The Future of Air Travel

Posted on July 5, 2011 by 7 Comments

Everyone on the Event Services team is very, very familiar with air travel. We’re constantly on the go. 

We’re used to being squished in our seats (and we’re all petite, so for our knees to touch the seat in front of us it’s a bit ridiculous). We’re used to the “pay as you go” mentality (“You want an extra 2 inches of leg room? $100!” “You want a cup of green tea with some pretzels? $15!”). We’re just used to the general decline of the aviation experience. Flying, sadly, isn’t what it used to be.

So when I read about Airbus’s new Concept Cabin, I was a bit excited.

According to Airbus, the Concept Cabin is “based on extensive research into the way the world’s population is changing… Inspired by nature – and designed to protect it – aircraft cabins of the future will be customised to the needs of individual passengers.”

Photo courtesy of Airbus

This means that “First, Business and Economy class are replaced by zones that target more individual needs like relaxing, playing games, interacting with other passengers or holding business meetings with people on the ground.”

I was particularly excited to read about the plane’s Vitalizing Zone, which will cater to the needs of women. Airbus is projecting that the number of women that travel for business will eventually surpass that of men. With that in mind, they’ve designed a cabin that features ”intelligent organically grown seats [that] will sense your needs and adapt for the perfect fit, offering massage, drinks or vitamins as required; a gentle sea breeze or the soft aroma of a pine forest wash over you; sound showers will ease you into the perfect sleep, snug in the warm embrace of holographic shades, while the heat given out from your body is unobtrusively collected to power the cabin facilities.”

Sign me up.

While this type of aviation is far off, it’s exciting to see a potential shift in how the air industry approaches their clientele. Instead of treating air travel like a thrifty, cattle-car way to get passengers from A to Z, it’s refreshing to see this type of accomodation being planned for.

If only we could convince the greater population to travel in day suits, instead of their pj’s. A person can dream, right?

This new approach to upgrading the traveler experience is also spreading to airports. Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport already had the fabulous Rijksmuseum annex, but now it has a park.   

Source: trendcentral

“Airport Park is an environment where you will find peace and greenery, food outlets and shop kiosks – just as in any city park. Travellers can even step outside to enjoy the sunshine on the terrace. The feeling of being in a park is achieved through mixed reality technology: images of famous parks all over the world are displayed on the walls, while projections of butterflies and the sounds of animals, bicycle bells and playing children further help bring the park to life. Just as in any big city, the Airport Park is a haven of tranquillity. Travellers can relax under the trees on designer chairs upholstered in ivy, or enjoy a drink and a snack on one of the wooden picnic benches. A 130-year-old tree serves as a signpost for everything the park has to offer.” (Source: Schiphol Airport)

 The park even has bikes stationed throughout that, when pedaled on, will charge your cell phone. How’s that for green?

I’m excited to see how this trend spreads in the air industry. Here’s to a future of sunny, relaxing travel experiences!

Coachella Gets Creative

Posted on May 2, 2011 by 2 Comments

Coachella creator and Goldenvoice guru Paul Tollett has learned through trial and error what makes a festival successful.  The biggest lesson – continuous reinvention.

This year, in a first-time creative partnership, Goldenvoice tapped the Creators Project to enhance the creative programming onsite.  The Creators Project is a venture between Vice magazine and Intel that brings together global artists with technology.

According to BizBash, the Creators Project worked closely with Goldenvoice to create a high-tech and special-effects filled performances and art spaces.

Here’s a recap of some of what the Creators Project delivered onsite, according to their website:

Summer Into Dust: Arcade Fire + Chris Milk
Arcade Fire collaborated with director Chris Milk to release  2,000 LED-enhanced blow-up beach balls into the crowd as the grand finale to the band’s set. Controlled using IR transmitters embedded in the balls, the LEDs were activated to change colors as they bounced their way through the crowd, creating a stunning visual spectacle.  A computer system that mapped the balls and knew where each was amid the crowd. The whole audience effectively became a screen, with each of the balls as one of the pixels. 

Photo - BizBash

The interactive visual performance, entitled Summer Into Dust, continues online.  Anyone who managed to catch a ball can log on to the accompanying website and continue the experience. Each ball comes with a URL where fans can locate a user manual online and connect their ball to a greater community.

