When we embarked in this amazing adventure called Agency Be 10 years ago, little did we know that it would develop into the Company that we proudly represent today.
Associate Director, National Delivery | Events & Meetings | KPMG
1. How long have you been in the event marketing field? What have been your greatest accomplishments?
I started my career in event management in 1995 and spent 17 years in the financial services sector and 5 years in the chemical industries sector. Throughout my 22 year career, I had the honor of working alongside some of the most thought provoking leaders of our time.
My greatest accomplishments, that’s hard to narrow down. I managed a series of events around an IPO, which took place shortly after the 911 attacks. I have many fond memories of working over the Labor Day Weekend in the Hamptons, executing a title sponsorship at the Hampton Classic. Throughout the years, I managed incentive travel trips that afforded me the luxury of traveling all over the globe. I had the opportunity to work on 2 very unique product launches for a climate change hedge fund. We made it snow on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills in January, followed by a Rain Forest experience in South Street Seaport in February.
2. What is your current role and position at KPMG?
I have been with the firm over 3 years and I am currently an Associate Director, on the National Delivery Team for KPMG Events & Meetings.
3. What is the main goal and objective for the KPMG Events & Meetings Department?
Our department’s main goal and objective is to provide exceptional stakeholder service through operational excellence and development of targeted strategic partnerships; as well as creating an environment and culture that drives innovative new idea generation to meet the evolving marketplace needs.
4. What approach do you take when planning creative programs?
Initially we have ‘discovery calls’ with all the key stakeholders, to discuss the overall event objectives, goals and what they would like to achieve at the conclusion of the event. This provides the project lead with data needed to a strategy, which will then be further discussed and flushed out throughout the lifecycle of the event. During the initial planning phase, I ask “what have you always wanted to do, but have never been given the opportunity to do?” I have found that this approach consistently forces everyone to think outside of the box and develop creative solutions to achieve the overall goals.
5. What advantages do you find in experiential marketing over other forms of marketing?
With today’s technology, attendees have a ‘full-access’ pass to what other companies are delivering across all marketing channels. In our industry however, we challenge ourselves with “How can we elevate the attendee experience?”
I believe that as event professionals, we can achieve this goal through experiential marketing. We do this through new innovation, interactive sessions, event apps and social media. We continue to explore new opportunities that have proven to be successful and sometimes we are risk takers. Surveying your attendees at the conclusion of an event will provide you with additional data and analytics for what areas should be improved upon, changed or kept. When attendees and stakeholders say, “This is the best event ever”… year over year, you know that you’re doing something right.
6. What do you find most rewarding about creating programs?
I never thought of it as “creating a program” but instead take the approach of “creating an experience”. It’s important to put yourself in the attendee’s shoes Attendees today have many viable options available for in-person meetings, virtual learning, etc. I’m passionate about developing experiences that are engaging and provide networking opportunities; elevating the brand, utilizing new technology to further engage attendees and forge relationships, etc. One of my personal goals is to ‘not create the same event twice.” Let’s face it, you can’t create the same experience twice…try something new…take a risk.
7. What have you found to be the most effective ways to measure success and impact of your programs? Are there any specific KPI’s you focus on?
All of the event goals and objectives are measurable. We distribute a post-event survey to all of our attendees. The data is used to gauge how well our speakers delivered content, networking activities provided, keynote speakers, food and beverage, venue, location, etc. We review the results of these surveys, along with data and analytics from our event app to see what worked well, what are areas of improvement and what we need to revisit for the following year.
From a KPI’s perspective, depending on the overall goals and objectives, we focus on the D&A captured from the event app, measuring ROI, overall attendee satisfaction feedback and social media engagement.
Experiential marketing has been around for some time now but in recent years this experience- driven consumer culture has been highly successful. The rapid development of technology that is being used in experiential marketing is attracting more and more consumers than traditional advertising.
Each experience is authentic to each brand and most importantly you can collect data! Collecting data is important to prove a strong ROI and make key decisions for future marketing efforts.
To effectively use technology at an event it should be unique and personalized where the consumer can relate with the brand. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are two forms of communication mediums that have made a huge impact on how companies are interacting with their audiences. The evolution of both content being used in these mediums as well as the consumer touch points has allowed the experiences to live long after the event is over reaching people far beyond those who attended the event. Live streaming has also allowed viewers at home be a part of the happening and connect with the brands.
The use of technology facilitates tracking several key analytics including top measures such as total attendance/ participation, and social media likes and engagement. Knowing how many people purchased a product as a result of engaging with your product at an event is another importation quantitative measure. Brands can even keep track of how many premiums were given away at an event in order to allocate the right amount of funds for the following years, thus reducing costs if needed. This raw data is useful and easy to collect at events.
Using technology to create a story and collecting data for companies to make important decisions is a win- win for everyone. These memorable and meaningful experiences will keep revolutionizing the marketing industry thus keeping experiential marketing alive for many years to come.
Often times when I am meeting with clients, the biggest challenge is to re-wire their thinking and expand their awareness that Agency Be cannot be limited by the DMC credential and what it is that differentiates us from the rest.
