Category Event management

People’s Postcode Lottery to join sponsors of NOEA Awards

People’s Postcode Lottery to join sponsors of NOEA Awards

The National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA) has agreed a partnership with People’s Postcode Lottery to sponsor one of the awards at the association’s annual Awards, 27th November. The organisation has chosen to support the Small Event of the Year category at the ceremony, as part of its wish to encourage grass roots and growing events. 

The People’s Postcode Lottery’s in-house events team of seven plans and delivers all internal and external events and celebrations. From Street Prizes, where the team visits winners in locations across Britain, to monthly Postcode Millions events where winning communities and local good causes are brought together in unique celebrations. 

Nicole Allan, head of events at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “We’re proud to sponsor this year’s NOEA Small Event of the Year award. Delivering small-scale events with people and communities at their heart is key to what my team does throughout the year. Partnering with the association in support of this award, which acknowledges and celebrates the work being carried out by event professionals in staging smaller events is extremely fitting. I’m looking forward to seeing the variety of entries and events in this year’s category.”

“We’re delighted to have People’s Postcode Lottery join our other sponsors in recognising the very best of the outdoor event industry,” commented Susan Tanner, CEO, National Outdoor Events Association. “The awards continue to grow in popularity and quality, and we’re looking forward to seeing even more entries this year.”

People’s Postcode Lottery is owned by Novamedia BV, a social enterprise that enables and supports charitable and social initiatives worldwide, the organisation is ranked the third largest private charity donor in the world in 2017 and second biggest in Europe. 

More than £462 million has been raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery for 6,500 charities and good causes in Britain and beyond.

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Wednesday Wisdom: How to Have Tough Conversations with Event Planning Clients

No one likes having tough conversations with clients. But with a little skill building and guidance you’ll be equipped to handle almost any scenario with flying colors! 

6 Soft Skills All Event Planners Need

Soft skills is a phrase most often associated with HR departments. People like to assume that they are fluffy activities reserved for rainy days when you have nothing else better to do, not the top of your event planning task list. But soft skills are really all about establishing an internal foundation you can use to support all aspects of your career. 

Soft skills are proven to be a core element in the success of most Fortune 500 CEOs – and for good reason. In professional trainer Peggy Klaus’ new book, The Hard Truth About Soft Skills—Workplace Lessons Smart People Wish They’d Learned Sooner, she notes the soft skills play a critical role in each of the following areas: 

  • Career self advocacy
  • Project completion rates
  • Interpersonal conflict with team members
  • Leadership ability
  • Criticism processing
  • Effective and efficient communication

And last, but certainly not least: interpersonal conflict with clients. Which is, of course, the focus of this article. 

Take a look at the following soft skills. How they apply to your work? Which ones you’d like to focus on moving forward? They’re all important but some might resonate more with you than others. 

1. Empathy

Empathy is your ability to both process and understand your own feelings as well as the feelings of others. If you’re highly empathetic, you’re likely very good at considering situations from someone else’s perspective and would, in most cases, allow that information to dictate your actions towards them. 

2. Active Listening

Active listening is all about how well you can hear and actually comprehend what a person is trying to communicate to you through body language, subtext, and emotion. People who can remember the name of someone they just met ten minutes ago are experts at active listening. 

3. Being Proactive, Not Reactive

When an unpleasant situation or exchange occurs, do you stop and consider the best course of action? Or do you say/do/act the way your impulses tell you to? The former is the most effective option because it helps make sure you are constructively working towards a goal rather than doing something purely because it feels right in the moment. 

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4. Understanding Body Language

Body language is a science and those who study it can uncover subtle nonverbal cues that allow them to better understand someone whose intentions, thoughts, or emotions are otherwise unclear. People who are great at reading body language know what certain eye, hand, and mouth movements subconsciously signal, even if the person doing them doesn’t realize it. 

5. Emotional Resilience 

If you’ve ever considered yourself to be someone who is good at rolling with the punches then you might have high emotional resilience, which gives you the ability to manage life and career challenges with a generally positive attitude. 

Now that you know what soft skills are non negotiable for event planners, how are you supposed to improve them? 

Skill Building Resources You Should Bookmark

We’ve compiled a list of great resources you can use to improve your event planning soft skills. 

  • GoSkills is a website and resource guide entirely dedicated to educating users on the nuances of soft skills while also including helpful courses for building them. 
  • Lifehacker has put together a list of 12 Books to Equip You with the Soft Skills in Demand that will help you hone your soft skills, become more adaptable, resolve conflicts with ease, and improve client communication. 
  • This Soft Skills playlist on YouTube offers 73 digestible videos on every soft skill you can think of. 

Building soft skills is well worth the effort but it does take time. For more immediate solutions, check out our suggestions for responding to the following uncomfortable situations. 

Benchmarking the Modern Meeting Planner

10 Tough Client Conversations Most Event Planners Face at Some Point & How to Handle Them 

Here are some example scenarios you might find yourself going through one day along with practical steps you can take to resolve issues like it. 

1. Negotiating a fair event planning rate. 

A client approaches you with a really great opportunity – and they’ve even agreed to pay you your rate! Hooray! As you begin working with them however, they start requesting more and more of your time or services. You want to gig but know that the additional requests are not what you signed up for at this agreed upon rate. 

Ways you could respond:

Negotiating your freelance rate might feel uncomfortable at first but it’s important that you understand how much value you bring to the project. In a kind and casual way, let the client know that you’re more than happy to complete the requested tasks, remind them what the original agreement included, and add in your proposed fee for the additional work to help move things along. 

2. Setting communication boundaries. 

Your bridal client is very excited about her big day. So excited in fact that she can’t help but text you at 1am. On a Tuesday. And gets offended when you don’t reply back right away. 

Ways you could respond:

Communication boundaries can be added to your event planning contract. But if that ship has sailed, all you have to do is let the client know that you care about them and their event which means that, in order to deliver the best possible service, you’ll only be available by (your preferred communication tool) during (name the hours you actually want to hear from them). You can even set up email away messages that kick in at the end of your work day letting clients know what time they can expect to hear back from you by the next morning or afternoon. 

