Event Planning From Start To Finish
Three of Trixstar’s finest were recently interviewed and featured in a spread in the Alberta Meeting & Event Guide Fall/Winter 2016/2017 Magazine.
Download a full digital copy of the magazine here or read the exerpt below written by Danielle Mohr.
Q&A with Mike Anderson, Brennan McFaul, and Chris Schoengut of Trixstar Productions
What kind of information do you gather from prospective clients right away?
First, we build a strategy with them and find out why they’re putting on their event and what their goals are. Specifically, we want to know if those goals match their budget. It’s important to start with the why. There’s more to it than making money from an event. We’re looking deeper and finding measurable things that we can build a project around. Then when we wrap up the event we can figure out whether we hit those goals.
What kind of questions are clients asking you?
How much do you cost, and how much money are you going to save us? A lot of people think there’s
a big menu list of how much event artists cost, but most of that is custom and schedule-based. Clients who approach us usually already know about us and have seen our past events or website. So we try to make it about the client experience, and figure out what their fears are and what their ambitions are, and work towards that.
What is the creative brainstorming process behind creating original events with your clients?
That depends a lot on what the client’s goals are and why they’re hosting the event. Mind mapping is one of our biggest tools. A lot of the time we’ll bring a client in, put a screen up and throw everything up on the wall to see what sticks. Some ideas will lead to other ideas that clients wouldn’t have thought of before they entered the room. Through our education process we really walk through the whole planning process with them; we help them with that strategy part. We help them build the event, and then launch and execute that event.
What are your clients looking for when they come to you?
Some clients need help all the way through, some just need us for buying and executing the talent, and some need help with the marketing part of an event. We try to be flexible to meet different needs of different clients. There is no cookie-cutter menu of services that we provide, but what they pay us to do will save them in expenses and headaches, so it ends up being a win-win.
What do you do before the event to ensure optimal attendance?
We build media strategies and decide what amount of TV advertisement, radio, or social media is needed. We have a great eBook on our website called the Six Pillars of Marketing that goes over PR, TV, radio, print, social media, and brand activations. Some events need all six, some need three, but it gives the reader some ideas about where to start.
How do you ensure that branding is carried through an event from start to finish?
Brand activation is like a tree and all the branches are the different types of activations that you can do. At this point, events have all become brand activations. The tree of event planning starts at the brand activation. You have to make sure that guests have an ultimate experience, that they aren’t standing in line for a long time and things like that, because it all reflects back on the brand. It’s about fan engagement and making sure the clients and customers are entertained, and having a night that they’re going to remember and talk to their friends about.
What is the ultimate goal of every event?
We’re always trying to make an event worth talking about. For most of our events, we’re hired by companies to produce an experience for their customers. We want to make sure their customers leave with a great feeling that they’re going to talk about. We want to make sure the client’s vision has been executed from start to finish and we eliminated as many of their fears as possible throughout the process. We take care of the back end of things and produce the event for our clients, so that they can focus on their own clients.
What kind of information signals a successful event?
If the goals were achieved that were set out in the beginning, whether that’s an attendance number, a certain dollar amount generated in revenue, media impressions, positive branding, or client satisfaction. There are a lot of different metrics involved.
How do you follow up with your clients?
We’re constantly in contact with clients, especially our repeat clients, whether it’s a lunch, a phone call, or a meeting. We also do a post-event report that takes social media and other metrics into account, and compare it to what we were looking at in the beginning.
How do you keep the event fresh in the guests’ minds?
For most events we do video recaps for our clients and share photos. We have done surveys, but now with social media so in the forefront that’s almost unnecessary. People will speak their minds on social media. There’s no “this was a good event.” It’s either “this event was awesome,” or “this event sucked.” Depending on the event we communicate our thanks through social media. For events like Big Valley Jamboree we’ve done newspaper ads to thank loyal fans.
How do you follow up with your event guests to gauge their experiences?
We have done surveys in the past. Now, during the event we follow social media, so that we can actually communicate with guests in real time at the event and engage them right then and there. You can figure out if there are problems on the spot and improve social media reactions. If someone is giving the event praise you can engage them and thank them.
What have you learned from past successes and failures?
We learn from every event. There’s always something you can take and make better. It’s just little nuances sometimes. Little things will end up on our radar that don’t end up on anybody else’s radar, but we’re always trying to make things better. With a live event, it’s never going to be 100% perfect because there’s always something that could be better, but you can’t do retakes. You just have to move forward and make sure it’s the best possible event it can be. We learn something from every event we do, whether it’s something about security, branding, or something else.
How do you stay on top of trends?
It’s a fast-changing world. Especially when you go into hotspots like Nashville, Los Angeles, or New York. Quite often those places are two to five years ahead of what’s happening here. We get a lot of our trends from attending conferences, and other events all over North America. So we actually get in real time what people in North America are doing and what’s working for them. We’ll attend Coachella, or Stagecoach in Palm Springs, and bring ideas back from there that people aren’t necessarily doing yet here. We go to six to ten industry conferences in a year to keep up on what’s happening.
What advice would you give to someone planning an event in Alberta?
Start off by volunteering at events. It gives you a great idea if this is something you really want to do. It’s long days and lots of hairpin turns—high stress but high energy. If it is what you want to do then you might already have your foot in the door, because of the volunteering you have done. Always be networking in the industry. This industry, like many industries, is all about relationships. Those relationships come in handy when you need a favour, when you need a better price on something, when you need some extra work done, or when you need something done fast. A major reason clients approach us about working with them is because of the relationships we have fostered in this industry, and they know they are going to get the best product at the best price.