POD Events (Pieces of a Dream) produces corporate, social, and boutique events across the globe. We have combined years of corporate incentive planning, catering, themed event production, and interior design to bring fresh new concepts to the travel and hospitality industry. A versatile background generates multiple levels of creativity and cutting edge ideas for celebrations, education conferences, and one of a kind travel experiences. No matter the occasion, when you have to pull together a group of people, provide food and drink, find enough tables and chairs to accommodate your guest list, and enlist just the right entertainment, you have a great deal of planning to do. POD Events eliminates this stress by keeping your vision intact and managing all of the pesky details that drive you crazy. Bottom line – we take the nightmare out of planning to create your dream event.
- Event management and production for Fortune 500 companies (includes PayPal, eBay, Amazon, Autodesk, Box, and Salesforce)
- Family Event Planner for legendary Motown artist – Claudette Robinson
How long has your company been producing events? What is your main focus?
Pieces of a Dream just celebrated its 13th year with a redesign of our website, services, and logo as POD Events, which reflects the direction the company has taken since its inception in 2007. We initially focused on event planning, weddings, bereavement hospitality, and candy bars (remember those?!). In 2010 more calls and work opportunities came from corporate organizations and 3rd party agencies. We like to consider POD as a boutique event planning company because we can do it all! We have the experience and creativity to fly a private party of 5 from Chicago to New York for dinner to creating and executing a sales conference of 50,000. We partner with an extensive list of event professionals and vendors across the globe, to create a dream team based on the needs of our clients.
What do you enjoy most about your role in corporate event planning?
My favorite element of corporate event planning is that every day and every event is different! I enjoy taking a client’s concept, goal, or objective and seeing how far my imagination can soar to bring it to something you can see, feel, hear, touch, and taste. There comes a day after months of meetings, millions of ideas, words on paper, signed contracts, several rounds of menus, ordering the AV, finalizing the lighting, briefing the staff, and fine-tuning the logistics when it’s finally showtime! There’s no greater feeling than seeing your visions turn into achievements in real-time. I do it for the smiles!
How do you keep up with the constant change in the industry?
Event professionals earn their stripes based on how they’re able to handle change. It is inevitable and constant in our field. How many times have we planned an amazing outdoor gala only to have it redirected to an alternate indoor location because a wayward storm rolled in 2 hours before the event? Life can alter the course of your plans at any moment, so it’s important to keep a calm head when dealing with an unforeseen change to your meticulously laid out plans.
I lean on my experience to offer my clients options and solutions that retain the integrity of their goals while providing their guests with a seamless experience. Our industry has been impacted by the economy (2008-2010), acts of terrorism (9/11/2001), and global emergencies, which we’re now facing with COVID 19. In the past, we’ve been able to rethink and regroup in the midst of change and we’ll do it again.
Event professionals and corporations are now tasked with a great challenge as we’re mandated to shelter in place and not gather in large groups. We are finding creative ways to engage virtually, establishing new safety guidelines for in-person meetings, determining what measures will need to be in place, and offering hybrid events with online access to content as a necessary new normal.
I continue to read industry publications, such as BizBash and network with a group of industry peers and friends. We created a panel to meet every couple of weeks to discuss the state of the pandemic, how to elevate the virtual experience, exchange knowledge, and share our thoughts on the future of events.
Do you have any advice for a company having a hard time choosing a theme? Is a theme necessary?
I believe an objective is essential to determine when people, organizations, or stakeholders want to host an event. A few key questions to ask are: Who is your target audience? What do you want them to know? What do you want them to think? What do you want them to do? Are you revealing a new product? Are you educating people on how to use your product or services? Do you want to have an intimate dinner with C Level leaders in your industry? Pairing a theme with an objective or goal creates a well-balanced event. It’s an easy way to address each of the above questions and one of the most impactful ways to engage your attendees.
A theme can be something as simple as a color, a slogan, your logo, or a symbol and can be carried through your event from the website through to the awards gala. Many of my clients like to use an identifying theme or logo in lieu of their company name on signage. No matter where they see it, they know they’ve found their people and are in the right place. Themes can be incorporated into your lighting design, provide you with a direction on swag giveaways or which type of lanyards (out of thousands) would be best, guide you to creating the perfect menu and table design, and provide that dynamic backdrop for your leadership roundtable.
Be sure that whatever theme you select that it’s something you can stand behind, is not offensive to others, genuine, a unique link to your objective, and will leave a great memory in its wake.
How do you leverage event technology and what would you consider the biggest game-changer?
I’m amazed at technology and how it has impacted my events! 25 years ago, event technology consisted of multiple colored sharpies that we used to handwrite full day agendas on flipcharts! Now we have digital reader boards that can upload a meeting room change from Ballroom A to the Franciscan in a matter of seconds…no white-out needed!
One of my new favorites are the event apps that are specific to a conference, which can offer a multitude of features, such as a personalized schedule, speaker bios, maps to function space, menus, notifications, alerts, and the ability to network with others attending the event.
Have you used Gamification in your events? If yes, how was it received?
I had a client utilize their event app and created bar codes at the entrance of each meeting session, expo booths, and networking locations. The app would scan the codes and apply points for engagement and attendance. At the end of the conference, your total points could be redeemed for a denim jacket, tennis shoes, and other logoed items in a custom swag boutique we created onsite. It was a great way to add another layer of engagement for the attendees and, who doesn’t like prizes?!
What is your favorite city for events and why?
Not fair! There are so many great cities for events! If I have to choose a city, it is driven by my favorite venue which is located there…and that special place is Las Vegas, solely because of The Venetian. Vegas can work with or against you and I’ve had the opportunity to face some pretty fantastic challenges in this city. How did I overcome them? The amazing professionals that reside and work at The Venetian have pretty much seen and done it all and never left me hanging! They don’t hesitate to resolve any issues, are properly staffed with key managers always available (plus a chef or 2), and want to ensure a successful event no matter if this is day 5 of breakfast. As a 25 year veteran in the events industry, I realized it’s not where you go but more importantly who you’re with and who you can trust.