Aquaman scopes out a venue before a big charity event (Photo by: Jason Vanderhill)

Event planning is a tough job. Sometimes it seems that pulling off a successful event requires nothing short of superhuman abilities.

That got us to thinking. While event planners (probably) don't have superpowers, they do have certain skills and abilities which few possess. And since events are complicated affairs, one superpower does not fit all. While one person may have superhuman organizational skills, they may not have superhuman skills when it comes to producing innovative content for an event, and vice versa.

We put our heads together and identified four distinct superpowers that you can develop as an event planner. The quiz below is based on the MBTI personality test, and will help you identify the superpower that you may want to develop.



Superhuman Flexibility and Reflexes

Superpower Description

Legend tells us that before you got into the event planning world you volunteered for secret government experiments, which gave you the incredibility to make flash-quick decisions, often before others can get their heads around a situation. Your ability to live in the moment and adapt to circumstances as they evolve makes you an superstar among event planners.

Your ability to respond to last minute changes helps you keep on top of changes of venue, transportation delays, menu changes, A/V malfunctions and everything in-between. You love engaging with your suppliers, and you do it so well that it's often said that you have the ability to be in more than one place at the same time!

Your Kryptonite

You're at your best when you're making on the spot decisions about issues as they arise. Your focus on the present moment, however, makes it more difficult for you to think long term, and to foster deeper connections with both your clients and vendors.

Notable Event Professionals With this Superpower:

Doreen Ashton Wagner, Greenfield Services; Jenifour Jones, Go Get It Events; Randy Crabtree, Master Story Teller for Meeting Professionals International; Anthony Navarro, Founder at Liven it Up Events;


Super Cybernetic Eyes

Superpower Description

Ever since you installed cybernetic eye implants, your ability to pay attention to all the little details that make an event run smoothly has become second to none. So attuned you are to the small things that matter, that rumors have spread that you can see through walls.

You have a highly analytic mind, which provides a good balance for an industry where many people rely too heavily on their intuition. You are able to determine the success and failure of an event from the metrics that matter--not "vanity metrics" that feel good. You may not think outside of the box very often, but you sure have a good handle on all the things that are going on inside it.

Your Kryptonite

While your cybernetic powers help you keep on top of all the little details that help make an event running smoothly, it does diminish your ability to read the emotions of other people. This can often make you seem cold and insensitive. Also, your dependence on the cold hard facts may make you less open to new ideas that don't have a track record. While you have the power to truly excel in the field of event planning, either develop your people skills or team up with a more intuitive "people-minded" person. Either way, you'll make an unstoppable force.

Notable Event Professionals With this Superpower:

Shawna McKinley, Director of Sustainability at MeetGreen; Michael Vargo, Director of Special Events at Disney; Kyle Hillman, CEO at Kyle Hillman Strategy Group; Jaime Geffen, Co-Owner at YourBASH!; Patrycja GraczykEvents Executive at Plenta Foods Limited; Heidi Thorne, Promotional Expert at Promo With Purpose; Noelle Provencial, Experiential Marketing and Events at Groupon; Genny Castleberry, Director of Incentive Travel at Spear One;


Mind Reading

Superpower Description

Some say you were born with your mystical powers to read other people's innermost thoughts and desires, while others claim you developed them over time. Regardless, you have the incredible ability to put yourself in the mindset of clients as well as of event attendees. Not only do you have an incredible creative talent for producing unique events, but you're able to understand attendees in such an intuitive way that it seems you know what attendees will want from an event before even they do.

Your Kryptonite
You have a strong sense of intuition, and although these moments are rare, it can sometimes miss the mark. Your over-reliance on instinct can be a problem when a little fact and data gathering may be the better course. Also, you are a right brainer, which makes it difficult for you to conform to structured schedules and plans. Ideally, you will be the creative force behind an event, while you leave the nuts and bolts to someone more detail oriented.

Notable Event Professionals With this Superpower:

Wayneston Harbeson, VP Operations and Event Services at NATPE; Alicia Schiro, Events and Catering Manager at J Walter Thompson; Kassidy Bird at Uncaged Events; Kadri Soerunurk at Dine in Dark; Donna Kastner, Expo/Sponsor Sales & Activation at Velvet Chainsaw; Aubrey Sendra, event manager at UCLA conference services; Yvonne McNair, Special Events and Marketing at Captivate Marketing Group; Niclole Matthews, event concierge at The Henley Company; Jessica Geiszler, event planner at Stellar J Productions; Julie Robertson, Director of Strategic Accounts at Spear One; Jenny Powers, founder at Running with Heels;


Human Magnetism

PeopleMagnetSuperpower Description
Ever since you were struck by lightning while reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, you have become a human magnet. Rather than attracting metal objects, however, you've developed the remarkable ability to attract people. You're fun to be around and people thoroughly enjoy your company.

