Meet the Member

Marty Harris, President, SEP Communications

Number of Years with your current company: 3

What does your company do? Printing and Promotional items… Ink on Anything!

What makes your company stand out from your competition? 95% of what we offer is produced is done in house!

First Paying Job: Newspaper delivery (had a family route for 25 years that started with my oldest brother and all 9 kids worked it at some point over the years)

First Break into your business: 1985

Best Book You Have Read: The Invention of Wings

Best Advice you have ever received: The CEO of any company has to be the #1 sales person. 

College/Education: BS in Marketing

Favorite Sports Team(s):  St Louis Cardinals

What is one of your favorite quotes? If only Closed minds came with closed mouths.

Why did you join FFEA / What is the best benefit of being an FFEA Member? Meeting great entrepreneurs and organizations who care about bringing culture and entertainment to Florida. 

What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to someone in the event industry? Give Back!

Speaker Feature

Video Marketing For the Masses
Cassie Roberts


  The mere thought of a need to create a “video campaign” scares even the savviest of marketers. “Someone spare me if I had to be featured in a video!” or “I have no idea how to film videos nice enough for marketing campaigns!” they think. According to Vidyard, “The play button is the most compelling call to action on the web.” The video marketing pioneer just may be right—even I myself am more likely to click and watch a video than just read a bunch of text. Also, wouldn’t YOU want someone to hang out on your website for the duration of a full one- to two-minute video? 55% of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on your website. Think about what you can show someone in a video in two minutes versus what they could read in 15 seconds. The difference is staggering.

     Creating videos to promote your brand doesn’t have to be scary! 2015 has been said to be the “year of video marketing”, so you are right on trend if you start planning now. Think about all of your marketing goals for this year. Where can you incorporate video marketing? Planning is the first step to success. If you don’t actively plan to include videos when appropriate, it will always be a “tomorrow” project.. Incorporate video marketing in to your strategies you already have in place. Use a calendar, and set goal dates for your videos to launch.

     Also, make sure to incorporate videos in to your social media plan. Have you noticed lately on Facebook, how videos automatically play when you scroll by on the newsfeed? Make sure your first few seconds are super compelling since your customers are somewhat forced to watch that part as they are browsing. If the first few seconds of your video are interesting enough, people will stop scrolling long enough to watch the rest.

     Once you have posted videos to your social media, make sure to go back and post them on your website too. Your website is where you earn revenue—so make sure to place videos near buying opportunities. If you sell tickets to an event on your website, make sure someone can watch a video about that event, that’s really close in proximity to the buy button. If you are trying to get facility rentals, place videos of your facilities near the rental form. If you’re selling a destination, place videos near the bed and breakfast links or attraction tickets buttons. People who watch a video on your website are up to 12 times more likely to make a purchase or complete another call to action, such as signing up for your email list, so make it easy for your customers to make the transition from videos to dollars in your pocket!

     Finally, don’t get stuck on the length of your videos. If you end up with promo spots that only last 15-30 seconds, it’s totally fine! Remember, people have a really short attention span on the web, and if your videos are long, you may not actually get viewers to watch to the end. Think about Vine—an entire social media network (with 40 million users) comprised of videos that last a maximum of six seconds. 1.5 billion of these six-second videos are watched daily as of this January.

A video marketer doesn’t have to be a professional videographer. We all are almost always carrying a video camera—our smart phones! Think about small ways you can start incorporating video marketing in to your strategy, and watch your plans lead to “ACTION!”

Be sure to check out Cassie Robert's speaker session, "Online Resources to Improve Your Marketing & Your Life", at the 2015 FFEA Convention and Tradeshow, August 5-7th.

Exhbitor Feature
Production Power & Air


Production Power & Air was established with the mission of offering only the best in temporary power and climate control services in the industry. They quickly became the leader in the special event industry and the company followed by many others trying to match their excellence and service for temporary power and climate control solutions.

They are committed to offering 100% customer service, quality, and competitive pricing for all your temporary power and climate control rental needs. The inventory at Production Power & Air is meticulously maintained both aesthetically and mechanically with regularly scheduled maintenance from their trained and certified staff of technicians.

When you choose this company for your event, you have chosen a reliable partner to handle all your power and climate control requirements. They understand that in the festival and event business, failure is not an option and there are no second chances or tomorrow. They consistently work on prestigious and complex events such as Ultra Music Festival (one of the largest EDM music festivals in the world) and the SOBE Wine and Food Festival (one of the largest high end, multi-faceted wine, food and entertainment festivals in Miami) to name a few.

Visit Production Power & Air at Booth #418 at the FFEA Convention and Tradeshow on August 5-7th.

Performance Staging


Performance Staging is celebrating their 30th Year in business as one of the leading staging companies in building events. They offer a diverse inventory of staging, seating, bleachers, platforms, ADA ramps, crowd control as well as mobile stages, pool covers, and more available throughout Florida from our warehouse in Lakeland. The 30 years of experience found in the dedicated staff, and a helpful attitude will meet your needs whether we’re your vendor or not.

Some of the events they are currently working with include : Disney Star Wars Star Tours and Frozen long-term stages, multiple events at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, Fantasy of Flight, and Miami’s Sun Life Stadium. Spring Weekend in Panama City Beach, Florida. Independence Music Festival in Orlando, Florida. 

Be sure to visit Performance Staging at Booth #311 at the FFEA Convention and Tradshow, August 5-7th.


Speaker Feature

Making Planning Pain Free and Productive
Hardy Smith


Planning is a critical component to building event and organizational success.  Yet despite knowing the benefits of good planning, many association and nonprofit leaders avoid essential planning exercises.  They do so mainly because previous planning activity has either proven to be a negative experience or has produced plans that aren’t used – or both.

At FFEA’s Annual Conference Hardy Smith will show event organizers how to develop a planning process that is both pain free and productive. These specific takeaways will be shared:

  • How to avoid planning process mistakes.
  • How to create participation engagement from your planning team.
  • How to develop a successful and stress free planning activity.
  • How produce an implementable plan.

About Hardy Smith:

Hardy Smith is a consultant and speaker who maximizes performance of nonprofits, associations and their essential leadership teams.

Whether guiding a strategic planning process or facilitating a critical thinking session, Hardy has a recognized ability for helping develop organizational focus.

As an authority on performance issues confronting nonprofits and associations, his insights for improving organizational performance have been featured in leading publications—such as BoardSource, GuideStar, Nonprofit Business Advisor, Nonprofit World, and FSAE Source Magazine.

Hardy’s results-oriented approach is based on a career of more than 30 years in the high performance world of NASCAR racing.  That experience included strategic planning for development and growth of some of the country’s largest sports and entertainment facilities and spectator events. 

He is a member of National Speakers Association, Association of Fundraising Professionals, BoardSource, FSAE, and ASAE.

Learn more about Hardy by visiting his website:

Follow Hardy on Twitter: @hardysmith1

Speaker Feature

The New truth about Sponsorships & Sponsorship Programs

John Owens


There was a time when the word sponsor and philanthropic giving were almost synonymous.  You ran an event and went out prior asking local businesses to give some money to help you run your event.  The only expectations were how much can we get (from the event side) to getting some free tickets,  a sign or two and some recognition in any of the pre event advertising for the event.

Although the times have changed dramatically over the past twenty years the approach and implementation of Partnerships (Sponsorships) for events is having a difficult time making that transition from asking for donations to actually targeting, selling and following up with businesses. Today’s business partnership environment is expecting a return on that investment made in your event.

The first thing to remember is:

There is NO MAGIC answer as to how to get a Partner (Sponsor).  I think the best way to approach that subject starts with defining your event.  The better you define your event and know the demographics, you will discover that information now dictates which businesses are a great fit for your event.

The Second thing to remember is:

The Sponsor IS your Partner and thus dictates the relationship building that has to happen for the building of a successful outcome for all involved parties.  It has to be a WIN – WIN – WIN scenario.  Your guests (event attendees), Your Partners (Sponsors) and Your Event all have to take away sense of satisfaction with the overall experience. This process of Building and maintaining this relationship is a full time engagement.

The Third thing to remember is:

First and lasting impressions should be our goal with our Partners.  They HAVE to be our number one priority as we over deliver what they expect.  There are many ways to achieve this which are simple yet take some time, energy and planning, yet are relationship building skills that will pay off for years.

The Fourth thing to remember is:

Never undervalue your event, festival or Fair.  One of the biggest mistakes being made today is pricing your sponsorships (Partnerships) too low. If you believe your event is too small, too young (first or second year) or whatever other negative you put on your mind to not chase good solid Partners then you have to believe that by defining your event you may find that although your event does not have a huge attendance it does attract a particular demographic that certain businesses are also trying to reach.  I have never been one to blame a bad economy, competing events or anything else except maybe weather for having a bad event with a lack of turn out and Sponsors.  It all has to do with the right mindset and overall concern for your potential and current Partners.
The Fifth Thing to remember is:

There are many ways to develop Partnerships (Sponsorships) that get you much more money than you would ever think would come to your event.  Follow up, Coop, Grants, foundations, etc. It takes work and a commitment to your event and your partners to grow an event to a size far above your current expectations.  “What your mind believes is what comes to you”

We will be showing you how easily you can be a Partnership (Sponsorship) superstar at the Florida Festivals and Events Convention August 5-7.  We hope to see you there.  Together we can unmask some of the secrets of a successful Sponsorship Program.

Secrets to a Successful Sponsorship Program, John Owens, General Manager of the Volusia County Fair& Expo Center

Exhibitor Feature




Saffire started building websites in 1998 and partnered with their first event in 2010Saffire is an online marketing & ticketing company for events, venues & destinations

Saffire is not your normal “web guy down the street.”  They're all about education and fun, providing webinars, convention sessions, their famous “Wheel o’ Crap,” Saffire tattoos and Saffire Queso, all while setting the industry standard for award-winning websites you can manage yourself.

The events that Saffire has worked with include Florida State Fair, South Florida Fair, My River District and almost 200 other Events, Venues and Destinations across the country.

Make sure to stop by Booth #20 and visit Saffire at the 2015 FFEA Convention & Tradeshow



Speaker Feature

Reaching New Audiences Through Partnerships
Kimberlee Riley

The number of partnerships continues to rise as organizations try to maintain a competitive advantage.  Partnerships allow organizations to share resources and leverage strengths to achieve greater results.  Successful partnerships allow organizations to reach new markets, provide innovative products or programs, and serve more customers. 

The potential for greater return through partnership does not come without effort or risk.  Partnerships can fail due to insufficient leadership, inadequate communication, inability to overcome differences, and a lack of shared vision.  To reduce the risk of failure an organization needs to understand what drives them to partner and how to select their partner and establish the rules of engagement.

Once a partner is selected the partnership begins.  Henry Ford said, “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”   Partnerships are formed among organizations but success happens because of the individuals involved.  Business partnerships are in several ways similar to personal relationships.  They require trust and depend upon mutual respect and accountability.  Not only success but longevity is the result of collaboration toward a shared vision and ongoing assessments. 

If you are at the beginning phase and considering who to partner with there are several characteristics to consider.  You may look for an organization who is serving a similar customer or a customer base which is different from your own.  Additionally, you want to look for an organization that provides a complimentary but distinct product or service than what you provide.  Once you think you have a potential partner you will want to do your research and understand their organizational values and culture to ensure that they mirror your own.   

If you are further along in the partnership life cycle but not yet achieving the success you envisioned communication and evaluation strategies can get you back on track toward reaching your goals.  Resources and staff skills can be adjusted from a business development to a relationship management focus to match the needs of a maturing partnership.

Regardless of where you are with partnering, join me to explore the benefits of partnership for your organization.  Bring your initial thoughts on potential partners or your challenges with current partners and we will review the partnership paradigm, the degrees of a partnership, characteristics of a good partner, how to assess a partnership and more.

Exhibitor Feature
AAA Flag & Banner


AAA Flag & Banner has been printing floor graphics, car wraps, tradeshow displays, building banners, window displays, billboards, and pop up displays for 43 years. They provide nationwide installation of directional signage, pennant, hanging and display hardware. In addition, AAA Flag & Banner designs, prints and installs stadium graphics, wall covering, fabric backdrops and pole banners.

AAA Flag & Banner are a G7 certified printer  and they have 3M warranty on their material. AAA Flag and Banner is full service company,  they work with you from inception to completion of a project/event including assisting you with design, production, installation and  permits if needed. They love working on a challenge, making it a success story and providing clients with the results they are looking for.

An Exciting and Memorable Event that AAA Flag & Banner worked on this year was The Miami Beach Centennial. They kicked off the Centennial Celebration with a light pole banner campaign of over 150 banners that they printed and then strategically installed across the City of Miami Beach.  AAA Flag and Banner  then worked in conjunction with ACT Production on the Miami Beach Centennial Celebration , March 22-26, 2015.  AAA FLAG and Banner printed signage and décor for the 100 hour celebration that included : mesh tower and stage wraps,  blade flags, step and repeat backdrops, decals for trailers, menu boards, happy birthday panels for suites, tent gables, tennis net panels, A frames for the event, identification and directional signage for the various events, banners for the truss, and  the Hard Rock VIP tent area was customized with printed signage as well as a 6 x 20 mesh banners to decorate the fence line. AAA Flag and Banner not only printed all the items,  They installed them during the entire 100 hour celebration. AAA Flag and Banner had a crew on site that was in continual motion changing out signs and décor as needed. It was a memorable and amazing event  for the City of Miami Beach, its residents and visitors.

You can see AAA Flag and Banner during the FFEA Convention & Tradeshow at booth #54

Speaker Feature

Developing An Emergency Preparedness Plan for Your Outdoor Event
Victor Benavides


     Since joining the Department of Homeland Security’s Commercial Facilities Sector- Specific Agency (CF-SSA) in July 2011, Victor Benavides has had the opportunity to travel across the country and speak to owners and operators in the Outdoor Events industry regarding safety, security and emergency preparedness topics. Large outdoor public gatherings encompass many disparate events and activities. The Outdoor Events Subsector almost without exception conforms to the mass gathering, open access, high media exposure, soft target model that is vulnerable to natural or manmade disasters.  They include, but are not limited to, parades, fairs, festivals, rallies, flea markets, demonstrations, concerts, and celebrations. Unlike limited-duration events at fixed facilities, large outdoor public gatherings neither require nor rely on a permanent allocation of dedicated safety and security resources. Rather, they usually rely on local law enforcement to provide a safe and secure environment during an event. Furthermore, these events normally do not take place in a confined location. Thus, almost all aspects of security must be uniquely planned and formulated for each individual gathering.