Jumbletron: Video by Black Dice for Animal Collective
Black Dice created a 70-minute video experience to accompany Animal Collective’s live set. The resulting visuals, displayed on two large screens and three hanging cubes suspended above the band, were appropriately experimental and obscure, spanning melting kaleidoscopes of color, frenetic, glitchy effects, and op-art style abstract patterns.

Photo by Peter Sutherland

Sahara Tent Installation by Muti Randolph
Randolph used the audio input for the DJs and bands performing on the Sahara stage to generate reactive visuals to coincide with the performances.

Coachella Stage Design by United Visual Artists
For their redesign of Coachella’s main stage, UVA created a unique structure that functions as both a platform for performance and a standalone light and sound sculpture. Each night, the stage would transform into a 3D cube for a five minute light and sound performance.

Photo by Peter Sutherland

Carry Your Dinner Elsewhere

Posted on April 26, 2011 by Comments Off

Underground supper clubs have been de riguer for a while, so it was only a matter of time before rumblings of a hybrid cool-kids dining experience came to the surface.

Enter Our Other Location, the brain child of the team behind Brooklyn super-secret supper club Coach Peaches.

Here’s the premise – you buy tickets online and they send you the top secret pick up location.  Day of, you show up and collect what you paid for: a folding table with chairs conveniently attached, table settings, camping cutlery and a three-course meal in a stackable Indian lunch box known as a tiffin.

Image from Our Other Location

The fun is that your little dinner party can then be held wherever you want – Urban Daddy recommends everywhere from the High Line to the lobby of the Waldorf. Basically, you can eat wherever you want (unless you get kicked out. I’m not sure the Waldorf would be too open to an impromptu picnic…).

While not all of us live in New York and can be part of this adventure, I do love the practical applications we can take from this idea.  Our team plans many, many dinners in private dining rooms all around the country. Why not take your next event outside of the restaurant into a location a little bit more unusual?

{Work Shoe Blisters Gift Guide} Foodie Edition

Posted on December 16, 2010 by 2 Comments

  • Foodie authority Ruth Reichl has quite possibly the best gift guide ever – it definitely runs the gamut with everything from Anson Mills Grits (which, by the way, are FAR superior to any grit or polenta you’ve ever had) to San Francisco’s 4505 meats (which sell her favorite hot dogs).  She’s aiming for one post a day, so definitely stop by her blog to see what she’s recommending…

  • Speaking of great things exported from San Francisco, I think I need to sign up for the Tell Tale Society. You receive a monthly bag filled with seasonally influenced preserves, confections, cookies and cakes, both sweet and savory.  December’s bag includes  an amazing assortment: turrón of white chocolate, new crop walnut and yuzu; vanilla and douglas fir infused confiture au lait; roasted pumpkin, guanaja chocolate marshmallow; pain d’épices laced caramels; quince, caramelized honey petit gâteaux AND hazelnut, frankincense, and muscovado toffee. Yes please.

  • Who doesn’t love cheese? Cowgirl Creamery has an amazing cheese-of-the-month club. You can sign up for a full year or a three-month preview. Either way, you can’t go wrong with their signature cheeses – the Mt. Tam and the Red Hawk.

Los Angeles, I’m Yours

Posted on November 24, 2010 by Comments Off

Downtown Los Angeles dining has come a long way in the last few years.

Most of our LA-based events have been in close proximity to the lovely Los Angeles Convention Center.  This has meant finding amazing & unique locations for our clients to dine at in a downtown that is notorious for being deserted at close of business.  

Fortunately, things have started to change in downtown LA and we now have a bit more to choose from.  Here are a few of our favorites:

Photo courtesy of Zagat

 Rivera

  • Located a skip & a hop from the Staples Center on S. Flower.
  • Amazing Latin fusion cuisine – think banana-leaf braised pork shoulder or duck and blue corn enfrijoladas – YUM!
  • Their bar focuses on “market fresh mixology” and offers the option to have your own bespoke cocktail made. A colleague dining there recently had an amazing mission fig drink created for them.
  • Their private dining room can hold up to 60 guests for a reception.