Your ability to build strong relationships with clients as well as suppliers make you an invaluable asset to any event planning organization that wants to build its business. Not only that, but since people tend hold you in high esteem, it will generally be easier for you to negotiate with them should problems surface (as they often do).

Your Kryptonite
Your magnetic powers grow the more time you spend with people, especially when that time is spent among like-minded individuals. Your powers diminish, however, when you're assigned tasks that don't involve human interaction. Be sure to maximize opportunities doing the former and minimize the latter.

Notable Event Professionals With this Superpower:

Janis Ross, Executive Director at Eugene Cascades & Coast; Dennis Shiao, Director of Product Marketing at INXPO; Hugh Robertson, CEO at RPM Marketing Agency; Liz Lathan, Event Marketing Director at Dell; Tahira Endean, Director at Cantrav; Liz King, CEO at Liz King Events; Samantha Bowerman, President at Strategic Meetings Group; JoAnn Gregoli at Elegant Occasions; Rudy Garza, VP at Spear One;

Photo Credit: Nigel Lamb

It turns out there are a lot of parallels between direct mail copywriting and the seduction techniques you learn while dating -- one major one being what you don't say can make you appear more intriguing and desirable. 

As Francine Prose writes in Reading Like a Writer, "[…] dialogue usually contains as much or even more subtext than it does text. More is going on under the surface than on it. One mark of [badly] written dialogue is that it is only doing one thing, at most, at once."

Although it goes without saying, you don't want your copy to be unethical. You certainly don't want to omit facts for the sake of misleading someone. In the dating world this would be like omitting such necessary facts as, "I'm actually married." In direct marketing, it might be lessening dangerous outcomes, such as, "This product is made of carcinogenic materials -- no biggie."

Direct Mail Techniques & Event Marketing Campaigns

Seduction is even more applicable if your direct mail piece is promoting an event. Event marketing with the right invitation or direct mail piece should convey just enough information to entice -- but not so much that it runs the risk of appearing formulaic. It should keep the prospect on familiar ground with just enough enticement to be compelling. 

You've got limited room to communicate in a direct mail piece, so it's just as important to consider what you don't say as what you do say. What are you implying? Where are you leading your prospects?

Are you irresistible? Or, as Sally Hogshead asks, are you fascinating?

How can you master the unspoken in your direct marketing for events? Here are some crucial areas to examine. Master these, and you'll harness the larger task -- communicating the unspoken.

Who Are You Inviting? Who Is Your Ideal Prospect?

Defining your ideal prospect is a fundamental, so don't make the common mistake of glossing over it and not taking the time to clearly define the best person for your event.

A friend of mine is on a mission to get married. She has compiled a list of ideal qualities in her mate, taking inspiration from Amy Webb's book, Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match. My friend has adopted Webb's system of scoring qualities for a minimum score to avoid wasting time with people who don't make the cut.

Similarly, you should be as granular as possible about the preferences and aspirations of your targeted customer. Narrowing your focus and writing to "one person" assists you in writing the best copy. To be seductive on a date, it works well to speak using the words they would choose; the same is true when you're approaching your direct mail prospect. Every Don Juan knows nothing is sweeter than the sound of your own name whispered in your ear...

Does Your Prospect Understand Your Reference?

In dating you might casually joke using a favorite line from a movie or music you enjoy, curious if the other person "gets it." If they do, you instantly have a common interest and shared experience. That begins the bonding process.

Similarly, in direct mail think of your ideal prospect. If you reference an event, a time period, or specific set of circumstances, where is this most likely to lead your prospect's mind? One small reference can invoke a larger, shared experience. The value of using this reference is to build credibility and familiarity, or, in another word, to bond.

Be clear about the references you choose and what, specifically, you'd like the reference to conjure up in the mind of your prospect. Will the reference underscore your seriousness? Will the reference spark memories of fun times? Be very, very selective. The right reference will skyrocket your response rate, while the wrong one will leave your prospect cold.

Are You Likeable?