3. Knowing when to back down during a disagreement. 

You’re an event planner because you have excellent taste and are great at what you do. But your client has fought with you every step of the way. From the theme to the centerpieces, you don’t really see eye to eye on most things. 

Ways you could respond:

There’s a difference between letting a client have their way just because and gracefully choosing your battles. If you fall prey to the easy way out (letting them make bad choices that go against what they want or can afford) you’ll be the one they blame at the end of the day. Identify your client’s highest priorities early on and use those to gauge which disagreements are worth duking it out over and which ones are a waste of time. 

4. Dealing with a high strung or overly critical client. 

You’ve done a good job planning your first ever trade show. Yet despite receiving praise from the client who hired you, one of their team members always has something negative to say about your work. Their behavior is passive aggressive and no one seems to notice it but you so it goes unchecked. 

Ways you could respond:

Although it isn’t a reflection on who you are or your abilities as an event planner, constant criticism can feel really personal. Deal with highly critical people by first understanding that whatever problem they have is their problem. Continue treating them with as much respect and kindness as you would anyone else on the team but remember there is no shame in bringing the issue up with a trusted colleague. See what they have to say about it and if they’d be willing to play mediator so the two of you can hash it out. 

5. Standing up for yourself if clients are late on payments. 

You finally finished a multi day, cross country trade show and are eagerly waiting to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Which never come. You email the client and don’t get a response. You wait, email again, and wait some more, but nothing happens. 

Ways you could respond:

Deal with late payments by remaining polite and professional in every exchange, no matter how you really feel like behaving. Try to get them on the phone. And if that doesn’t work, contact the accounting department yourself to see what could be the hold up. Their answer might be telling – if they had no idea you were even on their payroll, you may want to get a mitigator involved. But first make sure to reach out at least one more time before you get that extreme. 

Guide: How to Create an Event Planning Checklist

6. Being honest when what you have to say is definitely not what they want to hear. 

That wedding hall that your happy couple put as their number one, ultimate, must-have non-negotiable? Yeah it’s booked on their wedding day. And you have to deliver the news.  

Ways you could respond:

No one likes to give someone disappointing information. But you can and should soften the blow by suggesting 2 or 3 alternatives that better suit their event goals. In this case you could show them a comparable venue that had all their most loved features from the first choice. And you can get a list of dates their first choice venue does have available instead. 

7. Coming back from misaligned expectations. 

The brand that hired you to do their product launch assumed you’d be promoting the event entirely by yourself, despite the fact that they have an entire marketing team dedicated to it already and it wasn’t included in your contract. They want to know why you haven’t posted or shared anything to their social media yet. 

Ways you could respond:

Miscommunication happens. It’s no one’s fault. Well okay, it was probably your client’s fault but you cannot point the finger at them. Instead, let them know there seems to have been a misunderstanding but that you’d be happy to renegotiate your existing contract to include the additional service. 

8. Responding to a client who is raising their voice at you or someone else.

You overhear your client yelling at an event staffer for accidentally dropping a bottle of wine as they were setting up. Everyone is looking but no one knows what to do. 

Ways you could respond:

Because you are the event planner, you are essentially the leader of the event as well. Step in and calmly ask what is the matter. Allow the client and staffer to explain their sides of the story. Then, without taking sides, suggest a compromise or simply remind your client of the fact that you ordered extra bottles anyways for this exact reason, so there’s no need to get too upset. 

Also it’s worth noting that a momentary lapse in judgement is one thing, but a consistent pattern of behavior that negatively impacts you and your team may mean you need to consider a more in-depth approach. Or, in a worst case scenario, terminating the contract. Mutual respect is a fundamental right for you, your client, and everyone else involved with the event. If a client cannot handle that notion then you are in no way obligated to stick around and participate in their mistreatment.

9. Respectfully parting ways mid-project. 

The scenario we just described becomes extreme and your client’s behavior towards you and/or people around you has become intolerable. 

Ways you could respond:

Legal counsel blogs note that it’s important to do so in writing but there are plenty of ways to politely terminate a contract. But before you do that, make sure you’ve taken the time to calmly address the situation with the client. They might not be aware of their behavior and sincerely apologize. 

If they aren’t receptive to the discussion or do not change their behavior, then follow the guidelines set out in your contract for this scenario. If you didn’t include them, you can still send a letter (attached as a PDF in an email that is being tracked with a third party app to confirm it was successfully delivered and opened) that outlines – in no uncertain terms – what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, when it officially takes effect, and what steps you will do to tie up loose ends. 

10. Addressing inappropriate comments or actions.  

A few offhand remarks your client has shared haven’t been career-ending-Tweet worthy but they definitely point to an unspoken set of beliefs they have that rub you the wrong way. It’s subtle so you second guess yourself – they can’t possibly mean what they just said, right? Until it happens again. 

Ways you could respond:

You might not see eye to eye with everyone you organize events for but that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate unacceptable behavior. The next time the client makes a remark of that same nature, use it as an opportunity to start a dialogue. Ask them why they said what they said. Explain how it makes you feel. If you aren’t able (or willing) to articulate why the remarks are so offensive, you can always limit in person communication and use phone meeting and emails to collaborate instead. 

Now, you’re ready to handle any tough event client conversation that comes your way. 

Want to learn more about common event planning problems and how to vet clients? Be sure to watch our video on starting an event planning business to set yourself for long term success! 

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Higher Education: Inside the Weedmaps Museum of Weed

weed-museum-2019_1

weed-museum-2019_1

A mix of artifacts and interactives are designed to educate attendees on the evolution of cannabis.

The legalization of cannabis consumption has made the plant a hot topic of late, but human interaction with marijuana dates back to ancient civilization. From binding samurai armor together to easing the effects of chemotherapy, cannabis has an extensive history that encompasses a range of uses, cultures and time periods. To illustrate this evolution while giving its brand a boost, digital cannabis platform Weedmaps developed an entire museum dedicated to getting the public up to speed. Open Aug. 3 through Sept. 29, the Weedmaps Museum of Weed, located in Los Angeles, takes consumers on a 30,000-square-foot journey through the history of marijuana.

The museum features a full cafeteria, merchandise shop, snack bar and plenty of lounge space, but at the heart of the experience are a “Plant Lab” and seven meticulously curated exhibits, arranged chronologically, that offer fun, educational touchpoints while encouraging attendees to support reform efforts.


cannabis_grass-lands_teaserMore on This Topic:
  • Blazing Trails: The Do’s and Dont’s of Cannabis Experiences at Events
  • Three Strategies for Igniting a CBD-infused Experience

The first stop, Pre-Prohibition, is presented as a traditional art gallery exhibit. The space features facts on the earliest uses of cannabis, including the first recorded use of medical marijuana, with artifacts to supplement them. Among the featured items: authentic samurai armor and a complete recreation of Betsy Ross’ original American flag made out of hemp. Then it’s on to the Age of Madness exhibit, which examines the use of cannabis propaganda to fuel racial tensions and panic in the early part of the 20th century. In the space, attendees learn how films like “Reefer Madness” generated widespread fear and misconceptions about cannabis use that lasted nearly a century. To bring the concept to life, Weedmaps created a “madhouse environment” that included old propaganda posters, bold graphics, examples of 20th century yellow journalism, and a look at the Mexican Revolution.

The third exhibit, Counterculture Revolution, offers a psychedelic immersion into the mid-20th century when a new generation stepped onto the scene, advocating for cannabis as a symbol of love and peace. Activist posters and trippy visuals line this exhibit to underscore the chaos of the era. Here, attendees learn about the Brotherhood of Eternal Love (the “hippie mafia” that aimed to inspire a psychedelic revolution in the U.S.), a brief history of music and cannabis, and the growth of mysticism.

Then over at the Behind Closed Doors exhibit, attendees are introduced to the key players in the War on Drugs movement. The space demonstrates how laws and regulations of the era targeted specific communities.

 

weed-museum-2019_7

The Dose of Compassion exhibit highlights a turning point in the history of medical marijuana.

 

“This is when the Shafer Commission basically came out and said, ‘Marijuana is not [as bad as] we think it is,’” says Julie Stein, executive producer of the Weedmaps Museum of Weed. “But Nixon said, ‘No, it is. We’re going to make it public enemy No. 1.’ So it became this war on drugs. From a production standpoint, the exhibit is really interactive. We have a big lenticular in the space where you see the two sides of Nixon, and then a more abstract installation with CRT TVs where they’re really ping-ponging between the two sides. This is when activist groups like Yippie and LEMAR and Norml were established. At the same time, this is when the DEA was formed. So we bounce back with conversations between all of the parties.”

The fifth exhibit, Entrapment, transports attendees to the Regan era during which some of the strictest cannabis laws in history were passed, leading to mass incarceration. In partnership with the CAN-DO Foundation, Weedmaps is leveraging the space to spotlight four people who are currently incarcerated for non-violent marijuana crimes. Within the exhibit, attendees participate in a visitation booth experience during which they walk through a replica jail cell block to a station where they can listen to the personal stories of the four incarcerated individuals, some of whom are in prison for life. Consumers can sign petitions to fight for those individuals’ clemency, brush up on statistics around dollars spent on incarceration for non-violent marijuana crimes, and review artifacts like old D.A.R.E. kits from drug education programs, board games and marijuana tax stamps.

“We really wanted to provoke emotion. There are moments where I’ve seen tears in people’s eyes when they’re hearing these stories and seeing some of the things that people went through to get to where we’re at,” says Stein.

Then it’s on to Dose of Compassion, set in the 1990s, when cannabis’ position in society evolved from counter-culture to pop culture. The exhibit portrays the bedroom of a ’90s-era kid, with cannabis posters, shelves lined with bongs and other references pointing to the plant’s progression into the mainstream. From there, attendees are transported into a replica hospital room from San Francisco General Hospital, the first facility to provide hospice services to people dying of AIDS. This marked a turning point in the history of medical marijuana legalization, including the establishment of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the first medical marijuana dispensary. Weedmaps worked directly with the founders of the CDC, including some of the individuals who wrote Prop 215, to curate the exhibit.


“We really wanted to provoke emotion. There are moments where I’ve seen tears in people’s eyes when they’re hearing these stories.” —Julie Stein


In the last exhibit, Legalization, attendees engage with an interactive, motion-sensing timeline that guides them through pivotal moments in cannabis history. There’s also a data visualization that examines everything from the financial benefits of cannabis legalization to cannabis support from political parties. The final stop is at the Plant Lab where attendees learn about the anatomy of the plant and how its various components interact with the body. Consumers can compare THC against CBD, learn about different types of cannabis extractions and consumption technology and smell a variety of terpenes. At the core of the Plant Lab experience is a large installation detailing the body’s endocannabinoid system, which illustrates how humans react to cannabis consumption in different forms.

“The feedback has been overwhelming,” says Stein. “People who have never been interested in cannabis or aren’t connoisseurs are excited to learn about the plant. And that was really what we wanted to do—destigmatize it and make it approachable. It’s pretty amazing seeing people interact, engage, have fun and have their ‘a-ha’ moments.” Agency: Virtue, Los Angeles.

 

Take a Tour of the Weedmaps Museum of Weed:

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Events Industry Forum invites applications for grants

Events Industry Forum invites applications for grants

The Event Industry Forum is inviting applications for grants for projects that will benefit the events industry.

The Forum, which brings together 26 trade bodies and similar organisations from across the event industry, has funding available to support projects that will be of general benefit to the outdoor sector.

Since taking over publication of The Purple Guide from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) two years ago, the Forum has already provided over £70,000 in grants and support for projects to help the sector. It has also made a commitment to provide £5000 per annum to support event students attend industry conventions.

The Forum is committed to using funds raised from sales of the Guide to support projects that will have a wide benefit to the events industry.

Grant Guidelines

Grant applications must be able to demonstrate a purpose that will benefit and support the interests of the outdoor events industry, be it the whole or any part of it.

  • At least 20% of grant funds will be withheld until EIF receives a full report of the completed project.
  • Grant recipients must issue press releases both before and after the project, recognising EIF’s funding support. Press releases must be approved by EIF before being issued.
  • Any publication, report or marketing material produced referring to the project must acknowledge EIF’s funding support.

