Why did you choose to become an Event Planner?
Event Planning was not something that was even on my radar when I finished high school. I actually had no idea what I wanted to do when I left school; I knew I loved working in Hospitality and with people, so I initially went to University to study Hotel Management. Several years and course changes later, I discovered after doing some Media and writing subjects, and transferring to Business | Public Relations, it was only then that I realised how much I loved Event Planning and went on to Major in Event Management. Even though it took me 8 years to finish my degrees, I learnt so much throughout my time at Uni, and have never regretted the time taken or the overall process as a whole.
What is your Most Memorable Event Planning Experience?
I would have to say my Melbourne Cup Marquee trackside Events every year, up until 2013 at BRC – these Events I not only see as being my most memorable but I also consider them my greatest achievements thus far. Planning, Selling and Executing a corporate trackside Marquee event for up to 1000 seated guests, whilst trying to incorporate this 4 month role into my every day Events job, is not an easy feat; and whilst every year had its challenges, the level of personal satisfaction I gained from each and every event year after year is second to none. I have worked with so many amazing suppliers on this Event over the years, and have created so many lasting friendships from these working relationships. One thing that is most memorable to me from one particular year, and something that I will never forget, is the struggle I faced trying to fit everything I wanted for styling and theming into the strict budget. There were some specially designed panelling I wanted created for my buffet stations which would in turn then act as my Fashion parade catwalk after food service – it was something that would have been an amazing wow factor and would have really added to the overall theme of the Marquee that year. I begrudgingly had to cut it from the design schedule to fit within the budget. As a surprise to me, the week of the Marquee build, my supplier presented me with all of the panelling – they had gone ahead and made the panelling anyway, and provided it to me free of charge because they knew how important it was to me. I will never forget that day and how that made me feel, it was a special moment. I will always look back on all of my Melbourne Cup Marquee Events with great fondness; it is definitely my most memorable planning experience and an achievement that I personally am extremely proud of.
What are the top 5 Tips you can give to young, aspiring Event Planners?
There are definitely things they can teach you at Uni, but I think my 5 top tips would have to be things that can’t actually be taught -
1 – Patience. You need a tonne of this in Event Planning. There are always going to be things that never run according to any well thought out Schedule and Plan. So I always try to live by the motto – fix the problem first, get angry later. It took me a long time to learn this one but I feel it’s the most important tip.
2 – Attention to Detail - event planning is all about the little things – a simple follow up phone call or email / personally greeting the client on the day of their event yourself / sending a thank you card or a bottle of wine after their event....these things a client remembers; it is the above and beyond service aspect that can be the difference between a repeat client or a one off only event.
3 – Love what you do - you have to love it otherwise if you don’t, you won’t last long in the industry. You are constantly dealing with a dynamic environment and the ever changing wants and needs of clients; if you don’t love it then this job isn’t for you.
4 – Great work ethic - you need to be passionate about every particular job you are doing and every client you are working for; you need to be prepared to work hard and sometimes very long hours throughout the year. It is not a simple 9-5 / Monday-Friday job. However if you put the hard work in it can be very rewarding.
5 – Above all treat everyone equally - you cannot do your job if you don’t have a great work ethic from your team - right down to the person washing the dishes or cleaning the floors. Treat everyone equally and with respect – after all, you all have the same goal in mind.
Have you got an interesting, funny, never to repeat experiences that you wish to share?
There are so many funny, extraordinary experiences over the years, you get to see a lot when you are in the Events business. From the time a guest threw a slice of Pizza at me; to the time a bride left her children asleep in one of the booths after we had closed and everyone had left the venue; to the time we had to escort a male patron from the female bathrooms (not entirely fully clothed); there have been so many funny “never to repeat” moments. They all make great water cooler conversations, that’s for sure and I would never swap them for anything!
Why Corporate Events over Social Occasions?
The corporate sector for me is where you build long lasting relationships; there is longevity in it, and a lot of repeat business comes through corporate functions. The part I love the most about Event Planning is creating and building on these professional relationships; to make it a seamless process for clients to repeatedly book in with you. I have built many longstanding relationships with clients over the years, some have even turned personal, by being invited to not only plan a previous client’s wedding but to attend as a guest as well. The diverse range of people you meet in the corporate sector keeps the job interesting, and it is challenging finding ways to establish and build long lasting relationships in order to keep clients coming back to you time and time again for all their Event needs.
Tell us about a day in the life of Nicola Briggs, outside of the Corporate Events world!
First and foremost I love spending time with my dog! You will find me most mornings down at the local park, or at an off leash dog area such as Kedronbrook. I have a small Maltese, so she absolutely loves any off leash area where she can run around unhindered, as opposed to the confines of a normal run of the mill dog park. I absolutely love good food and wine - my favourite dining out meal would have to be breakfast or brunch; however my absolute favourite thing to do during the week after work, or on a Friday night is to catch up with friends over a good bottle of wine and fresh oysters, cheeses or some good charcuterie.
Anything to do with food, wine and dogs I love!