Graphic Design Secrets of Voilà

Ever wondered how the Voilà logo came to be? Or how hospitality brands in general create lasting graphic elements that inspire their clients? We caught up with Art Director/Graphic Design Extraordinaire Jenna DiMari (the creator of Voilà's fab logo!) and got all the deets on being a graphic designer and elevating your branding.

Jenna DiMari is a New York-native Art Director/Graphic Designer known for creating exciting and memorable marketing collateral for leading fashion, entertainment and lifestyle brands.

Jenna DiMari is a New York-native Art Director/Graphic Designer known for creating exciting and memorable marketing collateral for leading fashion, entertainment and lifestyle brands.

Q: Could you tell us a little about the process of working with a client in the hospitality industry?
A: At the beginning of a project, a client and I will discuss what they’re trying to say with their branding, and the direction the company is going in. It’s exciting to think about the visual possibilities. Ideas start forming about colors, typefaces, and stylistic choices that convey the message they want customers to take away from their brand.

Q: What are some examples of projects someone in the hospitality industry could work with a designer on?
A: I can't say this enough, branding is the most important thing you can consider when promoting a business. It creates consistency, makes your company easily recognizable and sets you apart from competitors. Popular projects include a logo or mark, letterhead, website, branded social network pages, and business cards. Depending on the industry we would select additional projects that fit your brand. So a restaurant could need a menu design, while a promotional event may need a custom-wrapped ice cream truck.

Q: Are there specific colors you think catch people’s eyes more than others? Any colors specific to hospitality?
A: The color palette of a project depends on the context of the brand or event, but is an essential part of defining your look and feel. For a spa you might want to use softer muted colors that give the impression of serenity, while branding an entertainment event would call for brighter more energetic and saturated pops of color. Designers work with color theory and color palettes to reflect the mood of the project. Below is an example of a color palette I made for a past client.

jd_colorpalette_2.jpg

Q: How did you come up with the Voilà logo?
A: The Voila logo was such a fun project to work on! When Christina and I spoke, she expressed wanting to evoke a feeling of magic. We started by exploring a few options of what that meant visually, and after narrowing down the specific type of magic we landed on a custom hand letting piece with a balance of enchantment and "consider it done". 

Q: How do you think fonts affect a brands image? Any do's and don't's?
A: Typefaces and fonts each have a history that you have to consider when choosing one that represents your brand. Do: Work with a professional Graphic Designer. They'll understand the type classifications, context, and legibility concerns of your project. Don't: Download and use something just because it's readily available.

Q: What are some changes you're seeing as hospitality brands expand their digital presence?
A: Brands have so many opportunities to create memorable experiences online. Restaurants, hotels, and events are using editorial photography, curated social media posts and digital services, such as reservations and booking, to make their websites more engaging. I love working with brands to create a digital strategy that tells their story in exciting new ways.


et Voilà!

5 Ways to Make Lasting Connections at Large Events

Whether you're the planner, keynote speaker, the emcee or an attendee, everyone has a common concern when it comes to large events and conferences; how will anyone remember me?


1. Interactive Presentations – If you’re a presenter, interactive experiences force you to focus on your audience and not your slides.  This is great if you’re presenting or trying to engage your audience later in the day when energy tends to get low.  Quizzes and contests are a great way for a speaker/host to get the crowd motivated and keep them interested.  You can also get your audience moving simply by asking “show of hands” questions or asking them to get up and stretch.  Group discussions are a fun way for your attendees to get to know one another while shaking up the monotony.

2. Social Media - Most large events and conferences should have an event app.  Many of the already existing registration apps such as Eventbrite are now incorporating a “Who’s Going” feature on their platform. With this feature, you can virtually weed through the hundreds or thousands in the crowd and prepare your 15- second introduction.  Instead of business cards, people are now exchanging social media handles which is an immediate way to start communicating after the event and put a face to your name.

3. Be hospitable – When we say hospitality, we tend to think hotels, but there are so many ways to incorporate hotel-like services at a conference in order to elevate the guest experience.  The best hotels in the world create their guests’ experience by putting themselves in the guests’ shoes.  In that sense, if you’re planning a conference, walk through that experience from registration all the way to post-event.  Ask yourself: If I was an attendee, what would make this a 5-star experience?  I know personally there are events I will never forget all because of their charging pods, “quiet” lounges and $5 massages.

4. Listen – Part of successful networking and creating lasting connections is by sharing resources with the person you’ve just met.  Ask a lot of questions and let the other person talk.  By actively listening you will find an opportunity to be helpful.  Perhaps the person is running a small business and doesn’t have the budget to hire a social media manager.  Ask them if they’ve heard about Hootsuite and show them how to use it.  Or maybe they own a staffing agency and would love introductions to caterers.  You could give them your card and schedule a coffee date to get to know them better.  After all, you’ll need information about their business so you can make a strong connection to the caterers you know. Sometimes listening is all it takes to take that networking to the next level.