Photo courtesy of Zagat

Takami Sushi

  • Located smack in the middle of downtown, one of the great features about Takami is the gorgeous views (it’s located on the 21st floor).
  • Sushi rolls were fresh, signature rolls were inspired, and the robata was delicious (robata is a charcoal grill used to prepare Japanese food to customers seated around the cooking area).
  • The glass-walled private dining room is GORGEOUS.

Photo courtesy of Zagat

Patina

  • Need a knock-your-socks-off location? Look no further. Patina is the “epitome of elegance” according to Zagat.
  • Located inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Patina has been designated a 4-star restaurant by the Los Angeles Times and a 5-star AAA restaurant.
  • The menu is French-inspired but also stays true to the seasons. The posted menu includes such drool-worthy offerings as duck foie gras terrine with black mission figs, wood pigeon cooked “en cocotte” and applewood smoked bourbon ice cream.
  • Patina has two options for private dining – their Chef’s Table, which can seat 12 and offers a prime view of the kitchen; and their private dining room, which can seat up to 30 (and includes AV equipment).

Photo courtesy of Zagat

Church & State

  • A former biscuit factor transformed in to a super trendy Parisian bistro (and by super trendy, we mean that Miss Gwyneth Paltrow raved about Church & State in a GOOP)
  • The foods to try are the roasted chicken, crispy pig ears and the marrow bone. French classics done exceptionally well.
  • No private dining room and it’s tucked a bit away, so our recommendation is to have car service get you to and from the location.

Holiday Travel Tips

Posted on November 22, 2010 by Comments Off

For those flying home for the holidays, this may not be the most wonderful time of the year.

It seems as though all of my travel worst nightmares come to fruition from November to January. Not only are the lines longer and the passengers grumpier, but all of our non-traveling friends come out of the woodwork (“What do you mean I can’t bring my 24oz Aqua Net through security?!” “Since when did shoes need to be taken off?!”).

We travel quite a bit on the Event Services team and we’ve definitely come up with a few tricks of our own to survive airport pandemonium. For me, it’s noise-cancelling headphones and my Alaska Airlines MVP status (hooray shorter lines with efficient travelers!).

We often get questions about how best to survive the air travel during the holiday season, and this guide from the New York Times’ Practical Traveler is my favorite.

Photo from the New York Times

1. Map out Plan B. Figure out your next best flight options in case your plane is delayed or canceled. A simple online search at sites like Kayak.com or ITASoftware.com will give you a quick snapshot of available flights. That way you can suggest alternatives that you prefer rather than end up at the mercy of frazzled booking agents. Also, for $4.99 a month, OAG Flights2Go offers flight schedules and flight status information on your mobile phone.

2. Load up your cellphone with emergency numbers. In addition to the airline reservation line, include the number for the frequent flier representative if you are a member. Those booking agents tend to have more experience in looking for creative itineraries and may be helpful in finding an alternative flight. If you booked through a third-party travel site like Expedia or Travelocity, add its customer service line to your roster; it may be able to advocate on your behalf.

3. To make sure you’re not left out in the cold — or on the airport floor — when that snowstorm grounds all flights, add the numbers of some major hotel chains, like Starwood or Marriott, with airport locations.

4. Set up a flight alert for yourself and anyone who may need to know your whereabouts, like the aunt who offered to pick you up at the airport. These services, offered by most airlines and Web sites like Flightstats.com, let travelers know if a gate or flight time has changed via e-mail or text message. Orbitz.com allows customers to alert up to six people at a time. Knowing about such changes early can give you an edge over the 100-plus other passengers on your plane if there is a cancellation and you need to alter your plans.

5. Pack smart. Leave the shower gel or anything else you can pick up at your destination. Have gifts shipped ahead so you don’t have to lug them with you. Edit your wardrobe: do you really need three sets of heels for dinner at Grandma’s or will one pair do? A carry-on will also allow you to avoid the scrum at baggage claim and easily move between flights if your itinerary is wrecked by delays. If you must check luggage, you can save $5 at most airlines by prepaying online. (Many airlines now charge $15 to $25 for the first checked bag and $25 to $35 for the second on domestic flights.) United passengers can also pay a $249 annual fee to check up to two bags on each flight, and avoid paying the usual fees.

