Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Collaborating Around the World

-By Colja Dams

Let's face it. Because of technology, the world has become a much smaller place. And more and more planners are branching out into the international markets. For those of us already working around the world, having offices in a variety of countries makes it easier. But, for those who don't, consider some invaluable elements.

With offices around the globe, I've learned from experience. And, the number one asset to creating successful events is to understand the culture and the business practices of the countries in which you work without sacrificing the global approach of the brands of your clients.

The VOK DAMS Group has been fortunate to have collaborated with a variety of partners to produce a wealth of events world-wide. Our partnerships have involved both local companies as well as those based outside the site city or country. Because we can never afford for an event to go wrong, choosing the right partner is critical to our success. Rules and regulations differ from country to country and sometimes even within the local jurisdiction inside countries and cities. So, having a partner with local know-how is crucial to assure your event even happens.

The number one key to finding the right partner is to look for a company that works quickly, is highly effective but one that provides a "personal touch" to get things done.The company needs to employ a great staff of people. (I know I'm not supposed to make any sort of promotional statement, but the VOK DAMS Group has collaborated with Extraordinary Events for some time now, and I must admit that EE is our favorite partner. We've almost made a specialty of very successful automotive events, with impressive results! But, unfortunately, I can't disclose details due to our contractual agreements with those clients!)

To find quality global partners, we've had a program in place based on DIN EN ISO 9001 certification or a quality management system that defines that we work with qualified partners. It allows us to assess the organizational structure, procedures, processes and resources needed to implement a quality event and determine if our target partners meet those needs. In a nutshell, it is a guideline to make sure that our partners "walk the talk" and assures they can get things done!

Tips for Picking the Right Partner

We use a C-Level Model for what we look for. Here are the guidelines we've found successful for selecting the best partners.

  • Creativity
  • Capability/Credibility (does the partner - and moving forward the partnership - have a proven track record?)
  • Competencies - can the partner provide the tasks requested?
  • Capacity - does the partner have the resources available at the time of the event?
  • Chemistry - does the partner and their team members fit into the project team?
  • CO2- does the partner offer sustainable services and solutions (thus reducing CO2 footprint)?

Finally, the ability to keep deadlines is crucial when working over time zones. If planned correctly, it gives a wonderful opportunity to work around the clock. As one team goes to bed, the other team wakes up!

So, if you are going to work internationally, remember to connect with a local partner and and use the C-Level Model to make sure it's the right one!

Colja Dams has steadily built his company, the VOK DAMS Agency for Events & Live Marketing, into one of the top event powerhouses in the world. Headquartered in Germany, and ranked #2 in the world (source: Special Events Magazine), and with offices in Dubai, Beijing, France, Shanghai, London, New York, Prague, Sao Paulo, and throughout Germany, VOK DAMS has produced award-winning events for leading brands all over the world. Colja Dams may be reached at To learn more about VOK DAMS, visit:

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Creating Hot, New Client Presentations

-By Josh Murray

Never Underestimate Your Client

Client presentations require two critical elements - understanding and pushing their vision further within the confines of what they have defined they want.

The most important aspect of "selling" through your presentation is truly understanding the client's needs and desires. At the end of the day, what you are "selling" is understanding. To that end, I ask a lot of questions to really be clear of the client's approach and make sure I'm on target with their goals and expectations. To support their answers, I go to their Web sites and marketing materials to get a sense of their brand's aesthetic.

Once I have a sense of it, I usually try to push their vision just a little further and slightly out of their comfort zone. I'm a strong believer that most people are more progressive than they let on. We all get bored with the "same old stuff." My mantra of sorts is "never underestimate your client." Plus, we're the experts, and we know about a lot of event-related things that they don't, so why not expose them to what they will never dream of on their own?

Don't get me wrong. I create presentations explicitly to address client goals. That can mean specifically writing copy to respond to client requests, but it can also mean using imagery that really speaks to the mood or "vibe" the client is seeking. There are times when all the words in the world can't convey the feeling a picture puts across.

The Importance of Current Material and Graphics

For me, having current material and graphics in a presentation is paramount. We live in a culture that is hyper-current. Everything is always happening NOW. Trends come and go within weeks and, though people aren't always consciously aware of it, the media stays very current with design culture so everyone has a trained eye now. Basically, this means things can look "dated" much quicker than ever before. As an event designer and producer, you need to demonstrate that not only are you aware of trends, but you are ahead of them.

For instance, for a recent presentation, I worked with a few design and layout concepts that were unlike anything we had used before. The client wanted an edgy event, so to me it made sense that the presentation should "push" it a little too. Remember, the presentation is really the first interaction with the event itself. It sets the tone. The client wanted an event they had never seen before, so, I created a presentation that matched their desires. In the same presentation, we provided several concepts from which to choose. Giving them several options also allowed me to include one option that was potentially outside of their comfort zone. Guess which one they picked? You got it. The one out of their comfort zone!

Tips on How to Create Hot, New Presentations

 1. Look for inspiration literally everywhere. For instance, watch the media and really notice what they are working with in terms of imagery, fonts, layout. etc.
2. Browse different Web sites that tend to be trendsetters to see what "look" they are utilizing.
3. Take note of everything that you find intriguing. I always keep Notepad open on my IPhone and constantly make additions noting cool concepts.
4. Don't focus on what you note always being event-friendly. Down the road, you will figure out a way to integrate it.
5. Use this litmus test: "What can I do that will compel people to share images of the event on their social networks?" (If people are taking pictures and racing to post them on Instagram, you know you've got a winner!)
6. Google images is a powerful imaging source tool with fantastic features you should explore (and no, I didn't get paid for that plug.) PowerPoint and PhotoShop still work well for me.

The Number One Thing to Keep in Mind when Preparing a Client Presentation

Above all, remember that you are selling an experience. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. I see a lot of presentations that are very focused on each precise detail, down to line patterns. For me, that kind of detail is absolutely necessary for the event producer when planning the event, but in terms of the presentation, it can confuse the client. They want to know what the event will FEEL like. To convey that, you need to "zoom out" a bit.

Sometimes I don't even include a picture of an event or anything related to it. I will use a picture of a certain object that I think will elicit the right emotion to fit the event. I mean, what makes you feel cold. . . a picture of a white table linen, or one of a frosty ice cube?

How to make the event match that emotion is our job as producers.

Josh Murray is a producer at Extraordinary Events. He has been working in event management and production for 15 years with high-profile corporate clients as well as A-list celebrities. He may be reached at