How to Apply

Applications for grants should be in writing and should include:

  • The title of the project and a short description of it
  • Details of the amount of funding being sought and specifically how it will be used
  • Details of the overall project budget
  • An explanation of how this project will benefit the events industry
  • Timescales for delivery
  • Applications must be supported by a copy of the constitution of the organisation applying plus their charity or company registration (if applicable)
  •  Individual applicants must provide appropriate references from the industry if the above do not apply.
  • Contact details for further information

Applications should be kept to a single side of A4 and should be sent to Jim Winship at jim@tesa.org.uk.

NEXT DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS – 1ST NOVEMBER 2019

EIF Decision Process

Applications for grants will be considered at a meeting of the EIF Directors twice a year and applicants will be notified of the outcome at least two weeks after each meeting together, where possible, with their reasoning. Decisions will be based on scores given by the Directors to each application.

The next Directors meeting will be on 8th December 2019

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Tips Tuesday: 27 Top Timesaving Event Planning Tricks

How can an event planner improve? With some great timesaving event planning tips and tricks of course! We’ve gathered 27 of the most creative and effective productivity strategies known to the modern event planner in this list of ideas that will surprise, inspire, and, ultimately, inform your event process. 

Pick up new timesaving event planning secrets

1. Have rules regarding last minute event or contract changes. 

Although there are plenty of ways to handle last minute event changes, prevention is key. So in your contract, make sure you include rules for what happens when significant changes occur 1-3 months out, 1-4 weeks out, and the day of-1 week out. Also be sure to get your scope of work in writing too. 

2. Test drive new staff at smaller events. 

Working with event staff is a skill unto itself. Don’t put new hires on staff for your most important events until you’ve seen how they can perform at smaller, less intense ones at least once. 

3. Send deadline reminder memes to partners, sponsors, and teams. 

Memes have a scientifically proven effect on the human brain. So even though everyone secretly hates your friendly reminder emails, adding a meme can help trigger the memory forming centers of our brains (because by definition a meme is assigning meaning to an otherwise meaningless image) and help participants feel a greater sense of community having participated in (or at least can recognize) the almost tribal like sharing that led to them knowing this particular bit of micro information.  

4. Make event vendors pay late fees. 

Nothing lights a fire under a person quite like throwing good money away. Set your event vendors up with the same late fee parameters and figures that you use with your clients (the size of the fee doesn’t matter; it’s very existence should be enough to strike fear into their hearts). 

5. Use chatbots to communicate with event attendees. 

Use chatbots before your event to establish your event brand voice and tone, provide customer service support, and gather data on your audience through things like polls or surveys. 

6. Create event staff training videos. 

In the week leading up to the event, send a link to a password protected video set that staff can review (and preferably be quizzed on) that preps them for the big day. Here are some ideas for using employee training videos that you directly apply to your event. 

7. Funnel all your event social media feeds into one platform. 

Tools such as Buffer, HootSuite, and Everypost consolidate multiple channels into a single dashboard so you can have a bird’s eye view of what content you’re distributing and how your event audience is reacting to it without toggling between a half dozen sites. 

8. Get an all-in-one event management tool. 

The best event management software options should help you accomplish tasks like: build your budget, search for event venues, designing your floor plan or layout, collaborate with key stakeholders, and help market the event itself. 

All-in-one event planning software

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9. Set up texting from your computer. 

It’s really distracting to have to simultaneously monitor emails on your desktop and messages on your phone, so try keeping them all in one place instead. If you already have a Mac, you can probably use iMessage. But if you have a PC or are communicating with someone who doesn’t have an Apple phone, just follow these instructions. 

10. Centralize event communications. 

The average person spends 28% of the whole work day just sending and answering emails. Save you and your entire team that chunk of time by implementing a single event services solution where you all can share documents, consolidate message threads, and get real time updates on project statuses without ever opening your inbox. 

11. Let face analysis software do market research for you. 

Facial recognition can be used to reduce manual event guest check ins, enhance event security, create programming heat maps, and neatly gather on new leads. 

12. Organize your to do list by urgency and importance. 

Nicknamed the Eisenhower Matrix, this useful graphic can help you tidy up your to do list and tackle only the most important tasks first (i.e. the ones that are both urgent and important). 

13. Assign an informed tie breaker within the company. 

Disagreements among event stakeholders come up from now and then, but working towards those solutions have the potential to take up a larger chunk of your timeline that you planned for. Make sure your designated decision leader knows all the details of the situation, can make an unbiased observation of both sides, and is good under pressure. 

14. Create a highly detailed schedule for your work day. 

Plan out activities using 15 minute blocks, remember to schedule breaks, group similar tasks into the same chunks of time. 

15. Reject interruptions by blocking off solo work time on your public calendar. 

Time blocking in this way helps make sure other team members respect your boundaries while you stay on task. 

Guide: How to Create an Event Planning Checklist

16. Get order, timing, and document requirements from each of your backup vendors. 

If something goes wrong with your vendors it will likely be a last minute issue. So have at least 3 backup choices with all their relevant details available in your event planning binder for every type of vendor your event will need. 

17. Do a workflow overhaul. 

Tracking what you do every day might lead to better work-life balance but it can also help identify weaknesses in your current process. For example, you might need to delegate more administrative tasks or conduct shorter meetings. 

18. Consistently add to a list of potential speakers and presenters for future events.

Collect names of people who are influential in your industry, are great lecturers, or have expressed interest in working with your brand publicly.  When it comes time to booking your speakers, you won’t have to spend hours digging through LinkedIn and your contact list to find anyone – just refer to the list! 

19. Visualize how you would streamline your process if your current schedule was doubled. 

This great psychological exercise forces you to figure out how, in the most high pressure situation imaginable, you could possibly deal with and overcome scheduling challenges that come with completely maxed out workload. It’s pretty much the best way to beat Parkinson’s Law. 

Hotel asset management

20. Make a list of expectations and tasks all your event volunteers will be responsible for (and share it with them ahead of time). 

On the day of the event, answering questions and micromanaging event volunteers is way too time consuming. Plus, they’ll really appreciate you preparing for them (it’s one of the best ways to make your volunteers happy). 

