Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tips on Staying in Business in the Event Business

Eventline (the latest event industry news) had an article yesterday entitled: Alive and Thriving: Tips from Veteran Event Pros on Staying in Business. A panel of five veteran event professionals shared tips on developing and sustaining a special event business in "130 Years of Event Experience: Ask the Experts," held Jan. 15 at The Special Event Show 2010 in New Orleans.

Here's there Sage Advice.

1. Don't wait for clients to find you.

2. Give clients what they ask for—and a bit more.

3. Know who the gatekeeper is.

4. Curb costs fast.

5. Be flexible.

6. To win new clients, take good care of old ones.

Read the entire article here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Team Building Unlimited: Green Events

As part of 2010, TeamBuilding Unlimited is trying even harder to make a positive impact on the environment: with our meetings, at our office, and in our TeamBuilding events.

I posted an article about Green Meetings: The Green Checklist the other day, and in the past I've posted about specific Green TeamBuilding Events at TeamBuilding.

We here at TeamBuilding Unlimited know that we have to make a positive impact on the environment.

Here are just a few ways our company is making a difference with our events:

Chocolate Tastings: We use fair trade, organic high quality chocolates. TeamBuilding-Unlimited can deliver a sweet and successful Team Bonding activity for your team. We have other Chocolate Teambuilding Events.

Trikes for Tots/Bikes for Kids: Giving less fortunate children trikes and bikes helps them experience at an early age that recreation is fun and it's a great way to get around with using a car. As part of our Charity Challenges, teams do some TeamBuilding and TeamBonding as a unique way to give back to the community for the future.

Scavenger Hunt: Learn Team Building and Team Bonding at a foremost LEED Certified Museum in Energy and Environmental Design: The California Academy of Sciences, with our AdventureQuest.

TeamBuilding Unlimited also has several specific Green TeamBuilding Events. Our motto is Reduce, Recycle, Repurpose, Recharge. Some of our Green Events include: Tower of Power, Gimme Shelter, Green Art Challenge, New Green Product Invention, Corporate Grand Prix, Marvelous Mural/Quilt Art Project with mixed media found objects.

What are you doing to make a difference? Post a comment.

Friday, January 22, 2010

More on Green Meetings: The Green Checklist

TeamBuilding Unlimited/Murder on the Menu is working on becoming greener not only in our team building activities but with our partners. Since we don't always pick the venue, we ask our partners to consider the following because every meeting and event planner needs to Think Green in 2010.

Smart Meetings printed a Green Checklist in their October 2009 issue that bears repeating. This list was was developed by Gap, Inc. as part of their Green Meeting Program. The San Francisco CVB posted it as part of their new Ecothusiasm segment on their website.

Love to be able to add more to this list. Feel free to comment.

Lists of environmentally responsible hotels can be found at;;; and Some guides to consider when selecting “green” hotels are:

Hotels that provide recycling in all guest rooms.
Hotels with water conservation fixtures in hotel guest rooms.
Hotels with programmable thermostats with motion detectors used to control HVAC in guest rooms.
Hotels which have a property-wide linen re-use program that is clearly communicated to staff and guests.

Food & Beverage/Function Space

Hotel will provide clearly marked recycling containers in meeting rooms.
Hotel will not use disposable serviceware made out of Styrofoam.
Hotel will use cloth napkins and silverware in lieu of paper and plastic when possible.
Hotel has a food donation program.
If the facility does not have a food donation program, hotel will agree to work with the group to provide food donations at no cost to the group.
Hotel will provide condiments in serving containers and not individual packets when possible.

Hotel has energy-efficient lighting throughout the property.
Hotel will provide a recycling program to include paper, plastic, glass, aluminum cans and cardboard at no cost to the group.
Hotel will use cleaning products that do not introduce toxins into the water and air.

While On-Site at a Hotel
Heating/Cooling: Ask hotel to keep meeting space temperatures comfortable, but not too extreme with air conditioning and heating. Advise venues in advance so they can set thermostats appropriately.

Ask vendors the following:

* Do you recycle oil, vehicle batteries, antifreeze and tires when they need to be replaced?
* Do you take actions to ensure vehicles are environmentally responsible; i.e., using refined oils, performing regular maintenance, using biodiesel fuels and conducting emissions tests?
* Do you have any fuel-efficient/hybrid vehicles in your fleet?

Collateral A huge area for improvement.

* Consider sending confirmation information electronically, instead of mailing packets. This will save time (collation and transit time), create an electronic “paper trail” and save trees. Hotel information can be accessed on their website, so sending hotel brochures is not necessary.
* At the least, if you consider a travel mailing to be critical (ex: luggage tags are being provided), use smaller envelopes, eliminate the hotel brochure and post the hotel URL on the conference website.


* When considering handouts, consider the need. Alternatives to printing handouts for each attendee:
* Provide information (PPT slides, speaker notes, etc.) electronically after the event.
* Print one handout per table.
* Replace binders of materials with a flash drive containing all documents.
If handouts are necessary:

* Print double-sided.
* Print multiple slides per page.
* Use recycled paper.
* Ask your printer if they can use soy or vegetable-based inks.
* Make sure your venue recycles any extra paper. If your venue doesn’t recycle, and you are trucking materials to/from your event, put them on the truck and recycle them back at the office.
* Donate leftover collateral (signage, paper handouts, giveaways, etc.); keep brand standards in mind when considering what materials can be donated.
* Always do online surveys vs. handing out paper evaluation forms at the event.