In years past, we did what an event company/DMC would do, we brought creativity and interest to corporate events. We provided all of the elements it would take to create the vision; furniture, linens, centerpieces, quality entertainment, interesting city tours, transportation, staffing, etc. We produced some amazing and memorable events just by doing what we were hired to do.
Now that we have evolved and matured as a company, we truly know and understand that quality customer service entails more than providing the tangible elements. There is great pride in providing efficient, quick and friendly service while building strong relationships with our clients. I believe this is a learned behavior that also compliments our company culture. We all believe that quality customer service is the best way to keep customers coming back.
I attended the NBA Miami Heat Draft Party last year where I gained a greater perspective of the careful consideration and thought that goes into each draft pick. Since then, I have looked at each of my associates differently, as if they were part of the Agency Be draft. Our team is carefully selected, recruiting only the best. We are trained to be courteous, efficient, respectful and to carefully listen to our clients. It is this type of quality that gives us special worth.
I am proud of our service culture. It encourages me to be a better person.
2007 doesn’t seem so long ago until you think of all the changes our world has seen. Throughout the years, technology has transformed the way the event industry operates. We’ve stepped away from just an evening towards an ever-lasting impression.
Communication has increased in many way due to technology. People have a bigger voice as they share everything on social media applications. Companies have the opportunity to share their work and clients are able to communicate their appreciation of the outcome of the event. After the completion of the event both parties are still in communication due to posts on social media. We are heading to a decade where people share their opinions daily. With the increase of technology, we’ve been able to receive reliable feedback from our event attendees. This has helped us continue to grow as an agency and better ourselves at every event we produce. The best form of Marketing is positive word of mouth. The recap of the event from drones or high quality photos shared by clients presenting their experiences have become a benefit for event agencies.
In the past decade, we have continuously taken footsteps into a mobile world. Smartphones are like having the world in our hands. We have the advantage to work faster and more efficiently. We are ready for any a client presents us at any time of the day or night.
Technology has helped save time in many other ways as well; For example, online registrations. We’ve even become “green” or paperless. Now event apps provide maps, schedules, and biographies speakers without having to print a thing. We have become a digital world.
The people who work in the event industry have creative mind sets. The internet has helped us bring our visions to life, as well as connecting with our client’s visions. Over the years technology has brought many advantages to the industry, as well as some challenges. Our mobile world filled with live communication challenges us to continuously create the next best idea for an event. Every event must be different and bring the lasting wow factor. Each generation has become more engaged and reliant on technology. The engagement we have with technology has pushed us into experimental marketing. We must find ways to have our clients participate in ways they would never imagine. For example, sending them into a virtual reality world.
To be successful you must be a risk taker. The future of the event industry will thrive as new technological inventions unfold. No challenge is too big for Agency BE as “We believe in the power of creativity to transform the ordinary into extraordinary.”
In the event industry, every day we see changes and new ideas. Throughout the past decade our industry has evolved immensely. Technology, locations, and style are some of the biggest influences for these changes.
Advancements of technology have increased the power of one’s voice. In today’s world, majority of our population uses a smart phone, where social media is an outlook to share and communicate throughout one’s day. Social Media has allowed Event Agencies to showcase our work, stay in touch with our clients, and communicate with future clients.
The location of an event sets the tone. In a city like Miami, there are new developments all the time. Areas, such as, Wynwood and Brickell, have completely changed in the last decade. Event agencies must keep up the newest restaurants and venues to help direct their clients to the perfect location for their event. We must understand these changes to create the perfect ambiance from the start.
Style trends change seasonally. As you can imagine in the last decade style has changed many times. For example, today the organic and earthy tone is trending is nothing like 2010’s glam rock vibe. 2007 seems as it was yesterday, but in the world of style and trends we have seen over 40 trend changes in the last decade.
Changes enhance challenges and opportunities. Technology helps clients research our past events and have a better opportunity to hear what other people say about their experience. This brings challenges to find new ways to create a personal experience for our clients. We strive to customize their events to their desires in ways that have never been done before. To be successful in this industry you must stay on your toes and continuously innovate décor elements to exceed client’s expectations. I am passionate in the details. Every single one matters no matter how big or small. I’ve stayed successful over the years by dedicating myself to being detail oriented. With the new challenges the event industry holds, the details become more important. The big picture shows a grand scheme of the event; the small details are what the attendees take back with them forever.
“Change Alone is Eternal, Perpetual, and Never Ending”
In mythology, folklore, epic poems and the oldest extant literature, metamorphosis (or shape shifting) has long been present. It remains a common trope in modern fantasy, children’s literature, and works of popular culture and were it pertains to Agency Be, The Business World.
The shaman and the showman both have pondered the mystery and magic of metamorphosis. This most profound act of change can emerge beyond the scientific explanation to reveal a metaphor of growth, evolution, and inspiration.
Agency Be has morphed into a super corporate powerhouse both in creativity, service and the execution of events worldwide!
Having the honor of being with this wonderful group of talented individuals I have seen this shift firsthand.
