Hosting a meeting, party, reception, conference in Miami?
You've picked a great city!
A melting pot with a large Latin American and Caribbean population, Miami is often called "The Gateway of the Americas".
A sunny climate, mix of languages, culture, music and cuisines, combined with its towering skyscrapers make Miami a hot destination for meetings and events.
Once you have identified a venue in Miami for your event, its time to start thinking of service providers who can help you tips to keep in mind as you embark on your adventure.
• Ask friends, family for references and ideas. Pick their brain to find out who they've used
• Search the Internet for Miami Vendors (simply choose your category)
• Create a short list, start with location and products/services that meet your event requirements
• Ask for proposals from at least three vendors for competitive pricing
Evaluate Each Vendor
• Ask for references from customers, venues and other vendors they have worked with. Inquire about the number of years they have been in business, their affiliations, are they members of the local Chamber members, etc.
• Clarify what do they own for resources? Do they have the right staff, equipment, supplies (plates, tables etc)? Do they own their own or are they renting from another vendor?
• Probe for experience to see if it is a good match for your event – have they catered an elegant event – a large event? Make sure their staff has the experience to make your event a success.
Ask about capabilities, areas of expertise, see if they understand the pitfalls, can anticipate and prepare for unexpected occurrences!
Remember – you are relying on them!
• Where are they located? How far away are they from the venue you have selected for your event? Can they deliver their services and equipment to your venue on time and with no glitches.
Tip – Keep TRAFFIC in mind, especially for timely deliveries, transportation.
• Look out for skills that differentiate them from their competitors and trust your gut instincts!
You have to work together – make sure you like the person.
• Negotiate and clarify all costs. Outline what is included in the proposal and what will cost extra.
• Make sure the vendor has a back-up plan in case they are not available (fall sick, emergency etc) on the day so your event is unaffected.
Select a Vendor
• Insist on a contract and review all details, including back up plans and payment options
Party Rental houses can provide you with assistance and make recommendations on many aspects of your Miami event. Tents, theme props, decorations, tables, chairs, dance floors, chocolate fountains, bars, chaffing dishes, glasses, flatware etc.
Plan the travel logistics of your event. Do out of town guests/attendees need to be shuttled between venues? What is the most cost-effective and eco-friendly way to do this? Arrange for hybrid transportation, car pool arrangements or select a venue within walking distance.
• Consider transportion to and from the airport/hotel
• Coordinate arrival and rent a van to pick up groups as they arrive to save $$
• Be sure to get references, and ensure they have directions. They may plan to have a driver that knows the area, but if there is a last minute substitution, having detailed directions can save the day.
• Consider travel time and take into account any rush hour delays.
Full service organizations such as Brickell Key Tours and Transportation not only provide transportation, but they also offer various tours from shopping to night tours to keep your guests coming and going.
Make a splash and pick a Hummer, Maybach, Rolls Royce Phantom or Cadillac rental at Phantom Coach.
Don’t take chances with an amateur videographer or family member for special occasion events.
This is your one opportunity to capture your wedding day, anniversary, graduation, reunion, family gathering or corporate event. It’s best to leave it in the hands of a professional and let Uncle Bob down gently.
With the right professional, you can direct and get the photos you’d like. Professionals also provide experience and can capture moments the average photographer can miss.
Equipment is key. Professionals carry the state of the art equipment (don’t be afraid to ask) and they should have back-up equipment in case of malfunctions.
Professional videographers also know how to make their subjects look great, have an artistic eye and the expertise to capture an image that everyone will notice.
Here are some tips when selecting a videographer:
• Compose a complete list of requirements – multi-media, lighting, sound, computers, internet, phones, etc.
• Ask your venue for vendor recommendations – some Miami venues will have in- house AV companies, locking you into their vendor
• Review the list of requirements with potential vendors to ensure they have all the equipment in stock – you could incur extra costs if they have to rent equipment from yet another vendor.
