First Live Event
I find it miraculous that today I can run a Facebook ad, connect with someone in Dubai, and work with them online in a meaningful way from across the globe. However as fabulous as technology is, still nothing beats meeting people in person.
Online marketing may have launched my career, but it was good old fashioned, in-person live events that took my career, my finances, and my visibility in the industry to the next level. For my first two years in
business I had success serving clients one-on-one, in small intensives, or online through tele-classes and digital downloads. And then in 2009 I hosted my first live event, and from there everything changed.
There’s a power to getting up on stage that automatically designates you as an expert—but that’s not all that makes hosting an event so special. Connecting with a live, sold out room where everyone shares a common purpose is an experience that few others can compare to. And the most beautiful part is how the event becomes a true experience of transformation for the community it creates.
Over 500 women have now successfully graduated from the Divine Living Academy (with another 281 currently enrolled), and have found it so transformational largely thanks to the impact of live events. Now running passion-based businesses, making money, and fully going after their dreams, what our darling alumni still rave about most is the community—and the glamorous global events that brought them all together from around the world!
The first event I ever hosted taught me A LOT. I had booked a 350 person ballroom at the Luxe Hotel in Bel Air and two weeks before, only 5 people had registered!!! I was devastated. After one of the most anxious sleepless nights in my career, I chose not to give up on the dream—but to course correct. I changed the price of the ticket and reached out to other community leaders, and fast forward two weeks—we had 354 people in a SOLD OUT ballroom!
It was a miraculous turn of events. I only had about 3000 people on my list at this point, and I was able to sell over 6-figures from the stage that day. It opened me up to my next level and proved to me once again the power of never giving up on your dreams.
Now after seven years of hosting even bigger and better global luxury events, I’m honored to share what I’ve learned with you here. Enjoy all my best advice on how to elevate your business by hosting an on-brand, effective and luxurious live event, plus as a few tips on logistics from our Director of Events, Courtney.
1 Timing is Everything
You probably wouldn’t leave your wedding to plan until the last minute, so why do so with your event? This is not winging a tele-class, you can’t just pull an all-nighter and whip it together. There are hard costs involved and a lot of real life logistics that need to fall into place. I say give yourself a minimum of six months when setting a date—3 to plan, 3 to advertise.
2 Dream with Intention
Before you start to dream up the destination and content for your event, set the intention for what your participants will receive and what you will gain. What do you want the audience to walk away with? How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to learn? Let yourself be guided toward developing a vision. And because you matter too, be crystal clear on what your intention is for yourself, whether it’s about building brand buzz, the chance to work with a certain type of client, and financially what amount of money you’ll make. As you select the location and venue, think about how it resonates with your brand and the message you want to communicate.
3 Get Financially Fit
Make sure the cost of your venue, your ticket price, the amount of people you plan to draw, plus the packages you’ll offer from the stage, work together to turn a profit. If you’re like me, you may intend on selling the tickets to pay the costs, and then selling from the stage, and of course the hotel doesn’t understand that. So ensure you either have an ample credit card line or a stockpile of cash set aside—hidden costs and fees always come up (seriously—I’ve had to pay for hidden electricity and unknown union fees).
4 Stage it for Success
Lighting, music, and staging are all important—however you do not have to spend a TON of money on them. Again to bring up the wedding analogy, flowers are typically an expensive part and who really ever remembers them? So yes—your decor should be on brand, but the most important thing is to have a high-vibe location, and a proper AV plan. You want music cued up to lift the energy during the gaps, so be sure to consider this with your AV team ahead of time.
5 Bring on the Stylist
You don’t want to be rustling through your closet the night before the event trying on every possible outfit none of which seems quite right. Even if you don’t normally work with a stylist, this is one of those times where it can make a big difference. The extra support in selecting the right outfit that will look good on stage and on camera allows you to take it off your mind, feeling more confident and relaxed.
6 Call in the A-Team
In planning my first event I made the mistake of totally underestimating how much help you need to handle everything that’s going on that day. You cannot do this alone, and should one hundred percent fly in your virtual assistant or hire one (or five) to be on the ground for the event. Going a step further I recommend hiring a proper event planner to negotiate your hotel contract, be there day of to manage logistics, and bring on additional staff or coordinate volunteers. Make sure you’ll have people to welcome and register guests and be available to help in case of emergencies, like when someone gets stung by a bee (true story), has an allergy, or tripped and fell and needs to go to the hospital (also a true story). The team should be able to answer all the questions from which way the restrooms are to where participants can get lunch.
7 Always Over-Communicate
Don’t leave your audience in the dark. Make sure you have all of your pre-event materials lined up. Craft a series of e-mails reminding the audience of the event date, letting them know what to bring and what to expect, and providing out-of-towners with a lay of the land.
8 Raise Your Vibration
If you’re going to show up as your best self and give your people a high-level experience, then prioritize feeling rested and taken care of. I make sure everything is done and in place two days before—all the content is ready, the communications are lined up, everyone is in place, and my wardrobe is steamed and ready in my suite. The day before the event my out-of-office reply is up, and I’m at the spa having a massage, journaling, and meditating—not running around like a crazy person stuffing envelopes and assembling name badges.
9 Less is More
As you design and plan, remember that your audience needs time to relax, get to know each other, and enjoy whatever glorious city you’re in. People will be attending your event not only to be with you, but to get out of their Lu Lu Lemons, put on stilettos, and be around other people who share their interests and passions. My events typically go from 9 or 10am until 6pm, with a 90 minute lunch break and 30 minute breaks in-between segments. Don’t overwhelm people with too much information—focus on inspiring and motivating them to create long-term results.
10 Prioritize Your Purpose
When I’m hosting a multi-day event, I make sure I stay super well rested. Events are fun, but what really lights me up is the meaning and purpose behind the work. So my priority is always delivering my best, and staying present, focused and prepared. Our typical schedule is to wrap at 6pm, be at dinner with the team by 6:30, and in bed by 9. For back-to-back events, I might even skip the team dinner and opt for room service and a massage if I need to store energy.
11 Fresh Feedback
Don’t forget the post-event follow up! Have communications set up to thank your attendees and encourage them to post on social media, and also be sure to send out a quick survey allowing them to rate the experience and submit feedback. You’ll be glad to know what worked and didn’t work when you’re planning for the next one.
LIVING’S DIRECTOR OF EVENTS,
Choosing a Location:
“The location is key! Firstly, it needs to resonate to your brand. It’s also best to choose a city that is easy to fly in and out of so attendees do not have to take 2-3 different flights to get there. Start by looking at where the majority of your list is located—East Coast, West Coast, Europe—so you can determine which destinations will be best for your people.”
“When setting your budget, beware of hidden costs in your venue contracts! Know that your sleeping rooms will include an occupancy tax and a sales tax. Your food and beverage will include a service charge and sales tax and your meeting space will also include sales tax. These service charges and taxes can equal up to 35% or more, so plan ahead.”
Liability & Rooms:
“For sleeping rooms and food and beverage contracts, keep your liability to a minimum. It is always best to ask for additional sleeping rooms or additional food and beverage later, versus having to pay for them if they are not needed. A good rule of thumb is take your expected attendance, divide by half, and that is how many sleeping rooms you will need each night of your event.”