     Events such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, Hurricanes Katrina 2005 and Sandy in 2012, and the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 illustrate evolving threats and hazards that could impact outdoor events. We must constantly learn from them and adapt. The terrorist threat is increasingly decentralized and may be harder to detect. Cyber threats are growing and pose an ever-greater concern to our critical infrastructure systems as they become increasingly interdependent. The dynamic evolution of UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) or drones is a current hot topic raising many concerns about safety, security, and privacy while respecting the rights of others who support the potential commercial uses of the technology. Natural hazards are becoming more costly to address, with increasingly variable consequences due in part to drivers such as climate change and interdependent and aging infrastructure. The challenge is a daunting one for all in the Outdoor Events industry, however, the collaboration between local organizers, owners and operators, municipalities, state entities and the Federal government is powerful in supporting the safety, security and resilience efforts in an all-hazards environment.

Please join Victor Benavides during his session, “Developing An Emergency Preparedness Plan for Your Outdoor Event” at the FFEA Convention & Tradeshow, August 5-7th at the Hyatt Grand Cypress Orlando, FL. During the session you will learn how DHS components and Commercial Facilities Sector partners collaborate to develop, evaluate, validate, or modify sector- specific risk assessment tools; including facilitating information sharing and building partnerships; and identifying and promoting effective sector-specific protection practices and methodologies.  

The Department of Homeland Security offers free comprehensive tools and resources to owners and operators in the Outdoor Events industry to assist with developing emergency preparedness plans and procedures. In today’s threat environment, both natural and man made disasters require all organizations, large and small, to have an emergency preparedness plan that provides for the safety and security of their patrons, employees, vendors and neighbors. Exercising your emergency preparedness plan is critical to ensure that when a disaster strikes, that not only the first responder team, but all of an organization’s staff knows what to do to mitigate the results of a disaster. Let the Department of Homeland Security assist you. Be sure to stop by my session and pick up available training materials.

Lightning Wireless Solutions


Lightning Wireless Solutions has been a provider of Motorola Two-Way Radio for all types of events nationwide for Since 1959. Lightning Wireless Solutions strives to offer the newest equipment, competitive rates, and superior customer service. Whether you need two radios or two-thousand radios, they are prepared to meet your communication needs fast and efficiently. When it comes to Tow-Way Radio Communications with LWS it’s all about You!

Lightning Wireless Solutions goes far beyond just communications to help you cover all your special event needs. They have spent hundreds of hours on events like yours, customizing and tweaking every aspect to fit your budget and specifications. LWS clients see a savings by packaging all of their special event needs into one provider. They service events throughout Florida, and nationwide. Lightning Wireless Solutions is dedicated to service through excellence. They will constantly strive to implement our three key values Pride, Integrity, and Punctuality.

Lightning Wireless Solutions currently works with:

  • Naples Art Museum Festival
  • ArtFest Fort Myers
  • Coconut Grove Art Festival
  • Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival
  • Collier County Fair
  • Sarasota County Fair
  • Sarasota Chalk Festival
  • BBQ Bands and Brew
  • Edison Festival of Lights
  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure
  • American Cancer Society- Relay for Life
  • Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair

You can see Lightning Wireless Solutions during the FFEA Convention & Tradeshow at booth #15


Speaker Feature

Anatomy of a Successful Sponsorship Sales Team
Tom Crichton

Critical to any sponsorship sales plan and strategy is your sales and sponsorship activation team. The team should consist of the four roles defined below, each requiring team members who have certain attributes, experience and work-habit characteristics.

Prospecting Team Members (The Sponsor Hunters): These individuals are tasked with researching new sponsors and maintaining your existing database.  This involves updating the contact information of your prospects as needed, and documenting new leads appropriately.  This is an entry-level position and can easily be handled by a hard working intern or committee member seeking to advance in your organization.
To be successful in their role, The Sponsor Hunters should possess the following attributes:

·       Willingness to conduct entry level research and documentation
·       Ability to focus on simple tasks for periods of time
·       Creative thinking when prospecting new sponsors that strategically align with your organization
·       Organizational skills when saving critical information and noting follow-up calls and emails
·       Willingness to try new roles within the sales process including selling and activating

Selling Team Members (The Sponsor Schmoozers): Team members that are focused on selling are required to contact sponsorship prospects and leads to present your company’s offerings. Your sales team members must be willing to work hard and maintain a “get it done” attitude. 
It’s imperative for these team members to not be afraid to contact prospective clients and communicate the values of your sponsorship.  They should also be prepared for some prospective sponsors to decline your opportunities and have the ability to move forward if a sale falls through.
These individuals must possess strong and effective communication skills, including listening to the needs of sponsors.  Schmoozers should work with prospective sponsors to determine the company’s goals for aligning with your event and the best way to achieve them through partnership.  Creativity is key when defining the most effective involvement opportunities rather than simply pushing predetermined packages on companies.
Schmoozers should consult with your activation team to ensure they aren’t promising items to sponsors that cannot be implemented at your event. 

Contracting Team Members (Legal Beagles): Team members tasked with contracting sponsorships are required to finalize all deal points that were agreed upon during the sales and negotiation period. These individuals should have:

·       Knowledge or experience with drafting and finalizing business agreements
·       Strong organizational skills
·       Effective communication skills when communicating any nuances from the signed agreements to your activation team
·       Legal experience (beneficial but not required)

Activating Team Members (Task Masters): It is these team members’ job to ensure that both parties (event and sponsor) deliver all deal points agreed upon in the final sponsorship contract.  It is important for your activation team to understand the importance of their role, and that a significant amount of time, resources, and revenue hinge on their ability to implement what’s been sold.
Task Masters should be detail oriented, as it is their responsibility to ensure that all sponsorship items are activated in a timely and accurate fashion.  Effectively delivering the sponsorship elements and assets that were sold can be the difference between an easy, positive sponsorship renewal for the following year, and a breach of agreement conflict.
Task Masters are the point of contact for your sponsors, who often require assistance with tedious and time-consuming tasks.  Your team maintaining a positive and “can-do” attitude and energy will help sponsors deliver their required items, keep their morale high at your events, and hopefully want to continue the partnership in the future.

Who are your Sponsor Hunters and Schmoozers? Can you find a Legal Beagle and Task Master

By identifying and designating qualified individuals to fill the above roles for your sponsorship team, you prevent team members from overlapping their efforts, streamline the sales and management process, and set your event up for a successful sponsorship program.


Exhibitor Feature
Twilight Features – Outdoor Cinema

Twilight Features - Outdoor Cinema are a full-service Audio / Visual production company founded in 2005 that specializes in presenting high quality video on colossal inflatable screens up to 3+ Stories Tall!

They are the first professional outdoor cinema company in Florida and have produced over 1500 events since 2005! They are also the first company to feature portable EMAX 3D cinema in the Southeast US, capable of screening 3D video to large audiences. In 2014, Twilight Innovations, a division of Twilight Features, merged with EPIC Outdoor Cinema. EPIC Outdoor Cinema manufactures high quality SILENT inflatable screens and complete movie systems.

They currently produce indoor and outdoor cinema series for over 30 municipalities across Florida, from South Miami to Orlando as well as many other festivals .

You can see Twilight Features - Outdoor Cinema during the FFEA Convention & Tradeshow at booth #3.


4 Tips for Engaging with Bloggers When Promoting Your Event
Jenni Izzo, Senior Account Supervisor at Linda Costa Communications Group

Technorati’s latest Digital Influence Report showed that “consumers are turning to blogs when looking to make a purchase.” In fact, 31 percent of consumers say the personal blogs they read influence their purchasing decisions – ranking higher than social media outlets. In the blog world, influenced purchases are typically electronics, personal care and clothing – but this statistic also applies to event attendance and ticket sales. For many blog readers, reading a positive review of an event is like hearing it first-hand from a trusted friend. Here are four tips to keep in mind when engaging with bloggers to drive event awareness and attendance.

 1.      Think local. When deciding what bloggers to engage, consider location first. To drive event and festival attendance, you’ll need to think locally. You can use the same geographic parameters as you would with traditional media. Blogs, by nature, often have national readership – so look for bloggers who have a local focus. Some of my favorites include Central Florida Top 5 (Orlando) and My Other City By the Bay (Tampa).

 2.      Research. There are more than 152 million blogs on the Internet. That’s a lot of options! One of the most important steps for meaningful blogger engagement is to identify those who fit your event and brand. If you’re hosting a family festival, focus on family and parenting bloggers. If it’s a fitness-based event, you’ll want to target health bloggers. However, be aware that there’s a lot of cross-over, and the best way to gauge whether a blogger would be interested is to …

 3.      Read multiple posts. Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a blog by its header. Read the “About Me” page, as well as the most recent posts. Is there anything that resonates with your event or festival? Look for comments about planning a summer trip, being excited for the fall, looking for something new to do. Would your event fit in amid the current topics?

 4.      Clearly define the offer and expectations. Once you’ve selected the blogger(s) you’d like to work with, clearly define what you’re offering and what you expect in return. Is there an exclusive preview the blogger can attend? If you’re providing complimentary tickets, state how many. If your end goal is a great post about their experience, provide a clear timeline. For example, if the goal is to drive ticket sales, you’ll want to be sure the post happens in the proper timeframe.

