The industry is doing an amazing job of utilizing the 5 senses in different elements of events to create great experiences!

Covesa Kelly

Founder & CEO

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

CKE is a premier Event Planning and Design Company based in Cleveland, Ohio and planning events all over the world! We specialize in five-star customer service and memorable events for all involved.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced while planning an event and how did you overcome it?

I find that working with people (event partners and clients) who don’t share the same value system as you can becoming challenging when working through adverse situations. How I continue to overcome it is by sticking to my personal and company values and remaining the ultimate professional. I often re-read my contract to ensure that I am meeting the expectations followed and keeping the lines of communication open, documented and clear.

What are 2 trends in the event planning industry that you’re excited about?

The experience of an event! The industry is doing an amazing job of utilizing the 5 senses in different elements of events to create great experiences!

Collaborating! I’m seeing so many workshops, chats, and new conferences popping up in multiple cities to allow the businesses who can’t get away to events have the opportunity to experience them close to home while gaining the extra education and networking for their personal and professional growth.

What are some tips for creating an elegant and memorable event on a tight budget?

Pick a few focal points. Don’t try and go big on every element, pick maybe just a few elements most important to the client and throw a few extra budget dollars at those elements.

If you had unlimited resources, what would your dream client and event look like?

A couple (I love Love) who genuinely are in love and want to share their timeline with the most intimate circle of close family and friends. The event would be destination, small in number and grand in experience from the first Tulip of champagne to the fireworks sending us off at the end of the night. It would include the perfect sunset, candlelight on the beach and a host of culinary and beverage delights!

How important are your relationships with vendors and what are some ways that you successfully cultivate and ensure good rapport?

Super important! I truly believe that teamwork makes the dream work! You are only as good as the event partners you work with. I tell my clients constantly, I can’t do my job if your vendors are not going to do their job!

I refer as often as possible to the vendors who I enjoy working with and get the job done consistently every single time. When I host events I invite them first to partner for exposure. I partner on their events. I tag them in posts when appropriate and I communicate with them across social media platforms. Any way that I can increase traffic to their businesses, I do it!

What advice would you give someone who needs to plan a fundraiser but isn’t sure where to start?

Budget! It all comes down to budget! Where will this money come from? Do we need to create a revenue stream to support this event? What is the objective of this event and how can it be met utilizing the event as a resource?

Once you have the budget, secure partners who can align their business with the mission of your event. Once you have your arms around those items the process for me seems to feel easier to navigate.

What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

I’m excited about going on the road speaking! I wrote and self-published a book in 2019 and I’m going out in 2020 to talk to engaged couples about budgeting their wedding!

I’m excited about releasing our online coaching program in 2020!

I’m just excited about 2020!

What inspired you to launch your own company in the event industry? How long did it take from initially having the idea to setting up and starting to attract a client base?

After my own wedding, friends and family kept calling asking for planning advice. My husband suggested I charge at least gas money and off it went!

It took a while to build a pipeline and every year I say “oh look how this is growing.” It takes time, social media has been an amazing tool for me in my business that I use consistently to build awareness and grow our pipeline. This is year 12 and we are still working on nailing down a marketing strategy, brand voice, and who exactly our client is, but it’s a great work in process.

What’s the first event you can ever remember planning and how did it go?

I planned a few weddings for family and then friends of friends but my first “stranger” was about a year in and the overall wedding went well, but the process was less to be desired. I was struggling with what I offered vs what I was worth. I didn’t charge enough and I knew it and that frustrated me and the client was super demanding which made the process even more difficult for me.

The client gave me a bit of a tongue lashing when it was all over which forced me to make some adjustments and started the process of me constantly revisiting my marketing materials, my contract, and my pricing.

What are some things you wished you knew before starting your businesses?

The “things” that you can’t believe are happening, happen to everyone at different stages of their businesses. Just keep moving forward, keep growing and do the things that make you feel best!

What’s the most surprising or unusual request you have ever received from a client and were you able to fulfill it?

I know there have been some, but I can’t recall them now. I’ve probably blocked them from my memory.

Anything else you’d like to comment on while we have you?

Nothing much! Keep being GREAT!

Covesa Gragg
Author: Covesa Gragg

Share on Twitter: