Event Architects To Know in 2024 - Nadine Menard, SUITE22 Events

Nadine Menard, of SUITE22 Events, discusses how she builds and plans meetings and events in the evolving hospitality landscape of 2024.



Welcome to the HopSkip Planner Spotlight Series, where we highlight event professionals making waves across the events industry to share lessons learned and raise awareness of their invaluable contributions.

Name: Nadine Menard

Company Name: Suite22 Events

Job Title: Creative Head and Event Strategist

Can you briefly tell us about your background in event planning and how you got started in the industry?
I have worked in various fields as a teacher, journalist, author, speaker, etc. What do all these experiences have in common? The need to communicate clearly and effectively. I have always seen events as a powerful communication tool if used intelligently.
Since 2005, I have been the creative head and owner of SUITE22 Events, the agency that facilitates and optimizes the ideation, production, and outreach of corporate events of all kinds. I have designed and produced hundreds of events for companies: conferences, professional anniversaries, gala evenings, recognition evenings, etc. The common thread of my work is the attention to detail and the hyper personalization of each of these events.
How do you go about selecting the perfect hotel or venue? What factors weigh most heavily in your decision?
Four main factors influence my choice:
1- Geographical location: the location must be favorable to the participation of as many guests as possible.
2- Simplified accessibility: parking, valet service, proximity to public transport.
3- Character of the place: the place must reflect the company.
4- Eco-sensitivity: a site which has an environmental policy which is consistent with that of SUITE22 Events.
What does the initial planning phase of securing a venue look like for you? Could you walk us through your initial steps?
• List the event sites that meet the 4 criteria mentioned above.
• Compare not only prices but also human contact, speed of response, ability of representatives to provide clear answers to questions my customer asks, etc.
• Select 3 sites to present to the client, with their advantages and challenges.
• Reservation attempt to offer priority to my customers.
• Presentation of the sites to the client.
• Official reservation.
What common financial challenges often arise when organizing an event, what strategies do you use to mitigate them, and how do you avoid them?

The majority of clients have a limited budget and ideas of grandeur! ;-)
To avoid cost overruns, I recommend time for reflection, analysis and ideation to my clients. This takes the form of a few hours of creative consultation where we are able to properly evaluate and determine the objectives as well as the event promise.
Regardless of the budget, you must evaluate the non-negotiable expense items: event site, meals and atmosphere. Depending on what is left and my client's objectives, we then evaluate the desired expenses in terms of animation, entertainment, technology and decoration.
How do you leverage technology to boost efficiency during the planning, execution, and post-event stages? What does your “event tech stack” look like? (For example, using Survey Monkey for surveying attendees post-event)
Technology has been integrated into our work for years. During planning, we use a Google Drive link to share working documents between the different parties involved, such as the timeline, speech texts, PowerPoint presentations and the timed scenario.
On the day of the event, we encourage the use of QR codes to speed up guest registration. My assistants also have checklists that allow the entire team to have an overview of the event in real time. We use apps like Slido and Kahoot to drive guest engagement and participation. We also offer a text photo service with logo. This exclusivity allows each guest to instantly receive their photos and the company or sponsors to benefit from prolonged visibility.
Absolutely ! We create and share a Google Drive folder with each customer. We include all the essential documents for the event. Internally we use, among other things, Excel tables, the creation of visuals via Canva, writing via Words, the creation of plans using AutoCad and several others.
Do you use frameworks, templates, or other tools/documents to help you stay organized and manage the event planning process?
Absolutely! We create and share a Google Drive folder with each customer. We include all the essential documents for the event. Internally we use, among other things, Excel tables, the creation of visuals via Canva, writing via Words, the creation of plans using AutoCad and several others.
Do you have any specific strategies or insights for enhancing the attendee experience at your events?
If the needs of the company and its guests are well identified before the event, this is already a success factor. The important thing is to place humans at the center of the experience and to show empathy by putting ourselves in the shoes of our participants. Each decision related to the content of the event is designed to generate active participation and commitment from guests.
Effective communication is crucial in any planning process. How do you ensure you and your event stakeholders are always on the same page?
Communication is a priority. Pre-event meetings are essential. The event promise is also communicated to all suppliers to ensure that everyone contributes to the best of their abilities. I also favor telephone communication and videoconferencing over emails. There is nothing like eye contact and human presence to avoid communication problems.
How do you facilitate networking opportunities among attendees? Are there any specific tactics or strategies that you recommend?
Networking time plays a key role in our events. We officially include networking times, whether guided or free, in the schedule. This portion never encroaches on another activity, such as visiting exhibitor booths.
We encourage holding cocktail dinners since participants are free to move around and make contact with several other guests.
What's your go-to plan for handling emergencies or unexpected situations during an event?
I’ve seen all the colors in 19 years of work! Predicting the unpredictable and controlling the uncontrollable is my credo. My wealth of experience is useful to me in dealing with unpleasant situations.
As much as possible, I personally visit each event venue to familiarize myself with it and meet the people who work there. They will be of great help during the holding of the event.
I always plan for assistance to accompany me. This way, in the event of a problem, she can continue the smooth running of the event while I resolve the problems.
Flexibility, understanding, patience, resourcefulness…
Can you share an example of a significant challenge you faced while planning an event conference and how you overcame it?
The nightmare of any agency is that a speaker does not show up or arrives late. It already happened to me. A speaker had his flight delayed and could not be there at the time of his lecture. I reworked the presentation schedule, made changes with the technical team to modify the order of the visual presentations, corrected the schedule projected on the screens at the entrance to the rooms, and welcomed our speaker with a smile... 2 hours later than expected.
What are the typical steps you take in the post-event phase?
• Schedule a brief debriefing meeting with the client team.
• Customer satisfaction survey
• Email or letter of thanks to participants for their presence.
• Maximize the use of material captured during the event (photos, videos, etc.)
• Writing content for the company's social media to stimulate participation in the next edition of the same event.
What key performance indicators (KPIs) do you use to evaluate the success of an event?
The performance indicators considered vary depending on the client's communication objectives. Generally speaking, SUITE22 Events evaluates events considering a minimum of 3 indicators that demonstrate success from the point of view of the organizers, participants, and the agency.
We find relevant:
• the number of participants
• the attendance rate it represents
• participation and engagement of guests
• their post-event satisfaction
• the concrete benefits and visibility obtained by the company, its partners, and the stakeholders involved
• respect for the budget
• the achievement of objectives if there is fundraising
What advice would you offer someone just starting their career in the meetings and events industry?
I would recommend being carefully organized and meticulous. You also have to be resourceful and alert, because unforeseen events are common.
This post is part of the HopSkip Planner Spotlight Series, where HopSkip spotlights planners across the industry to bring awareness of how important the meetings/events community is to our world. 

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