Inspiration Central: Ideas You Can Use

We believe that even the smallest thought travels can root in someone's imagination and become real. Grasp your opportunity now and inspire your peers to create the ideas of tomorrow!



Top Contributor Kristen Plymale, CSEP, Strong Events

What is one of your favorite designs you had for an ILEA event?

lisahause_waterloostudio_isesaustin_barrmansion_079Lindsey Hollingsworth and I put together a monthly educational panel about DMCs and we wanted to play off of the concept of destinations so we went with a modern compass theme for our design, even the tables were laid out to make a compass pattern. It was a fall event, so we used deep, rich reds with a pop of gold. Our floral partner, Texas Blooms, created beautiful modern centerpieces, using a variety of vases and vessels that matched the theme. (Photos by Lisa Hause)

What value does ILEA provide to your personal and professional life?

ILEA has given me the opportunity not only to grow as an event professional, but to be a leader in the community. It has given me an outlet to build relationships and have important conversations about the business and also how to keep a personal life as well.

What is the biggest challenge or opportunity that the ILEA communities have helped you address?

The biggest challenge that ILEA has helped me face is really just about helping me find my place in the industry. I’ve been able to learn so much about what other people do and been able to use that information in order to find my happy place of being a designer and someone who focuses on décor.

Top Contributor Amanda Zahner, President of ILEA Cincinnati

Amanda Zahner, Associate Manager, P&G

Can you tell us about your experience as president of ILEA Cincinnati? What has been the biggest struggle? 

Amanda_ZahnerWhen I took over the role of president in the Cincinnati chapter, I was faced with challenges and struggles like many other chapters have experienced. Our membership, which once thrived, was down. We had poor attendance at our monthly events. Our board and programs were held together, at times, by the sheer will and determination of two or three dedicated and committed members of our chapter. I joined the board as a Director-At-Large in the 2015-2016 year during a time of transition. I had the good fortune to attend the Midwest Roadshow in Cleveland in April of 2016 and that changed everything for me. I suddenly understood what ILEA was in other cities and the potential it had in my own. During that meeting, I knew I wanted to be president. I knew I was up for the challenge.

As president, the first struggle was to find new members to sit on our board. Lucky for me, the interest was there and we had several young members who wanted to be involved and had the support of their employers. The next challenge was attendance at monthly events. We worked to tackle that challenge through the use of networking and social media. We now average thirty attendees a meeting – which is a huge improvement over a year ago. While we recognize we still have room to grow, we also are proud of our accomplishments up to this point. Just wait for next year!

I face several challenges as we close out this year and look to next. We have very little documentation for the chapter. It is important to me that when we onboard new members for 2017-2018, we have an intentional, well-thought out program that informs them of expectations, roles and responsibilities, and acts as a guide for their full engagement. The biggest struggle I am currently facing is finding the time to create this manual as a template so that it can be used and updated for years to come. The documentation and process creation will (hopefully) allow for sustainable succession planning and member involvement in the long-term.

What value does ILEA provide to your personal and professional life?

The choice to become president of the Cincinnati chapter has been life-changing for me and is easily the most defining period of professional development in my career. I have been with P&G for over 17 years but ILEA has provided an opportunity for me to grow in ways that I didn’t expect. I am a student and will receive my Master’s in Management and Leadership in April. ILEA has allowed me to put my skills, theories and leadership practices into action. I do not have direct reports in my current role at P&G, so I have used the board to hone my skills in conflict resolution, communication, and team development. Working with others is challenging when you deal with a diverse group of people.  Learning styles, communication styles, and personalities all come into play. ILEA has given me some much needed career experience with learning to work with others in a management-style relationship.

Also, personally, ILEA has given me the gift of friendship. I have never in my adult life felt more a part of something than I have with ILEA. I walked into the Midwest Roadshow alone – I didn’t know a single person – and within thirty seconds of walking to the room I felt welcomed and the connections began … and they continue. I know it seems so juvenile but, as humans, we all seek to belong. Thanks to ILEA I have a huge network of friends that has changed my view of the industry and of networking all together. It has been an amazing experience!!!

What is the biggest challenge or opportunity that the ILEA communities have helped you address?

When you ask, the ILEA community answers. I have found a new DMC in NYC for my team at work, I have connected ILEA members and non-ILEA members with each other to meet a need. The best part of the ILEA community is the vast amount of contacts and experience that lives within it. I didn’t use it before taking on this role but you better believe you are stuck with me now!



EVENT HORIZONS: A Purple Paper from the ILEA Global Event Summit 2016: Scotland

With the aim of creating the beginnings of a globally-engaging conversation on the future of the events industry, a global event industry first took place in Scotland in April 2016. Event Horizons 2016, the ILEA Global Event Summit, brought together twenty-eight industry leaders from the international events industry for two days of dialogue focused on a series of matters central to the core objective of enabling world leading events through exchanging knowledge, creating insight and developing new perspectives on key challenges and trends.

Read the full purple paper here.


A Q&A with a CSEP from Down Under

By Morgan Doan, CSEP, PWC, Morgan Events

The Certified Special Event Professional (CSEP) designation recognizes individuals in the creative events industry who demonstrate the ability, knowledge and skills to produce all components of an event at the highest level. Established in 1993, its recognition continues to grow around the world through its thorough measurement of a candidate's ability in all aspects of event production; establishing each CSEP as a versatile and capable member of the global events industry.