As the old saying goes, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" -- which is to say, are you likeable?

When your direct mail or invitation copy contains an upbeat, friendly, and trustworthy tone, you, as the direct marketer, benefit in several ways. One of the primary benefits is that prospects relax. When they relax and find you trustworthy they naturally "fill in the blanks" -- which is to say, they'll start generating their own reasons for continuing a relationship with you, whether it is to continue reading your sales letter or opening your email newsletters.

Be likeable enough to make the pitch immediately, but, barring that -- after all, some people don't just jump into action right away! -- at least be likeable enough to start the conversion process. Research is the start of the process. Inspire your prospects to dig further for the facts about the event you're promoting.

So, brush up on your seduction skills. Mastering the unspoken in your event marketing campaigns is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your audiences and drive action. Connection is just a few hot breaths away from conversion.

Katie McCaskey is a freelance journalist who writes for, the official provider of Vistaprint coupon codes for customized direct marketing products for small businesses across the globe. Katie is also an author and co-owner of a grocery and café in Staunton, Virginia.

Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala

The Banquet Area for the 2004 Awards Gala (Source:

The very first event we’ll be featuring for eVenues show and tell is the Palm Springs International Film Festival, a star-studded gala event which Richard De Santis, President and CEO of Event Management Productions, helped plan as the Executive Producer:

What were the goals of the event?

In January, as has been the case for the past 13 years, we produced the Palm Springs International Film Festival awards Gala. It is one of the major fundraising events for the Palm Springs Film Society which is its parent 501 C3 Corporation.

The event is a black-tie movie awards show which is a major precursor to the Academy Awards. Every year for the last decade more than half of our award recipients have gone on to be nominated for an Academy Award and about two thirds combined for Academy and Golden Globe awards. The goal is more an issue of branding than of attendance or execution. The Palm Springs Film Festival Awards Gala has become an international brand rivaling both the Academy Awards and the Golden globes in its reach and stature.

The challenge is twofold. First we have to guess right on whom we are offering awards to. We know what quality and merit in filmmaking is but on many occasions quality and award worthy films and actors never received the recognition that they might or should. The challenge is to avoid selecting films that may be exceptional artistic successes but don’t necessarily reflect that in the box office. Our biggest challenge is cutting off ticket sales because even though tickets to this show can be extraordinarily expensive we are usually sold out in less than 3 to 4 weeks.

What did you feel was the biggest challenge for this event? How did you overcome that challenge?

This show began essentially as a homegrown celebration of film to promote Palm springs. It has largely remained that way for over a decade but in 2000 with new and invigorated leadership the scope and direction of the show became less a local party and more a very glitzy social event aimed at seriously promoting filmmaking as well as Palm Springs.

There was a refocused effort to kindle or in fact rekindle Hollywood’s love affair with Palm Springs. With the film society and the city working in partnership it became relatively easy to reignite the excitement that Hollywood had for Palm Springs. It was a little more difficult to redefine the quality of the show as a very serious cinema awards event but again, a new board in a rededicated effort was able to accomplish this feat in a fairly short period of time.

What do you feel was the most successful aspect of this event?

There are two parts of the show that are success stories. The first is that the event has grown into a strong international brand with sponsorships such as Cartier and Mercedes-Benz and many more. Palm Springs International Film Festival awards Gala is recognized virtually everywhere as a very serious path to other awards.

Model Astrid Bryan poses in front of a Cartier backdrop (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This has also led to a Renaissance of Palm Springs itself with a new downtown emerging that keeps the flavor of old Palm Springs of its early Hollywood heyday and enhances some of the other phenomenal growth success stories such as the Palm Springs Art Museum, the desert air Museum, the Palm Springs Opera Guild and many other interesting cultural activities held within the city.

What were some lessons learned? How would you do the event differently the second time around?

I think the biggest lesson learned is not to look back. This has been a very successful branding effort and unless there is a major need as there was about 15 years ago to retool the entire event there is very little that we would do differently. The extraordinary growth of this event to an international brand suggests that the path we are on at least for the current period of time does not require a do-over.

Richard DeSantisAbout Richard DeSantis: Richard DeSantis is a well known producer of quality shows such as the Palm Springs International Awards Gala, Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards, Virginia Waring International Piano Competition, and many others. He is an instructor in the use of lighting for special effect and event management, and has won national awards for his productions. He spent years in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington DC developing his craft.

