Managing the iHeartRadio Guest Experience: The Client

Welcome to Part II of our iHeartRadio guest experience series. This time, we sat down with iHeartRadio’s Christine Flipse, Senior Manager of National Entertainment, to get some insight into her experience working her way through the company, coordinating national events, and working with Lady Gaga.

Q: Give us some background about your role and how you started with the company.

I’ve been with the company for 9.5 years, since before it became iHeartMedia, back when it was still Clear Channel Radio. I started as a promotions assistant at Z100, then worked for all five New York radio stations at the time. In 2011, after our first iHeartRadio Music Festival, I started working for Darren Pfeffer [SVP, Music & Entertainment], became a coordinator, manager, and now a senior manager. Our team produces all of the national events for iHeartRadio such as the iHeartRadio Music FestivaliHeartCountry FestivaliHeartRadio Fiesta Latina, as well as all the B2B and internal events for iHeartMedia, such as activations at the Cannes Lions Festival and SXSW, and a lot of other events. I produce all the events in the iHeartRadio Theater in TriBeCa, as well as manage travel and fulfillment for all of our major events.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about the job?

I love watching our events come to life. Working on this team and knowing how much work goes into each event, being an integral part of pulling off something like the iHeartRadio Music Festival is huge. I love seeing everyone work together to make our events a success.

Q: What, to you, defines a successful event?

There are always going to be challenges and bumps in the road leading up to an event, but if everyone walks away from it at the end and feels like it was a great experience, then that’s a successful event. Whether you’re in the audience or the artist on stage or the executive producer or a stage hand, no matter who you are, if you walk away feeling like “that was great”, then you have a successful event.

Q: I’m sure you meet a lot of big names through your job – who has been your favorite? 

I think Paul McCartney because, come on, he’s Paul McCartney! I’m a huge fan of Lady Gaga and working with her is incredible because she is so involved with the creative aspect of her performances. It’s amazing to see how involved she is during rehearsal – you’ll see her tweak the angle of the piano herself until it’s perfect, that’s how invested she is. One of the most exciting moments for me was when we had the Foo Fighters at the iHeartRadio Theater in LA. I was able to watch Taylor Hawkins as he was listening to his drum track from soundcheck, correcting things in his mind, and making sure he sounded the way he wanted to. You don’t think of someone that big doing that. It’s great realizing that these people are people just like you and me, and they need to practice and prepare. They don’t just get up there and do it; there’s a lot of hard work on their end.

Q: What’s the best thing you could hear from a guest about one of your events?

We hold contests for our events for people to win a trip there, and a lot of our winners are people who have never been on a plane before, and they otherwise wouldn’t have that type of experience. So when they come back to us and say “You’ve given me the opportunity of a lifetime, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget”, that’s so special to me. To give that type of experience to someone who wouldn’t otherwise have it is the greatest.

Q: How do you and your team cope with the stress of an event?

We are really in it together; our team is very much like a family. We pick each other up when we’re down and we celebrate each other’s successes. This is not a standard nine-to-five desk job where you come in , do your work, and leave. We eat more meals together with our coworkers than our families some weeks. Being there for each other and having each other’s back helps us get through it. We also often work out together, whether it’s a run or a SoulCycle class, to help us clear our minds and not just talk about work 24/7.

Communication is also key. There are so many different aspects that need to come together properly in order for the event to be a success, and there is a lot of overlap between teams – the sponsorships being incorporated into the backstage areas or party spaces, the number of credentials lining up with the number of tickets, the stage call times working with the backstage artist “move times” – everyone needs to be on the same page.

Q: What is one of the most rewarding moments of your job?

My favorite part of an event is to go out into the house and stand in the arena and just look out while everyone is having an amazing time, knowing that I helped get them there. I try to make it a point at every iHeartRadio Jingle Ball stop to go out and do just that. The iHeartRadio Jingle Ball is a 12-city concert tour every December. It’s one of our busiest times of the year so taking a moment to be reminded of why we’re doing what we’re doing gives you energy to get through it.

Q: Speaking of people having an amazing time, you’ve seen so many live shows. Which artists have the most excited crowds?

The Backstreet Boys were huge. They make full grown women act like tweens again. Like professional, marketing geniuses become children again. I mean, of course, Bieber comes on stage and gets an amazing response, the girls go crazy, but seeing the adults react like that is the best.

Q: What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow your career path?

Work hard. Really hard. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, to start low and work your way up. If you have the motivation and the drive and love for what you’re doing, it’ll show. When I started as a promotions assistant, it wasn’t even in my mind that I’d end up here. iHeartRadio wasn’t even a thing yet, and I’ve been part of the whole ride and I’ve seen it through, and now I’m a member of this great team. Take any opportunity and make it everything you can. Work hard from wherever you are and be passionate. Those are the most important things. Everything else can be learned.