6. Know your rights. This is critical during busy travel periods when flights are often overbooked and confusion reigns. Travelers can receive up to $400 if they are involuntarily bumped and rebooked on another flight within two hours after their original domestic flight time and within four hours for international flights. They are eligible for up to $800 in cash if they are not rerouted by then. Complaints about airline service other than safety or security issues may be registered with the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division.

7. Check in ahead of time online. This may be common sense, but it’s important to arrive at the airport with boarding pass in hand because the last travelers to check in are often the first to be bumped when a flight is oversold. Most airlines allow travelers to check in online as much as 24 hours in advance.

8. Reserve a parking spot. Holidays are also crunch time at airport parking lots, where the best spots fill up fast. You can avoid circling the airport in search of a space by reserving a parking spots at off-airport lots, which offer shuttles to the airport. Services like Park ’n Fly Network and AirportParkingReservations.com allow travelers to search for and reserve a spot by plugging in their departure airport and travel dates. Rates start at about $6 a day, but vary by airport.

9. Know your airport. If your flight is delayed, you may end up spending a lot of time there.

10. Be polite. Courtesy definitely gets more results than pushiness. That was the approach that Dane Steele Green, chief executive of Steele Luxury Travel in New York, took last Christmas when his trip from Newark to Zurich was derailed by a series of delays and cancellations. “I was very polite; remember, who wants to be there on Christmas Day?” he said, noting how he tried to make the agent feel appreciated and important when explaining his situation. “All of a sudden I hear tickets being printed.” Mr. Steele and his companion, who were initially scheduled to fly in business class on three connecting flights on Swiss International Air Lines, were put on a nonstop all-business class flight on a partner airline, PrivatAir. “It was wonderful,” he said.

Wishing For A More Productive Meeting?

Posted on November 18, 2010 by Comments Off

While 1:1 meetings get booked by the hundreds at trade shows, I think that most of us tackle a full schedule of meetings on a daily basis. These tips by the  American Management Association are great to remember when thinking about making the most of out the time you have scheduled.

1. Know Your Role: Decide before the meeting what role you intend to play, and how open you are to others’ input. If you don’t, you could end up becoming a roadblock to productivity.

2. Clarify the Purpose – for Yourself: Know why you’re meeting, and what the final outcome should be. Otherwise, you won’t be able to lead the meeting where it needs to go.

3. Assure that Participants are Equal to the Task: Make sure those with authority, expertise, information, resources, and need are invited and able to attend. Without them, the meeting will be a waste of time.

4. Use Subgroups to Differentiate and Integrate Views: A small enough meeting will automatically differentiate, as each individual will bring his own perspective. In a larger group setting (school district meeting, for instance), subgroups are needed to ensure that all pertinent viewpoints are represented (parents, teachers, administrators and students).

5. Have Each Group Report to the Whole: Whether it’s individuals or actual groups, each represented viewpoint needs to speak to the group as a whole, to present its perspective and allow others to respond.

6. Allow Enough Time: Create a plan for the meeting itself, allowing time for each of the steps that will be needed to reach the goal you have set for the meeting (point 1 above). Present this plan as the agenda for the meeting – before the meeting begins, so folks can prepare for it [I added this last part - the article doesn't mention agendas].

7. Choose Healthy Working Conditions: Select a room with a view if possible, with enough space for particpants to be comfortable, not cramped. Remember that sound is important, too, and ensure that everyone will be able to hear everyone else. Other considerations are having restrooms nearby, and sustainability (how to make the meeting greener).

Going Virtual

Posted on October 19, 2010 by Comments Off

I stumbled on this great post on PR Meets Marketing about how virtual events can augment PR and marketing. I loved the insight guest blogger Dennis Shiao had to share, especially in light of the fact that more and more clients want to go digitial.

Take a look:

Virtual events are seeing strong adoption. It all started with the virtual trade show, a 2.5D representation of a physical trade show, complete with a lobby, auditorium, exhibit hall, networking lounge and more. A number of formats soon followed, including the virtual career fair, virtual sales meeting, virtual product launch and virtual partner summit. In addition, we’re now seeing businesses leverage virtual platforms for “corporate university” or e-Learning.