There was never a stutter step or balk in making the transition from what was a very simple décor company to the level of services we offer now.
We kept achieving new heights when it came to décor, lighting, staging, business theatre and much more.
We took chances that other companies with multi years doing almost the same thing turned away. For the team at BE there was never a “ No we can’t do that”
We took on the challenges and overcame any obstacle in our way with grace and professionalism.
This brings us to the present day and the journey still keeps moving forward at a lighting pace.
I am proud to BE a part of Agency-Be for the last 7 years and contribute ideas and creative product alongside my work family.
The only thing more exciting than the first 10 years is the next 10 years and what achievements we at BE will conquer.
Assistant Director of Sales
Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World® Resort
How long have you been in the hospitality industry? and what have been your biggest challenges and greatest accomplishments?
I have been in the hospitality industry now for 14 years, first starting off in the spa world and then moving to the hotels side in 2007 when I graduated from Florida International University. It was at Mandarin Oriental Miami that I found my true passion for Hotel Sales before joining Four Seasons Hotel Miami back in 2013, and continuing to grow until this very day. The biggest challenge would be adjusting my sales style to the different markets and cultures that I have handled, they operate totally different. A client in Latin America handles business completely different than a client from the Northeast US. Greatest accomplishments have been those clients that I can now call friends, I have built life long relationships along the way and traveled the world thanks to Four Seasons. My greatest mentor has been Johanna Marlin, who now works for RC Key Biscayne as the DOS, she took the time to always mentor me and I carry that same vision to our team. Nothing better than empowering them, seeing them grow into a higher management role. And of course closing a huge million dollar piece of business is always a great accomplishment too.
What are the new and exciting plans for the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort for 2017?
We are still celebrating being new as we opened our doors in August 2014!!! Disney’s newest Avatar attraction is opening up soon which will steer an influx of travelers into the destination and our Resort. We are the only AAA 5 Diamond Resort in all Central Florida to have a partnership with Disney too! We will also be hosting the Diamond Resorts International Golf Tournament in January 2018, which captured millions of viewers on the NBC Golf Channel this past January….be sure to tune in January 2018! And we cannot forget the construction of our single family private residence component directly across from the Resort…..the homes are selling around $7 million so be sure to put in your deposit soon.
You have been part of some of the most successful properties in South Florida. What is your method for success?
Dedication, focus and teamwork!
As an Assistant Director of Sales at one of most luxurious hotels in such a popular destination, what are your favorite spots at the moment, and why?
Besides The Food and Wine Festival in Epcot which takes place in the Fall, and our rooftop Spanish steakhouse (Capa), I would say I love to discover little hidden gems. The Stubborn Mule, Pharmacy (which is a speak easy accessed through an elevator door) and Bartaco are my local places you can find me.
Now a little bit about yourself. How do you spend your down time?
Family and friends coming to visit me, and giving them the guided tour of Orlando! I am a big foodie so love to try different places for Sunday Funday Brunch….I have also been dedicating a lot of time to decorating the home I recently purchased, it’s a never ending project!
Describe a typical day in your job as Assistant Director of Sales at your property?
Since we have the majority of our Group Sales team deployed in their respective markets (West Coast, Mid-West and Northeast), my DOS and I share the duty of executing a WOW client site experience visit for our sales managers that don’t live in Orlando. My day to day calendar is built around the multiple client visits on a daily / weekly basis. I attend a daily meeting at 11am where we all go over new business that requires pattern or rate approvals so we can answer our clients the same day. Thursday’s are certainly the busier days where we all dial-in for pipeline review, and also attend our Yield Revenue meeting to ensure we have the appropriate sales strategies in place for the next 90 days.
Whats your favorite sales pitch method?
Story telling! You cannot feature dump to clients since they will never remember you after talking or visiting 20 hotels, when you tailor your sales pitch to a personal story….you are golden!
What do you find most rewarding about being in sales?
The travel opportunities, relationships with clients, growing the business year over year and empowering the team!!
Where do you find your inspiration? Where does your talent stem from?
Self-motivation, my mentors throughout the years….and waking up every day wanting to come to work, it pays off when a company believes in you!
While Boho, Shabby Chic and Rustic decors were everywhere in 2016, this year we have noticed that events’ décor is eclectic yet subtle. There is also an uprising of a mix between natural vegetation and textures, industrial design and geometry.
Also, present so far is leather, marble, bronze, brass and black steel.
There is a huge impact from the Fashion and Interior Design industries that are making it important to event designers to carefully select elements that have an impact on how guests feel in the space. We are seeing creative executions at all our events based on these industries that are putting together natural settings that foster attendee well being and comfortable areas allowing guests to connect on a different level and planners to communicate through a different channel.
Unique event space is becoming increasingly important to planners.
As business culture is becoming less formal, so is the atmosphere that people are choosing to conduct meetings. Borrowing from the AirBnB platform, Splacer.co enables planners and small venue owners to start a dialogue. Having first launched 3 years ago in in Tel-Aviv, last month Splacer launched its Miami market. Creative spaces in private home, restaurants, photos studios, and even churches in Magic City can now be found at: