While we plan for a lot of weddings, we do also work with corporate clients to execute their events. In fact, Shannon from our team specifically plans for businesses and has extensive knowledge of the industry. She has had a thriving career in the field and today, we are sharing some of her experiences!
How did you get your start in corporate + event planning?
I started in the hotel industry as a Front Desk Agent in 2006 as I knew I wanted to get into event planning, but had no experience. From there, I quickly moved up to a Catering Coordinator position at a boutique hotel where I worked directly for the Director of Catering. She taught me how to sell, plan and execute weddings, social and corporate events up to 350 attendees.
I was able to experience many different aspects of events during my time there and knew this was a career I wanted to pursue. From there, I became a Wedding Manager at the Westin Stonebriar Resort. I was then selling, planning and executing events with two ballrooms along with multiple breakout spaces as well as an outdoor lawn. I loved the emotion these types of events entailed and the connection I made with my clients.
After having my first child, I took a short break. Upon returning, I took a position at the Omni Mandalay as a Conference Planner where I dealt solely with Corporate clients for events of 10 to 500. It involved many moving parts with challenges that were very different from the wedding side. It was precise as far as client needs, yet it had entirely unique obstacles that varied greatly from weddings. I found out that I thrived in this area!
I do feel that this has given me a huge advantage when planning for clients since I have experience in both events and weddings!
What is your background in?
My “first” career was as a professional dancer on Cruise Ships. I started this right out of High School and traveled the world while doing what I love. When I returned to land after 8 years, I went directly into the Hotel Business.
What other industry experience do you have?
Aside from what has already been mentioned, I have also worked at the W Dallas and helped launch and open a venue, The Laurel, as the General Manager. I am also certified with the American Association of Certified Wedding Planners and ran their training courses by bringing them to the online forum.
What made you decide to leave and join Keestone Events?
I have worked with multiple planners, but loved the way Sarah was so detail-oriented and organized. I felt it flowed well with my thought process and knew it would be a great fit. I also feel Sarah has done an AMAZING job of branding Keestone Events and I’m proud to be a part of it.
What is your favorite part of each event?
I have two since I have worked with both corporate and weddings! For weddings, a special moment is right before the bride and groom have their final exit. The smiles on their faces and the hugs I get from them make all the hard work worth it. On the corporate side, I enjoy watching clients let loose and enjoy themselves even in a conference. Taking employees out of their normal day to day adds a new dynamic and excitement to the group, and it’s lovely to see them be able to let their hair down!
Can you share a story of how you had to troubleshoot for an event?
One that will always stand out was during one of my first weddings. The bride had hot pink and black as her colors, and she had a signature cocktail made with a unique hot pink liqueur. She also had these tall vases with hot pink liquid inside of them and flowers on top. The florist left all of these centerpieces on one table and asked our staff to place them on the tables. Well, a vase got dropped in the process and hot pink liquid poured to the floor. I then grabbed the Banquet Captain and we brainstormed to come up with a solution. Thankfully, the vase wasn’t broken and we essentially built a new centerpiece on that by pouring the hot pink liquor as a replacement for the florist’s liquid. If only everyone knew how much more valuable (and delicious) that one arrangement was!
What don’t most clients realize when it comes to corporate / event planning?
There will always be a million little tasks that come up at the last minute and no one available to complete them. This is why a planner is so important. They are able to objectively work through the details and stand up to bat for you by taking care of last minute situations that arise.
What is something about you that most people don’t know about?
Being on cruise ships is a big one. I’m also born and raised in Los Angeles and miss the beach every single day!