Working with bloggers can be an excellent way to increase event awareness and help generate buzz for ticket sales and attendance. When handled correctly, blogger engagement can be the first step in developing a strong relationship with a valuable brand advocate and influencer.

Jenni Izzo is a Senior Account Supervisor at Linda Costa Communications Group, a PR agency based in Central Florida with a national presence. Her specialty is connecting influential bloggers with organizations and brands nationwide.

Reducing Food Waste at Events
Meegan Jones, Author, Sustainable Event Management


Food waste is the unfortunate by-product of many events. It occurs through the mishandling of food, through over-supply and under-eating.

Food waste at events is waste of resources, of time and effort, and of course, of money. It costs to buy the ingredients, pay the staff and then to dispose of the waste. Food into landfill is a major cause of landfill methane emissions, a global greenhouse gas emissions contributor. Food waste at events also contributes to startling global food waste statistics, estimated at 1/3 of all food produced being lost or wasted.[i]

Here’s a quick checklist from book Sustainable Event Management: A Practical Guide (, of actions you can take to avoid or reduce food waste at your event:

Food service:

  • Serve less food. At conferences do people really want to be stuffed full?!
  • Avoid over-catering. Accurately estimate the volume of food required considering the number of attendees, the event type and timing of activities or breaks.
  • Accurately brief caterers & food stalls. Communicate honestly the likely event attendance to caterers and food vendors.
  • Don’t overbook. Ensure you don’t book too many food stallholders considering the likely event attendance.
  • Attendee appetite. Understand if attendees may bring their own food and adjust communications and logistics accordingly. Ensure an even spread of types of food options that are likely to appeal to your attendees, so that no individual food stallholders are less attended that others, leading to food waste.
  • Pricing. Ensure pricing of food does not lead to lower sales volumes than anticipated.
  • Communicate. Inform attendees what food will be available and at what price. Ask for dietary requirements in advance to reduce wastage and satisfy attendees.
  • Food Salvage Planning. Have a food salvage/re-distribution program in place. Request caterers do not uncover/open/serve all food at once, so that if over supply has occurred, the perishable food has been handled correctly for donation to food salvage programmes.

Food Serviceware:

  • Reusable. Use washable & reusable crockery and cutlery rather than single-use disposables.
  • Reduce packaging. If it must be served in disposables, go for less-waste options such as a serviette rather than paper plate for ‘finger foods’. Serve pizzas on trays not in pizza boxes, don’t put lids on cups and take-outs if they will be consumed immediately.
  • Avoid landfilling of disposable serviceware. Use disposables that can be recycled or composted.
  • Bulk it up. Use bulk dispensing for condiments, rather than single serve sachets or sauces poured into little containers. Encourage caterers and food vendors to purchase their ingredients in bulk. Using large 2 litre cans rather than lots of small cans for example.
  • Take back the tap. Provide tap water not bottled water.
  • Reduce boxes. Encourage caterers and food vendors to receive their fresh produce in re-usable boxes, rather than single use disposables such as foam boxes. There are many services available that have take-back/exchange for delivery boxes
  • Cleaning. Use washable cleaning cloths rather than paper towel disposables

[i] Global Food Losses and Food Waste:


Meegan Jones is an event professional, trainer, consultant and writer focusing her work developing sustainable management solutions for live events. She is the author of "Sustainable Event Management" - the indispensable one-stop guide for event professionals and event management students who want to adjust their thinking and planning decisions towards sustainability, and who need a powerful, easy to use collection of tools to deliver events sustainably.


Event Direct Spending & Economic Impact: Going Beyond the BIG Number
Jarrett Bachman, Ph.D., Director of Research and Collin O'Berry, Director of Operations, Looking Glass Strategic Consultants

The economic impact that festival and event productions have upon local communities can be profound. In the industry, the focus is often on ‘Direct Economic Spending’ or ‘Economic Impact Assessment’ in reference to the figure that represents the amount of money produced by a festival or event. In this article, we will explore attendee spending and economic impact assessments to highlight the processes and benefits of conducting this type of research.

Oftentimes, the terms ‘Direct Economic Spending’ and ‘Economic Impact Assessment’ are used improperly. The difference between these two measurements is subtle in text but monumental in meaning. Direct Economic Spending refers to the total amount of money spent in a city or county as a result of a festival or event. The total amount spent per person for different types of attendees (most often residents and non-residents) is calculated and extrapolated for the total attendance. An Economic Impact Assessment is far more detailed. Essentially, it starts with Direct Economic Spending numbers and traces how money flows through and impacts the community as it is spent and re-spent.

Conducting a Direct Economic Spending assessment provides information about spending across a variety of segments. Spending in categories such as retail, food and beverage, lodging, transportation, and entertainment is collected. Questions related to the spending inside the festival grounds versus the community-at-large can also be part of the analysis. The end result is determining how much the average person spends across various segments within the festival and community. Additionally, information collected concerning length of attendee stay and number of days attending the event is beneficial for multi-day productions. Further analysis can be performed based upon geographic distribution of attendees and other relevant attendee demographics.

