Our president, Brian Bozlinski, just interviewed Jesse Tombs of Alison Events in San Francisco. Their very fashion forward business model states that they are looking to “create that completely original, utterly unforgettable event. But most importantly, they want it to be a reflection of their clients and bring out the best in them.”
Classic Accessories is based out of Kent, WA (South of Seattle) and when Summer hits, we are ready for outdoor potlucks, BBQs, company events, etc. We pride ourselves on our outdoor culture and wanted to see what event planners have to offer in terms of outdoor spaces to hold our next event. Here is what Jesse had to say:
BRIAN: What are some questions to consider when you select an outdoor venue for corporate events?
JESSE: Is the caterer in house or can you use an outside caterer?
- What does the venue offer? Chairs, tables, bars, AV, lighting etc?
- Does the venue offer security?
- Is the cut off time for music earlier as it is outside?
- Do they own heat lamps or heaters you can use?
- Do they have a fire pit?
BRIAN: How do you plan and arrange for seating and lighting?
JESSE: Seating – it greatly depends on the type of event. If it is a seated dinner, we suggest seating for 30% of the guest count for cocktails, 100% of the guest count for dinner, and 20% of the guest count for after dinner/dancing. If it is a standing reception with stations or a buffet, we suggest seating for 70% of the guest count for the event.
Lighting – greatly depends on the venue, but we always suggest highlighting special interests, like design details, the dance floor, bars, and food stations.
BRIAN: What kind of décor will endure any weather?
JESSE: Potted plants – we always suggest plants and hedges for outdoor events that look great and can withstand wind and rain.
BRIAN: How do you protect the space from the environment and weather (rain, heat, covers, etc.)?
JESSE: Plan ahead, get a tent on hold 30 days prior to your event, add tent walls and decide on the day of the event if you really want them to be installed. Always have heaters on hold–you can always decline them upon deliver.
BRIAN: How should people store equipment when it’s not in use (covers, etc.)?
JESSE: Depends on the venue – but if you have a truck on site you can always store it in the truck. You can also store in empty event spaces, loading docks or alley ways.
BRIAN: Beyond picnics and bouncy houses: what creative themes have you found to be especially successful?
JESSE: Bring in animals, people love horses. Custom tenting–get creative and bring in teepees and the like. Cook outside–make the kitchen visible and use bbq setup and outdoor kitchens to add interest. Hot air balloons are a great photo op and a huge way to add impact.
BRIAN: What should corporate planners avoid?
JESSE: Color pallets – work with a story, not a company’s existing color story (think outside of the box).
Tell a story with the design, menu, and entertainment for the event.
Get away from tech – make the event a tech-free event and take peoples’ cell phones so they have to be present in the moment and connect.
BRIAN: Your favorite outdoor venues for corporate events in San Francisco?
JESSE: Public parks like the botanical gardens and the conservatory, Golden Gate Park and Crissy Field.
- The New Black has an amazing outdoor patio.
- The roof top or the courtyard at The Battery.
- Outdoor piers.
- The beach.
- The Presidio
- Cavalo Point
- Stable Cafe
Check out the whole interview here.