. The views were outstanding and the and played a fun variety of tunes from various genres.
Breakfast and lunch were both served in The Marketplace. It was refreshing to see many new companies who have partnered with NACE. Among them was a new seafood company who is looking to break into the catering market segment and highlight their specialty packaging. Another one was the Small Business Administration who was there to help small business owners know what resources were out there for us.
Tuesday Morning- “Personal Development and Building Relationships”
Ann Ashley and Chris Maslin- The Biltmore Estate
What a fun session! Ann and Chris tag-teamed this session to help us all develop a better sense of “first impressions” and how to further the empowerment of our teams. They both work at The Biltmore which is renowned as a southern jewel known for their friendliness and attention to detail. We went through several scenarios in small team to help identify where our own businesses would benefit from a little overhaul to achieve desired results and higher client feedback and return business. It could be something as simple as revamping the “talk track” for front office personnel or training on the importance of eye contact between team members and guests.
Tuesday Morning- “4 Keys to Navigating Stress”
Carlos and his service dog Maddie were very impactful. Carlos is a former marine who suffered a traumatic brain injury and PTSD after his last tour. He has taken this awful situation and turned it into a powerful session so other can learn from what he has endured. He gave us tell-tale signs of “stress” and how to identify it and how to combat it. He knows that we all “deal” with stress in a variety of ways, but helped point out a few ways we can all cope. Realizing the catering and events community can be stressful at times, he said he can relate and urged everyone to NOT just sweep these emotions aside. He said that procrastinating could have terrible results. Seeking help and advice is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of being committed to cope with the issues at hand. One of the methods he taught us was a breathing method: Inhale for 4 seconds. Hold for 7 seconds. Then exhale for 8 seconds. It’s definitely something I have practiced successfully.
Tuesday Afternoon- “Make New Friends and Keep The Old: Cultivating and Maintaining Business Relationships”
“Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!” Morgan told a wonderful account of how she dealt with a competitive situation leading to a new friendship and increased business. She said it’s NOT ALWAYS about “getting” the business, but sometimes a matter of doing the right thing even if it means LOSING the business. Her unique and refreshing approach gave a new twist into the air of competition. She said that it’s not an awful practice to reach out to your competitors and partner with them on community service initiatives to help the industry GROW as a whole. She made lots of reference to new up and comers who either want someone to do it all FOR THEM or as was the case with “Deb” she was looking for a mentor. Knowing the difference between those looking for a hand out vs. a hand up is essential. She created great energy and commented on being the queen of “embracing discomfort” even if it’s not fun.
Wednesday Morning- “Be An Open Book: Leveraging Your Transparency into Profits”
Jennifer had worked for larger companies and then decided to branch out on her own. Although very successful at the beginning, she eventually had to seek help from friends and former colleagues to keep her business afloat. Again, stressing the importance of relationships and how our actions follow us with our reputations. She was very blunt about her dark days and how she had to revamp her business strategy to adapt to the changing business environment. Reaching out to many isn’t a bad idea in times of need and being transparent in your needs to reach your personal and professional goals.