Meet An Event Planner - Kaley Taylor
It’s always great to connect with other event planners and learn about what kinds of experiences they have had, pick their brains for tips and tricks, or gain any advice they can give about advancing your career.
Meet Kaley Taylor - an event planner of 10 years who has planned numerous user & industry conferences ranging from 80-6,000 attendees, trade shows presences including international exhibitions, internal sales & marketing meetings, incentive trips, and awards dinners.
I had asked her to answer a few questions about her career and experiences and here is what she shared!
What Is The Most Memorable Event That You Have Planned?
Probably the Global Energy Awards in December 2018, it was the 20th year anniversary. We were given some extra budget to really get creative and make that year’s event a bit more memorable. In terms of décor, instead of doing a standard step and repeat banner for photo ops, we worked with the florist to do a custom flower wall that had red roses that formed faux curtains, opened enough to highlight event branding in the center. We also opted for uplit ice sculptures as centerpieces that included the event logo and even sponsor logos on specific sponsored tables. In terms of production, we had flipped the direction of the stage at a venue we had been at multiple times. That enabled us to use a jib camera over the balcony and get great shots of award winners at their table and follow them on their walk up to the stage. We also experimented with technology and opened the awards ceremony with a hologram of the company’s CEO projected on a mist screen. The awards ended with a literal bang; confetti cannons, champagne toast, and a custom branded dessert that the pastry chef incorporated our event logo made of chocolate onto. I was originally against the confetti idea, but it was worth the venue clean-up fees!
What City Is Your Favorite To Host An Event In?
I think this is the hardest of the questions to answer. As much as I hate how expensive they are, I'd probably say Chicago or New York City. However, because these cities tend to be more expensive, they offer many negotiation opportunities. I've brought in other AV companies as well as gotten creative with chefs on menu planning in these cities to help with cost savings. I'm not one of those people that gets 'runners high' but I have been known to get a 'negotiation high' - super rewarding to me.
These two cities also have many historic venues that I’ve enjoyed getting to plan and experience their service first hand. Including The Hilton Chicago, The Drake, The W – City Center, InterContinental Magnificent Mile in Chicago, and The Waldorf Astoria, The Pierre Hotel, Cipriani 25 Broadway, Cipriani Wall Street in New York.
What Is In Your Event Planner Survival Kit?
Extra shoes! I change my shoes multiple times a day while on-site to help with foot and back pain. My colleagues can attest, I’ve been known to take 8 pairs of shoes for a 2 or 3-day event. I also try to have Band-Aids, Advil, Alka seltzer, and cold medicine on hand just in case a team member comes down with an ailment. Events are a team effort! We need everyone to stay healthy onsite. Work-related, I try to ship box cutters, sharpies, extra badge stock, tent cards, printer paper, tape, and double-sided Velcro to my events….you always need one of those items the one time you don’t have them handy! Better safe than sorry.
How Do You Handle The Stress Of Planning An Event?
I honestly think the stress of event planning is what brings teammates closer together. I find it takes a big event to truly form bonds with colleagues. Late nights in the office together, long days onsite, and even traveling together for a week or more. It's important and helpful to lean on your teammates during crunch time. Lack of sleep and heightened stress – this is when I find I need another person to bounce ideas or solution plans off of, and even someone to vent to over a cocktail after a long day.
If You Could Give One Piece Of Advice To Yourself When You Were Just Starting, What Would It Be?
Something I still have to remind myself sometimes - - be confident in your abilities. Unfortunately, sometimes you’ll be in a situation where everyone around you thinks they are an event planner (marketing, sales, executives) and will push for you to make their ideas happen. It’s important to do your research and push back with facts. Will the venue even allow this idea to happen? How will it impact the budget? Think through all the scenarios and be confident in presenting that data.
BONUS QUESTION: What Is Your Favorite Food To Sneak Off The Buffet
Diet coke and any form of carbs! Breakfast – croissants or bagels, lunch – I’m good with salad and rolls!Author: Rachel Mazzola