What is GX? – Guest Experience

You can’t swing a cat (god forbid! we don’t actually swing cats!) in Portland without knocking over a UX (User Experience) engineer or designer. There are entire conferences dedicated to thinking about the online user experience. People are super concerned about UX, and discussions of UX are everywhere.

Bride and Groom at the dinner buffet reception
photo by FritzPhoto

But what about the offline experience, when you are in the face-to-face? I call this GX, or the Guest Experience, and I think about it all the time as it relates to events.

It’s so easy to forget about GX as we are planning our events and I wanted to put the terminology out there and make it as well-known, cared-about, and prominent as UX. After all, if you have a great online experience, but then get to an event in-person and have a bad experience, the best online design in the world can’t help.

Here are four elements that cause event creators (CEOs, wedding couples, trade show organizers, etc.) to overlook GX. I’ll use a scenario of  “the client says they don’t want chairs at a wedding ceremony” as a common example of forgotten GX.

1. Personality type. For example, a “Free Spirit” personality may think it’s fun to do a standing ceremony without chairs in a forest clearing.

2. Budget – A client may think it would save money not to rent chairs for the ceremony.

3. Haven’t reviewed the logistics. A client may think chairs are not needed, since the ceremony timing seems short.

4. Making assumptions based on a narrow experience (“I’ve never needed to sit down at a wedding, so I don’t think we need chairs”).

But you as the event planner know that there are a lot of issues with foregoing chairs at a wedding ceremony (or any event requiring an audience to be at long focused, formal attention). Here are five complementary ways we as planners and coordinators, or employees tasked with helping with an event, can step in and bring the focus back on GX:

1. Appeal to the event creator’s personality type. Again, sticking with our example scenario, if they are a “Free Spirit” type, for example (see this link for some examples of negotiating with personality types), then appeal to their sense of creativity by showing all the things people can enjoy in the wedding venue when they aren’t fatigued from standing during the ceremony. Offer creative solutions, such as hay bales or picnic blankets, that allow them to express their creative streak while still solving GX issues.

2. Show budget data and analysis. Going back to our scenario example, I would show that certain items as a percentage of budget have a disproportionate effect on GX and guest happiness. So while yes, you can cut the budget by not having chairs at the wedding; if the chairs are $2.75 each and there are 100 of them; and the total cost of the wedding is $25K (this is actually on the lower end for designed weddings in the Portland area), the small percentage of budget (1.1%) being spent on chairs will have a relatively large positive effect on GX; while getting rid of them will have a large negative effect on GX while not having a very big effect on reducing the budget.

3. Review the logistics with them. While a wedding ceremony as written can seem short, only 10-15 minutes, remember that guests usually arrive 30 or even 45 minutes before a ceremony, especially if there are out-of-towners visiting who aren’t familiar with the area. Then it takes a few minutes to get everyone in place for the wedding and send people down the aisle. There are usually a few minutes at the end for the recessional and perhaps a receiving line as well. All in all, that “short fifteen minute ceremony” usually winds up being about 30 minutes long and 30 minutes of pre-ceremony waiting. Does the client really want their guests to be standing for a whole hour?

4. Educate, educate, educate. As the event organizer or planner, it’s your responsibility to educate the event owner so they can have good GX. Again, going to our example one last time, you could educate them about possible movement, accessibility, or ability issues that guests could face. Older guests may require a place to be seated. If it’s a corporate event, you could remind about the Americans with Disabilities Act and making sure you provide accessibility and accommodations for different abilities. Once you start providing seating for older guests, it becomes awkward for those who don’t have a seat. Overall, it may be best to provide seating for everyone, and hopefully you can convince the event owner.

This is just one breakdown of the GX process as seen through the eyes of an event planner. I hope it illuminates a little about GX, guest experience, and how we plan events.

Oregon School Counselor Association Conference Photos

Got some photos back from our Oregon School Counselor Association conference a couple weeks ago. So great working with this group! EJP Events helped them from beginning to end, starting with venue search, contract negotiations, sponsor and vendor solicitation and management, catering menu planning, registration, social media, event marketing (the conference sold out for the second time we have been involved!), to onsite coordination and check in. We even printed and ordered their swag items, such as t-shirts, bags, pens, and notepads.

Portland Event Planning by EJP Events

More photos from this wonderful conference available here:
We love working with our conference and event planning clients and making their jobs easy!

Portland Retro Gaming Expo

As wedding season moves indoors and gets quieter, conference and expo season surges forward! This weekend we’re happy to help Portland Retro Gaming Expo coordinate their hotel logistics as they welcome 10,000 attendees to the Oregon Convention Center to enjoy hundreds of retro arcade and console games. Did you know EJP Events is a member of American Express Global Business Travel’s Meetings Expert program? I love helping groups find the best hotel venue for their needs. We were thrilled to match PRGE up with the Crowne Plaza Portland, Doubletree Portland, Jupiter Hotel and Residence Inn Lloyd Center this year. Let me know if I can help your group!

