Grad Week – It’s a Season

Grad Week is a Season of the Year…As we’re fully into the month of June, our industry has the pleasure of hosting graduations for schools, colleges, universities, post-secondary institutes, friend & family events & so much more. 

It’s an exciting time of year for the recent graduates, as they are about to enter the work force, venture into future educational endeavors, careers, travelling adventures & so on.  It’s also a time of year, where business volumes are high, we maintain great relationships with our dedicated vendors, venues, chefs, banquet managers, dj’s, audio visual companies, suppliers for a perfection execution event.

“Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it they will want to come back and see you do it again and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do.” 
Walt Disney

As industry professionals, it’s also a time of year to keep in mind of the numerous dietary restrictions, allergies & religious.

During this time of year, it’s incredibly  to keep your respective teams informed, updated & so on with great  & quick communication with our respective client both internal & externally.  We pride ourselves being event professionals, maintaining relationships with our respective clients, venues, vendors, preferred suppliers & everything in between.

It’s a time of year, where we must be able to accommodate the last minute requests, obstacles & over-come the challenges that come along with guests at our respective venues.  Plus, I’m a firm believer in foll owing up from start to finish, to achieve our goals of long term relationships with our clients.

Wishing everyone all the best with the current grad season, as I truly feel it’s a season, very similar to spring, summer, fall & winter.  Keep your teams informed, updated, roll with the changes & challenges, with staying professional at all times, in the end, our clients, guests, colleagues, vendors, suppliers will thank us for a good well done.

Written by Christian Kelly


GO JET’S...? Nooooooooooooooooooo


Written by Janet Harder
Director of Event Management for Canad Inns
General Manager of The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre

This was not supposed to happen…I think we are all still in shock for what was a very – anti-climactic end to our playoff hopes and dreams. We love our Winnipeg Jets and support them at all cost, no judgment coming from here – I could not step up and do what they do. Under a significant amount of pressure to produce – in the spotlight. Street Party yes, but just another 15-20 thousand people to watch every move they make, every second they make them. They are amazing and will one day take us to the cup – we all have no doubt and are true believers. This was not our year, that’s all. Stanley Cup 2020.

On the very flip side of this excitement – I am a venue and event manager who resides smack dab in the epicentre of the White Out Street Party events. My front doors were 4 feet from 30 thousand people at its peak in 2018. Considering the logistics to being in the heart of the party – the planning could only happen, 48 – 72 hours in advance and you just never knew if the next White Out Party was or was not going to happen. To find, schedule, order, plan – call on and call of staff, access to work – supplies redirected for street shut downs and all the other mayhem, it was truly awesome! The reason we all do events.

Then Don Cherry came to town, to us and on our rooftop overlooking the crowd. If I would have called Don’s agent (Ron…lol) and asked for this promotional opportunity- there would not have been enough zeros on that check. Nope – Don and Ron graciously, joined us on their own actions, for our community. True class acts, sportsman, funny and dedicated individuals. They came for our Manitoba community. 9 home games later, I am sure we all could not have been happier or prouder to make it as far as we did – it ended with a bang, happy exhaustion, we made it – now need therapy type of success.

Flash forward to 2019 – we are set to go. Completely ready to handle the White Out Street Parties. We got this…we know now how to handle all the last-minute planning and resource fulliments for 15 – 20 thousand people – or not. Home Game 1 – What, the rules change and now you need a ticket? You can’t get to our venue (In the middle of the Street Out Party). We had a very slow night and the night ended on a bit of a down note. Having expressed concern for access issues with the organizing committee – it was immediately rectified to ensure we were not negatively impacted; we are a community of our own during these events. Home Game 2, Ok – new rules, all access issues corrected and guest can come and go to the party as all other ticket holders. Business is good – we are filling up this time and back on track. Busy – long days. The game ends, venue clears – we meet as a team and tell ourselves, it’s on like last year – get ready. Home Game 3 – What – you capped the Street Party with 4 thousand less attendees?  We are very busy but were very ready for more. The great thing is, we still filled up for the game. Game 4 – nope. We are done – 15 seconds between right and wrong. Wah…Wah…Wah…fade to blue…

Hence – the anti-climatic end for all of us. Why did I write about this, because I miss the excitement, the community, the complete exhaustion – the opportunities for showcasing our city, the last minute and complete stress…now I know I was meant for this work, it is inspiring just to ‘make’ it through….and on to the next.

Thank you Winnipeg Jets and all sports fans of Winnipeg.

Hat’s off to all of the surrounding businesses and planners who worked as a community.

