Q&A: Laura Sage, general manager, Event Planet

Laura Sage discusses the importance of problem solving in events and what to do when things go wrong.

With 13 years of experience in events, Laura Sage designs and produces world-class events for clients such as Moët et Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Bulgari, Paspaley and Tabcorp. 

Here, she discusses why problem solving is key to being a good leader:

What proactive measures do you take before an event to ensure things go to plan?

We start by organising detailed internal briefings, client briefings and production meetings; ensuring we incorporate  feedback and key learnings from previous events into new projects.

We make sure the project team is engaged and accountable, while also collaborating with our suppliers by bringing them on the journey as part of the greater Event Planet team. Finally, never assume anything: check, double check and check once more.

If something doesn’t go as planned – how do you address it? 

Generally speaking, no matter how much meticulous planning, forethought and contingencies go into pre-production, on the event day there will be something that does not go precisely to plan.

The key is to be prepared for this, stay calm, consider your options, seek advice from the venue or supplier and be proactive on alternative solutions. For example, when we were bumping out of an event on Fort Denison in the middle of Sydney Harbour, we were caught in a wild lightning storm.

For safety reasons, the bump out and transit via a barge was put on hold, and an alternate plan was devised to bump out the next morning when the skies were clear. Our open communication with the venue and suppliers meant the job was completed with considered thought to the safety of all staff.

Bulgari Boutique launch celebration

How has technology assisted in fine-tuning the process of event planning?

Embracing technology has significantly improved not only the event spectacle but also production operations and efficiencies. Event Planet collaborated with a software
business, Pegasus Systems, to customise a project management solution that integrates with our accounting system.

It has improved our productivity, allowed us to fine-tune client cost estimates in an instant from any location, manage supplier engagements and provide up-to-date reporting in real time.

How can event agencies hire, retain and develop quality staff?

For a team of 10, I feel very lucky to be working amongst such a high calibre of talent. I think what has led to such quality staffing is our development programs; people will stay if they feel challenged, supported and see room for personal and professional growth.

Event Planet has an international education program for leadership staff and an intensive industry internship program for tertiary students. Three of our full-time staff members have actually graduated from the internship program to become permanent employees. And of course, team morale and having an office puppy help.

LAURA’S MOST MEMORABLE EVENTS

  • Tabcorp Birdcage Marquee, which we’ve produced for seven consecutive years at the Melbourne Cup Carnival at Flemington Racecourse
  • Paspaley Polo in the City Marquee at Sydney’s Centennial Park. We’ve designed, produced and managed the event over a period of years and have seen it grow from just several thousand attendees to over 15,000 Australia wide
  • The launch of the first ever Australian Dior boutique and recently the launch of the new Bulgari flagship boutique in Sydney

This article originally appeared in the February edition of Spice Magazine. Subscribe here.

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