Lacy Roesler from Austin Chamber of Commerce
Gain a deeper insight on event planning for a large Chamber of Commerce membership based organization. Lacy Roesler, Manager of Partner Events and Engagement at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, talks to us about the wide range of events and initiatives she manages for the chamber. She shares insights from her extensive background in event management including working at the Long Center for the Performing Arts.
or read the show notes below.
About Lacy Roesler
Lacy Roesler has an extensive background in event management including working at the Long Center for the Performing Arts. Lacy is currently the Manager of Partner Events and Engagement at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce. Lacy is team leader on all Chamber events, from large signature and advocacy events, to networking socials and member engagement opportunities. Lacy manages event budgeting; managing the bidding processes and RFPs for audio visual, food & beverage, and venue selection; logistics; speaker and sponsor coordination; all day-of event logistics execution, and registration.
To step up and learn fast - get a mentor
Lacy talks about one of her early event management roles at the Long Center for the Performing Arts. An opportunity arose for her to step up into a management position, which was out of her comfort zone in terms of experience. Lacy engaged the help of an experienced mentor with key insights, who could provide guidance as she learnt fast on the job.
The Austin Chamber of Commerce creates events to engage with businesses and the community. As a membership based organization it provides opportunities for people to network and make connections and find new clients. The Chamber hosts events large and small, from receptions, networking events, award ceremonies, member engagement events, educational and panel events. Some of these include:
- Power Up Austin Series, which consists of Power Up Austin Women events and Power Up Austin Tech events.
- Austin A-list Awards hosted in conjunction with SXSW, recognizing the most innovative homegrown companies coming out of Austin. Ticketbud is excited to have been nominated for the 2019 Austin A-List Awards.
- Greater Austin Business Awards recognizes the great work local businesses are doing.
- Austin Gives Generous Awards recognizes philanthropy in business.
Business to Business Events
While there are similarities in the event planning process across all events, there are differences to consider when planning a business to business event. Lacy highlights some key additional considerations.
- Timing - A B2B luncheon is generally advised not to run longer than an hour and a half, as people have to take time out of work. Events starting at 4pm are often a good time for business events, so people can leave work a little early but it doesn't completely cut into their personal time.
- Venue/Location - Make the location somewhere convenient and easy for most people to get to. Is there parking? Find out the availability for your venue options before setting a date!
- Calendar - Be aware of what other events and occasions are on in your city at the same time, especially any that may conflict with your target audience. Even when an event is unrelated to your audience, it may have implications such as road closures or booked hotels. When you work in events, it's always good to be aware of other events in the calendar.
Request For Proposal (RFP)
Requests For Proposals (RFPs) can be put out for different suppliers and providers involved in your event. This can be something that is done on a per event basis or across all events. The main RFPs that the Chamber does is with hotels, which is usually the first round of RFPs for one of their events. This includes comparing date availability and package deals for the number of rooms and venue space needed. Other RFPs can be for anything from printed programs, physical awards, AV providers and other suppliers.
As part of the event planning process there will generally be a kickoff meeting with the digital marketing communications team to work out a marketing plan. For the Austin Chamber of Commerce this might include a combination of channels such as:
- Identifying relevant partner organisations who can help promote
- Email blasts
- Invite only events
- Blog posts
- Social media
- Austin Statesman (Newspaper) - homepage takeovers and print ads
- KVUE (TV station) - advertisements
Lacy’s Quick Tips for Event Organizers
Get your timeline right!
Give yourself enough time. On event day, make sure setup happens early and staff arrive early. Ensure you build in enough time to set up, test equipment and brief staff. Anything can go wrong with events and you want to have enough time to respond to it thoughtfully, rather than be in a mad panic at the last minute. Give yourself buffer time, it can mean the difference between finding a good solution or having to cut something completely.
Use an event management tool
Lacy recommends Asana or using a spreadsheet if you need to, but find tools to make the planning process easier. Event management tools are also great for making sure everyone in the team knows what’s going on
Lacy shares how event planning can be intense and stressful. Experienced event organizers know this and generally try to give you good advice. Lacy says she has been lucky to receive great advice early and throughout her career.
Given how stressful events can sometimes be, Lacy says self care is really important to prioritize as an events manager. Make sure you look after your body, take multivitamins, do some exercise, decompress at night and get enough sleep!