GO JET’S GO 2020

Janet & Don Cherry.jpg

February Blog – It is all about the Image!

January started with the tips for planners on NPS and talking to your suppliers for design and layout ideas.  Now, let’s dive into planning a large-scale event and you want the world to know about it? Social media can help. Event planners have the perfect business to promote on visual social media sites. Instagram is filled with spectacular event photography, luxury accounts and let’s not forget; potential customers.

Event planning is visual, so as a planner, whether you’re targeting clients on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another social media site, the key most important thing is visuals.

Clients want to be able to visualize your work, and as an event planner, you’ll be able to use images and video to promote your work to the masses.

Video is driving engagement with websites, events and your brand.  People would rather watch a video than read.  Smartphones and mobile video consumption has everyone watching videos every day.  In fact, I may have lost some of you already with these notes.  But there are other statistics that can also help you make better use of video:

  • Facebook users often (approximately 85% of the time) don’t watch a video with the sound on. Add text to help make your video more engaging.

  • Landing pages that include video often have their conversion rate increased by as much as 80%.

  • Four times the number of customers prefer watching videos over reading about a product.

Incorporating video content into a social media strategy is a must for all event planners. Let your work speak for itself through video, whether it be backstage, behind the scenes content or testimonials from past clients.

The demographic you are trying to reach determines where you promote the video.  Instagram works for an 18-35 year old end user wanting visual with no text.  Facebook can engage many groups depending on the length of the video and if you include titles or key text.  Using Instagram story instead of Facebook works well with a 28-45 year old target.

Every platform is different and that means targeting a different demographic and the needs of the platform’s users.  Tailoring to each takes some time and effort so plan your strategy, select your targets, launch and then track for insights and analytics.  Keep tweaking for the platform and the audience that they serve.

Message from the President...

Happy New Year!!!

On behalf of myself and the Board of Director’s, we would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year and a prosperous 2019!!

Embrace the New Year with not just a new look
but also with a new and positive approach
to make things simple in the year ahead.

Entering 2019 is very exciting on many levels and we look for to networking and seeing all of you at our upcoming events, webinars and networking opportunities.

Our mission for 2019 remains the same – “To promote professionalism and raise awareness on obtaining certification within the event industry; to advocate for the value of events as a profession. “We will achieve our mission by providing leadership training, networking opportunities and supporting our EPM member businesses and supporting local services.

Business to Business networking is always in our master plan. We invite all of you to share your business priorities with us and the members so that we can build networking events that are mutually beneficial and provide solid member value.  We encourage your thoughts and ideas here.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank all of the Board members. Your tireless dedication to EPM while maintaining more than a full time careers is noted and sincerely appreciated each and every time. We could not move forward without all of your dedication to Shirley’s vision and the goals of EPM.

Janet Harder, President

Event Professionals of Manitoba


10 Tips for a Successful Event Planning Portfolio


Event Planning – Across the industry, meeting and event coordinators are some of the hardest working people out there.  They plan, create, communicate and are responsible for bring their client’s vision to life.  Did you learn your job at school or on the job?  Either way, you will either agree with these 10 tips or find one to incorporate into a successful portfolio of your planning business.


  1. Data – Planners now use metrics to know if the decisions made have had an impact.  Customer sentiment changes rapidly.  Net Promoter Scores (NPS) changes when the events’ impact matures.  Timing for surveys after the event is key.  If you don’t measure by survey regularly, you can miss the positive feedback loop after an event.  Don’t blast everyone on your email list.  An email survey, behavioral drip, is sent based on user life cycle or state of their account

  2. Creativity – You have booked an organizer and perhaps a venue.  Now, you should look for inspiration outside of your business.  Challenge your partners/suppliers in audio visual or furniture to dig deep for ideas they have or have seen.

  3. Managing events outside of your comfort zone-your home town or city means you need to have a grasp on traffic, culture, demographics and the nature of the city your event is in.

  4. Memorable event; Yes! Did any attendees share photos of it or use your event hashtag?-maybe not.  Your event design engages the attendee with a pop-up photo booth or the Instagram logo on key venue elements as a call to action.  Look around – what do you think is a great photo Backdrop in the event you are creating?

  5. Make lists and love the lists.  As a planner, you will create and delegate tasks for your team.  Do you all know what the lists mean?  When discussing and assigning tasks, have the team talk about them and list again in a format they can understand.

  6. Site visits.  Do you need to do every one or do you use trusted venues or contacts with information about venues?  Look to and talk with your human connections in planning.  Find a mentor or if you are experienced, serve as a mentor to others.  Connections are everything in planning.