About eVenues Show and Tell

Over the past couple years at the eVenues blog we’ve conducted several interviews about putting on green events, political events, even social media war rooms. Each of these meetings had different challenges and goals. Considering how popular these interview posts have turned out to be, we’ve decided to make them a regularly occurring feature: The eVenues event planner show and tell.

To participate, you just have to tell us about an event that your recently helped plan by answering these 4 questions:

1. Describe an event you recently helped plan. What were the goals of the event?
2. What did you feel was the biggest chalenge for this event. How did you overcome that challenge?
3. What do you feel was the most successful aspect of the event?
4. What were some lessons learned? How would you do the event differently the second time around?

Feel free to send your submissions/questions to kenji[-at-] and your event could be the next one featured!

Picture this: You work at an online non-profit. You reach out to your users asking them to put on events in order to celebrate your organization’s birthday with the intention of driving new users and activity on your website.

Brandon Smith Kiva

Brandon Smith

The result of your outreach? You raise more than $509,825 within the course of six days.

This was the kind of offline event success that Kiva, a website that helps its users make microloans to underprivileged entrepreneurs, enjoyed last year. Since April is the Month of Microfinance, and since writing about successful events is what we do, we reached out to Brandon Smith, the Community Marketing Coordinator at Kiva, to learn just how this was accomplished. We also speculate a bit on how Kiva’s success could be used as a model for other successful offline events for a largely online community.

Online Meeting Spaces Come First

Even before Kiva started actively coordinating with volunteer event planners across the country, its lenders were already organizing events. The Kiva New York lending team, for example, started out as a small, casually organized group where lenders within the city could meet for happy hour and socialize with other lenders. Since its founding in 2008, however, the team has grown to more than 2,600 members and has lent more than $1,144,000 worth of loans to entrepreneurs in need. The growth of the team and the number of loans was due in part to the many events held by the group–everything from wine tastings to 5k runs.

Kiva Run

The New York lending team organized a 5k run independent of Kiva HQ.

All of this, however, would have had a difficult time getting off the ground if there wasn’t a place for Kiva lenders in New York to get in touch with each other. By providing this basic functionality, Kiva was able to facilitate the online meeting between some very enthusiastic lenders who, noticing that they had a lot of values and interests in common, decided they wanted to meet offline. From these casual beginnings, eventually the New York team created a website of their own complete with a blog and and events calendar.

If you have community of online users, do what you can to provide a space for community members to get in touch with each other. While Kiva does this by creating team pages whereby team captains can message members and make announcements through a message board, you don’t necessarily have to go this far for your organization. You could start out, for example, with links to a Meetup group or a Google group for each major city, where users can communicate and organize happy hours and other meetups on a regular basis. If your online users are passionate about what you do and who you are as an organization, they will naturally want to meet other people who are passionate about your organization as well. You just have to provide them with the means to do it.

Helping Facilitate Offline Events

Besides providing a space for people to communicate online, what can you do to encourage more events, events which help you reach some of the goals you’ve set for your organization?

First of all, while many people may want to organize an event, not everyone may know where to start. This is where an event resource page can come in handy. “There’s a site at that we created as a launchpad for all of these offline events that could potentially happen around the world.” says Smith, “A lot of people really took to it and we started developing a community of people who were interested in offline events.”

Kiva in a Box

Kiva in a Box: A Free Resource for Event Organizers

The centerpiece of this offline event launchpad has to be Kiva in a Box, a free resource created by Smith and the Kiva team last year. Inside this box is everything Kiva, from Kiva balloons to Kiva event hosting T-shirts to Kiva Cocktail recipes. Also, and perhaps most importantly, there’s a set of 10 free trial cards which event attendees who aren’t Kiva members can use as a way to experience the Kiva lending process without initially putting any of their own money in.

Not only does the “Kiva in a Box” provide a free resource for Kiva event planners, but it also provides Kiva HQ with a list of people who are interested in organizing events. Thus, when Kiva wants do nationwide event campaigns like the birthday loan-a-thon it did last October, Kiva HQ has a ready-made list of would be event organizers whom they can contact about the campaign.

Harnessing the Power of Your Community

While offline events may not be appropriate for every online community, it’s definitely worth looking into. The commitment you make can be minimal at first. See if you can’t organize your fans into a online group where they would be able to communicate often. From there you can gauge just how active your community can be. It may even be good to organize some initial meetups yourself to see if they’d be worthwhile. These meetups can be:

Social Events

A happy hour or wine tasting where members of your community can get to know each other. Be sure to encourage members to bring friends and also provide a “station” like a laptop or iPad with brochures and other material laid out so that visitors can learn more about your organization. Also, do what you can to have tie-ins to your organization at the event.