21. Automate the event check-in process. 

Speed up the process by choosing a great event check-in app. Look for user-friendly features that further cut down on the time it takes to train your event staff how to use the program if you want to pack an extra productivity punch. 

22. Share desktop screens to your phone. 

Tools like Chrome to Mobile make it easy for you to sync all your open tabs from one device to the other, which is helpful when you’re on your way to a meeting, traveling to or from a venue, or simply need to save these particular pages for future viewing later. 

23. Wrangle speakers and organize presentations through a single collaborative platform. 

Using email to answer speaker questions, approve outlines, and gather photos or bios isn’t efficient, which is why it’s best to use a single tool that brings all your speakers together into one digital area you can oversee. 

24. Use an event registration website builder instead of building one from scratch. 

Plus, using a customizable solution will make it easier to collect audience information, maintain high security levels, enhance your event strategy, and provide more than enough time saving bonus features to fully round out your new productivity plan. 

25. Add a QR scanner to your event app. 

Using QR codes for events will make it easier to check people in and it will help your booths or sponsors conduct valuable, lead generating event activities without requiring any additional demands on your schedule. 

26. Use templates to create event surveys and polls. 

Combine a mobile event survey app with attendee, sponsor, or stakeholder event survey questions. 

27. Have an email sorting tool prioritize your inbox for you. 

If you have Gmail, give tools like Sortd a try. They help turn your inbox into a to-do list, using customizable columns to organize tasks based on your emails. If you use different email provider, look for an extension that allows you to go beyond basic color coding to provide actually useful organization help. 

Even more event planning secrets

If you’d like to find even more ways to be productive as an event planner, try reading up on how to handle common problems and solutions before they come up. You can also save time by using this customizable event checklist or brush up on your email communication skills before your next big project starts to create a well rounded productivity plan.

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Superfans Melt for the Taco Bell Hotel Experience

taco-bell-hotel_room-service

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Hotel guests were treated to complimentary food drops.

Taco Bell’s legions of diehard supporters have defined what it means to be a brand superfan for years, and from Aug. 8-11, the fast food chain returned the love with an upscale hospitality experience dubbed The Bell: A Taco Bell Hotel & Resort. The activation, which took over an existing hotel in Palm Springs, CA, served as a masterclass in brand loyalty and fan engagement with experiential at its core. There was no new product or program to push—the experience was simply designed to reward superfans and inspire social sharing along the way. And let’s just say fans and invited influencers were more than happy to… taco ’bout it (sorry, we had to).

The branded adventure began at check-in, where attendees (from 21 different states) received a hot sauce packet-inspired room key and complimentary beach towel, and picked up a Baja Blast mocktail garnished with a popsicle. Then it was up to the room, where “The Bell” branding covered every inch of the space, right down to the sauce packet-shaped pillows. Each room featured a mini fridge stocked with complimentary beverages and snacks, Wi-Fi, a flat screen TV and branded toiletries, among amenities. There were also complimentary “food drops” featuring Taco Bell favorites like the Doritos Locos Taco, as well as menu items exclusive to the resort experience, whipped up by the brand’s in-house chef, Rene Pisciotti. Each “drop” was announced via the famous Taco Bell chime.


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The rooms, of course, were only one part of the larger-than-life activation. Curated activities abounded. Each morning, attendees were invited to participate in a hot yoga class (on hot sauce packet-inspired yoga mats, of course) and from 2-5 p.m. each day, they could partake in “Happier Hour” at the poolside Baja Bar where popular Taco Bell food items and exclusive drinks were served. During regular hours at the bar, attendees could purchase specialty dishes, like Fire Chip Chilaquiles. Meanwhile, the on-site salon offered Taco Bell-themed fades, braids and manicures.

There was also plenty of time to swim in the “Fire Pool” or lounge on hot sauce packet-shaped floats (are you sensing a theme, here?) while listening to an in-house dj spin tunes. Feed the Beat performances also took place each day. A training camp conducted by the Aqualillies, a professional synchronized swimming team, was also offered to those quick enough to snag a spot. And in a “can’t-make-this-up moment” at the end of the training camp, the instructor asked participants to yell “Aqualillies” on the count of three, which the crowd quickly transformed into chants of “Taco Lilies.”

taco-bell-hotel_morning-yoga

Daily programming included morning hot yoga classes.

Fans were additionally invited to dive-in movie screenings in the pool, where they could watch films with Taco Bell-heavy references like “Demolition Man” and “Mean Girls,” and munch on complimentary bites. There were also rounds of TACO (the brand’s version of BINGO), with prizes including brand new Xboxes. And to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Baja Blast, Taco Bell invited fans to experience its “Freeze Room,” which featured air conditioning, multisensory design elements and complimentary Baja Blast Birthday Freeze beverages. Rounding out the key touchpoints was a gift shop selling exclusive merchandise including branded swimsuits and sauce packet-shaped phone chargers.

Unanticipated opportunities for the brand to demonstrate its hospitality chops also presented themselves. When one eco-conscious guest’s metal straw was accidentally thrown away, for instance, Taco Bell sent staffers out to buy her a new one, then had it delivered to her room with a friendly note. And when another attendee complained on social media about a lack of lounge chairs, staffers located him and delivered a seat directly to him.

 

Check into The Bell Experience:

 

Then there were the unexpected moments that the attendees themselves incorporated into the experience. Like the mystery fan who painted a series of rocks in Taco Bell branding, posted about them socially and hid them around the hotel. Or the myriad attendees that showed up in self-made, branded costumes, some with their own taco-shaped pool floats in tow. (Bonus: While few fans utilized the service, Taco Bell also offered discounted Lyft rides to attendees who wanted to, ahem, blow the taco stand for any reason.)

“We talk a lot about how we’re already in the hospitality business,” says Jennifer Arnoldt, senior marketing director-retail engagement + experience at Taco Bell. “We have over 7,000 restaurants and we’re growing globally, but we wanted to give our fans a chance to have this elevated experience of hospitality done in a Taco Bell way. Everything from, obviously, the food that we served to the apparel and the merchandise and the music—all these amazing things were for our fans. They were at the root of every single decision that we made.” Agencies: United Entertainment Group, New York City; Edelman, Los Angeles.

