How Red Velvet Events Plans the Best Experiential Events


Last month, our friends over at Red Velvet Events celebrated the grand opening of their brand new office located at 7121 N Lamar Blvd. We were absolutely enamored with everything from the pops of bright red to the choreographed dancers gallivanting throughout the workspace. We got a chance to catch up with Jason Sick, CMP and Senior Program Manager at Red Velvet to chat about all things experiential. Check out Jason’s interview below for helpful tips on how to throw a successful event!

Image by Bert McLendon Photography

Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into the event industry? How did you get to Red Velvet specifically?

When I was a kid, my mom owned an event decor business, and she had one employee—that was me. From the time I was eight years old and beyond, it was just expected that I was going to be my mom’s little helper. So I’ve kind of grown up in events in some capacity. In high school and college, I helped plan events for organizations I was in and then just stuck with it. It’s all I’ve really known to be honest with you.

Before starting at Red Velvet, I worked at UT for eight-and-a-half years doing events on campus. Planning events at a university is great, but it comes with some challenges. At the end of the day, you’re spending tuition money or taxpayer dollars and there’s a lot of what we call “burnt orange tape” in terms of who you can hire and what you can do. I knew to get to my next step, I needed to branch out.

I did some research on companies in Austin and immediately saw Red Velvet Events, and just knew that that was the one for me. I reached out and they didn’t have any positions so I just kept following them for, I think it was two or three years, and three years later a position came up and here I am.

Image by Jerrel Trulove Photography
Image by Jerrel Trulove Photography

In planning the #RVEForeverHome event, obviously, your main goal was to celebrate the grand opening of your office. Did you have any other goals you were trying to accomplish?

We did. One of the biggest goals that I would say was just as important as showing off our new office was we wanted to show people what we were capable of. Since our guests were our clients and our partners, we wanted to take that opportunity to highlight what we do and how we do it. A big part of achieving that goal was the branding. We wanted to make sure that we got our brand right and that people could get our brand at this event so that our clients who are here could see that we can also interpret their brand and create a great event based around that. That was just as important of a goal as showing off our new space.

You really transformed this space for your event. What experiential elements did you use to help people get engaged?

We wanted to take the opportunity to transform the spaces in our office, and we wanted everything to be as interactive as possible. Most importantly, we wanted every experience to be as on brand as possible. So we named every room based on what was happening in that space, but we put our signature on it.

So for instance, we turned one of our conference rooms into a manicure station. All of the conference rooms in our office are named after red OPI nail polish shades. So what better way to tie that in than to have a manicure station? Because our theme was Seeing Red, we wanted to take the opportunity to show people where red is that they may not realize it always is. So the word “manicurRED”, for instance, has the word “red” at the end. Most people don’t realize that. You just see the word manicure. So we’ve found words that had the word “red” that we could tie into the activations that we could use to then tie back into our theme of Seeing Red.

Our dessert room was “sugaRED”– “red” at the end. We decided to make that a completely monochromatic red room.

All of our food had some kind of red element. So the main buffet was ombre and went from white to red. Any food that wasn’t red had a red tie-in. We had red snapper for our fish. Our cocktail was red.  We really wanted to do it in a way that pushed the red but also wasn’t too much. It wasn’t too in your face and it wasn’t obnoxious. So we had lots of red but didn’t overplay it. In fact, most of our furniture was white. We used a very neutral palette so that the little pops of red would really be a showcase.

Image by Jerrel Trulove Photography

Clearly, a ton of thought went into this event. What is your creative process like?

I find my most creative ideas come when I’m not thinking about it at all. Sometimes when I think too much about something I overcomplicate things, and I put up a barrier and just sort of shut things out. The shower, for whatever reason, is a good place to come up with ideas. Siri saves my life because I’ll think of something and say, “Hey, Siri, remind me of this later.” So not overthinking is a big part of my creative process.

I like to do word association. If I’m trying to come up with a title or a theme, I just take a piece of paper or a whiteboard and jot down every single word that I can think of that associates with whatever I am trying to come up with. Then I step back and look at everything and then ask myself, “How can I connect the dots?”

Most importantly I rely on my coworkers. We have a lot of really talented, creative people here. So if I’m ever in a rut, leaning on them and asking, “hey, what do you think about this?” or “do you have any ideas for this party?” We had several office-wide brainstorms and idea generating meetings just to make sure that we as a planning team weren’t getting so pigeonholed on what we thought would be best. We wanted to get feedback from the rest of the team.

 

In your opinion, what are the three things that every event must have to be successful?

I think every event should have at least one WOW factor. Even if you have a very limited budget, there needs to be one thing that when your guests walk in makes them say “wow!” Something that people are going to take photos of and post on social media.

I think every event should have a story. Events should actually be like a book. There’s a beginning, a middle and an end, and maybe even chapters within that story. So thinking about as the night progresses, is your event just staying the same the whole time or is something happening in the beginning, then transitioning to something in the middle, and it ends with something special.

Finally, I think every event should have something interactive that guests can engage with. No one wants to just walk into an event where there’s nothing for them to do or nothing for them to engage in. So interactive elements that people can put their hands on are vital.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone planning a party, what would it be?

I think it is important to have very well defined goals and objectives for your event. When starting the planning process by defining those goals and objectives, you’re able to tie all event decisions back to them. From the theme to the guest experience to the entertainment- every element of the event should be in support of the goals you’ve set during the planning phase. When the event achieves those goals and objectives, that’s when you know you’ve had a successful event!

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