CSEPs help to further the industry by leading their peers and elevating the standards and ethics to which all event professionals are held. We are entrusted with the safety and well-being of others at every event we produce, cater, design or supply and are recognized for our expertise - and we should hold our colleagues to the same high standards. Making the CSEP a global industry standard can help us accomplish that goal.


Read the full article here.


Why The Lord of the Rings and the Little Mermaid are Destroying Event Tech

By J. Damany Daniel, The Event Nerd

The current state of event technology reminds me a lot of Ariel in the "Little Mermaid": "There are gadgets and gizmos a-plenty. There are whoozits and whatzits galore.” It seems that, around every corner, some would-be technophile is creating the new thing that will revolutionize the event industry, make our jobs and lives easier, and/or add another layer of awesome to the events experience.

With investors finally seeming to understand the inherent value in creating technological experiences for events, there’s even a fair amount of money pouring into startups and developers around the world to enhance the industry that so many of us know and love. Some would say that it’s a great time to be in event tech, and I wouldn’t think to argue with them. But as with all things that are great, there’s also the potential for difficulty as well.

Read the full article here.


Business Stationery and Its Importance in Today's Digital World

By Jessica Yee, The Oblique Pen

Many may think business stationery is an antiquated idea. “Who needs business stationery these days?,” you might ask. “I have a computer and a smartphone, and I do most of my communication via email, text or social media.” Yes, electronic communication is the best way to get quick, instant answers to important questions that you need addressed immediately in order to be fabulous at your job. But electronic communication cannot always convey the warmth and feel of paper communication. Take a moment and look at why you really do need well created business stationery.

Read the full article here.


It’s Time to Reevaluate Your Social Media Marketing

By Nick Borelli, Rock The House Entertainment Group, Inc.

Does your company have a social media strategy specific to each platform you participate on? Has it been written formally? If the answer is yes, I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is that your way of thinking is correct. The bad news is that unless you’ve updated it in the past six months, you might need to reevaluate what you are doing.

Read the full article here.


Nonprofit Versus Corporate Event Planning

Different Journeys, Same Destination By Cindy Lo, Red Velvet Events, Inc.

In the world of event planning, the devil is in the details. Every aspect of every event has to resonate.

The bottom line? When money is no object, virtually anything is possible. But in many cases, money—or the lack of it—sets the pace, tone and feel of an event.

Which brings me to a topic that comes up often enough to warrant some discussion: Nonprofit versus corporate event planning. Is one easier to manage than the other? Are the two drastically different or remarkably similar?

Read the full article here.


The Traits It Takes

Personality traits that set you up for success in the industry By Caroline Sewell, Encore Events, Inc.

As I sat in a few ILEA meetings at The Special Event in January 2014, I looked around at those I have known for years, been friends with and collaborated with, and realized why we all get along so well. We are all cut from the same cloth. As we spoke, we all seemed to have similar opinions of the industry and how we managed our lives, both personally and professionally. This ignited my interest into discovering what the common threads were among all of us. Here are a few of my conclusions of what personality traits further the success in this industry.

Read the full article here.


Wedding e-Etiquette

Will technology and tradition ever marry? By Carol Rosen, CSEP, Party Designs by Carol; Tobey Dodge, CSEP, The Wedding Connection by Tobey Dodge; Courtney Hammons, PBC, A Magical Affair

It’s January 1994 and you’re sitting in your living room, watching TV when all of a sudden a sweet, brown-eyed, pale-faced little girl appears on your screen, wearing a vintage English costume, telling you in her eerie New Zealand accent that “there will be a road that  will not connect two points but will connect all points…”   It is 12-year-old Anna Paquin, standing in the middle of a desert mirage, telling us that this road will not take us from here to there because “there will be no more ‘there.’ We will all only be ‘here.’”

Fast forward to 2014, and you’re sitting in the audience of your boss’s daughter’s wedding. 

Read the full article here.


Dream Weddings and Reality Budgets

Can they be reconciled? By Gwen Helbush, CWC

Have you had this meeting? A couple comes to discuss their wedding. They are great; you are excited by the opportunity to work with them. They are inviting 250 guests for a long weekend wedding. You start to feel those lovely butterflies in your stomach—the ones that tell you this is going to be fun

And then they bring out the Pinterest boards, clippings from magazines, they start telling you about the TV shows and celebrity wedding that have inspired their dreams. And those lovely butterflies turn into the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz. Not because you can’t give them the wedding of their dreams, but because that wedding will cost $250K, and they have $30K and not a penny more.

Read the full article here.


Risk Management and Today’s Event Professional

Are you prepared if disaster strikes? Four top event management professionals share their risk management insights.  By Kelly Rehan, ILEA Headquarters

As an event management professional, your goal is to produce a flawlessly executed event. You build
budgets, coordinate with caterers, photographers, A/V and décor professionals and florists, and make it all look like magic. If a performer is late, you have a plan. If vegetarian guests are served steak, you have
a plan. But what if a true disaster, where attendees’ lives are at risk, occurs at your event — do you have
a plan?

Read the full case study here.