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Event Planner Colin Cowie on the Secrets to Successful Events


Colin Cowie

Lifestyle Guru, Television Personality, and Event Planner

In your opinion, what impact can a face-to-face meeting have on the morale of a company?

Internally, face-to-face meetings are a huge part of our company culture and create the relationships we need to be as productive and efficient as possible. My team and I meet multiple times a week as well as a weekly all-hands-on-deck meeting to catch up, brainstorm, troubleshoot, and help the different departments with fresh eyes and ideas. I also love the idea of having late afternoon think tanks so we can break open a bottle of wine and let the creative juices flow.

All your events are designed beautifully! What role does event design play in the overall success of a corporate event?

A huge one! When I approach any new project, I always start with the client’s DNA to make sure their unique style is being represented through every single detail that goes into the final aesthetic. Everything guests smell, touch, taste, see, and hear is curated to tell a meaningful story with a well thought-out beginning, middle, and end. Your style is your DNA, and for corporate events, it’s all about the branding and how you make people feel. Creating an authentic experience is how you make lasting memories for your guests.

How are you incorporating technologies into your events?

My team and I have regular “innovation meetings” to talk specifically about this. In such an overcrowded market with no barrier to entry, you really need to stand out from the competition to be successful. The way to do so is by being ahead of the curve and keeping your finger on the pulse of the latest technologies and trends. Having traveled over 14 million miles on behalf of my clients in search of the very best, I know that there is always something bigger and better just around the corner — it’s our job to find it. With the way technology is evolving, things we’d never dreamed of like holograms, video mapping/projection, advanced AV equipment, and even AI are seeing a huge rise in popularity for celebrations both big and small.

What are three of the best ways event planners can incorporate the locale of a destination into their events?

Use local ingredients and chefs to create a mouthwatering offering of traditional dishes. Food is one of the most powerful ways to take people on a cultural journey.

Incorporating the music of a destination into your event is a high-energy way to bring the native culture to the party. I love the idea of having a live performance from a local band or dance troupe come in to really bring that added authenticity.

Use native culture to influence your entertainment. For one of my favorite weddings, we brought an African storyteller to the safari bush dinner to tell the audience a few native myths by the fire pit.

What are the top five things that are most often forgotten or neglected when planning an event and how can you safeguard against them?

  1. Keep to the schedule. Guests don’t like to be kept waiting, and throwing off the timeline will disrupt the entire flow of events.
  2. Ruthlessly edit. Creating a flawless event comes from getting rid of the 90 percent you don’t need and keeping the 10 percent that tells your story.
  3. Stick to your budget. Understand that you can’t have the best of the best of everything all the time. Identify the elements that matter most to you, and do them well.
  4. Tip your creative partners. It’s easy to forget, as the event wraps up, the service staff and vendors who helped it run smoothly. Always remember to leave gratuity so that you can pave the way for your next project.
  5. Build a foundation and go from there. The first thing is to nail down a date, create a colorful guest list, and then identify the right venue to accommodate them. Once you’ve done that the rest of the decisions will fall into place.

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