  7. Ask and You Will Receive.  You fulfill so many requests for your clients.  Your partners/vendors need to go the extra mile as well.  For example, if you are planning a tradeshow, have the display rental company do the site visit with you.  They will catch details you might miss.

  8. Learn and keep on learning.  Can you improve the quality of the events you co-ordinate with more education?  Get out of your zone of what you already know and look at the industry with new eyes.

  9. Sustainability and green initiatives – It’s all about these 2 elements these days so promote your event with these two factors in mind.

  10. Heroes save the day – back-up plans and a partner that overlooks the meeting plan you created can turn disasters into victories.  Collaboration and organization tools can both save and develop events for your team.

Five Ways to Add Personal Touches to Your Wedding

Social media feeds are overrun with wedding inspiration and it almost seems as if there is nothing original when it comes to weddings.  Every couple wants to give their guests a unique experience but it can seem like quite a challenge in the beginning. I always tell my clients the strategy to make your wedding stand out is to make it meaningful by considering all your favourite things as a couple in the early stages of planning.


Here are five ways to add personal touches to your wedding day.

  1. Consider working with a friend or family member on a personalized ceremony or share your love story with your officiant. It is a great way to start the wedding in a meaningful way and explain some special touches guests can expect to see throughout the day.

  2. Make a charitable donation in lieu of guest favours.  Many of us have been personally touched by a cause near and dear to our hearts and your dollar goes a lot further to a charity than candy or treats at guest tables.  Explain your donation and meaning behind it on a sign positioned at the receiving table.

  3. Incorporate your favourite foods in your wedding meal and serve them in a special way.   Long gone are the days of formal sit down, rubber chicken dinners and now anything goes when it comes to menu design.  Many of my couples are opting for mingling and lots of opportunity for guests to visit during the evening. If you and your fiancé love Mexican, offer a taco bar or serve up several of your favourite foods on communal platters on each table.  Have your emcee explain the meaning behind the meal or incorporate a description in the menu.

  4. Consider special songs to play.  Music offers a wonderful opportunity to fill your wedding with meaning.  I always tell my couples to take lots of time when considering ceremony songs, grand entrance songs and especially first dance songs. Don’t hesitate to have your emcee give a quick introduction to the song, or include a little note about each song played during the ceremony in the ceremony program.

  5. Weddings often have a huge contingency of out of town guests and quickly turn into wedding weekends with a flurry of dinners and breakfasts which give way to a whole host of opportunities to add meaning.  Pick dinner at your favorite restaurant or provide gift bags to your guests full of things you love as a couple.

By adding personal touches and references to your unique love story, your wedding guests are sure to remember your wedding long after you say ‘I Do!’

This is a guest post by Alli Mae Fresh Events


Message from the President...

Happy Fall EPM members! I hope you had a turkey filled holiday with all of your friends and family and are looking forward to the busy event season coming to all of us! It was a great summer, typical instantaneous fall and now it seems we are going to see snow sooner than later. A staff member said to me; “It’s like we had two July’s and no August”…

Moving into the season I am looking forward to the opportunity to get together with our association members through our Program Committee initiatives with fantastic networking opportunities while having a little fun. Our most recent event held at the Assiniboia Downs hosted by Dale was so much fun and a unique entertainment experience. We felt like VIP’s. In addition the added value to those live events, we also have webinars planned geared towards relevant professional development and event industry information. Easy, sit at your desk, information sharing.

The event planning industry has seen exponential growth in the last 10 years and expecting to grow at a rate of 44% by the year 2020. I look forward to being a part of that success with this group here in Manitoba. Networking and connecting will be the key to sustaining that growth.

There are two ways to look at what we do:

“Plans are nothing. Planning is everything.” – Albert Einstein

“To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

On behalf of myself and the Board, we thank you for your continued support, participation and as always, open to your feedback and suggestion for added value for you, as a member.

Janet Harder, Event Professionals of Manitoba

Innovative Food Experiences to Elevate Your Next Event

Written by Louise Serpa Evanochko – Bel-Ayre Rentals Ltd.      |  |



Food stations are nothing new. But the new trends changing up the scene are elevating guest experiences and creating lasting impressions often without even compromising the budget.