• Wired vs. Wireless. The flexibility of wireless is a benefit. Consider shipping costs of desktops vs. laptops. Also inquire if your favorite vendor has an affiliate in the city you’re hosting your meeting or event. You could benefit working with your vendor and using local rentals.
• Audio Visual Ideas. Use multi-media to entertain guests at any family event. Photos of the bride and groom growing up. A simple slide show can make all the difference!
Photos of family gatherings throughout the year, children growing up, graduation and other special occasions. Consider making a DVD or a Create a Photo Book or Memory Book for your guests to take home as a special gift of the meeting or event. Creative Memories is another great site for preserving memorable moments from your meeting or event.
A professional photographer understands how to capture the right moment …. forever.
Keep the following in mind as you snap up the right photographer for your event!
• Interview potential Miami photographers – ensure your style and their style are compatible. Look at their sample albums that tell the story from start to finish.
• Back-up equipment and back-up photographer – you want to be sure you’re covered if the equipment should fail and there’s a reliable back-up in case of illness.
• Take the time to have a clear understanding of what you want for photos – the mood you are looking for and the ambiance you are trying to create. Select black and white, sepia or softer themes.
• Clarify what you will receive for an end product . Review all the fees and costs. Be up front and tell them you will not tolerate or pay for hidden fees.
• Video and Photos – Consider your budget. Think about what you want. Are there near and dear family members or friends that cannot make the wedding? Sending Great Grandma a video of your special day could prove priceless.
• Check the photographers' credentials and certifications.
Are they up to speed on the latest technologies? Do they follow best practices?
Can they give you ideas and feedback on popular trends that are good and those to avoid?
• Make sure there is good chemistry between you and the photographer. You will need to work together to produce a fabulous story album of your special event.
• Ask for references from other Miami events, weddings and event corporate meetings .
• Recommendations from friends and family are the best resources for a reputable and qualified photographer, Miami professional associations and the better business bureau are also excellent sources.
Studios such as D. Sanchez Photography provides services for wedding, but also specializes in sporting events. Use a professional photographer to capture a corporate or benefit golf outing or the family golfers, guaranteeing superb photos.
A well-rounded photographer adds tremendous value to your event and leaves a lasting impression….literally.
They come for the event, but they remember the food…..Picking a good caterer is very important.
Food matters! Presentation matters!
Here are some tips to picking the right caterer:
• Find out if your selected venue allows outside caterers. Many venues have a preferred list of caterers and ask that you use them, so be sure to check when making initial inquiries for your venue
• When interviewing caterers, look for the enthusiasm. Are they going to go that extra mile for you and your event?
• Tour the facility for equipment, cleanliness and creativity. Check out the kitchen. Ask to see licenses, certifications, awards, necessary permits, and be sure they are properly insured.
• Ask for references from venues, satisfied customers and other vendors. Ask the references if they would use this caterer again. If not, ask why.
• If you have special requests, such as organic and vegan food be served, that certain ingredients be included or excluded, ethnic preferences, that you are planning a green event, etc., make sure you discuss these with the caterer and see if they are on your wavelength and share your enthusiasm for your selections. Do they have ideas and suggestions you like?
• Look for flexibility in menu options.
• Check that the caterer’s employees, working your event, are covered by workers’ compensation. You don’t want to be held liable if anything happens.
• When interviewing restaurants as a potential caterer, ask if the kitchen chef is the same as the catering chef. You may enjoy the restaurant food only to discover the catering chef has a very different style. ALWAYS taste test and when possible, taste items that you’re considering on your menu.
• Make sure the line is clear on the roles between your event planner and your caterer. Many caterers also do event planning and vice versa.
You can make it easy and pick one vendor for both roles. But if engaging the services of two vendors, make sure they are clear on their responsibilities to avoid stepping on each others toes or leaving gaps in the plan.
Make sure there is good chemistry between the vendors!
• Look at the caterer's past culinary experiences.
