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More Event Planner Wisdom

Elizabeth Nelson, the Indy J.W.Marriott’s Director of Catering Sales, had much wisdom to shareAfter Dinner Entertainment with master entertainers Christian and Katalina. Our Mind Tripping team interviewed Nelson, learning about her many years as a catering and events professional in New Orleans, Chicago, and Atlanta, and now Indianapolis.

Nominated as Starwood Hotels & Resorts #1 Catering sales manager in North America , Nelson had many tales to tell of the many galas, banquets, trade shows and conventions she’s helped plan, and much wisdom to share with our Midwest meeting planner blog readers.

Last month, we relayed several of Nelson’s helpful hints related to timing, including being sensitive to and respecting: a) facility “need dates” when there is weak event demand, b) the timing of client corporations’ budget process, and c) set-up and tear-down schedules and loading dock times.

Midwest meeting planners will find value in these new cost saving hints from Nelson :

  • When it comes to planning the menu, be flexible. There may be a concurrent event at that venue, and food items can be ordered in for both groups, with resultant cost savings for your client (Cornish hens or Chilean sea bass for fifteen hundred people?)
  • Using the in-house vendor for linens saves both time and money. In general, the same hint about staying in-house holds true for audio-visual and lighting services. (In house AV staff know their facility well and can achieve the perfect sound.  For Christian and Katalina, sound is extremely important.)
  • Think of using desserts as table centerpieces, Nelson suggested. (Christian and Katalina hope event planners from Cincinnati to Louisville will take heed of this advice from the Indianapolis J.W. – all too often, they find, centerpieces are too big and too tall and people can’t see across the table to talk to each other!)

If there was one piece of advice on which Elizabeth Nelson and our Mind Tripping team was in total agreement, it was this:  Event planners, take advantage of the expertise of the facility director.  Tom Cruise as Jerry McGuire had it right:  Help US (facility directors) help YOU, (the event planners)!


– by Rebecca of the Corporate Events blog team



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