Ignite

Sept/Oct 2014

A fresh resource for people who plan and manage meetings, events, business travel, promotions and incentive programs. Providing you with inspiration, guidance and great ideas.

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" This year, Sharon Bonner, president of Vancouver's Bright Ideas Events, celebrates 25 years in the business. "I've seen disasters of every kind," she says. She won't forget an incident during her green years. She organized the Carol Ships Parade of Lights, an annual holiday happening. Three hundred peo- ple boarded the ship she had hired. Unfortunately, food for just half that number arrived. It was clear from the long lineups that many attending the din- ner cruise might not be fed. Bonner used the cap- tain's two-way radio to order food from a restaurant on Granville Island. "Chicken wings, quesadillas… whatever they could make fast!" The boat made a short detour to pick it up and the night was saved. "After that, I don't let a caterer drop off food and leave. There's no accountability." Cruise Control For four years, Tyson Villeneuve, founding partner of Social Concierge in Vancouver, has created an eclectic range of events all over Western Canada. He credits his ability to tackle problems deftly to his extensive list of resources. "They are like my lifelines," he says. "If I don't have an answer, I know who I should call to get one." When an event in Kelowna, BC, threatened to derail because of decor issues, Villeneuve got creative. The decor company had done its thing, but brought only enough decorations for a much smaller venue. The room looked cold and sparse. On the day of the event, he called a local nursery and rented plants to fill up the empty spaces. Bare Necessity On another occasion (also in Kelowna), a swift rebranding prevented a corporate event from being a zdisaster. A liquor licence was denied to its original venue. The only other one available had two-thirds less capacity. Quickly, invites were reprinted and distrib- uted, turning the come-one-come-all theme into an exclusive, VIP-only event. LESSONS LEARNED: "When situations arise, I take five seconds to breathe. I tell myself that there has to be a solution to this, then I launch into action," says Villeneuve. On a more serious note, Bonner has witnessed a number of medical emergencies. A Christmas party at a downtown hotel turned tragic when a man suffered a fatal heart attack. "As a mat- ter of course, I always ask the venue about the availability of a defibrillator, first-aid help and emergency phone. We have a responsibility as event planners to do that. In this case, the hotel was able to set up a mini-ER room to try and save the man." LESSONS LEARNED: "In a crisis, I gather my team around me and assign tasks. You need to feed off the stress and use it to manage the situation. If you overreact, you make the situation worse," says Bonner. "You need to feed off the stress and use it to manage the situation. If you overreact, you make the situation worse."

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