Going a few steps further, the calculation of an Economic Impact Assessment involves the summation of the Direct Economic Spending as well as the Indirect and Induced effects. Indirect effects examine the effects of the re-spending of the direct spending within a community. Induced effects are the changes in economic activity from household spending of residents in the local area. The use of a multiplier to assess the magnitude of the secondary economic effects (Indirect and Induced effects) is often a source of much controversy and often of misuse. This type of analysis is complicated and is often completed by skilled practitioners using Regional Economic Models such as IMPLAN.

While obtaining the total direct spending at your festival and event is a vital number for the community, it has other useful applications. Which areas are bringing attendees that are staying in hotels or are spending the most money in your community? In what area(s) of the production is the most money being spent and by whom? Is there a difference in spending between returning patrons and first-time attendees? What are the spending breakdowns within the festival grounds and/or throughout the community? Obtaining these figures can prove beneficial to organizers in a variety of ways.

So which approach is best for your festival or event? For the vast majority of productions, Direct Economic Spending is the best option. Determining Direct Economic Spending is a cost-effective way for budget-minded festivals and events to get an indication of how much money is being spent in a variety of categories as a result of their productions. Economic Impact Assessments are typically best suited for larger productions with larger budgets that have the need for far more detailed information. In either case, when determining the impact of your production upon the community, utilizing the services of a reputable, third-party research firm provides actionable data that can be valued for both the production and the community at large. When understood and properly employed, reliable information provides tremendous event production, tourism, and economic development potential.

Looking Glass Strategic Research provides objective market research and economic impact studies for the Festival, Event, and Tourism Industries. Studies are conducted solely based on academically-accepted social science research methodologies, allowing for unmatched data accuracy and reliability. Delivering far more than a simple report, their team analyzes data from many geographic, economic, demographic, and qualitative characteristics to maximize client return on investment. Connect with the Looking Glass team today for more information about their innovate approaches to festival and event research.   

Jarrett Bachman, Ph.D., Director of Research   |   Collin O'Berry, Director of Operations  |


Growing with Purpose

When Lakeland Ledger reporter Gary White called me last week with questions about our experience with Emily Rogers as the recent moderator for the FFEA Board Retreat, it was no surprise that we weren't the only ones who saw what an incredible Consultant and Coach she is! The Ledger featured Emily and her growing business this week in an article that truly captures her personality, style and most importantly her ability to help others grow.
Just a few short months ago, Emily helped guide our highly engaged Board of Directors in creating a long-term Strategic Plan for FFEA to guide us in growing in the way that makes the most sense for our current and future members. Be on the lookout for some incredible initiatives starting in the next few months!
Congratulations to Emily and Thank you for all you have done for our industry!

To read the full Ledger article, CLICK HERE.

For more information on Emily and her business, CLICK HERE.

Emily and a group of FFEA Board Members at the Strategic Planning Retreat, November 2013.

IEG Briefing: Sponsorship's New Benefits

IEG has long been recognized as the industry leader in all things SPONSORSHIP so when their Senior VP, Jim Andrews sends out a new briefing I always take the time to really put aside all distractions and study its contents. The company's insights into everything from valuation to sales strategy help keep companies large and small "in the know" when it comes to their sponsorship programs. Their latest briefing does not disappoint!  Here's what Jim has to say about what you need to consider when considering benefits to offer to potential sponsors:

"It’s time to change the conversation about what rightsholders can offer prospective corporate partners.

The only way for sponsors and properties to establish meaningful partnerships that deliver real results for both parties is to move beyond the standard assets that currently comprise most sponsorship offers.

IEG’s new briefing spotlights the seven critical sponsorship benefits that sponsors should require and rightsholders must provide if they want to find success in today’s marketplace by connecting with audiences, consumers and customers."

CLICK HERE to view the full article and download the briefing.

5 Tips for Creating an Actionable Event Survey
Lanie Shapiro, Owner, TouchPoll South Florida

There are many good reasons to survey the attendees at your event. Often, the priority to plan and implement a survey can fall to the bottom of your list, leaving it to the last minute with little time and attention to create an effective data collection program. Here are five tips to help you:

  1. Begin with the end in mind.

What do you need  to know? The first step is establishing an objective. There can be multiple objectives but objectives and goals should be clear from the start. Do you need to attract higher value sponsors? Do you need to retain your current sponsors? Do you want to expand your event to include a spinoff event or additional element? Do you want to demonstrate the economic value of your event to the community? Are you not sure where to best spend your marketing dollars? Do you need to apply for a grant, gather feedback, or collect emails for post event marketing communication? You might say "Yes" to all, but there must be some kind of hierarchy of objectives in order for the final report to deliver what you are setting out to accomplish. 

2. Decide the best way to collect the data.

 There are plenty of options. What works best for your event?