5. Get personal - This doesn't mean be vulnerable in a room full of strangers. This means be authentic, be you. And more importantly, encourage the people you connect with to do the same.  If someone seems passionate about their work, don’t be shy about sharing your passions as well.  When your conversation finds the delicate balance between business and pleasure, people you’ve met will walk away with a sense of warmth towards you which certainly will make you more memorable.

 

These tips have helped me actually enjoy large conferences, and I find that once you’re comfortable, that warmth spreads and others get comfortable too. Think about every business connection or colleague you currently have… they too were strangers at some point.

et Voilà!

5 Ways to Make Indoor Space Summer-Sexy

Image- Courtesy of Gramercy Park Hotel.jpg

New Yorker’s only get 5 solid months of warm weather so it’s no surprise that when the weather gets nice, we all go running to the closest outdoor space we can find.  And I’m not different.  I will literally sit on a garbage littered sidewalk if that means I get to dine “al fresco”.  But while everyone gravitates to a garden, rooftop or a sidewalk, amazing indoor spaces are left almost abandoned during the summer. 
This blog is geared toward helping indoor spaces attract customers when the weather calls for a warm breeze and a sunset view.  I can’t magically remove walls or give you a skylight, however I can tell you how to trick the 5 senses into thinking you have.

 

1.     Smell – We start with the trickiest of the 5 senses.  Not enough of this and you’ve wasted your time, while too much of it will turn people off.  Keep it natural by incorporating fragrant fruits on your tables and in your overall décor.  Mint, lemons and limes are guaranteed home runs for this purpose.  Their smell evokes a feeling of freshness and cleanliness.  Most importantly, don’t forget the fans (not the avid follower, but the blower of air).  Give them a cool breeze with a ceiling fan and drive those summer scents into your guests’ subconscious.

2.     Taste – This time of year is exciting for most caterers because they get to change it up with seasonal ingredients.  Cucumber is largely in season which makes for a delicious… Cucumber Collins!  (OMG, I can have one right now!)  Of course, don’t forget the frozen drinks.  For food, arugula, carrots and radishes are also at their best during warm weather which means your menu should be filled with yummy fresh salads with a twist – add strawberries, mandarins and pineapples to keep your greens from getting boring.  

3.     Touch – There’s nothing like a faux grass carpet to encourage guests to take off their shoes (same idea with a sandbox).  Tree bark, Birchwood and Green-walls are a great way to add a decorative element you encourage your guests to feel.  If you have sunlight peeking through a window, take advantage of it!  The more unobstructed sunlight, the better!  People love to feel the warm sun on their skin.

4.     Hearing – Get your St Tropez or Ibiza soundtrack ready!  What qualifies a song as a perfect summer hit?  It engages the rest of your senses for you.  Ever heard Will Smith’s “Summertime” and can smell the BBQ?  Music even has time travel power because something about “I Need Your Love” by Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding that brings me back to summer 2013.  Summer playlists are always fun and must have “danceability”. 

5.     Sight – I saved the best for last.  Your vision is the most powerful of all the senses.  What you see can completely override the other senses. The solution is simple… Cute shirtless cabana guys & a fake pool brings all the girls (and guys) to the yard. Place a water feature in front of windows or right underneath a skylight so the sunlight reflected off the water can create twinkles of turquoise light throughout the room.  And whatever you can’t actually have (i.e. the cabana boys and the pool), paintings or projections are a huge help.

 

Are you warm yet?  Ready for that summer cocktail?  Don’t forget to give the well prepared indoor spaces a try!

et Voilà!

What's On Your Summer Menu?

This week we caught up with Andrew Cavitolo from Riviera Caterers to get the top 5 need-to-know tips for summer catering! Not only was the insider info he offered super interesting, but the food porn he sent along with it...well, I'll let you all scroll down and see. 
 

1. Ingredients have seasons for a reason. 
The hardest thing we often face is when a client tastes a dish in the winter that they are going to recreate in the summer. Ingredients have seasons for a reason, and the seasonality of the ingredients will make or break a dish. We always like to use the freshest ingredients and sometimes the difference is only a few weeks but incorporating it into a menu at the right time is extremely important. 

 

2. It's all Peaches. 


I'm asked often what my favorite summer ingredient is, and truly there's nothing better than a fresh peach in the summertime. I love to lightly grill them, add some sea salt and a balsamic reduction, some strips of prosciutto di parma and top with arugula. The perfect summer salad.  

