Shortly before the pandemic began, Presence decided to set up a new business line - the Events business. Sadly, thanks to the nasty virus, it did not get off to a great start. One by one, on-site events were cancelled. Nevertheless, we did not let that stop us and instead shifted our focus to the online scene. We looked for virtual solutions to support our clients during this difficult time and to provide a memorable event experience for participants.
Now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing worldwide and on-site events are happening again, we are thrilled to introduce our Event Team properly!
In addition to Kelly Vandevelde and Juanita Helsloot, Darlene Doomernik has now joined the team. They are ready to help you organise your event. Marketing events, conferences, management meetings, congresses, ... you name it, they make it happen!
Kelly, what made you decide to set up the Event Department?
Kelly: After twenty years of organising successful EWC meetings for multinationals worldwide, we often received requests to organise other things. I believed that our customer focus, flexibility and experience would prove invaluable to our customers for almost any meeting or event. That has held up in practice—our clients hugely appreciate our hands-on mentality, the advice we can offer and the ability to translate this into action.
Darlene & Juanita, you both decided to take the proverbial leap and joined the Event Department. What triggered this decision?
Darlene: I worked in the event industry for many years before joining Presence. As a freelance event planner, I organised and coordinated various events, from weddings and music events to large corporate events. My passion, experience and talent lie firmly rooted in this sector.
Juanita: I was ready to take on a new challenge at Presence when this opportunity came my way. When I was asked to join the department, I instantly knew that it was perfect for me and a brilliant opportunity to put both of my degrees (Leisure and Hospitality & Interpretation and Translation) to work. It was an offer I simply could not refuse.
What does your job entail, exactly?
Kelly: I am responsible for the overall development of the department. In other words, I lead the team and work with our sales manager and marketing manager to determine our sales and marketing strategy. I am also in charge of customer relations for our largest clients, and I serve as the point of contact for our partners. In addition to the day-to-day management, I also monitor our quality and workload.
Juanita: Our job is to take our clients' events to the next level. We brainstorm with the client about the event, what they want to achieve, what message they want to convey, and more. We seek out a suitable location, hotel or platform. We also provide budget management, sign contracts, arrange catering, transport, technical equipment, etc.
Darlene: Exactly. In short, we plan and organise live, virtual and hybrid events from A to Z—from concept to creation.
Looking at the bigger picture, what part of your job would you say is the most challenging?
Kelly: That would be our main strength and why our customers recommend us: our flexibility. During events, things regularly crop up last-minute, and we often have to work with large teams at the client's premises, which requires us to be flexible. We adapt to the situation to the best of our ability, but it can be very challenging because there is only so much you can do. In particular, with our virtual or hybrid events, it is expected because it is possible. We can adjust something on the platform on the fly, and it may be adjusted ten times more before the event. That is not a problem in itself, but every adjustment takes time and the client often wants it done yesterday, so we have to do our utmost to provide that service.
Darlene: Every event and client is different and has unique requirements—therein lies the challenge.
Juanita: For me, the greatest challenge is continually delivering a better event than the last one. For online events, that means new features and new, more appealing branding. For on-site events, it means going the extra mile to organise an unforgettable event.
What are you particularly looking forward to over the coming months?
Darlene: The event world is finally blooming again, and we are really looking forward to helping both new and existing clients!
Juanita: Yes, I am incredibly excited about the new projects over the coming months.
Kelly: Our hybrid events are one of our strengths, and not everyone is accustomed to them. I am looking forward to organising these events for our clients so that they don’t have to worry or spend days figuring out how everything works. That’s what we are here for. We are also working hard to set up an event of our own for our contacts—it’s going to be wild, so stay tuned!
Short pitch: In a single sentence, explain why people should have you organise their event?
Kelly: Our lady power ensures the execution of any event, be it online, hybrid or on-site. That, together with our customer focus, flexibility and experience, makes us the perfect fit to organise meetings and events for any company or organisation.
It’s not quite one sentence, but I’ll allow it. ;-) Good luck with the launch of our new business line!