 Onsite/ intercept survey -  Capturing the data while onsite at your event. This method involves gathering the data at the point of experience. Feedback and ideas are fresh in the attendee's mind. This can be through a stationary location at your event, roaming the event and approaching people, or both. Paper surveys, mobile devices or tablets can be used. The key advantage to on site surveys is that results can be immediate.  Unforeseen issues may be revealed and quickly corrected. At a recent event, it was found that there wasn't enough directional signage to find the event, so additional signage was strategically placed upon discovering this attendee-reported issue.

Post event survey- This can be accomplished through an email survey, mail out or telephone survey. For these methods, you would need contact information and in some cases, permission to contact. These are generally not advantageous for public events for these reasons: it's "after- the- fact" and once people leave your event, they are onto their next thing and responding is most likely at the very bottom of their to-do list, if at all. Also, results can take longer, perhaps weeks due to sending, then a reminder and by then you've lost the opportunity for fresh follow up offers, press releases and timely data for sponsor recap reports.

3. KISSER! Keep It (a) Simple Survey (with) Relevance!

 Remember, you are asking them to give up part of their leisure time by stopping for a survey. The key here is the shorter, the better. A survey that takes under two minutes to complete is about all most people are willing to give you at public events and festivals. All too often, a survey is treated as an in-depth inquiry more suited to a focus group. When designing a survey, focus on the "need  to know" versus the "nice to know" questions. Keeping the "need to know" front and foremost is key to developing an effective, efficient and concise survey.  

Examples of not keeping it simple are: too many open ended questions where the respondent has to think or recall too much, too many possible choices in the answers, wordy questions, unclear questions, vague answer choices, as well as using jargon.

Open ended questions are important for gathering great ideas and constructive criticism. You or your staff may not see the event from an attendee's vantage point, so open ended questions are a great way to gain valuable insight to the actual experience of an attendee.

Another consideration is anticipating who the possible respondents may be and keep it relevant. For example, do you know if many are from out of town and you are asking them about local media? This irrelevancy quickly disengages the participant and creates the feeling that this survey is not valid or a waste of time for them.  There are ways to engage the participant through the survey. One way  is to branch different groups to specific questions geared for them like non-residents, young adults, etc. You want the respondent to come away with a positive feeling that they've been a help to your event. Just like baby-proofing a house, get into the mind of the user and you will create an effective and (yes) fun and easy survey for them to do.

4. Incentivize.

An incentive gives people a reason to take the time to stop and do your survey.  An effective incentive is one that is good, but not TOO good!  For an onsite survey, you can offer a small promotional item, an enter-to-win, or both. There needs to be a delicate balance between what is motivating enough but not a reason for people to come back to you time and time again, sometimes disguising themselves, just for the free gift.  For an online survey, the enter-to-win can be very effective.

5. Use It ...or Lose it!  

Now that you've spent the time, effort and (many times) money to implement this survey project, what are you going to do with the results? Review your objectives. Meet with your staff and agencies to review the results. Perhaps you need to use some of the information in a sponsor recap report, or include some key findings in your marketing materials. Here's a list of possible uses:

  • Make improvements for your next event
  • Create a new sponsor and vendor marketing piece highlighting some of the data
  • Enhance your sponsor recap report
  • Include pertinent data for your grant applications
  • Realize new opportunities such as a spinoff event
  • Evaluate some of the event activities you are currently doing
  • Email follow up offers from sponsors and promote your next event
  • Review your marketing plan and overlay it with some of your findings
  • Share some interesting results with your stakeholders, supporting agencies and community

 An effective survey takes some effort in planning and execution, but once you have the elements in place, results can have an immediate positive impact on your event. 

   Lanie Shapiro is the President and Owner of TouchPoll South Florida, a survey company. Lanie earned a B.B.A. degree in Marketing from Hofstra University and has over 20 years experience in the field of advertising, sales and media research. Her background includes extensive experience in radio, television and magazine advertising, as well as planning and executing promotional programs, sponsorship sales and activation. Lanie has served a wide variety of local, regional and national clients. Lanie serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Festivals & Events Association. Click here to contact Lanie. 

The 20th Annual Florida Festivals and Events Association Convention and Trade Show will take place August 13 - 15, 2014 at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort in Orlando, FL. It will provide unmatched educational and networking opportunities.

"The FFEA Convention and Trade Show provides a tremendous opportunity for event planners and producers to learn and network.The speakers are phenomenal - the best in event industry. It is a wonderful opportunity to network with other event planners  and producers, as well as vendors and sponsors. And, all for an affordable price! I never miss it!"     

Dutch Sanger, Director Panama City Downtown Improvement Board

Registration  •  Agenda  •  Educational Sessions   •   Exhibitor Information

Entertainment Showcases   •  Silent Auction   •  SUNsational Awards

Hotel Accommodations  •   Travel Information   •   Convention Committees