Event Planner Spotlight: Christina from CM Events
Christina Murphy follows the beat of her own drum. Having worked a decade in the event planning industry for large companies like Nexus IS, she set out on her own to become the Founder and Event Manager at CM Events. Her niche? The vibrant startup scene in Los Angeles. Christina recently talked to us about her process with clients, how Eventup helps her business, and the importance of finding new markets.
Where were you working before going out on your own?
I worked for Nexus IS. They are one of the top partners with Cisco Systems on the West Coast. What I learned in working with Nexus was very instrumental to my success in branching out on my own, both from an event planning and technology perspective.
Tell me a little about your business, CM Events. What makes your business unique in the event planning world?
I like to separate myself apart from traditional event planners because I focus on one particular market. I focus purely on the startup community. I wanted to branch out on my own. I’m especially fascinated by technology. I have some friends in the startup community and I took a general interest in the industry because I just think these people are really creative and the future of the economy. Everything that I do is surrounding them. I haven’t run into event planners who are really doing that these days. I like to think I’m a rarity.
How do you generate clients? What's your process?
It’s kind of 50/50 in how I generate business, I have to put my face in front of people and then I have my referrals as well...clients who are referred to me by other startups. I really am all about wanting to know the client's side. I like to find out what their ideas are, have that initial conversation, tell them what to expect in terms of cost and how to make their event successful. I make myself pretty flexible. If they are eager to deal virtually I’ll do that, if they want to meet a few times a week, I’ll do that. I like to pride myself on always being available. I’ve found that what works for me best is that as long as you’re honest and you do whatever you can to try to make them happy, you’re more likely to have a happy client.
What are your favorite types of events?
I have to say my favorite events in general are the networking social mixers. I really like socializing and meeting new people…those are a lot of fun.
What are the most common trends you see in events this year?
The trend I’ve noticed, and this may be particular to my clientele, is Cross Campus...it’s something out of the average hotel or large meeting venue. Another trend is a lot of people are going very informal and affordable.
How has Eventup helped you in your event planning process? What do you like about it?
I stumbled across you guys on Forbes and LinkedIn and what I was using prior to that was Cvent. As robust as it is, it was nice to have a different interface. I’ve used you actually quite often to check out venues, and I really like the tool, I think it’s really resourceful.
What I like about Eventup's platform is it not only lists everything that I need to know about the venue (pictures, capacity, measurements, photos of the venue, etc.), I like that it lists general pricing of the venue and gives you the option to submit a quote request directly through the site. I also like that it has a calendar to list the venue's availability. This saves me a lot of time as an event planner in having to go back and forth with the venue because most of what I need is in front of me from the get go. It is also very user friendly and simple. I have enough complexities to deal with as an event planner, so I like robust, effective tools that are simple and easy to navigate/understand.
What are some challenges you run into with event planning?
I think the most common challenge most event planners face is that even though clients get an event planner involved, they don’t have a huge idea of what actually goes on. It’s a lot of deadlines and pressure and in some cases, it’s a lot of stress. There’s so much multitasking that’s involved in making an event, even for just 50 people, successful. I think it’s something clients don’t realize. You’re average event planner will put in 150-200 hours on an event at any given time.
What advice or insights can you share with other event planners who want to start their own business?
Plan to hit the ground running and fly by the seat of your pants. And get creative. Having a niche, having a different market to go after, separates you, make your event planner about that scene, or party, go after it. Being unique is what makes you interesting and what makes people interested in you.
Well said, Christina! Thank you for sharing your insight into the event planning world. We wish you the best of luck and look forward to working with you in the future!
For more event planning insight, check out our interview with Susan from Especially for You.