When to Text or Email Guests During an Event

Picture this. The stunning outdoor event you’ve been slaving over for months is about to be rained out and moved to your backup location indoors.

The issue? Your event guests are spread all over the city right now and you need to let them know ASAP. Luckily, we live in a modern event planning world with instant communication at our fingertips. It’s why concierge.com lets you text or email your guests through the system however and whenever you need to. Although, just because you CAN communicate with your guests at any time doesn’t always mean you SHOULD. Read on to learn how and when to text or email guests during an event, and when not to.

Instant Text and Email Best Practices

The ever-presence of mobile devices really allows us to make every guest feel connected and cared for leading up to and during an event. When done respectfully and sparingly, instant communication to event guests can reduce anxiety and promote trust.

Changes: Anytime there is a change to guests’ itineraries, it helps to get in touch with them as quickly as possible so they aren’t left feeling lost. Use this any time you have a venue, time, or speaker change. Additionally, if you’re aware of traffic or transportation concerns (like an accident on the highway), a heads up to guests is always appreciated. Be as brief as possible while conveying all of the change information.

Select Reminders: Especially if you have guests traveling to your event, it can be helpful to remind them about presentation or event start times, where they can find catering or meals during a break, or if there are any delays.

A recent firsthand example of this: a client of ours was hosting a party during a sporting event weekend – at said party, our client was broadcasting the game, but attendance was strangely low. They realized their guests didn’t know that the day’s game was being broadcast at the party and, instead, the guests were at bars or hotels watching it. They used that opportunity to text guests reminding them that the game was being shown at their party, and the guests showed up in droves. Big win.

Follow-Ups: Few things are more helpful than leaving a great presentation with follow-up materials, resources, and links sitting expectantly in your inbox. Creating a seamless guest experience means staying top of mind for guests and meeting needs before they are even realized.

When Not to Use Text and Email

Now that you’ve seen ways immediate, personal communication can be done well, let’s look at ways it can damage a relationship so you can actively avoid them at all costs. Guests can spot fake and manipulative communication from a mile away, and it instantly leaves a bad taste in their mouths. Let’s not.

Every Little Thing: Sure, you’d love to be there at every turn to welcome your guest to their hotel, presentation room, or afterparty, but doing it via text or email for every little thing is going to get old fast. Instant notifications are meant to be attention-grabbing in order to share important information – once a guest receives them too frequently, they tune them out and might miss the actual important info.

Third Party Information: This is not the place for third party advertising or sponsor messages. It is self-serving and not useful to your guests, so it is seen as a nuisance. Advertising is best left for event web pages, print and digital materials, and perhaps as part of useful post-event offers.

Polls and Questionnaires: Be wary of sending out polls during your event. Yes, it’s nice to get feedback when the content or event is still fresh on guests’ minds, but this also falls into the category of unnecessary communication during an event. If the poll is going to inform the schedule of events or itinerary, then it may make more sense. In that case, keep it short, sweet, and on topic. Otherwise, plan to send out any surveys at one time after the event has ended so attendees can answer at their convenience.


4 Things Your Event Planner Wants You to Know

You are eternally grateful to your event planner or agency for pulling off great events, but are you really giving them everything they need to help your event succeed?

We’re going to walk you through four things your event planner wants you to know.

The concierge.com team has spent years pulling off large-scale events (think AMC’s Talking Dead Season Premier event and the MTV Movie Awards) and working for hospitality giants and major brands, which gives us the unique position of seeing both the client and the event pro side of the equation. We’ve seen plenty of miscommunication go down (heck, we’ve been the cause and recipient of it plenty of times), so we’d love to save you the trouble by sharing what we’ve learned.

1. Know that your event pro is a trusted partner.

You probably hired this person to your team or as an outside consultant after much research and budgeting and praying to the event gods. You know they are capable. You know they are invested. Don’t fall into the tempting habit of keeping them out of the loop as your event evolves and changes take place. They’ve probably been immersed in the minutiae of events longer than you have and may have valuable suggestions to make as issues arise. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own teams, but remember you hired this person not only for their skills in executing and organizing, but also for their experience! Use it!

Tip: Keeping them in the loop is easier than you think. Make it a habit to Cc: them on internal emails about the event and schedule a brief weekly check-in.

2. Know that timelines are everything.

Event Planners live and die by your timeline, but it is often seen by brands as a flexible thing. Commit to the timelines your company sets for your event and deliver on your end of the deal when approvals are needed and to-dos are due. Of course, there are undoubtedly times when things change and everyone has to adapt, but holding fast to the deadline you set whenever possible gives you more understanding to cash in on when things really do need to change. Event pros will stick to your timeline and will appreciate and respect when you do, too.