Name Badges/Lanyards:

* Collect lanyards at the end of your event and use them for your next event.
* Research using recyclable name badge inserts.

Food & Beverage/Catering

* Don’t print hotel banquet menus!
It’s a lot of paper to have in your binder.
It’s better to partner with the chef to select seasonal, local ingredients. Reduce “food miles” generated by transporting nonseasonal foods from their origin to your meeting.
* Provide filtered water stations instead of bottled waters.
If branding is the goal, give each attendee a branded water bottle that they can refill from water stations throughout the program.
* Avoid individual packaging; serve snack items, condiments, cream/sugar, etc. in bulk. This will save you money and reduce waste from packaging.
* Choose seafood from the “Best Choices” list on the Seafood Watch list.
* Tableware: Use china instead of paper products.
* Box lunches: Most materials typically used to package box lunches end up in the trash. Some options:
Instead, create a grab-and-go lunch (pre-made sandwiches, etc.) that can be eaten on china at tables, but is quick and easy to put together. Provide bags at the buffet for those who need to depart.
If a box lunch is necessary, choose paper packaging that can be recycled. Make sure recycling bins are provided by the venue.
* Look at bio-plastics as options for disposable tableware. The options are improving in this area. Some providers of bio-plastics are:, and

Donating Food

* Many venues are reluctant to donate food due to liability. There are “good Samaritan” laws that protect donors in the United States and Canada, so always ask, particularly if the food items are packaged.
* If you do want to donate food, ask your venue before you arrive on-site.
* Some food donation suggestions can be found at or America’s Second Harvest.


* Eco-flowers are increasing in popularity and availability. These control the growing conditions as well as labor practices for harvesting.
* Donate flowers to elderly, sick and terminally ill people in the local area.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Companies Turn to Virtual Trade Shows

USA Today had an interesting article last week "Companies Turn to Virtual Trade Shows to Save Money" by Roger Yu. I'm both a meeting planner and supplier. I plan meetings for the mystery community (readers/writers), and I supply meetings with interactive entertainment and team building events. So I looked at this article from both perspectives.

Even as this article was being published, I was making plans to attend three live trade shows in the meeting industry, all the same week. I am only "exhibiting" at one of these three tradeshows--the smallest least expensive one, at that, and I'm attending the other two as a planner as I need sites for some upcoming conventions and meetings. I would welcome the opportunity to have a virtual trade show for both sides of my business.

It's not just the travel, but its the expense of setting up, taking time from other business, as well as the fees for these trade shows. This past year I did a trade show where no one showed. I know that's about the marketing, but I think people in the meeting industry, especially, should be at the forefront of virtual trade shows.

Now, I'm not saying all trade shows should be that way. I'm attending the Fancy Food Show this week for my Chocolate TeamBuilding Events and DyingforChocolate Blog (two hats there, too), and let's face it, there's nothing like food samples and great salespeople to make a sale and endear a customer. But some trade shows can be virtual. I've attended one wedding virtual fair. The technology wasn't smooth, but, that can be tweaked.

According to the article, "Virtual shows combine the latest technology in webcasting, online chats, video streaming, webinars and avatar graphics to offer the elements of trade shows: exhibitor booths, speeches, seminars, distribution of marketing literature and social "gatherings."

The technology companies that develop virtual-meetings software, such as Unisfair, ON24 and Second Life, say they're seeing big demand. Event-planning firm Champion Exposition Services says about 70% of companies that it has queried are "producing, considering or interested in pursuing virtual events."

As the article says, there are pros and cons.

The Pros: they're cheaper and easier to plan. Speeches and seminars can be archived. International participants can "attend" with little or no expense. Speakers and moderators don't have to linger all day. And participants' interests and activities can be monitored.

The Cons: Networking opportunities are limited. There are no face-to-face meetings or serendipitous run-ins with clients. Participants can't touch products.

What do you think?

Read the Entire Article HERE

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Marvelous Mural/Quilt Art Project

TeamBuilding Unlimited's Marvelous Mural/Quilt Art Project is a variation on our Flags Flying team Event. This can be done for the office, for the team or to be donated to a senior center, charity or another venue.

Participants work in teams to "design" a piece of a Mural or Quilt that when assembled represents their group, products, company or another theme.

Each team gets 1-2 squares to design about their theme and/or company. Deciding on the theme of the quilt or mural is part of the challenge. TeamBuilding Unlimited works with your teams on color palette and technique -but the best part is the creativity of your participants. TeamBuilding Unlimited will guide your creativity, provide the materials, and facilitate the event. The "quilt or mural" is then assembled by your teams and can be displayed back at the workplace or donated to shelters, hospitals or other sites.

This team building event involves creativity, leadership, strategic thinking, sequenced planning and communication. Quilt/Mural Making is about Process, as much as art. Facilitators work with the teams to encourage them to think BIG.

The final product is a visual documentation of your team's understanding and awareness of the theme they have selected and the process through which they went.

Variations: Can be done with mixed media including found objects (recycle, reuse).

Goal: Separate parts that add up to one vision! The Big Picture!