It will be exciting to see the new and innovative formats that marketers, publishers, event managers and business owners develop in 2010 and beyond. I have a format that is well suited for virtual: the press event.

In many ways, the benefits of a virtual press event are the same as a virtual trade show. The host, along with attendees, presenters, etc. participate via the web and save on travel costs, lodging costs, shipping costs and “out of office time.” In addition, all activities within the environment are tracked. And, the environment can remain available long after the live “event” concludes.

Additional benefits of producing your press event virtually:

Global Reach

In the past, press events were planned in “road show” fashion, in which you visited major cities that had the highest concentration of your target media publications. With virtual, you can host a single event and capture a global audience. Alternatively, you can leverage a single virtual platform and stage live events based on regional timezones, to target business hours in North America, then EMEA, then Asia Pac. Your PR efforts can now have a wider reach at a lower cost.

Convenient Access to Your Executives

In a physical setting, it can be a logistical challenge to schedule and coordinate access from press members to your executive team. With virtual, executives can interact with larger audiences more efficiently. For instance, you might place your CMO in a moderated chat room and take questions from an audience of 1,500. Imagine doing that in a physical setting!

Invite Customers and Prospects

Increase your ROI by also inviting customers and prospects to the event. Do your require press credentials to gain access to certain materials? No problem. Virtual event platforms provide role-based access, which means that an access profile can be applied to your customers and prospects that are different from press members. Any PR that you do affects your customers, too, so include them when sharing the news.

Use Activity Paths to Follow Up Appropriately

Whether customer, prospect or press member, study activity paths in the virtual event to determine effective follow-up plans. Did a reporter visit your booth ten times, then ask numerous questions in the group chat area? Schedule a one-on-one conference call with your Senior Product Manager, to ensure that the reporter has all the info she needs. Similarly, follow up with prospects to move them further along in the sales cycle.

Conclusion

I believe virtual events can be the definition of “PR meets Marketing”. As PR and Marketing look to Web 2.0 to broaden reach and engagement, consider virtual events as one more tool in your arsenal.

Governors Island Jazz-Age Lawn Party

Posted on September 9, 2010 by 2 Comments

The blogosphere was abuzz in late August about the Governors Island Jazz-Age Lawn Party

Image from The Satorialist

Governors Island is a 172 acre island in the heart of New York Harbor and only 800 yards from Lower Manhattan. For almost two centuries, Governors Island was a military base. In 2003 the federal government sold 150 acres of Island to the people of New York and 22 acres were declared the Governors Island National Monument (source).  

Image from Hither & Thither

Locals gathered “under a shady grove of centuries-old trees, caressed by fresh sea air” and picnicked on “a sprawling green surrounded by historic officers’ quarters and 18th century naval ramparts” (Source: Michael Arenella and His Dreamland Orchestra).  The Satorialist has some gorgeous shots (of course) but so do other blogger faves – Hither & Thither , Lovely Little Things, etc.

Image from A Cup of Joe

It isn’t often that we get to throw theme parties, but this made me pine a bit. Check out the fabulous details:

Signature drinks  – A delightful variety of refreshing cocktails will be served by St-Germain Elderflower Liquer and beer provided by Brooklyn Brewery.

Entertainment -  Authenitc ’78 records from the 1920s played on a phonograph provided by WFMU’s Antique Phonograph Music Program; Charleston lessons by dance legend Roddy Caravella

Activities - 1920s Motorcar Exhibition, vintage clothing dealers and boutique milliners, Tug O’ War, Parade Of Hats and Pie Recipe Contest

Image from So About What I Said

Glamping in the Swedish Woods

Posted on September 8, 2010 by Comments Off

Please Sir has uncovered quite possibly the coolest, rustic-chic hotel I’ve ever seen.

Kolarbyn, located in a dense forest by the beautiful Lake Skärsjön, consists of twelve forest huts equipped with cozy sheep skin blankets and a crackling fireplace. These huts are so darn cool – they’re little hobbit havens in the Swedish woods!

There is no electricity and you have to cut your own firewood, but this unique version of glamping means primitive living at its finest with local food, breathtaking views and adventurous wildlife tours.

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