Interviews with Planners - Cindy Y. Lo, DMCP
When Cindy Lo started Red Velvet Events, Inc. (RVE) almost 15 years ago, she did so with the mission to Outplan, Outplay and Outparty! Cindy has grown the firm into delivering just that and more in meeting planning, event production, DMC services, and creative. RVE has earned multiple International Special Events Society Esprit Awards (now International Live Events Association), Gala Award, MPI-THCC Planner of the Year, McCombs School of Business Alumni Rising Star Award, Meetings & Conventions Best Places to Work, ADMEI President’s Award and most recently Global DMC Partners US Partners of the Year award. Cindy calls Austin home with her husband of 12 years and their 2 children.
What is the best advice you have ever received as a planner?
Always be open to learning every time you go on-site and never assume just because you're an experienced planner (vs. a green planner) that you've seen it all because you haven't!
What is the most unique location you have ever planned an event at? What was great, what was challenging?
I once was asked by a client to plan an event in a shopping mall. Now a shopping mall isn't that unusual, rather it's the elements that you can't control within the mall that make the environment more challenging. The event was multiple days, AND there was a surprise element within the event activation as well. Think of it as a cross between hidden camera and a marketing activation. We were dealing with noise and lighting challenges, so I had to get very creative with the solutions proposed. One of the creative solutions that I had to come up with on the fly earned me the moniker "Cindy can control the sun" for the remainder of the event. It's times like these that remind me of how much I love the challenges that clients throw my way.
What advice would you give to someone entering the business today?
Make sure you are entering the business for the right reason - meaning you love serving people, being creative, and love the adrenaline from planning different events. If you are in it because you enjoy to attend parties, then you are in it for the wrong reason.
What do you see as the most challenging aspect of being a planner, and how do you overcome that challenge?
I think the hardest challenge is that this business is still very much undervalued, which means it's a lot of hard work for little pay. It's going to take a shift in the business mindset to get it where we need the pay to reflect the amount of work. I am personally trying to change the perception of the DMC (Destination Management Companies) as they have evolved over the last 40 years. It is time to recognize that we are professionals, providing a valuable service to both marketing departments and executives worldwide, and not just transactions or task doers.
How do you think our industry will evolve in the next five years?
I am hoping that the industry will be more in tune with accepting the use of technology as I have personally found folks are slow to adopt new processes and technology.
What makes you successful as a planner?
I think it's the people who I get to engage with each day that have allowed me to grow as a planner. Clients that end up trusting us with their events have taught me so much over the past 15 years; event partners that rely on us for direction reassure me that I am solid planner; and for me personally I have learned a ton from our own team of planners.
In your opinion, what is the best and worst industry trend of the year?
Ooh this one is a tough one to answer.
Best Industry Trend: I still continue to hear from corporate clients wanting new and better ways to get engaged at corporate meetings...for example, having an interactive break is better than just having a normal coffee break.
Worst Industry Trend: I have to say the doughnut wall but it may be because I'm over it (sorry to my friends that do a beautiful job in displaying them); I just question if they are actually getting eaten at the event, and I hate wasting food.
What is the best industry book that has helped you as a planner?
Reflections of a Successful Wallflower by Andrea Michaels.
What is the one tool/item you can't live without on a daily basis as you go about your planning job?
Definitely my iPhone and iPhone charger; third would have to be my MacBook.
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