Interviews with Planners - Susan Sexton
Susan Sexton Blend Custom Parfum Studio’s CEO Susan brings decades of experience in marketing communications, branding and event strategy, and planning gained from both the corporate and agency sides of the business. Her personal brand is intuitive, creative and international in scope. She enjoys collaborating with like-minded professionals in designing event concepts that are influential, memorable and fun.
After a successful career in advertising, Susan expanded her repertoire to include sensory branding events whereby she could combine her passion for corporate marketing with her love of all things fragrant to create influential experiences.
At Blend Custom Parfum, Susan founded a sensory branding team-building concept whereby corporations may entertain their employees, customers or guests in an engaging way and truly tap into being memorable. The Mysterious Art of Fragrance concept has become popular to entertain, engage and influence audiences of all kinds. Clients include UPS, Equifax, The Southern Company, Cox Communications, Americas Mart, Chateau Elan, Beau Rivage, Travel Alberta, Georgia- Pacific, Atlanta Botanical Garden, Galimard Parfumerie, and Tangerine Travel.
What is the best advice you have ever received as a planner?
Have the space ready an hour before the event. People will arrive early, and it is always best to be prepared before guests begin to arrive. Always check and double-check all of the details. The Devil is in the Details.
What is the most unique location you have ever planned an event at? What was great, what was challenging?
The cask room in a French Chateau was one of the most interesting locations we planned an event at. It was very intriguing in terms of ambiance, with large oak casks lining the walls and medieval armor as decor. Among the challenges was the dim lighting and the difficulty to set-up the venue due to unusual supports in the rooms. The final product was worth the details we had to work around. We simply had to vary our approach to set up and get creative in order to move around the room efficiently. We took care of the guests and they did not perceive any problems. It was seamless.
What advice would you give to someone entering the business today?
Access your strengths and weaknesses and compare them to the attributes needed to be a corporate meeting planner. Being consistently on time, liking the details, being a people person and a problem solver are all necessary to be successful in the business. And, be sure you are willing to work long hours.
What do you see as the most challenging aspect of being a planner, and how do you overcome that challenge?
Keeping the team motivated, enthused and in lockstep. To overcome challenges, be clear on expectations and instructions, lead by example, have fun, and reward your team’s efforts.
How do you think our industry will evolve in the next five years?
I think the industry will continue to become more creative and festivalized in approach. In other words, many aspects of an event will come together to complete the whole story. Sensory experiences will become more common whereby music, smell, touch, taste will all merge for one central effect. I think there will be less emphasis on technology and a specific age target. More emphasis on educational approaches.
What makes you successful as a planner?
Passion is what makes the difference. Having all the parts and pieces of event planning isn't enough. You have to really love what you do and what you create. When you do, the event is mesmerizing. You have to have the magic.
In your opinion, what is the best and worst industry trend of the year?
Worst is targeting everything to millennials.
Best trend is educational and experiential approaches that truly engage and inspire attendees.
What is the best industry book that has helped you as a planner?
Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity by Keith Sawyer.
What is the one tool/item you can't live without on a daily basis as you go about your planning job?
My phone. It's my everything.
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