SLS Event Planning and Consulting, LLC’s clients are people just like you in private practice or other independent professionals that run and operate small to medium size businesses and even corporations looking to put on meetings and trainings for their employees. These clients run the gamut of industries from business and life coaches to sales trainers and entertainers (and everything in between).
My real starting point came, back in 2005, when I began event planning with Bill Glazer and Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle™. I was hired as his Executive Assistant but quickly took on the additional role of Event Manager and Planner. I’ll never forget the day Bill interviewed me – he told me this position would be ‘an apprentice position, anything I wanted to learn he would teach me.’ I thought, “Wow! This is great.” In the past, I had always encountered the challenge of out-growing my previous positions in ‘Corporate America’. I knew this was my chance to learn from a PRO (Love you Bill!) and develop my skills while learning all new ones.
Not only did I take on the responsibilities of organizing hospitality services, social events, major national events, site selections, hotel negotiations, traveling and accommodations, liaising with speakers and VIPs, and overseeing all event staff, I also learned a great deal of marketing tips, strategies, business planning, and so much more working side by side with Bill Glazer and listening to the top Marketing Experts on stage for over 7 years. Through determination and hard work, I learned quickly what it took to run smooth, successful and profitable events…
…and I strive to deliver all of this and more to my clients.
Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of speakers ranging from national celebrities, local up-and-comers, sports heroes, internet gurus, entrepreneurs, and established relationships with major hotels from the West to the East coast, such as Marriott, Renaissance, Sheraton, Westin, Hyatt, Hilton, and many others. Moreover, by working with the best in the event planning industry I’ve combined the wisdom of experts and colleagues alike, and obtained a level of knowledge, wisdom and understanding that enables me to set my business apart from the rest.
How long has your company been producing events? What is your main focus?
SLS Event Planning and Consulting, LLC has been producing events for over 8 years; however, Sherrie Sokolowski (the owner of SLS) has been managing events for over 16 years. My main focus is to help clients realize the potential of a profitable and successful event, that can help build their brand and their business. In other words, if strategically planned correctly, their event is just another marketing piece to growing their business and launching new services.
My goal is to help clients realize their ROI is not just in the profit of their event but how creating new sources of revenue for their business is quickly discovered while working with SLS.
What do you enjoy most about your role in corporate event planning?
I enjoy helping my clients strategically plan and map out their event from A-Z. Helping them realize during our planning phases the hidden potential they didn’t know was there. And most importantly, how connecting their event to their business and brand could grow their business in a way they never knew.
How do you keep up with the constant change in the industry?
I’ve been in the industry for over 16 years and have been blessed to make many connections and relationships. I’m part of a number of event and marketing groups that share the latest and greatest with each other. I also receive daily e-newsletters and updates of what is happening in the industry.
How do you mix the current trends with the traditional to create a meeting that is engaging and informative?
It all starts with knowing your client and finding out what their Why is for hosting an event and their Goal for the Outcome. These three things discussed at the beginning of our planning stages is what helps me tie in what I know has worked for my past and current clients and how to add what is new and innovative to their event for the ultimate client experience.
Do you have any advice for a company having a hard time choosing a theme? Is a theme necessary?
SLS Event Planning and Consulting, LLC strongly encourages companies to review their overall business mission statement and goal for growth. Then taking that mission and connecting it to how they can help others in their industry and bring to the table the “thing” they need to help them grow. It is all about setting yourself apart from the rest. This will then help you with what will become your appropriate theme.
What are some ways to personalize a corporate event?
Branding is key to personalizing an event. People don’t know who is hosting the event if you don’t have your branding printed everywhere. You also want to make sure your personality and who you are is represented throughout the event. In other words, don’t make the focus be about your keynote or celebrity speaker. Make sure they are coming to see you and learn from your business … the other speakers are just icing on the cake.
What do you see as the corporate event industry’s greatest challenge, currently?
The greatest challenge for all of us right now is COVID and the unknown. You have to be very transparent when planning meetings, as well as flexible with your space requirements, set up, and budget. This is the time when you need to rely on and lean upon your constituents, your network, and relationships.
When COVID shut down the event industry and then everything else in business, I reached out to my entire business network to see who is doing what and what type of pivoting are they doing to stay relevant.
How do you leverage event technology and what would you consider the biggest game-changer?
Again, I rely on the vendors I’ve built relationships with. I see what they are doing and how. Ask questions on what they like and don’t like with what is happening, and what they would like to see in their ideal event. I believe the silver-lining to COVID shutdowns and the drastic hit to the event industry is the introduction to virtual events. I already have clients adding this to their events and have successfully completed a couple hybrid events where we had in-person attendees, with virtual attendees.
Have you used Gamification in your events? If yes, how was it received?
Yes, we have used this for our virtual networking and engagement. If you consider their side, in relation to your in-person attendees and sponsors … this is a big win for events.
What is your favorite city for events and why?
Pre-Covid: San Diego because the weather is beautiful all year around and it’s a very easy airport to travel to from all around the world.
Post-Covid: Nashville, Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale and Dallas.
What are some practices to follow that will help you to create the Wow factor that attendees seek with a limited budget?
Always remember attendees are coming to your event to learn something they didn’t know before. So make sure when you create content and book speakers, the topics make sense by creating an ebb and flow which will make for a successful event.
Find ways to allow for networking and engagement. This is one of the top 3 reasons people love events. They want to be in a room (in-person or virtual) with like-minded people where they can learn from one another, engage and know how they can help one another. In my years of events, people would come specifically to network as they would create multi-million dollar deals in the hallways by meeting someone they can do business with.
Sustainability is a current movement that can be challenging for large events. What is your approach?
This is too broad of a question. If you are referring to the “green effect” of making sure your impact on society is sustainable, then you just look at your list of printed items to see what can be transferred to electronic, avoid paper cups, plastic water bottles, etc.
If you are referring to profits, this is where your Why and Goal come into play. If you focus on the right why to match your outcome, you will avoid situations of wasting money in the wrong places.
How do you measure the success of an event?
I measure the success of an event based on how the content was received by the audience. If it is a sales event, then sales plays a huge role in the success of the event, of course. Having people stay in your room during the entire length of the event also speaks on how successful it is.
The biggest thing I tell people, don’t think you have to make a profit in order for the event to be a success. If you strategize and map out our event properly, the potential growth in your business post event will bring you potential profit you had not realized before.