Event planning is one of the hottest career trends in the U.S. at this time. According to an April 2018 report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hiring of meeting, convention, and event planners is projected to grow 11 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. Event planners work with all the details of an event, from renting venues to paying caterers. This sponsored section brings readers stories about a few of the many event planners in the Omaha area.
1415—The Meeting Space
Anne Minton & Lorinda Northrup
After the nonprofit credentialing agency Board of Certification for the Athletic Trainer renovated a century-old, two-story building at 1415 Harney Street, the end result was a beautiful office space on the second floor and a top-notch, five-room meeting space on the lower level. The meeting space is ideal for the organization’s regular conferences, with flex areas, state-of-the art equipment and technology including a soundproof studio, and a kitchenette.
This space was only going to be used for half a dozen meetings and events per year, says Anne Minton, BOC’s chief operating officer. The team recognized that the setup would appeal to other organizations and saw a business opportunity. In 2015, BOC opened 1415—The Meeting Space as a full-service conference center.
“1415—The Meeting Space is ideal for professional events including seminars, training, conferences, workshops, team meetings, board meetings, community events, etc.,” Minton says. “Customers can use our space in different ways depending on group size and the need for the event. We can accommodate up to 55 people in the training room, including presenters, tables, and chairs.”
Customers can use individual rooms for smaller group meetings or breakout sessions, or several clients can book individual rooms on the same day.
Minton adds, “We allow the customer to select the caterer of their choice to best match the purpose, theme and style of the event.”
Other features include an online reservation system, complimentary Wi-Fi with a meeting password, and modern furnishings like rolling chairs and tables that enhance the ambiance. Incentive programs are available, including a discount for clients who book three events in 2019 and a “refer-a-friend” program.
1415—The Meeting Space strives to be as turnkey as possible, Minton says. Clients also get the benefit of an experienced event team, including meeting coordinator Lorinda Northrup.
“She is very professional and works well with our customers to make sure they have an excellent experience. And we have several BOC staff members who pitch in and help put out when it is needed,” Minton says. “I’ve been involved in coordinating numerous large-scale events through my work with the BOC.”
1415—The Meeting Space is close enough to downtown hotels to be ideal for conferences with out-of-town attendees, but it also works for local clients, Minton says.
“Many of the large companies in downtown Omaha utilize our space for offsite meetings. It allows them to get out of the office, share uninterrupted time, and gain a fresh perspective,” she says. “An off-site meeting at 1415—The Meeting Space also means a group can enjoy all the benefits of our downtown location. We are within a block of the historic Old Market, boasting many restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues.”
Minton says the young venue has been an immediate success.
“We make sure events are executed with professionalism, attention to detail, and excellent customer service,” she says. “We’ve built our business on word-of-mouth referrals. It is my priority to make sure each event hosted at our space is a positive experience.”
1415 Harney St.
Omaha, NE 68102
Embassy Suites by Hilton Omaha Downtown
As regional director of sales and marketing for a group of Embassy Suites hotels that includes the downtown Omaha location at 10th and Howard streets, Kristen Blattert oversees the planning and execution of events—from corporate functions like conferences and seminars to personal occasions like family gatherings and weddings. Blattert is quick to point out that it takes a lot of conscientious people to execute an event successfully.
“We have a great team here at Embassy Suites. There are so many people behind the scenes, down to the person cleaning the restroom, the person making the beds, and the person behind the check-in experience,” she says. “If we said how many people are engaged in ensuring the success of an event, it’s not the event planner or event team only; it’s an army.”
To that army, any given event is another job well done. To the people attending, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Blattert says that even after 15 years in the business, she never forgets that, “It’s a monumental moment for them. You don’t get it back.” So every element must be considered from the guest’s perspective.
“Put yourself in the shoes of the clients. Walk through their experience: How does that look, how does that feel, what’s the flow? And if you see a hiccup, be forthcoming and negotiate an alternative,” she says. “If we are able to anticipate what the challenges may or may not be, we’ll ensure the success of the event.”
Corporate events often mean working with a dedicated planner who has relevant experience, but the logistics become much more complex when a nonprofit committee or family is involved.
“Everybody has a different objective; you have to be the mediator to help them find the middle road,” she says. “You have to change your style and your structure to meet the needs of the group so everybody has a voice. You want all parties involved in the event to feel it was a success.”
Blattert graduated from Wayne State College with a social science degree, and her first career was in the field of social services. She says her education in human behavior and early work experience has been useful in helping her become a good event manager.
“It’s a relationship-based process where it’s not driven off numbers and quotes and pricing. If I say, ‘I can do this,’ they’re trusting in me to be able to deliver, like in social work when I said, ‘I am going to take care of this,’” she says. “There’s follow-through.”
Blattert says she’s excited for changes this year. The downtown Embassy Suites is embarking on a major renovation beginning in February and targeted for completion July 1. Some guests will miss the water features and foliage, but the remodel will create more functional communal space, including a full-service lobby lounge with seating for 150 and room for more private functions in the atrium area. A “rustic and refined” decor theme will also complement the hotel’s local vibe.
“The Old Market is a gathering space for people,” she says. “We really are an anchor in the heart of Old Market.”
555 S. 10th St.
Omaha, NE 68102
Planning weddings and events is a fun way to earn a living, but even when she worked front desk and in banquet services at hotels through college, Kindra Olson enjoyed her role in the hospitality industry. “I loved being part of someone’s big day,” she says.
Olson is now director of sales at Magnolia Hotel of Omaha, a position that demands both meticulous organization and creativity to ensure exceptional agenda and timeline development, theme production, menu planning, vendor selection, and setup/tear-down services.
“Whatever level of planning you need, we’ll do. We’ll make sure all of the details are in place,” she says. “My role is to ensure excellence, that the events our team plan are at the level of what’s expected of the Magnolia, and what a four-diamond hotel would produce.”
The boutique luxury hotel was built in 1923 and named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It features a historical ambiance with modern amenities.
“This property is just gorgeous. It has such a beautiful history to it,” Olson says. “It feels authentic and historical but evokes a timelessness.”
Olson admits a soft spot for weddings, where she spent the early part of her career. “I still get to brainstorm with the wedding planner, Maria Czechut, who is fantastic,” she says. But Olson also pours her heart into every meeting, conference, and gathering that takes place at Magnolia.
“You can always create a memorable experience that meets the goals of the meeting,” she says. “You are only limited by imagination.”
1615 Howard St.
Omaha, NE 68102
Dream Big Events
Dream Big Events is poised for expansion this year, but its owner and creative director, Audra Pace, will continue to provide every client with the benefit of her expertise as she turns their dreams into unforgettable events. The internationally certified wedding and event planner personally handles consultations with clients and develops a customized plan for execution.
The company was born of Pace’s passions of planning, design, and decorating, and her love for her work shows in her attention to the details that make every gathering unique and meaningful. “I am lucky enough to meet wonderful couples and inspiring professionals each and every day and share incredible experiences with them along the way,” she says.
Dream Big Event’s experienced team creates weddings, private events, and corporate events from meetings for 10 to galas for several hundred. Pace’s connections to the community’s premier venues and relationships with a spectrum of vendors ensure Dream Big Events can meet the needs—and dreams—of every client.
2017 S. 145th Ave.
Omaha, NE 68144
This sponsored content was printed in the February/March 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.