 

3. Summer Drink MVP


One of the most requested drinks at summer events is a Margarita, and we've mastered every twist on it. We have done it 600 ways and its always a summer classic. Nothing more refreshing than tequila with a bit of salt on the rim. 

 

4. Dessert VS Appetizer


It depends on the type of party, as well as the type of host. Personally, I'm more of a savory lover so I like a lot of food in the cocktail hour upfront to get the party going. However, a lot of people are happy to splurge for extravagant dessert displays. It creates an amazing show, however keep in mind that guests usually are full by the end of the dinner. I say why choose and spend on both! #treatyourself

 

5. And finally, the Million Dollar Question.


The biggest challenge of summer catering is the heat. So how do you fight it? Ice boxes. Lots and lots of ice boxes. We're known to create refrigerators and freezers out of proofers using dry ice. And if that doesn't work, we use special insulated boxes to keep everything to exact temperature, even on the hottest of days. 

Interview with a Wedding Professional: 5 Tips You Need To Know

SPRINGTIME.jpg

We sat down for a chat with our favorite wedding professional, Fallon Carter of Fallon Carter Weddings and Events, and we've brought you all the insider details you can't afford to miss out on, from how to stretch the bride's dollar, to preparation techniques that'll make sure nothing catches you off guard day-of. 
 

Q:  Whats the biggest hurdle you find in planning the rehearsal dinner, and how do you overcome it?
A:  The biggest hurdle to me would be making sure the Rehearsal Dinner doesn't become another wedding, so curating the guest list appropriately and focusing on the essential VIP's only. There's also always the issue of finding a fun venue that has the right amount of privacy, though I've got a few favorites I've worked with in the past. 

Q:  Any tips for brides on how to make their dollar stretch?
A:  Pick your splurge items early. Identify what is the most important to you and make your focus on those vendors priority. Also, identifying who in your circle may be able to contribute to your wedding is a great way to make use of resources. Maybe a graphic designer friend can help with invites, or a make up artist friend can do the make up on the day.

Q:  What is the most important place to spend the money in an event? 
A:  It's different for every person, but I strongly recommend splurging on the guest experience. Things like your food & beverage, music, and atmosphere will all make a wedding to remember for years to come. When guests are happy and satisfied, you will be too. 

Q:  What are 3 action items that are ALWAYS on your final checklist to ensure an event will go smoothly? 
A:  Pack your Day-Of & Wedding Weekend needs 1 - 2 weeks prior to the day. This virtually makes sure that no items you need get left behind or forgotten. I also organize all final payments and tips into sealed envelopes that are ready to roll on the day of. One of my secrets is I send out a "Wedding Weekend" sheet to the Bridal Party that includes all details regarding attire, what to pack, how to arrive for hair and make up, what color to polish their nails, and any other important info. This helps inform family & friends to ensure you don't receive questions about "What time should we be there again?".

Q:  When you're looking at furniture vendors, what are some qualities you look for? 
A:  I make sure to look for a vendor that carries a variety of furniture styles & pricing to make sure that they will have something the client will like and can fit in their budget. Of course, experience with effective load in and load out are always a big plus, too.  

 

et Voilà!

5 Ways to Measure ROI on Promotional Events

If you own your business or are the head of a marketing, sales and/or catering team, then chances are you’ve been approached with a barter or marketing opportunity.  There are countless opportunist in our industry that know how to sell you on the future return of hosting their event for free.  And the promise of more exposure, future clients and other pointless opportunities are usually the reasons we say yes.  Why is that?  Well my suspicion is because those things are hard to measure at the time of making your decision.  It’s not until after the event you realize you’ll never see a return on the time and money spent on that so-called promotional event.

Lucky for you, I’ve been in this boat countless times and have gotten better at checking off a few key requirements before agreeing to such opportunities.  Below are 5 key points to consider and discuss with the person presenting this opportunity before deciding if a promotional opportunity will provide a return that’s worth your while. 

1.     Your Desire - What do you want?  Rate your business from 0 to 10. Consider your concept, your clientele and your services.  Then do the same for who you consider your biggest competitor from 0 to 10. Finally, rate where you think you’ll be after doing this event.  Does your number go higher? Meaning do more people know about you that you didn’t previously have access to? Are those people in need of your services?

2.     Your Time - How many hours will you have to dedicate to this project in order to make it successful?  And if you had to charge a client for that kind of work, what would you charge?  That number is your opportunity cost – the loss of potential gain from other opportunities once you commit to this one.