Have they catered an event similar to the one you are planning? You may not want a caterer who specializes in small, elegant dinner parties to cater your 300 person BBQ.
Make sure their past experience matches your expectations for your event!
Setting the right mood for your event is key! Hit the right note with the following tips:
• Live bands are great IF you are familiar with their presentation and demeanor at a formal function. Sounding great on the stage for a few songs with set breaks is very different then entertaining guests at your wedding for four hours.
• Risks are greater with live bands. Miami DJ’s tend to be more affordable than live entertainment
• Get references from friends, family, coworkers and venues' preferred vendors
• Chances are you’ve chosen your venue by now. So check in with the catering manager for contacts. A good relationship with a DJ and caterer can keep your event running smoothly
• Interview several bands, DJs and entertainers. Don't rush the decision. Personality is key. Ensure the DJ you’re interviewing is the DJ who will be at your function. Get it in writing.
• Detail the contract, arrival and departure times, specific music/genres to be played, lights, staging etc.
• Clarify all costs, any assistants’ needed, special equipment, lighting or fees that could be passed on to you. Make sure there are no hidden fees etc.
• Have an overtime plan in place…if your guests are having a good time and your reception runs over, you don’t want the DJ making demands for cash or packing it up and walking out on you
• Specify attire – usually you’ll want them in a tuxedo or a suit at a casual wedding or a formal corporate event
• Make sure your entertainers are not engaging in any selfish promotions, distributing their business cards, drumming up future business at your event,etc
• Lighting…you don’t want to end up with a blue light from K-mart
• Review the music choices. A good DJ can read the crowd quite well and knows when to blast the tunes or create a soft romantic mood for couples. Provide a list of special songs, as well as a list of songs you many not want played
• Coordinate with your venue on the location of the DJ, avoid having them on-stage, as this could over shadow the Bride and Groom if your event is a wedding.
• Feed the DJ and keep him hydrated. It's a good idea to instruct the bartenders – no alcohol for the entertainment…please. Work with the DJ and pre-arrange nourishment
• Bonus…if the DJ you're thinking about has done corporate functions… you’re working with someone who has experience and versatility and resilience. Remember a good DJ can make or break your event – so choose wisely!
Whether your event is a conference, seminar, convention, retreat, training session, party, reception, wedding or celebration, planners can save you a lot of time and frustration, allowing you to focus on your event and actually enjoy it!
Planners are the conductor for your symphony. An event planner can do wonders for your event, coordinating all the details from the invitations, RSVPs, creative gifts and giveaways, to negotiating contracts, selecting venues and supervising the valet parking.
• A good professional planner is well-connected in their area and can quickly contact several reliable Miami suppliers, reducing the risks of hiring any fly-by-night vendors.
• Professional planners also have expertise in negotiating and coordinating travel arrangements.
• Can’t afford a professional planner? Consider a consultation – they can direct you to the right resources.
• References and rapport are important when selecting an event planner.
• Make sure cleanup is addressed and the planner knows their responsibilities post- event
What to look for in a good event planner?
Dependability, reliability, poise and calm under pressure, flexibility, excellent organizational skills, ability to execute a back-up plan, someone who can charm a snake and hold a firm line, someone who will s-t-r-e-t-c-h your dollars for you and get you the best value for your money. Someone who will hold your hand when you are crying and laugh with you.
No, you're not marrying them, but you are planning an event together!
Say "I Do" with Style
Decide on traditions and faiths. Once you agree on that you can move on to looking for the right person to evoke the "I Do’s".
Here are some things to think of:
• Inquire about family officiants. They are apt to know you or your partner’s family and be most supportive and flexible. Revisit your church or synagogue or temple.
• Look for a Miami officiant that listens to your wishes, and can incorporate them into the ceremony
• Ensure they are familiar with Miami’s wedding license, fees and forms. Some places of worship require you to become a member before they will perform the ceremony
Important Tip: Make sure you check the Better Business Bureau for all your vendors. You'll be glad you did!