We recently interviewed a top event planner from Los Angeles who was kind enough to share some of the secrets to her success. Teri Kinne of Teri Kinne Events consistently puts on top quality events and has over 15 years of experience. Here is the interview with Teri.
Please note the importance she places on attention to detail, being service oriented and always giving the best quality. Thanks Teri!
1) In addition to planning events, you have an extensive amount of catering experience. When did you realize you enjoyed the catering business and how did you originally get into it?
I have to say that hospitality and event planning is in my blood, Max. When I was growing up my mother was a wonderful party planner and was always hosting dinner parties and social celebrations in our home. My sister and I were directed to tray-pass hors d’oeuvres, dress the tables, create seating charts or garnish a platter. Now as an adult I seem to do it naturally. I can’t even serve a simple breakfast to my spouse, it has to be a gourmet ensemble like an egg, tomato, basil and biscuit stack drizzled with balsamic reduction!
2) When did you realize you wanted to become an event planner, and what drew you toward the profession?
I am drawn to people and social interaction. When I graduated from Pepperdine University I worked in the creative department of ad agencies. It was solo work. It was creative but not a lot of social stimulation. I transitioned into catering because hospitality and helping my mom with parties was such a part of my growing up and then that developed into event planning.
Producing events for people, companies and organizations is when I feel completely who I am. I am honored to be a part of a milestone in the life of a family, company or nonprofit. The work can be stressful but at one of my events when the glasses are clinking, the music is playing and the guests are happy the feeling is wonderful. The payoff is worth the work!
3) It sounds like your years of catering experience are a big help in some of the events you plan today. What are one or two things your catering experience helps you most with today as a professional event planner?
My background in catering helps me in event operations and timeline. I make sure the food is not compromised by poor timing so that the guest has an excellent culinary experience.
I also have such a respect for chefs, catering staff and food. Quality ingredients and a creative, professional chef and service staff are important. Food is a big part of a group gathering, whether it is a social celebration or business meeting or a memorial. There is something almost sacred about “breaking bread” together that brings a sense of community to a group. I love that!
4) You have grown your planning business quickly and have planned a lot of great events in a relatively short amount of time. That’s impressive. Can you describe what your current day-to-day is like?
Every day is different. It is challenge to juggle working on events that I have already booked and at the same time but constantly marketing for my future bookings.
Typical non-event day consists of attending to emails, perhaps a venue site-visit, collaborating in a phone meeting with my team on an upcoming event, more emails and phone calls, menu planning with the caterer then a networking event at night. Whew!
5) You started your own company called Teri Kinne Events. One thing that really stands out is the enthusiasm and love for the industry that shows through your website and online presence. It shows you love what you do. What are the main goals for your Company this year?
I would like to add two business development reps soon so we can have a phenomenal holiday season. I have some creative party ideas I want to come to life!
6) What do you think the most difficult thing is about having your own planning business?
As I said, it is such a challenge to book events, work on them and market for new events at the same time. The first year I did a lot of marketing. I booked some good events and then focused on them. When the events were done I had no new business to work on and had to start the process all over again. But the lag time for new business to come it was a financial strain. Now I have a small team of event staff and we do a little planning, marketing and producing all at the same time. It is not a perfect model yet but it is better than the first year.
7) What do you feel is your strongest quality as an event planner?
I have to give you two; a service-oriented personality and attention to detail.
8) Is there anything you feel you need to work on in order to become even more successful?
Consistent social media communications. I have an eager audience and I should talk to them more!
9) How do you think your company can stands out from the competition?
I know what sets my company apart is personal attention and quality.
I specialize in outside-the-box weddings. I don’t do weddings in hotel ballrooms because it’s a box with no windows and a chandelier and I think my client hires me to get them outside that box.
The market niche my company holds is upscale events with mid to high budgets in the Los Angeles area. I hope that doesn’t sound too snobby!
10) If you had to give one piece of advice to someone who wants to become an event planner but has no experience at all, where would you tell them to start?
Contact a nonprofit organization that you want to support and volunteer to be on their fundraising event committee. If there are no openings volunteer to help set up or greet at any upcoming functions. This is a win win opportunity!
11) What is one event or accomplishment where you are most proud of your work? And why?
I have an upcoming fundraiser gala for the Methodist Hospital Foundation in October for 900 guests. The performer is the lovely Natalie Cole. It is the largest event I will have done as Teri Kinne Events and a lot of planning from me and my A-team has gone into it. It is going to be a top-notch event. I am proud of what we’ve done already and am excited about how it is going to turn out. Check back with me at the end October and I’ll tell you how it went!
Max: Teri, thank you so much for the interview and sharing information about your business. Best of luck with the October event and we’ll talk soon!
Teri: Thanks for the interview Max. By the way, please “like” my Facebook page and that will keep you posted! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Teri-Kinne-Events/235063839894782?ref=hl
Awesome innterview Teri!
Thanks Tai. Business has really grown up since this interview!