Karly Giaramita is the vice president of events at WeWork, a platform that provides more than 90,000 members around the world with work-space and community through both physical and digital offerings. Giaramita was hired in 2012 to plan the company’s popular Summer Camp, an annual conference that brings more than 2,000 members and staff to the Adirondack Mountains for three days of networking and education sessions. She is based in New York.
1. Identify an event’s intent.
This holistic understanding will help guide each individual decision along the way. If you are struggling with where to allocate certain funds, go back and reflect on the “why” of the event, and you’ll almost always know what’s worth the cost and what’s not. If we’re going to spend time and resources on a certain aspect of an event, we always need to take a step back and assess whether it directly contributes to WeWork’s intent—which is bringing people together in a meaningful way.
2. Trust your team.
Allowing them to really own their various projects is vital. As a leader, your role is to ensure they have motivation, inspiration, and all the tools they need to execute. Give them projects that will excite them.
3. Hire vendors who are total experts in their fields.
Just like our community managers at WeWork, our vendors need to be passionate about providing hospitality and bringing exceptional experiences to everyone involved.
4. Get involved in set up and break down.
My team and I like getting into the weeds of load in, set up, break down, and load out with all of our vendors. We need to have an understanding of their plans, how long everything will take, and what resources they’ll need from us. Understanding these details helps us troubleshoot if any issues arise.
5. Use a run of show document.
I enter every single detail into a run of show. During the event, this document is the single source for all information.
6. Follow the 90 percent/10 percent assumption.
Ninety percent of the event will go as planned, but the other 10 percent is unpredictable. That percentage can be positive, [for example] the energy and good vibes your guests bring. But it can also be a challenging negative, [like] a heavy thunderstorm. You have to assume either scenario is possible when you’re planning.
7. You only get one chance at a first impression, so make sure it’s a great one.
Your guests’ initial experience sets the tone for the rest of the event. The smallest handshake or smile at check-in can be extremely impactful. The same thought process should apply to the exit—the closure should be as extraordinary as the entrance.
8. Create unforgettable moments.
With each event comes the opportunity to create special moments that, when experienced as a single community, help to generate positive feelings of excitement and connection. For example, at last year’s Summer Camp, Lin-Manuel Miranda, one of our guest speakers earlier in the evening, joined the Roots onstage for their performance. He rapped on a few different songs and delivered a once-in-a-lifetime performance. It was extraordinary—the audience could see the authenticity of his passion, and it really helped make that night profoundly engaging.
9. Stay focused on the community you are serving.
At WeWork, our events build a strong feeling of empathy and belonging among our members. They value these unique experiences because they deliver a visceral sense of togetherness—so for us as a team, always keeping that focus on community in mind as we plan details of events is of critical importance.