How Technology is Helping Event Professionals Navigate The New Normal
Thank you to Jody Cox, Owner and Principal Designer at An Affair To Remember, for sharing this article on the topic of how technology is helping event professionals navigate the new normal with us.
Now more than ever, it’s pivotal to paint the picture of what “could be”. Before Covid-19, our office would host, easily, two-three consultations per day that spanned 2+ hours. We’d spend the first 45 minutes reviewing Pinterest and inspiration photos diving into the details of the vision from the bouquets to the centerpieces. The remaining 45-60 minutes would be spent mocking up tablescapes, layering linens, lighting candles, and creating the visual. Together, we’d develop the vision and clients would leave feeling a sense of relief and excitement.
We have always focused on the visual experience. Have you ever had a client say to you, “I’m such a visual person!”? Well, I can say, 99.9% of our clients say this. The fact is, most people don’t have a designer’s mind – that ability to see a space or to take a few keywords and inspiration pictures and develop a plan that conveys what your client was trying to describe, but didn’t really know how to put it into words or “see” it.
The in-person consultation process is where we shine. Through thoughtful listening and translating what’s inside a client’s mind into something real and tangible, right before their eyes. Providing a visual for our clients not only gives them confidence in knowing we understand their vision, but it also helps minimize any grey areas in color, style, or aesthetic.
Losing that hands-on experience was not only disheartening to clients planning their wedding but also stressful, bringing about worry that they may not be able to click with vendors or really convey their vision virtually.
As more and more time passed, we realized we weren’t getting back to these in-person consultations any time soon. Because of government-mandated restrictions and subsequent staff shortages, virtual consultations and streamlining our processes became a necessity.
Keys to Success in the “New Normal” For Event Professionals
Technology is here to help event professionals navigate the new normal.
Zoom has been our lifesaver since COVID-19 happened, and we’re now able to jump on a virtual call to browse Pinterest photos, discuss ideas, see facial expressions and reactions. It has given us the ability to connect with our clients so much more than we could over the phone. We use those meetings to gain the “big picture”. We don’t dive too heavily into the nitty gritty, as we only have so much mental capacity to sit at a screen for so long, but we use it as a preliminary meeting to gauge overall design preference related to flowers, foundation pieces, layouts, etc.
The next step is the same for us. We are able to take that information and create a beautiful proposal through Curate that really outlines the details from the flower varieties to the containers used and of course, pricing!
Check out a sample of one of our proposals produced via Curate.
Bringing the Vision to Life
The last two elements we have been relying on more than usual are space planning through Allseated and digital mock-ups through PowerPoint. First, I don’t need to tell you how critical having a layout is. We’re fortunate that most of our catering and venue colleagues already use Allseated, which makes everyone’s job easier! Recently though, it has become a critical piece for us to help reimagine a client’s wedding who may have been forced to reduce their guest count due to government restrictions. Allseated even has a new Physical Distancing Tool to ensure we are keeping the guests safe and comfortable!
Being able to redesign their layout and provide them with a visual to support a new concept reassures our clients that their now 50-person wedding can and will look just as great inside their venue as their original 150-person wedding. Having Allseated as a resource provides us with that important visual, as well as the ability to get creative by adding in elements that most likely weren’t a possibility with the original guest count like lounge areas or soft seating and unique floor plans.
As a designer, a unique layout and the ability for quite literally more wiggle room allows us to think outside the box and come up with unique designs that go beyond the typical centerpiece. With the proper visual aids to support these ideas, your chances of a client not only understanding but being excited by, the change is far greater than without!
Digital Mock-ups for the Win!
The last piece that really helps us communicate and convey designs are digital mock-ups. Because we do mock-ups in person, we really only utilized digital mock-ups for out of town clients or if we were creating something new that an inspiration picture couldn’t convey. I admittedly always did that in Word. I know, super high tech, right? But, it got the job done! Recently, a west-coast industry colleague of mine was promoting her digital mock-up courses and I realized she was using PowerPoint, so I started using that program and it was a game-changer! The ability to layer, rotate, and cut out backgrounds is just so much easier in PowerPoint than Word.
As you saw in our proposal sample, we pull a lot of inspiration photos into our proposal to help our clients visualize their wedding, but sometimes you need to create something from scratch whether it’s a new color palette or installation concept. In our experience, if you don’t paint the picture for your client, the probability of them approving a costly install or investing in specialty linens is low, especially if it wasn’t in the original vision, budget, or plan. With digital mock-ups, we can create several tablescapes and with a touch of a button, your client can see the difference even a simple color shift in the linen or the addition of a charger plate makes to the overall table design.
Check out these two designs. Our client was debating on white linens from the venue or changing the color with an outside rental. A simple change in linens and chargers, yet two totally different looks.
Here are some other examples of centerpiece mock-ups so our client could easily see them all together and know they are cohesive in nature. Pick all three or choose one or two!
Additionally, digital mockups can illustrate scaled back or upgraded designs. A client can see how reducing the florals or removing candles can affect the design.
Now, we don’t include items of waste in our designs. Every votive is added in the quantity and placement we believe will add impact. But if you’re a client trying to budget for your wedding, you might not see that. A simple line item on a contract, “candles for the head table”, looks like a place where you could easily save. Providing a client with a visual helps them realize the importance of that line item. And in the end, it gives them control over their design; everyone likes choices, right? They can decide for themselves if they feel the upgraded option is worth the investment or not.
Check out these two options for a harvest-style head table: a suspended arrangement with low florals and candle vs two talls and candles down the length.
I also love dreaming up our client’s bouquets as well. Because every bouquet and arrangement is unique, this gives us the power to provide a true-to-life visual for our clients and they can provide critical feedback about the style, color proportions, shape. Maybe they want more blue and less white?
Navigating the new normal is something we’ll be doing for some time now. I believe our team will continue to utilize virtual consultations as the first touchpoint for the foreseeable future. We have already streamlined our efforts, which has given us the ability to continue meeting with and booking new clients during this financial valley.
Luckily, we have all the tools we need to continue providing clients with the best experience possible. That’s what we do, right? That’s why we’re in this… insanely challenging… job in the first place. We love seeing those smiles and excitement on the days leading up to and especially on the big day.
And I know I can feel confident in the service we’re providing along the way as well. Sure, we may not be meeting in person, but we can still provide an exciting and visually stunning presentation that’s just as fun to click and open as it is to see come to life in our showroom.
We can continue to paint the picture of what “could be” for our clients and give them back a little joy during the process.
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