Portland Retro Gaming Expo - Convention Planning and Venue Sourcing

via Buffer

Oregon School Counselor Association Annual Conference

We are very pleased to once again be helping Oregon School Counselor Association with their Annual Conference. If you know a school counselor or a student in the counseling field who may be interested in a career in school counseling, please share this event with them!

Group Hotel Room Blocks with MeetingsExpert Services by EJP Events

Did you know — EJP Events is an Independent Meeting Consultant member of American Express’s Meetings Expert program? This means that along with our 20 years of experience in meeting planning, hyperlocal knowledge of Portland, Oregon and the Pacific Northwest — we now also offer you the purchasing power, professionalism, and resources associated with the American Express global brand. We offer  Venue Sourcing Services to qualified events; contact us today to find out how we can ease the burden of meeting site selection and hotel contract negotiation.

Group Hotel Meeting Contracts and Hotel Planning

Things That Annoy Your Attendees During Online Event Registration

gif via Popkey

I just saw a tweet about a really interesting conference coming up on the East Coast. Relevant speakers, education credits, an affordable registration fee, a compelling location. However, I’m stuck, just stuck, right in the middle of the registration process, trying to find out more. My pain is your gain, however, as I walk you through the things that are completely annoying me about this event registration page.

1. When is it?

The date is in 9-pt type in a light grey, against white background. I’m squinting. Come on guys, your target audience is meeting professionals and many of us are over 40 and starting to lose our eyesight. PLEASE MAKE THE DATE BIG, and put it first so we even know whether or not we can attend.

2. No link to hotel information

The hotel looks really nice! There is a huge embedded Google map showing the location. However there is no reference to a group rate for the conference, nor a link to the hotel, nor a group code. Nothing. I can’t fly across the country to your event and not knowing if I can stay at the convention hotel. PLEASE MAKE THE LINK TO THE HQ HOTEL BIG. And clickable.

3. Sponsors are listed, but no links to their websites

Look at all these sponsors! Some of the top players in my industry. But if I put my finger on the logo (yes, I’m on mobile, just like 73% of the world’s population) nothing happens. What? The logo should take me to more information about this great company, so I can learn about what they do and offer.

Please, for the love of your attendees, and so you don’t lose us during this process, take care of the basics! (Note: I did not end up registering for the conference. Oh well.)

Blog Roundup: What Corporate Events Can Learn From Wedding Planners

 

Spot the meeting planner vs. the wedding planner.

Do wedding planners have anything to offer corporate events? Is the experience that a wedding planner brings to weddings valuable, when staring down the barrel of a large, multi-day, multi-track, executive-level conference?

BizBash, Etouches, WilsonWest and Meetings+Events Magazine, some of the top voices in our industry, all say a resounding YES.

I present the following readings to you that remind us all that for high-level events, whether they have a social or corporate focus, there is always a “bride” (a VIP or group of VIPs), and the details always matter.

Raise the Bar on Your Next Event by Thinking Like a Wedding Planner – Meetings+Events Magazine

What Can a Wedding Planner Teach Us About Strategic Event Planning – WilsonWest

10 Lessons Event Pros Can Learn From Weddings – BizBash

Weddings and Corporate Events: Not So Different After All – See more at: http://blog.etouches.com/tips-and-tools/best-practices/weddings-and-corporate-events-not-so-different-after-all/#sthash.Yqql1fGo.dpuf

Weddings and Corporate Events: Not So Different After All – eTouches

 

Weddings and Corporate Events: Not So Different After All – See more at: http://blog.etouches.com/tips-and-tools/best-practices/weddings-and-corporate-events-not-so-different-after-all/#sthash.Yqql1fGo.dpuf
What Can a Wedding Planner Teach Us About Strategic Event Planning? – See more at: http://www.wilsonwest.com/what-can-a-wedding-planner-teach-us-about-strategic-event-planning-2/#sthash.xjG4uAiC.dpuf
What Can a Wedding Planner Teach Us About Strategic Event Planning? – See more at: http://www.wilsonwest.com/what-can-a-wedding-planner-teach-us-about-strategic-event-planning-2/#sthash.xjG4uAiC.dpuf
What Can a Wedding Planner Teach Us About Strategic Event Planning? – See more at: http://www.wilsonwest.com/what-can-a-wedding-planner-teach-us-about-strategic-event-planning-2/#sthash.xjG4uAiC.dpuf

The net-net? Don’t conflate wedding planning skills with frivolous knowledge – the skill set is very similar; the major difference is where the money comes from. A veteran wedding planner is merciless with budgets – a skill prized in corporate circles. Someone who knows how to soothe ruffled feathers during the most over-the-top family dramas is the diplomat you want when tensions run high in a conference committee. And an onsite wedding whiz who can think on their feet and handle a million guest and VIP requests simultaneously with aplomb can be a valuable contributor to a corporate event team.

National Federation of Nurses Launch

Tonight we’re blogging live from the National Federation of Nurses Launch Party in Portland, Oregon.  We’re going green with the guest book and letting our attendees sign in with comments!  Also, allowing our remote attendees to twitter with the #nfn09 hashtag and text to http://tinyurl.com/nfnlaunch with their congratulatory messages.
Please join us by leaving a comment for this wonderful new nurses’ union!