Friday, June 11, 2010

Engage!10 Insights and Reflections

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I've been in Grand Cayman this week for Engage!10, a wedding business intensive for professionals working in the luxury wedding market. This is the fifth Engage! event Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce have produced, and I am fortunate to have been to all five, three as a speaker and two as an attendee.

This week I've been reflecting on the past Engage conferences and why I find them so valuable and I wanted to share some of my experiences with you. Here are some of my takeaways from this week's event:

*It's important to create with velocity, not just volume. This idea wasn't one from any one speaker, but an unspoken lesson I took away that seemed to be threaded throughout the presentations and conversations I had with other people there.

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*From Rebecca Grinnals's session on the state of the wedding industry: Other than a car or a house, weddings are one of the most expensive purchases a couple will ever make. Do your processes respect that investment? (This second insight is from conversations with Colin Cowie and Todd Fiscus during the non-presentation time.)

*From Carley Roney's presentation on insights into how the high-end bride buys: 98% of luxury brides use professional vendors (rather than a "friend who loves to plan" or an "uncle with a great camera") yet they still spend ten hours per week online planning their wedding (with the non-luxury bride spending 8 hours) and 72% of luxury brides research vendors online. High-end companies need to engage online in a strategic fashion more so than their lower-priced colleagues.

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*Winners ignore negativity, losers wallow in it. - Cindy Novotny

I know it's not politically correct to talk about money, but I feel it's necessary since there are many workshops and seminars competing for our time and education budgets. When choosing where to allocate your resources, the return on investment is a huge factor. At the very first Engage conference I took home an idea that generated about $90,000 in revenue for my company over the course of the following ten months. It wasn't an idea that was specifically articulated by a speaker, but a lesson I learned in one of the sessions by keeping an open mind and letting my brain connect dots. The idea also wouldn't have worked (I thought it was too scary at first) had it not been for a conversation with some of the attendees in the lobby afterward that boosted my confidence to run with it.

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The other financial elephant often in the room about this conference is the cost. Engage is expensive by design: the price tag helps ensure that the people attending are often beyond the aspirational stage in their business growth. They are people who work in the high-end market and have solid businesses. Because of this, I have always found that the conversations and lessons learned from the people in the room over dinner are just as valuable as the keynote content. You can pay less for seminars with the same speakers, but the results will be different because the people in the room are a huge part in making an event what it is. I have always come away from Engage with a handful of ideas that have changed the way I approach things and have made some of my best friends in the industry that started with conversations shared in the lobby bar late in the evening.

There are no silver bullets in business, and Engage is certainly not one of them, however, for me, this week marks the fifth successful case study in how strongly effective it can be for a business. The next Engage is in October at the Breakers resort in Palm Beach. If you feel it is something that can help you, you can sign up here.



Photos courtesy of Donna Von Bruening Photographers

8 comments:

Stephanie Wales said...

Thanks for this review. I've been watching this conference for the last couple of years and was wondering if it was truly an event you could get anything tangible out of(like the 90K$ boost in revenue you reported).

Glad to hear that the conference-as well as the relationships made there-have been so effective for you.

SW

Swank Productions said...

Great post Liene.

beka rendell said...

I couldn't agree with you more. The speakers are so powerful but the attendees really make the conference even more inspirational. I am really looking forward to the next Engage!

Trisha Dean said...

Thank you Liene, this was such a great read, it's doing a great job of pushing me over the edge for The Breakers...

TomCayman said...

Hi Liene, great blog, totally agree with you on the value, how often do you get the opportunity to be exposed to so much talent in an atmosphere so conducive to sharing and being creative ?

I'm not a wedding industry specialist in any way, but I took a lot from this (just posted my own reflections on my blog at http://mccallumsolutions.com ).

One specific takeaway, and I'm NOT saying this as a plug for you... though you are an obvious person for people to talk to !... is that it was clear to me that many wedding professionals under-utilise the power of sharing their business, their personal style and brand, their experience.. through social media of all sorts.

The wedding industry is all about exemplary service, expertise and skills that brides can totally rely upon.

What better way to communicate this than through your thoughts, your pictures, your experiences ? What better way to share this than through your website, your blog, your tweets, your facebook, your flickr ?

Lacy Branch Events said...

Liene, this was such a great take on Engage. I agree it is by no means inexpensive, but it is for people serious about investing in themselves. Spending time with you was one of the highlights of my Engage10 experience. Your social media knowledge is mind blowing and are one of the smartest women I know.

Anonymous said...

Liene,
Thank you for saying out loud what I'd been somewhat dreading: Engage! is not for me. While I do feel I am beyond the aspirational stage, I am not working in the high end market and this year has proven that my business is not as solid as I thought. While the tweets and blog posts about Engage! make me want to attend, I don't think I am ready, yet.

Anonymous said...

found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later