3.     Your Costs – Once you’ve figured out your opportunity cost, add that to your hard costs.  Are there staff members you will have to assign to this project? Will you have to purchase or rent anything for this?  You want to make sure your brand is properly displayed so there are ALWAYS advertising costs associated with promotional events i.e. media backdrop for photos, swag bag, etc…

4.     Your Return – Are there any immediate benefits? The promise of potential clientele is a future benefit.  Running a promotion at the event and incentivizing people to sign up for the promotion right there is an immediate benefit. 

5.     Your Partner – The person pitching you this promotional event should be looked at as your partner on this project.  What are this person’s credentials?  Do you stain to gain any “industry cred” by working with this person or event?  Has this event been held before and if so, would the past event meet your goal had you been involved?

If after asking these questions, you still can’t decide if this is a good opportunity for you or not, email me. Seriously, you can reach me at productions@voilaeventsolutions.com.  I’ve been the victim [synonym] too many times of opportunities that seemed too good to be true and other times, I’ve done events like these that didn’t yield any financial return but the opportunity to be a part of the event was worth it.  I wish I had someone to help me when I didn’t know the difference between the two.  So try me.  You’ll be happy you had a sounding board before spending what could me your entire year’s marketing budget (if you even have one).  At the end of the day, you just need to assess if your goals are in line with this event’s goals.  Sounds easier said than done.

et Voilà!

5 Spring Tips from a Floral Expert

We interviewed Flowers by Ivona's very own Ivona Nyzio and got our subscribers the best tips for that spring floral arrangement. Whether you're thinking about your next centerpiece, or just need to brighten up your lounge room, follow these tips and you'll be stunned by the results. 

1. Easy DIY Style

The simplest and most chic design style that anyone could easily replicate would be modern romantic. Think something monochromatic, arranged by using contrasting shades and softening textures. 

2. Incorporate Your Favorites

Make your favorite flower the star by clustering them and surrounding them with neutral colored florals. Also, trim the other flowers to be shorter than your favorites, so they'll play backup instead of stand out. My personal favorite choice would be Anemone. 

3. Bad & Boujee (but Cheap) 

A great way to make an expensive looking arrangement without breaking the bank is to always use what's in season and to have a good variety. Try using Cherry Blossoms or Dogwood for a large piece, or for smaller pieces try exotic Tulips such as the aptly named Double Dior. 

4. Seasonal Arrangements

The flowers in season right now are Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinth, and the lesser known but no less lovely Ranunculus (seen above). By keeping your arrangement seasonal, you'll know they're fresh. 

5. Spring Trend Alert

Everyone is going to go with the basics, i.e. pastels, light pinks, purples, and oranges. Stand out by following the hues that surround us during this time. Different shades of greens remind us of nature waking up from the winter lull. 

As a child, Ivona Nyzio would fill up every jar, glass, and vase in her grandmother’s house with lily of the valley, daisies and other wild flowers. In 2012, after more than fifteen years of working in the corporate world, she decided to pursue her passion and started Flowers by Ivona. Presently, her & her team work out of a design studio in the heart of the New York City flower district. 

et Voilà!

Venue Feature: Events at The Beekman Hotel

Photo courtesy of Curbed NY

Photo courtesy of Curbed NY

After 3 years of restorations, The Beekman Hotel opened its luxurious doors to the public on August 23rd, 2016. Why are we writing specifically about this hotel? We’re in love with its history and event space! Built in the 19th century as a theatre that debuted Shakespeare’s Hamlet and was later abandoned for almost a decade, the building has since been transformed into a modern day Gatsby-esque hotel. Structurally, almost everything is original and most fixtures throughout the hotel are reclaimed from the building’s many historic establishments. Their new logo even resembles the authentic dragon iron work that can be seen in the atrium.

The history of the building is consistent throughout the event space as well. Temple Court, The Beekman’s largest event space currently, was also the original name of the building in the 1880’s. This space would be perfect for a wedding ceremony as it is the brightest event space they have, letting in tons of natural light, and can accommodate up to 145 people. The Farnsworth, another event space located in the cellar of the hotel, was named after James Farnsworth who originally constructed the building. The event space in the cellar can be combined to accommodate up to 300 people, making for a perfect reception area, not to mention the tile work is to die for! The Chapel Street room can be used for private dining or as a boardroom, elegantly seating up to 12 people.

All the event space is fully equipped for meetings and catering is in-house through Tom Colicchio’s Fowler & Wells restaurant or Keith McNally’s Augustine. At the very least, we recommend you check out The Bar Room at The Beekman. This lounge is our go-to for weeknight, weekend, and all around whenever drinks! It is tucked behind the lobby entrance and features plush vintage furniture, mix-matched rugs, an eclectic wall of books, creative cocktails, and a stunning view of the atrium. Beware of looking up, you might fall in love.

Their catering team is excellent and super friendly.  Call us to customize the space and turn this WOW venue into your own experience.

et Voilà!