 

Take a Tour of The Bell:

The post Superfans Melt for the Taco Bell Hotel Experience appeared first on Event Marketer.

Events Industry Board asks industry to support SOC code development

Events Industry Board asks industry to support SOC code development

The
Event Industry Board’s (EIB) Talent Taskforce is calling for industry
colleagues to take part in a new survey launched by the Office for National
Statistics and Warwick University’s Institute for Employment Research (IER),
which will look to develop the current framework for the Standard Occupational
Classification (SOC) code.

The
ONS and IER launched the survey after a number of SOC users expressed a need
for a greater level of detail than is currently available. The SOC is a
recognised framework that enables all UK occupations to be classified according
to skill level and specialisation. This classification is then, in turn,
essential in the creation of the occupational and social statistics that inform
policy and the public.

Sarah
Wright, chair on the Events Industry Board Talent Taskforce, said: “I highly
recommend that all of my industry colleagues take the time to fill out the
survey. A colleague once said to me ‘if you’re not counted, you
don’t count’
 and this is a huge risk for the industry. It is hard to
prove market failure, access support or measure trends without these codes.
This is crucial as our recent study provided evidence that 61% of employers are
facing a skills shortage.”

Germany
and the US already have standardised codes, which recognise careers within the
event sector as a viable profession. By having a standardised code for the UK,
it will not only provide key market data but will also help to address the
current skills shortage.

Michael
Hirst OBE, chair on the Events Industry Board said: “This project is vital for
the future of our industry. No-one knows your profession better than you and we
need your expert knowledge about jobs in your sector to make this project a
success and ensure the industry is recognised. We have an exciting opportunity
to be able to create a standardised code for the industry but, we must strike
while the iron is hot, and we must have the support of the whole industry.”

The SOC
user engagement survey can be accessed here. The survey will run until 30th September
2019.

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Tips Tuesday: 7 Ways to Find Event Planning Inspiration When You’re Out of Ideas

Even the most imaginative event planners run out of creative steam. This is particularly true if you’re working on simultaneous projects or on tight deadlines—you need great event ideas yesterday! 

Thankfully, there are many sources of event inspiration you can tap into when you’re creativity is low. From social media feeds to mood boards to your network of event planners, you can find event planning inspiration when your creativity is running on empty. 

It may feel as though you’re completely out of ideas at the moment, but be ready for bursts of inspiration with an ‘Event Ideas’ notebook, and documents on your computer or tablet. You can upload files to your event planning software for reference, or share them with your planning team. 

Now explore these tips and valuable sources of inspiration to help spark your latest (and greatest!) event ideas.

Get creative with 7 uncommon ways to find event inspiration

1. Let the event’s goals generate theme ideas

First, define the event goals to get a look at the big picture. The theme and décor should suit the event objectives, so check in and ask your client questions frequently to ensure you’re meeting their needs. Sticking with the established intentions of the event narrows down your options and gets you closer to the mark from the very beginning.

A symposium on green tech, for example, will guide you to explore eco-friendly venues and event suppliers. You can then let the theme guide your brainstorming. Explore websites and magazines with an environmental focus and peruse nature photography books to germinate ideas, such as a ‘living’ plant wall display behind guest speakers or using organic seed packets as place cards.

Event Inspiration: 20+ New Ideas This Quarter eBook

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2. Let your venue dictate the event theme 

Sometimes, you find the perfect venue before choosing a theme, and the location can be all the inspiration you need. A Victorian mansion may inspire a Steampunk themed social event, if that aligns with your client’s interests. A Mid-century modern hotel lobby may inspire decor featuring classic, clean lines for a fundraising gala in the ballroom. A venue with wall waterfalls outside the main entrance and inside the lobby may inspire a waterfall party theme.  

At dream event venues (think the museums of The Smithsonian), carve out time to absorb the artwork or subject matter—either in person or online. Explore the dramatic imagery, architecture, and history without putting pressure on yourself to generate ideas at first. A few days later, schedule an event-theme brainstorming session and write down all of your ideas without judgment—chances are there will be some keepers in the mix.   

If the client’s dream venue isn’t available, or is out of reach financially, bring the feel of their favored location to the venue. Was a couple’s hoped for destination wedding not possible? Project bold images of tropical beaches onto the walls of the ballroom. Perhaps a company couldn’t get Grand Central Terminal for their New York-based annual holiday event. Choose an understated venue and add Beaux-Arts elements to recreate the grandeur of the train station. 

3. Tailor your social media feeds for event inspiration

Social media is where we turn for everything: There’s no shortage of product recommendations, vacation destinations, and not-to-miss experiences. It’s also a perfect source for event planning inspo. Infuse your social feeds with event eye-candy when you follow planners, vendors, venues, florists, and more. Keep a running list of your can dos, but don’t forget to dream big with an event bucket list.

Pinterest is the ultimate social media outlet for planners. If you haven’t been poring over this digital bulletin board since it started, now is the time to sign up. Find everything from baby shower and birthday party themes to ideas for designing stunning weddings and corporate events. A friendly word of warning: It’s easy to lose track of time exploring Pinterest, so stay on task with these tips:

  • Begin with a basic boards search using a broad term to get started. Event Inspiration offers up plenty of ideas. Find and follow boards with aesthetics that match yours and your current clients.
  • Follow events- or planning-specific accounts like Event Manager Blog, Snappening, WeddingWire, The Knot, and Brides, and new ideas will show up in your home feed automatically.
  • Use the Pinterest lens to discover ideas based on the real world. Point your camera at a floral arrangement, color combination, tablescape—anything that inspires you—and the visual discovery tool will display related images and ideas.
  • Not on the phone? No problem. Click the ‘more ideas’ tab on one of your boards for suggestions that mirror your pins.
  • Search visually similar results using the magnifying glass icon in the corner of pinned images.

Explore trending ideas on Twitter when you follow other event professionals and related hashtags. Some top event planning hashtags include: #EventProfs, #EventPros, #MeetingProfs, #MeetingPros, #EventThemes, #EventManagement, #EventPlanning, #WeddingThemes, #Catering, and #EventsChat.

