By Shelbi Whitehead
Travel allows opportunities to witness new culture, new art, new design, and new people. One exciting aspect about event coordinating is that every experience you have can be brought back into the workplace. Whether you’re seeking inspiration for unique décor, researching innovative activities, making lasting connections, or just learning life lessons, traveling not only inspires but enriches. I want to share a few similarities I found between traveling and event planning from a recent trip to Hawaii.
1: Build Connections Everywhere You Go
Although I have been to Hawaii over ten times, it is always a different experience. The journey began smoothly- no delayed flights, beautiful weather, a few cocktails... My flight got in earlier than the rest of my family, so I found myself at my favorite bar on the island: Lelanies. Since I was alone, I put my networking skills to the test. Three hours and many Mai Tais later, I had the whole bar referring to me as ‘Reno’. I met musicians, artists, business owners, all of whom I exchanged contact information with. One of these new connections even joined my family and I for sushi. Making these connections was awesome because I was able to reach out and use them as a resource for my remaining days on the island. Networking is imperative in the event industry because it fosters access to resources and opportunities worldwide.
2: Be the Calm in the Storm
One of my favorite details of this year’s Hawaii trip was swimming with a multitude of sea turtles. Every day I swam with a handful of sea turtles (I officially became the sea turtle whisperer). An hour before I left for the airport, I decided to go out for one final snorkel. To my surprise, a massive turtle was right next to me the second I stuck my face in the salty water. I watched as the sand brushed over him. His body rocked rhythmically with the waves. He swam in-synch with the other fish around him. The ocean was rocky, the waves were rough, the sand was stirring around aggressively, but watching this turtle all I thought about was how this is how I want to be: the calm in a world of chaos. Perfecting every detail and ensuring that an event runs smoothly is daunting. Remaining serene and focused is essential for an event professional.
3: Weather Is Unpredictable… Everywhere
Torrential down pours, cloudy skies and scary tides settled in for a few days. “Don’t drown, turn around” was repeated on all televisions. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying what the island had to offer. Don’t get me wrong- I dreamt of blue skies and beaming sun, but events have taught me to never rule out mother nature’s impulsiveness. On the stormiest day, the majority of my family stayed inside playing card games to avoid the weather. Thankfully, my mom had the same attitude as me: ‘rain or shine, we’ll go outside’. We ran on the beach in the rain, drank cocktails, and relaxed in the hot tub. Being mentally and physically prepared to deal with any weather during any circumstances, allows you to be equipped to roll with the punches. Always have a plan B and be prepared for the unpredictable.
4: Unforgettable Memories
After a delicious meal at Fleetwood's, I was informed that the restaurant was having a small acoustic concert for one of my favorite artists, Citizen Cope, the following night. Without hesitation I purchased a ticket. The next thing I know, I’m hanging at the after party, talking about life with Clarence, i.e. Citizen Cope. If you had told me that I would be chatting over cheeseburgers (I ate 4) with the artist who provided sanctuary for my dramatic teen years I never would have believed you. Embracing the unexpected can lead to amazing experiences.
5: Bring People Together
I’m fortunate to have a loving and wonderfully entertaining family. Whether I was learning life lessons from my grandfather or rocking out at a concert with my mom, I cherish all the time we spend together. Seeing my quadriplegic uncle, who hasn’t been fully submerged in water since his accident 20 years ago get in the ocean was amazing. I appreciate all the experiences we shared, from teaching my grandma how to use her new DSLR camera to sharing stories and drinks with my family. It’s all important. Bringing people together is our business. Creating genuine, lasting memories is our mission. Aloha!