The 7 Commandments of Producing a Memorable (and Flawless) Booze Event

New York City has the highest concentration of alcohol-related events in the U.S.  A local listing can show three to four liquor-related events happening in just one afternoon, not to mention the plethora of industry-only events. Add to that the countless PR agencies, beverage brands and importers housed in New York and you have an enormous mishmash of factors to contend with. It’s your job to make sure your client is innovative, fun and on top of what’s next – not what’s already trending.  So keep these hints in mind:

Be different

New York is big city, this means tastings don’t have to take place at the same, tired locales.  Think untraditional: forget restaurants and hotels (unless they have a unique space no one knew was there).  Ask photographers for ideas, they are out there shooting and see it all. Caterers are great resources too.  Don’t be afraid to venture out of the typical comfort zone, if Dior can do it, so can you! Your chosen venue should always make a point and if your guests can say it was their first visit there, even better.   Even if you’ve never seen an event taking place at a given location, chances are (if you track down the right person to ask), you can have a craft beer tasting inside the support beam at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Master the art of negotiation

No matter who the client is, your budget needs to be stretched… thin. Leverage your relationships. If you know it’s doable, promise future business and recommendations to colleagues. Most vendors know all news will spread like wildfire through PR agencies and might lead to future employment.  If you think the high-end vendors and venues won’t give you more for your dollar if you ask diplomatically, think again. The bottom line is that any business would rather make 80 cents on the dollar than zero. Swallow your pride and try it. In the end, your boss and client will be happy and you’ll impress even yourself because you have the lowest room rate on record for your VIP guests staying at that swanky hotel.

 Be organized:  drill sergeant organized

If there is ever a time to micromanage, this is it. This requires creating the horizontal and vertical checklist, as well as retroplanning documents with versions sorted by both task owner and deadline. Keep your own secret master documents. Don’t make assumptions and don’t leave anything to chance. Delegate, this will directly impact the quality of your own work. Limit the amount of tasks you need to complete in the last 24 hours leading up to an event. If you’re relying on something, ask, ask, ask and ask again. Who cares if your vendors think you’re annoying for quintuple-checking everything? In the end, the squeaky wheel gets oiled first.

Keep it classy


Know the crashers and vet your attendees. What’s the point of having 700 media at your event if half of them are “bloggers” with a Twitter following of 30 or “freelancers” who haven’t written anything relevant in years? Make a point to enforce the quality of your attendees; you’ll be grateful when folks are beating down your door to participate next year because business and networking that matter were accomplished at your event.

Be as informed as possible

Wrangling multiple people or brands requires you to do your homework. If you’re utilizing the common walk-around tasting format for food and beverage events, be thoughtful about the structure: Who used to work with whom? Did so-and-so’s tenure at a previous employer end badly? Is X suing Y? Your exhibitors and guests will be grateful and they’ll sing your praises afterwards.

Think of every possible factor

While some things may seem obvious, once you’re knee-deep in planning mode you easily forget simple but key details. Picture someone who has no idea what’s going on at this event walking through the door. How can you make this a premium experience they will never forget?  Hint THIS should be your worst nightmare. Be thoughtful when you are laying out your floor plan (no bottlenecks, spread out the interesting areas, lots of water stations), selecting your menu (creative and cutting edge, but find a balance between raw jellyfish and beef wellington) and please make sure the bathrooms are checked every 20 minutes if you’re expecting a large crowd.

Keep a zen-like calm

No one needs a harried crazy-lady (or dude) who is running around yelling and looking disheveled.  Even if you’re  throwing up in the bathroom or crying under your blanket when you go home at night, no one needs to know (maybe your Mom).

At some point, you will have done all the preparation you can possibly do. Meditate the morning of and enjoy. Just kidding! Enjoying an event you produced will probably never happen!  Good times.  classy wine hat

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