To celebrate Valentine’s Day, Planned sponsored a three day Exclusive Event. Hosted as an alcohol-free cocktail-making party, a two-course cooking class and a Lebanse-inspired baking class, we designed this virtual event as an interactive way to showcase three incredible Planned partners.

Knowing that our clients are spread out across North America we were happy to have attendees join virtually from Canada (Montreal, Toronto, Markham), United States (California, Atlanta, Texas) and the United Kingdom (London).

It’s no secret that when arriving at an event, most people are thinking “I hope the food is good!” or “First stop, the bar!” and we wanted to keep that dialogue going, even if we’re unable to gather in-person.

By providing ingredient lists and recipes to the attendees each host was able to walk everyone through the recipes while answering questions and allowing everyone to engage with each other.

So, here’s the rundown!

Listen Bar

Lorelei Bandrovschi, the Founder and CEO of Listen Bar, a booze-free bar in Brooklyn, began the first evening with a small dance-party to shake off the day and remind attendees that this virtual event wasn’t another Zoom meeting!

Listen Bar’s motto “all bar, no booze”​ emphasizes their mission: to rewrite nightlife beyond alcohol. They have been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Good Morning America and The New York Times among other notable publications.

With homemade spicy lime juice, strawberry consommé and rosemary syrup on deck, Lorelei got the party started! First up the Spicy AF, which combines the citrus of lime, tart flavors of grapefruit with a kick of sliced jalapeño.

One drink in and insightful conversations in breakout rooms, Lorelei moved onto She Pretty. Poured into a coupe glass… she was pretty! A few delicate drops of rosewater and the deep red of the strawberry consommé topped with a fresh flower, She Pretty made for a picture perfect drink!

Last, but certainly not least, Ghost Me Maybe! A truly amazing trip for your tastebuds to embark on, it combined the beautiful aroma and sweetness of rosemary syrup with a balance from the sourness of lemon juice both leveled out with tonic water.

Listen Bar was able to virtually transport attendees from their individual homes to a beautiful NYC bar by using a combination of beautifully curated alcohol-free cocktail recipes, imaginative conversations, and the techno-dance music throughout. One attendee shared: “That was amazing! I think there’s a large misconception that cocktails always need to contain alcohol, but Lorelei showed us that they can be just as delicious and fresh without alcohol!”

O’s Kitchen Catering

As the energy was high and attendees were excited after Tuesday night’s virtual “night-out”. Wednesday night’s experience was hosted by Ola Akintola, the Owner and Chef at O’s Kitchen Catering. Based in Dallas, Texas, Ola turned what started as a one-off cooking opportunity in university as a member of the African Students Association into a successful catering company only in a few years time. In addition to being a successful chef, she recently published her first cookbook,Upscale Comfort.

From cooking as a young child in Nigeria, Ola brings fresh ingredients, high quality spices, and passion to the classes she teaches. An attendee shared, “Ola was a wonderful host. The energy was amazing and somehow she managed to keep it casual and engaging. The dish we created was simple enough for everyone to remember, but delicious enough to impress any guests that might be served! What a wonderful event hosted by Planned.”

Throughout the cooking experience, Ola shared kitchen tips, facts about where to source ingredients, and overall helpful knowledge to further improve everyone’s cooking skills.

With cutting boards, fresh produce, locally sourced shrimp and herbs on hand, the cooking experience began. From chopping fresh ingredients and whisking home-made dressing, the freshness and tang of the Italian Salad with scratch-made Dressing was a great way to kick off the meal.

However, the star of the show was the Linguine Noodles with Shrimp, a recipe she included in her cookbook because it’s a crowd pleaser. This pasta dish surpassed every expectation and filled everyone’s homes with a buttery garlic aroma that literally brought an attendees father to come to the kitchen to see what was cooking. He loved the energy and engagement of the class so much that ended up staying for the remainder of the class!

Ola hosted an experience filled with laughter, open conversation and left attendees not only with smiles on their faces but also with two incredible dishes to share with their loved ones at home.

Rebels in the Kitchen

Now that happy hour and dinner had been served, day three of the event commenced, because after all what is Valentine’s Day without a plate of sweetness? Rebels in the Kitchen, owned and operated by ambassador of Lebanese Cuisine in Canada, Chef Rawan Al Wadaa and her French Canadian husband Donald Charette, created a baking experience like no other on Thursday evening. Being rebels at heart, both Rawan and Don always strive to do things differently. They always seek to be creative with a dash of humour to get their messages across, which translated incredibly throughout the 45 minute baking class. With multiple camera angles, a stunning kitchen, and an incredible lighting set up, it was nothing short of the Food Network channel. There was even a quick commercial break!