Tip: From the beginning, create a shared calendar or Google doc that you and your event planner can access at any time to see an up-to-date timeline. It’s transparent, efficient, and updated in real time. 

3. Know the value of your investment.

Event planning is around-the-clock work. There are fires to put out in the middle of the night, Plan Bs (and Cs) put into place at the last minute, and days spent rechecking every detail so that you can focus on the big picture. And that’s just the set-up! The actual event is an especially intense time for your event pro since they’ll be everywhere at once and responsible for every detail. Keep in mind when you’re lamenting the cost of event planning that you’re paying for empathy, diligence, and integrity with every dollar. When you’ve hired a good event team, they are going to pour themselves into your project 100%, often going above and beyond what you’re paying them to make sure everything is perfect.

Tip: This is a two-for-one deal. During your brief weekly calls (mentioned above), ask for clear updates and challenges from your event planner. We’re confident they’ll be happy to outline the ways they’re going above and beyond for you throughout the process.

4. Know that issues will come up. Then trust your team.

Issues come up. They just do. Celebrity event planner and producer Jung Lee even said, “Just because you have planned something doesn’t mean it is going to happen.” Resist the temptation to blame your event planner for every little issue by understanding that stuff happens out of everyone’s control. Instead, hire someone you trust to handle problems professionally and gracefully. When mishaps pop up, event pros will get your event back on track faster if you give them the trust and power they need to do their job successfully.

Tip: Always set time for a post-mortem on an event to discuss what issues came up, how they could be avoided/better handled in the future, and what you’ve learned as partners from the experience. 

Event pros, what did we miss? We’d love to hear your thoughts!


Concierge.com's Event Check-In App is Here

Great news, just in time for January! We’ve expanded our check-in feature to include a dedicated tablet app that syncs directly with the concierge.com platform. Here are a few features of the app, available to concierge.com customers immediately.

Fully Integrated with concierge.com: Our app is easy-to-use (just like the rest of concierge.com) and automatically syncs your event info. Finally, everything on one platform.

Customize Check-In: The check-in app was designed with the same high level of customization you’d expect from concierge.com. Check guests in by guest name, by group, by byt, by entire event, or any other way you want.

User-Friendly Design: The check-in app is easy-to-use, intuitive, and cleanly designed.

No Additional Cost: For concierge.com users, the app is yet another feature of our comprehensive platform, not an add-on or additional expense.

Barcodes and RFID: In development and coming soon! The app will support multiple barcode formats and RFID technology.

We’re thrilled to add the app to our platform and would love to answer your questions about it.


3 Ways You Can Better Manage Guest Travel

Getting guests to and from your event is half the battle for many event professionals.

They all come equipped with different needs, expectations, time constraints, and geographical challenges. It’s one of those things we suspect will never be no-effort, but from our years of managing guest travel for events like the iHeartRadio Music Festival, we’ve learned a thing or two about saving your sanity while you do it. Read below for three ways you can better manage guest travel for events now, and save yourself a headache later.

1. Book Extra Hotel Rooms

Inevitably, when a large number of guests are checking into their hotel, something is going to go awry. Whether the front desk employee looks up the guest’s name incorrectly, or the record was lost along the way and the hotel is completely booked, the last thing you want is a guest standing in the hotel lobby with no room and no plan. This is why we suggest keeping a few extra rooms in your back pocket so you can transfer your displaced guest over to one of the extra rooms quickly and easily.

2. Go Beyond Plan B

Try as you might, you don’t have control over guests’ flights, traffic, or the weather. That’s why it is not only important to have a “Plan B”, but also a plan C-G. When your main speaker gets snowed in at home and your backup speaker misses her flight, have someone local in mind and prepared to step in with a killer presentation they have ready (for example, someone who has just spoken at a recent event with a different audience). Have the numbers of at least two or three other transportation companies on hand so you can call right away if your shuttle bus gets caught behind a pile-up. The last thing you want to do when you’re panicked is research.

3. Rack Up Contact Information

A CIA dossier should pale in comparison to the file you have on your guests. Well, at least your VIPs, contest winners, and other special guests. You never know when phones will die or when email will get sent to the spam folder. Get as much information for your contacts as possible: phone number(s) and email are a bare minimum. Also gather their Twitter handle, phone and address of where they are staying (if you didn’t book it yourself), and the names and numbers of any people with whom they’ll be traveling.

We hope you found something helpful here. If you’re interested in learning about how to make managing guest travel even easier with concierge.com, click the button below.