Instagram’s hashtag game is strong, as well. Descriptive hashtags rule when it comes to this photo-centric app. Explore #Bride, #WeddingDay, #PartyThemes, #Tablescapes, #EventPlanning, #EventIdeas, #ColorPalettes, #Pantone, #EventPlanners, #WeddingDecor, #EventStyling, #Celebrate, #EventInspiration, and more for visual inspiration. You can even follow your favorite hashtags on this platform, so tagged photos appear in your feed. Use this discovery tool to keep your feed fresh, and to find follow-worthy accounts.

Follow event planners on YouTube for meeting and event ideas. Curate watch lists and subscribe to relevant channels to keep an eye on the industry. Watch wedding videos, peruse conference promos, and stake out venues to see what has worked well (and spot areas that needed a little work). Follow channels by industry pros, like Event Manager Blog, EventPlanning Blueprint, Social Tables, and Miss Event Planner, for décor ideas, business advice, and organization tips.

Don’t discount the DIYers, either. Explore planning message boards and get inspiration straight from the source—see what people are dreaming up and use them as a launch pad for your own ideas.

30 Social Media Tips to Drive Engagement

4. Network with other event professionals 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 116,700 event planners in the US, and the field is growing at a faster than average pace. Join networking groups on social media, attend industry trade shows, get active on professional message boards, or connect with local planners for a quarterly coffee and ideation session. 

Use LinkedIn to make connections with fellow event professionals around the world. See what your event peers are creating on the East Coast or keep in touch with European planners to stay on top of trends outside of your region. Building relationships throughout the country—and around the world—can inspire local versions of far flung events and also comes in handy when planning destination events.

5. Explore ideas on Google Trends

Google Trends gathers, organizes, and shares information—and lots of it. Explore Google data to see what news, search, and video queries are trending, and where they are most popular. Browse top search terms, explore specific keywords, look back to see what was popular two, four, or nine years ago (you can go back to 2001). 

Use this user-friendly tool to create event idea lists or strike themes that don’t resonate with the Google-using population anymore. For example, you may run searches for ‘Speakeasies’ and ‘Flappers’ and discover these terms are trending upwards, and the interest in these terms in your state is particularly high. This trend suggests guests in your region would probably appreciate 20s themed company parties.

6. Let the event experience create the theme

Get extra-creative with activities that encourage doing rather than simply attending. Build events around interactive activities and guest engagement, and the experiences become the theme. Okay, maybe we can’t always turn a hotel into an ice cave, but lighting, music, entertainment, and activities can all play a role in event creation. Experiential ideas to run with:

  • Skip the usual ‘chicken or beef’ menu and opt for local food trucks, a build-your-own stir fry table, or a waffle bar. 
  • Create a gaming lounge and encourage guests to take part in friendly Mario Kart battles.
  • Hire caricature artists to capture guests in a unique way. 
  • Set up a giant croquet game with beach balls and hula hoops, or play human chess. 

These activities can guide the overall event theme. The croquet game may inspire an ‘Alice In Wonderland’ theme, and the caricature artists may inspire a pop-art theme. If you hire local food trucks for an outdoor networking event, the different trucks can become conversation starters for small groups. 

7. Push the creative envelope OR return to the tried and true 

When you’re stuck for ideas, let your imagination run wild through an anything-goes brainstorming session. Come up with outlandish or silly event ideas, consider event color palettes you’ve never seen before, and include themes that require an exorbitant budget. Within these unrealistic ideas could be the seed of a great event. Or you could run a Twitter poll to see if any of them resonate with your followers. The responses to the poll could evolve into an impromptu brainstorming session among fellow event planners. 

You can also explore trending ideas and create something truly unique with an unusual mash-up. Ideas to inspire your own: 

  • Fire & Ice: Tropical getaway on one side of the venue, retro ski-themed on the other.
  • Land & Sea: Let these two themes inspire your decor and menu.
  • Pirates & Knights: For clients interested in cosplay, this theme could include costume pieces for guests. 
  • Then & Now: Vintage meets modern decor and F&B. Or, take it to another level with vintage & futuristic options.

Finally, when all else fails, you can always return to the greatest hits. There’s a reason these event themes are on repeat: People love them.

  • Decades: 20s, 50s, 80s, 90s. Or choose one specific year (i.e. 2005) and play the top hits, wear the hot brands, and explore the top trends for that specific year. (Google trends comes in handy here!)
  • Movie themes: Fantasy movies, gangster movies, comedies, cult classics, sci-fi
  • Destinations: Beach, rustic log cabin in the mountains, Celtic castle, Paris bistro, tropical rainforest
  • Color combos: Black & White, Gold & Black, Silver & Gold
  • Seasonal & Holiday themes: Fall, Spring, Halloween, Christmas

The well of event ideas is truly bottomless, but sometimes you can’t seem to draw those ideas to the surface. Give yourself a little mental break, get a few full nights of sleep in a row, and then explore the inspiration sources above. In no time you’ll start filling your ‘Ideas’ folder up again, and have stand-out event themes to pitch to your clients.  

Learn more about drawing event inspiration from your surroundings, get new ideas for event design inspiration, and explore corporate event themes. Or find out how easy it is to keep track of your awesome event ideas with Social Tables’ free event planning software.   

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The post Tips Tuesday: 7 Ways to Find Event Planning Inspiration When You’re Out of Ideas appeared first on Social Tables.

Fortnite’s First-Ever World Cup Event Activates Esports for the Whole Family

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Marshmello, a popular artist among gamers, performed during the competition pre-show.

As the Fortnite Fan Festival began to wind down on the afternoon of July 28, a crowd of approximately 18,000 began to file into New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, Queens, for the first-ever Fortnite World Cup solo competition. One hundred highly skilled players, whittled down from an eye-popping 40 million participants across 10 weeks of qualifying rounds, would be competing against each other in Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode, in which the last man standing wins, for millions of dollars in prize money. Having witnessed the duos competition the day prior, my nephew/consultant/sidekick, Jake, and I were pumped.