With the oven preheated and ingredients on hand, Rawan guided the class in making Baklava, known in Lebanese as Baklewa. This deliciously flaky, buttery and nutty dessert was only made better by Rawan’s passion for Lebanese cuisine and her vast knowledge in the kitchen.

Rawan’s Walnut Baklava recipe was easy to follow however it also introduced new baking methods to help those following along learn more about baking. The final product was an incredibly crispy and sweet layered Baklava that left the kitchen smelling inviting and warm.

An Account Manager at Planned shared, “I loved everything about this class! The setup, the double cameras, the professional host and the easy recipe of course — everything was done so well. Being a big Baklava lover myself I can’t wait to continue to make this recipe! If a client is looking for a true baking experience, I would be proud to recommend Rebels in the Kitchen.”

For the next 30 days, you too can learn to make baklava with Chef Rawan by checking out the video recording of the event: Walnut Baklava by Rebels in the Kitchen to get more of an idea about how Rawan’s enthusiasm for cooking and baking can inspire your next virtual event!

Now that dessert was enjoyed, the event sadly came to an end. However, Planned is looking forward to continuing to host these incredible Exclusive Events! Planned is proud to be partners with Listen Bar, O’s Kitchen Catering and Rebels in the Kitchen. All three of these companies have completely transformed virtual events and are always able to modify and adjust recipes to each individual client to cater to the specific needs of each event.

If you’re interested in having any of these hosts reconnect your company through a virtual activity and leave everyone’s homes radiating with incredible smells, book a demo and join Planned!

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2 min read 2 months ago

One Earth, One Event

“Without urgent action, global waste will increase by 70% on current levels by 2050” according to the World Bank. Although the official celebration of Earth Day is once a year, the well being of our planet should be prioritized every day. As a leader in the event planning industry, we want to shed light on the vast amounts of waste produced by events, and some tips to reduce it. The event planning industry has found creative ways to approach events more sustainably, and we wanted to share them. In our panel discussion, Let’s Talk Sustainability, the panelists address our social responsibility, as an industry, to ensure that events do not unnecessarily contribute to the increasing amounts of global waste. If you were unable to attend, check out the recording: here. Our panelists shared their experiences in creating a greener event industry: Halley Chambers, Director of The Oberon Group Simeon Priest, Founder of Equal Parts Cocktail Company Megan Munro, Founder and Owner of Caribou Gifts Don Sagarese, VP Sales & Marketing at Ascari Hospitality Group Keith Gispert, Co-founder of Popcorn Palooza Here are a few tips that were shared: Help reduce the waste produced by events annually. A thought worth considering… The annual events that your company hosts are also hosted within other companies (i.e. holiday parties). Thus, the amount of waste produced from your event is most likely amplified ten fold by the other events. If each company takes their annual events as an opportunity to promote sustainability, then the waste produced will hugely decrease. Surround yourself with colleagues and partners who focus on sustainability. Creating a community…It takes a village to ensure sustainable events become the norm. Rather than fighting the battle against unnecessary waste alone, partner with suppliers in your area who also practice green initiatives. By creating a network of sustainable suppliers, it allows green events to become the norm in your area! Shop local whenever possible. Focus on local…Be sure to source local products whenever possible to reduce potentially negative affects on the environment (i.e. less carbon emission). As well, learn about local businesses in your area that can assist you in producing greener events. As a way to promote sustainabilty, we created an icon to indicates to our clients which of our suppliers are practicing sustainable initiatives. Let’s all continue to restore our Earth, one event at a time. Stay tuned about upcoming Planned events through our bi-monthly newsletter: here.

