Takeaways from NACE Experience: Part 1
So I’m sitting in a beautiful hotel room with the window open to a fantastic view of the gorgeous Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort, home of the NACE Experience Conference this year. I’d be sitting on the balcony but it’s 100 degrees outside…but it’s a dry heat! I’ve really enjoyed the first day of speakers and breakouts and wanted to list some of the takeaways from the conference. I’m sure I’ll do this in a series of posts as I hear and learn more throughout the conference but here goes the first few:
Our first keynote speaker of the conference was the legendary Colin Cowie…what a treat! I’m sure he had almost everyone thinking: “oh the possibilities…if I only had a client with that budget!” Despite the fact that he puts on events where people spend millions of dollars, what I appreciated most about his presentation was the fact that he was very real. He discussed how the reception a few years ago impacted his business and how he had to adapt to the changing economics of his market and in his business. He struggled like many others during those tough times and he wasn’t afraid to talk about it. He did blame some of the change in his business (and profit margins) on “the Google” which was pretty funny. He said the technology has added more transparency and has made it a little more difficult to hold on to his “intellectual property” referring, I think, to his vendors and the sources for some of the decor and services he would mark up. This is so true…things are so different now…they have changed. Brides are smarter than ever before but the thing is, they will get smarter and things will continue to change. Our job is to be open to change and to adapt as necessary to keep up. One of Colin’s adaptations was the tiered approach to his service offering 3 levels at 3 very different price points based on his involvement in the process. This allowed him to cater to events with perhaps smaller budgets (I say smaller meaning oh, $100K or so) while still protecting his high end brand and ability to command those high end prices for events with bigger budgets.
Be Different…Every Time.
One thing that Colin said a few times was that he never repeats his work. He compared his clients to DNA…each is different and unique and requires a completely different event. This is fantastic in theory and I understand that if someone paid millions for an event, they want it to be different. However, this isn’t practical for 95% of wedding vendors. I’m not a boutique caterer by any means…I sell the same menus and packages to many brides. My setups sometimes look the same. Consistency in display, food quality, appearance, etc. is important to me and therefore I do the same thing over and over again. HOWEVER…what I do and what I think are not as important as how the client feels about what I sell them. I make it a point to keep words and phrases out of my conversations with brides such as “that’s how we always do it” or “I just did that same thing last week” to help the customer feel special and like they matter to you and are not just a cog in a wheel. I don’t think Colin necessarily meant to encourage people to reinvent the wheel . I think it was more about being sensitive to the differences of each client and able to pick up on their needs…even if the needs and the solution will work with most brides.
The last takeaway from Colin Cowie’s presentation was about how he refers to the people he works with. He said that he never uses the term vendor because “vendors have carts and sell hot dogs.” So he uses the term Creative Partners instead which better represents the relationship he has with them…I like that.
That’s it for now…stay tuned for more. If you were here at the conference, what takeaways did you have?