Kiva wine Tasting

A Kiva New York Wine Tasting Event (Source: Kiva NYC Blog)

For the Kiva New York wine tastings, the team captain, Valbona Bushi, said that they chose wines from the countries where Kiva entrepreneurs happen to live. Not only that, but they often also sell some of the actual products created by Kiva loan recipients at the events. While the main purpose of the events are social, the tie-ins to Kiva are always there.

Cross-Promotional Events

Friends of Bob Harris

A Book Signing Event in LA (Source: The International Book of Bob Facebook Page)

Kiva is currently encouraging their volunteer event planners to put on book club events organized around the promotion of the International Bank of Bob book, a personal account of Bob Harris, who went around the world actually meeting the recipients of his Kiva loans. In order to promote awareness of the book, Kiva sent out free copies to active members on the “Kiva in a Box” list, and suggested organizing book club events as well as to put the word out for when Bob Harris was in town doing a book tour.

Goal Oriented Events

Perhaps you want to organize some event like Kiva’s birthday loan-a-thon to reach a goal of raising a certain amount of money over a specific period of time. In order to make this work Kiva created a Loan-a-thon leaderboard showing the teams who lent the largest amount as well as the total amount lent during the six day time period. The page updated by the minute and served as a rallying point for all the teams.

Goal Oriented Events

The Austin Loan-a-thon event. Pictured in the Center is Event Organizer Miku Sakamoto

The lengths that some event organizers went to help Kiva reach its Loan-a-thon goal was impressive. In just one of many examples, Miku Sakamoto, the organizer for the Austin Loan-a-thon event, assembled an event team, lined up sponsors for food, drinks, and raffle prizes as well as made event flyers. Finally she promoted the event through every conceivable channel including Eventbrite, Facebook, online community calendars, locals news stations, and finally through the Kiva Austin team message itself. The result was a well attended event that helped raise $2,575 in loans in just one night.

“Like-Minded People”

“I think there’s such value in having these small events where people can see other Kiva lenders face-to-face.” Says Sakamoto, “[The Austin event] was really awesome because I could see people talking and they light up when they talk about who they lent to and how much of a difference it made. It’s very exciting to meet like-minded people.”

And that’s what offline events are all about. While an inspiring online presence with videos and case studies and blog posts can go a long way. offline meetings can inspire volunteers to work extremely hard to pull off incredible events with no compensation other than the joy of working with like minded people for a great cause.

Over the past four years we've compiled the largest database of meeting rooms and event spaces on the web. We started in Seattle, then quickly expanded to markets in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, New York and Washington DC.

We quickly realized that although we had a lot of venues, many first time visitors to our site found all the choices a little overwhelming. This is why we added a filter sidebar to each of our listings pages so that users could narrow down their search by the three criteria that mattered the most: capacity, price, and neighborhood. This definitely helped our users find exactly what they needed without spending an inordinate amount of time sorting through the various options.

As we continued to talk with and get feedback from our users, however, we realized that what they really wanted was a real human being to help them find the very best venue for a particular event. This is why we created the "Full Serve" option whereby our users, often first time event planners, would provide us with specific information about their event and we would get back to them with the best possible options.

While all these innovations have helped improve the user experience, we continued to look for other ways to help event planners find the perfect space.

After watching user behavior through our analytics data, it became clear to us that not everyone who visted our site was looking to book a venue right away. Rather, they were "window shopping" for an event that they may do some time down the line.

For these window shoppers, we have started to create venue guides for each city. These guides recommend the best venues for every conceivable type of event, from small meetings to large gala events. Furthermore, we single out the best spaces in the most important locations. In our Seattle venue guide, for example, we provide a list of our favorite venues near SEA-TAC airport, as well as venues near the Washington State Convention Center. In our San Francisco guide, we list the best venues in the Financial District as well as venues in Downtown San Francisco. In our LA venue guide, we list venues near LAX as well as venues in Hollywood.

So far we’ve only listed three of our most popular cities: Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles. We will, of course, put together more venue guides in the near future.

We hope you enjoy the venue guides, and that you will find them useful! If you have any suggestions about them, please let us know in the comments or email us at