The classic picture of the food station is a chef cranking out omelets or a carving station, the messy chocolate fountain or a flambéed dessert. More recently seen iterations are un-manned stations which gives guests a chance to interact, mingle, and let their inner foodie get creative.  The following are a few trends we’ve been seeing more often:

Donut Wall: Remixed

The dessert crowd pleaser has been around for a few years now. Step it up by adding a mix of plain donuts or mini donut kabobs to be topped with an assortment of fresh fruits, icings, sprinkles, crushed nuts, or even a filler gun.

Hack That Fountain 

Say goodbye to the temperamental chocolate. Commercial quality fountains with multiple heat settings open up a world of possibilities.  Breakfast buffet? Run some syrup through it for a waffle bar. Game night? Setup a wing bar complete with buffalo, BBQ or ranch flowing freely. Taco Tuesday just won’t be the same without a nacho cheese fountain.

You Did WHAT With The Sterno?

Save a few cans from the buffet line and crack them open create an interactive camping cookout. Roast hot dogs or marshmallows to make s’mores (better yet, some marshmallow shots for the bar). Don’t be surprised if your guests break out in a round of Kumbaya.

Be Your Own Barista

Let guests unleash their inner bartender by providing a base drink with a variety of garnishes. Mimosas, Bellini’s (don’t forget the slush machine), mojitos, or Caesar’s are great for swaying from the ‘signature’ drink trend to something more customizable.

Midway Madness

The Ex may have come and gone, but keep the carnival atmosphere alive with a popcorn station complete with freshly popped popcorn and several seasonings. Spin up some cotton candy with personalized flavourings or cool off with some shaved ice.

Thinking outside the box when it comes to your clients food experiences can help elevate the bland buffet or rubber chicken meal to something the guests will be talking about for a while to come.

Reducing Your Event Costs

Written by Robert Manchulenko  Chief Officer of Hospitality & Support Services Niverville Heritage Centre & EPM Treasurer

Besides your venue, décor, flowers, linen and food one of the most important choices is what type of bar service you would like to offer.

Some of the most popular choices for bar offerings will give you the celebration you are looking for without breaking your budget.

The first type and most popular is the “open bar” or “host bar”. Your guests can choose what they would like to drink without worrying about the bill at the end of the night. To keep this under control, consider limiting the types of beverages available to order and you can also place parameters on the service times. Don’t forget that you will be responsible for the bill at the end of the function and your guests will usually consume more.

The second most popular option is the “cash bar”. In this option, the guest is usually not limited as to the options and is responsible to pay for the beverage at the time of order. Most events of this type offer complimentary table wine, or you can offer a signature drink that you will cover.

A third option is to offer a “toonie bar” where the guests are responsible to pay two dollars for each beverage ordered and the difference is paid at the end of the night by the organizer of the event.

Another way of controlling costs would be to offer a combination of a “ticket bar” and a “cash bar”. In this method the organizer pays for a set number of tickets that they can hand out to the guests. Any beverages ordered above this will be paid by the guests. With this method, the tickets are paid in advance and are usually not refunded by the venue if unused.

In Manitoba some venues may also allow the event organizers to apply for a separate liquor licence and can purchase the beverages for service themselves. With this the venue will usually charge an hourly rate for the bartenders and may also charge a “corkage fee” calculated on the number of guests in attendance whether they are drinking or not.

Whatever your choice, also take into thought that beverage service comes with responsibility. All service staff should be trained in responsible alcohol service. (SmartChoicesMB) The law also prohibits overconsumption and monitors this responsibility with unannounced inspections. A designated driver program or arranging a safe ride home for your guests is something you should also think about.

In the end its all about creating an event you can be proud of that will create memories for all that attend. Enjoy!

How we Create Value as Event Planners

Video Review by Megan Steele

As I was perusing the magical world of the Internet the other day, I came across an interesting video about "How to Create Value For your Event Clients." What I specifically found interesting about it was that it was just a simple conversation between two Event Professionals. Now, this video is more targeted towards newer planners, but I think it is a great reminder of where some of our seasoned EPM members may have started.  

The video features Alex Cheung, who actually started the Toronto Special Events Network while he was in school. Alex discusses how he started out, where he is today, and the pathway he carved to get there. The host of this video is Melanie Woodward of Event Planning Blueprint. The video is a little lengthy but is worth the watch. 

My favourite part of the video was the bit about the four pieces of the puzzle which relate to obtaining referrals: Show up on time, Do what you say, Finish what you start, and Say PLEASE & THANK YOU. It sound so incredibly simple, but goes such a long way. As I navigate through my own Event Planning career and grow, I think it's important to talk, learn, and connect. And that's exactly what I feel I get from my membership with EPM and chatting with all of you!