Interviews with Planners - Michael Marquez
Michael Marquez, General Manager at Mystical Entertainment Group started his entertainment career about 8 years ago as a DJ assistant. He always had an immense passion for music and an affinity for DJing. This passion naturally translated into a desire to learn the craft of DJing, which lead him to Mystical Entertainment. As he worked more and more events, the passion for the entertainment industry grew and he began to perfect his skills and develop an emcee personality. As time passed, he began to take on a larger and more involved role at Mystical Entertainment, transforming from assistant to full time DJ/Emcee, and eventually General Manager.
The challenge of coordinating all types of events is what excites Michael, but if he had to choose one specific type, it would be weddings. He truly enjoys the process of planning and executing wedding entertainment for clients. Seeing them begin their lives together is both inspiring and motivating. Michael relishes in the fact that Mystical Entertainment Group takes such a major role in the beginning of their lives together. "I am truly grateful and feel blessed that I can experience that time and time again," Michael shares.
Michael's specialty is event planning and coordination as well as being one of the lead DJ/Emcees at Mystical. His vast knowledge of music and experience in reading crowds ensures that every client’s expectations are met or exceeded! Michael is fluent in Spanish and has become one of the leading Latino entertainers/planners in the Tri-State area. Michael states "What motivates me the most is creating joy and unforgettable moments for all of my clients, and at the end of the day getting paid to party isn’t too bad either!"
What is the best advice you have ever received as a planner?
Learn to manage expectations. Always under-promise and over-deliver. You need to be super detail-oriented, nothing can get past you the day of the event. You need to be able to instantly recognize if someone else isn't doing their job and react accordingly. There are no second chances!
What is the most unique location you have ever planned an event at? What was great, what was challenging?
We work often in the Palazzo Ballroom at The Venetian in Garfield, NJ. It has a room designed to seat 800 guests. It is a beautiful room, great for photographs and it is amazingly decorated. The room features dual staircases and an enormous vaulted ceiling, simply breathtaking! The challenge with the room is the sound. It is such a huge space and creating enough sound without being overbearing is a challenge. If you do not have at least 500 guests, the room can be overwhelming. Creating nice lounge areas to break up the space and directing guests throughout the ballroom is something that is usually overlooked by planners but can really add to the flow and ambiance of the event.
What advice would you give to someone entering the business today?
The customer is NOT always right. I know that goes against everything we have been taught but hear me out. Sometimes clients can have inflated expectations. We as planners are here to bring their vision to life, sometimes however we need to bring the client back down to earth. If we get wrapped up in trying to satisfy a client’s every whim and idea we can set ourselves up for failure. If you cannot do it or don't know how to accomplish something it is ok to ask for help. If you try to do too much or reach beyond your means you can create a negative situation for yourself and your client that could have been avoided.
What do you see as the most challenging aspect of being a planner, and how do you overcome that challenge?
The most challenging aspect of planning to me is managing people and time. This is super important. Dealing with different vendors and acts, each with their own personalities and requirements, and bringing everyone together onto one timeline can be very difficult. If any of those moving pieces is late or fails to deliver than your entire event is in jeopardy. The solution is pretty simple. Communicate often and effectively. Use technology to your advantage. There are online collaboration and meeting tools you can use to gather people from all over the country to share ideas and work together. Start early! Have a basic plan outlined and hammer away at it every day! Do not leave things to the last minute or to chance. Lastly, do not try to cut costs or corners. I understand everyone has a budget or a profit margin they want to adhere to, but in this industry, you truly get what you pay for. Is saving $2 per centerpiece worth it if the florist shows up with subpar flowers or shows up late?
How do you think our industry will evolve in the next five years?
I think everything is cyclical. Right now, people are looking for the new, hot thing for events. People are straying away from the traditional. This all will come to a head where every event will start to be the same. Full of technology and the latest trend. To react people will resort back to traditional, conventional applications and services in an effort to be different.
What makes you successful as a planner?
Being dynamic and adaptable. Listening to the client wholeheartedly but also reigning them in when necessary. The ability to relate to and find common ground with a Fortune 500 CEO, a million-dollar bride, a local firefighter running a fundraiser, or an event for the 15-year old teen planning her birthday. Being able to relate has brought me great success. At the end of the day just put yourself in their shoes and make them feel the way you would want to feel.
In your opinion, what is the best and worst industry trend of the year?
The best trend for me has been the head table. Recently wedding clients want these opulent, decorated, almost royal looking head tables. It gives multiple vendors the opportunity to collaborate with furniture, floral and lighting all coming together.
The worst are photo booths. The market is heavily saturated with subpar products that force reputable companies to devalue their offerings.
What is the best industry book that has helped you as a planner?
I like to learn in person. I love attending conference and workshops to learn about the latest trends.
Photographs courtesy of Mystical Entertainment Group.