3 min read 2 months ago

The Future of Events and the Planet

Tomorrow the world celebrates Earth Day. With this day, comes the sad reality that, if we continue to consume natural resources at the rate we are today, the natural resources our planet provides us with will significantly decrease within the next 60 years. It’s everyone's responsibility to understand the environmental footprint each event hosted has and finds ways to decrease it. To celebrate Earth Day and spread awareness about some event planning sustainability initiatives, we are hosting a panel discussion on Thursday, April 22. RSVP here! Issue According to the Ecosystem Event: “Meals are typically the biggest generators of waste at events. The actual amount of waste per attendee ranged from 0.1 pounds up to 3 pounds, per event.” Solution Speak with your food caterer about the initiatives that they have for reducing waste, and ask if they are able to give you a post-event waste report. Another option is to speak with your caterer and explore options for donating untouched food to local nonprofits. Issue Waste360 shared that, “in 2020, 6.7 million people strewed trashacross 15 major cities at 77 events such as the Super Bowl, the US Open and the Midtown Music Festival in Atlanta. The Daytona 500, the largest single-day sporting event in the United States, created enough trash to equal the weight of the entire 43-car starting field.” Solution Focusing on implementing sustainable practices in these large events will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on our planet. First, remove single-use plastic when possible and replace it with reusable and recyclable materials. Second, ensure that the vendors are equipped with compost, trash, and recycling bins so they are able to throw away the waste appropriately. Issue According to Fast Company, “When you think about all of the energy and resources that go into making just one of the tote bags that I have just thrown into the trash–only to end up in a landfill–the impact in staggering.” Solution What is a trade show without the free swag? Although trade shows and conferences include free promotional products, it’s important to reevaluate the practices within that marketing tactic. These days you can find any promotional product of the same or higher quality that is made from recycled materials. Rather than giving away ten items made of single-use material, direct your focus on creating one high quality branded item that everyone will use after the event. As an industry our events can generate a huge amount of unnecessary waste, but only if we let them. As a way to promote sustainabilty, we created an icon to indicates to our clients which of our suppliers are practicing sustainable initiatives. Luckily the event planning industry is innovative and crafty, so we know that through various initiatives within the Planned tool and the passion to restore our planet from our clients, we are able to set a new standard for what it means to host an eco-friendly event.

3 min read 3 months ago

The Takeaway

Although International Women’s Day has passed, let’s continue to commemorate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. As a leader in the event planning industry, Planned understands the importance of transparency in discussing social issues. To celebrate International Women’s Day Planned sponsored two panel discussions about gender equality in the event planning industry. Our panelists were four pioneers in the event industry who are individually highly successful: Lynn-Fergusion Pinet, Co-owner and Chief Team Architect of Conundrum AdventuresDanielle Schulz, Corporate Wellness Director of The Triangle SessionsÉmilie Brunet, President and Founder of EMI EventsIoanna Antonopoulos, Senior Account Manager of Groupe Antonopoulos The purpose of these events were to encourage our community to have open conversations both during the event and after. A few takeaways: COVID-19 and the Future of Events Although the economy is re-opening and social restrictions are gradually being reduced, virtual events will continue to forever be a part of the event planning industry.Each individual enterprise needs to understand the responsibilities they hold as a leader in the event industry, and make the decision on their own accord for when they will begin hosting in-person eventsWe can take notes by looking at other industries that have brought people back together safely such as; primary schools, universities, gyms, and the performing arts. Rather than trying to create a new solution, we can lean on surrounding industries and understand how they manage to safely gather individuals. The Glass Ceiling The glass ceiling, an unofficially acknowledged barrier to advancement in a profession, in the event planning industry, is not specific to the industry. It’s the exact same glass ceiling faced in industries across the board.The event planning industry is highly skewed since it is a female dominated industry and yet in senior roles you still see a disproportionate amount of males.Rather than focusing on the restraints society has placed, it’s more important to focus on your work and let your successes shatter the glass ceiling. Combatting Zoom-fatigue Zoom-fatigue is real, so keep that in mind when you plan virtual and hybrid events. A large part of creating a successful and engaging virtual and hybrid event is to make it interactive. Some examples of how to take your event to the next level:Utilize the breakout rooms on your streaming platform by breaking into smaller groups to promote more intimate and comfortable conversations.Send a delivery. Create a deliverable aspect to your event, by including a gift basket with clues for the virtual event or a box of goodies that everyone opens on camera together.Attendees miss the open bar and table of appetizers at events, so bring that into their home by ordering a boxed lunch or a cocktail making kit delivery for everyone. Let’s continue to support one another and let Planned reconnect your company, safely. Read about the Women of Planned: here. Watch our Youtube video of the discussion with Lynn and Danielle in English: here. Watch our Youtube video of the discussion with Émilie and Ioanna in French: here.

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