Each attendee held a ticket with a seat within the arena, so there wasn’t much of a need to rush the stadium. However, hours before the fan festival closed, kids and families queued up in line to receive a special giveaway. Ticketholders learned just days before the event that dj and electronic music producer Marshmello would be performing during the pre-show before the solos (the day prior was the duos competition and on the event’s first day attendees watched the celebrity Pro-AM and Creative finals). They also learned that the first 2,500 in line would get free cardboard Marshmello masks to wear during the show, and the next 10,000 would get thunder clappers to cheer with. (For the unfamiliar, the entertainer wears a marshmallow-shaped helmet on his head while performing. He’s particularly popular with Fortnite fans because he staged the first-ever live virtual concert within the game on Feb. 3.)


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Entering the stadium, which typically holds US Open tennis matches, our eyes were immediately drawn to the multiple JumboTron screens hanging from the roof and the two-story, hexagonal structure below it built to house 100 players and their game consoles. Its exterior and individual player boxes were covered in wood, brick and metal decals, the same materials used by players to build structures in-game. Once gameplay kicked off, an image of each player’s face was projected onto the wall behind them—as long as they were alive and well.

During the half-hour pre-show, players were introduced in small groups by the event’s on-the-ground hosts before entering the players’ lounge and taking a seat. The crowd cheered for fan favorites, friends and fellow team members while smoke effects blasted upward and lasers flashed. Intermittently, heartwarming player profiles ran on the JumboTron screens, connecting audience members to the personal journeys of these 13- to 17-year-old players from across the globe. One in particular caught our eye: duo and solo player “Dubs,” a clear fan favorite judging from the reaction of the crowd, was a hardcore skateboarder before getting into gaming. But then he broke his leg and learned he’d be confined to a cast for a year. As a way to lift his spirits, his mom bought him a gaming console. The rest is history.

Meanwhile, a broadcast stage on one side of the stadium served as home base for the competition’s commentators: for the duos, we heard Ninja, a rainbow-haired Fortnite streamer who had recently vacated his massively popular Twitch channel for Microsoft’s streaming platform Mixer; and for the solo finals, popular Twitch streamer DrLupo. In addition to calling the six consecutive matches of Battle Royale play, they broke down the unique scoring system of the event.

 

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Thanks to Fortnite’s Replay Mode, commentators could revisit epic moments during gameplay.

 

At the end of each game, players earned points for placing in the top 25 (with higher ranks earning more), points for eliminating players (or “kills”), and 10 points, the greatest number possible in a match, for winning a Victory Royale as the last man standing. At the end of the six matches, points were tallied and the winners declared. In this tournament, it paid to qualify. Not only were the players flown into New York from their respective countries, all expenses paid, but each solo player automatically won $150,000 for taking part in the competition. Not a bad consolation prize.

Then, it was time for Marshmello to do his thing. With marshmallow heads bobbing and inflatable pickaxes waving in the audience, the dj led a singalong to one of his most popular tunes, “Happier.” Then, finally, the countdown to the competition began. Let’s play!

Throughout the competition, graphics on the screens alerted the audience to the number of players out of 100 who were still remaining; which stage of play we were in; which players were alive; and how soon “the storm” would arrive. 


Game Note: In order to encourage confrontation and ensure that players don’t hideout the entire match as a survival tactic, a deadly storm shrinks the map down to a final circle of play.


As for player viewpoints, a showrunner behind-the-scenes would switch back and forth between different players, sometimes splitting the screens with two players currently battling each other for extra drama. All the while, players’ faces appeared in the corner of the screen. When there was a great kill—or better yet, a succession of kills—the crowd went wild. Other times, players would make cheeky in-game moves, like 13-year-old player “King,” the youngest athlete in the bunch, who took the time to laugh hysterically after eliminating an opponent.

I can say with confidence that these kids are a talented bunch. They move within the game at dizzying speeds, not easily tracked with an untrained eye. Thanks to my nephew/consultant/sidekick and the commentators’ explanations, I learned how and why certain moves exhibited super skill. And, thanks to Fortnite’s Replay Mode, commentators could revisit epic moments during play. This often occurred after a Victory Royale was awarded. Given the high skill level, a large number of players tended to remain alive in the final circle of play. We were able to watch the crowded battlefield in-game with a birds-eye view projected onto one of the screens, which enhanced our anticipation and reeled us in during the final moments.

Toward the last couple of matches, a potential winner began to emerge. And by the last round, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, a 16-year-old from Pennsylvania, was leading by so many points that his win appeared imminent. In the end, he was 26 points clear of second place and took home the $3 million prize. The reticent teen accepted his trophy from event host “Goldenboy” with pride and humility amidst the flashing lights and blasts of smoke effects, shaking his head in disbelief.

But perhaps the best prize of all? Epic Games has immortalized his winner trophy within the game itself, in his landing spot of choice. Not bad for a video game. Agencies: Endeavor, iam8bit.

 

More Scenes From the Solos Competition:

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Podcast: Are industry associations doing enough?

Podcast: Are industry associations doing enough?

On this week’s podcast, Event Industry News was joined by not one, but two guests to discuss whether trade associations are doing enough for the industry.

Granting us time out of their days to talk to our journalist, James Dickson, was Nick Dugdale-Moore, the regional manager for Europe at UFI, and Lou Kiwanuka, the MD at EventShaper. 

UFI is a global association for the exhibition industry with nearly 800 members that consists of international exhibition organisers, venues, national/regional associations and service providers. EventShaper is an operational management company that manages B2B and B2C events.

Associations are needed to help raise the standards of the industry as a collective, as opposed to one company advancing over others and not communicating its successes to other organisations.

Nick compared being part of an association as having a gym membership: “Just because you paid the money and got the card, that doesn’t get you fit. You actually have to take advantage of it.” 

He continued to state that the more engagement and effort an organisation puts into an association, the more it gets from it. Lou agreed, explaining that being a member of an association allows organisations to effect positive changes.

The pair continued to discuss the benefits, as well as the disadvantages, of being part of a trade association, drawing upon their experience working in the industry.

If you would like to feature on one of our weekly podcasts, please email editor@eventindustrynews.com.

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