PP000 | Party Band to Event Planner | Meet Toby & James

    Toby Goodman James Eager

    PP000 | Party Band to Event Planner | Meet Toby & James

    James Eager and Toby Goodman

    Discover why we started The Planner’s Planner Podcast, who it is for, our road into event planning and why we love podcasting!

    In this episode you will discover

    • Find out if The Planner’s Planner is for you.
    • Discover how to add value to what you are doing, whilst making use of your ‘dead’ time.
    • Get to know of us as an event planner and why we started The Planner’s Planner Podcast.

    Download the PDF Transcript

    For Audio Transcript click here

    Announcer: Toby and James are involved in amazing events all over the world. You’re listening to the Planners Planner podcast! Where top event professionals share real world experiences and cutting edge ideas. Sponsored by metropolisproductions.co.uk.


    Toby: Hi James, how are you doing?

    James: I’m good, Toby. How are you doing?

    Toby: I am lovely… What is the Planners Planner podcast?

    James: The Planners Planner podcast [laughs] – We’ve been trying to say this for ages now – is a podcast aimed at event professionals. It’s a series of discussions and interviews talking to… I guess talking about professionals.

    Toby: Yeah. Any area of events, right. You’ve got to be a good planner: if you’re a photographer, if you’re a caterer, if you’re a florist, if you’re a musician or band… You’ve got to have an understanding of planning. So hopefully, this is useful not just to the event planners themselves. Right?

    James: Yeah. Full-time managers?

    Toby: Yeah, or whatever they want to call themselves.

    James: Yeah.

    Toby: Okay, nice one. So James, why podcast?

    James: Podcast is just an absolutely amazing medium to broadcast information, I guess. We both love them. You… As I think you’ve said earlier: The pioneer in our relationship of podcasting.

    Toby: Oh yeah!

    James: Oh yeah. But we now listen to our own podcast and we’ve gained so much from listening to them, I guess.

    Toby: Yeah. So you can learn those and you can listen in what is essentially is dead time: so, in transit, gym, whatever. Doing something else, you can come and educate yourselves on a topic, or learn a bit more, or understand someone’s opinions or views. And kind of, just widen your horizon really.

    James: Absolutely. So, who is the Planners Planner podcast aimed at?

    Toby: It’s aimed at people that are trying to get into the events industry in any way really. Because, I think you need to understand about planning if you’re a professional at anything. So anyone that works in events, this is going to be useful to you.

    James: What about if you’re already in events?

    Toby: If you’re already in events… If you work alone, a lot of people in events are actually self-employed. So, it can be quite lonely, can it?

    James: Yeah.

    Toby: When you’re working from your home office or whatever.

    James: Uh, huh.

    Toby: So hopefully that will bring obviously, a few more points of view into their day… With similar people. But also a bit of a forum, a bit of a sense of community for people.

    James: Great. What about if you’re one of the big events company?

    Toby: If you’re a big events company and you’ve got a great team around you, that’s obviously fantastic. And, you’re very lucky. But, if you want to stay on trend and up to date with things then it might be really useful to listen to an interview from someone whose based in events on the other side of the world, or whatever. And, we’ve got some great contacts, haven’t we? –

    James: Yup.

    Toby: That we’ve made through our great experiences that we’re doing. Because we’re not only planning, but we’re working with other planners. So, hopefully that’s going to bring things… Get people excited.

    James: But as we’ve probably said earlier, we’ve been planning successfully events now for probably two or three years now, I mean, on a pretty high level.

    Toby: Yes.

    James: So, on our preliminary episode… What I thought would be cool is just to let people know a little bit about how we got into this world. So, we recorded live from Metropolis HQ last week.

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: A discussion of just us talking about how it all happened. So, why don’t we stop talking and let people get on with it.

    Toby: Great! Welcome to the Planners Planner!


    [music playing]


    Announcer: The Planners Planner podcast is sponsored by metropolisproductions.co.uk and metropolislive.com.


    [music playing]


    James: So Toby, we’re two pretty experienced musicians… How on earth did we end up starting an event planning podcast?

    Toby: Well, we had a few gigs… And, we had a few more gigs. And, we ended up with some amazing clients that wanted our opinion on how things went. And, without really realizing it… We got into helping planning, working with planners. And certainly, with some far more involved private events, we were expected to plan aspects. And I suppose in the end, what happened was we can deal with the prep. But because we’re musicians, working on stage, we ended up recruiting event managers and briefing them before the event and getting them involved. So, almost by and soon, I think we’ve become event planners aren’t we?

    James: But also, the interesting thing is we’ve actually worked with event planners. Actually, we are just a band brought in to work with those guys. So in a funny kind of way, we see both sides of the fence, don’t we?

    Toby: Yeah. And, there was a specific point in time I think, when we stated to realize that was happier. We started to engage with the other planners and realize actually that what they we’re doing was really important. And, how they were working was of great interest to us because we were trying to refine our skills. And, developing relationships with those planners… Obviously, we plan to a certain extent but we’re also in a situation where we work with a lot other planners. So, we needed to be flexible because as this podcaster thing, we’ll demonstrate. And, the podcast we’re doing the Planners Planner. We’ll demonstrate that different planners – depending on who they are and what types of events they plan – behave and work in very different ways. So we’ve had to adapt to them, and we’ve also had to plan ourselves. So, it’s something that we’re interested in now and we’re really enjoying doing as part of our wider work with Metropolis.

    James: Absolutely. The thing that I’ve noticed in these events, is that we will, say, plan a wedding or something like that. But, we would then go into an absolutely beautiful event which is being planned from the ground upwards. Well it’s not even really planning, it’s actually event designing. And for one thing, we’re not event designers. But, it would be great to find out a little bit more about that world.

    Toby: Yeah. And, I suppose we design certain elements. So, we’ve always designed the music… We design the sound… We design – to a certain extent – the lighting.

    James: Uh, huh.

    Toby: And, whilst it was being aware about the other design elements as well. So, when we design sound… It’s really important for us to talk to the caterers who are designing the table, the florist who design the flowers… To make sure that perhaps our speakers are in appropriate place. We don’t step on each other’s toes. So, when you get to the level of the event that we’re doing regularly… It’s absolutely imperative that you understand everyone’s working towards a common goal.

    James: Uh, huh. The events I’m thinking of: we will go in to their event designers, they’re actually more theming events. However, one particularly, where I asked what the concept of the event was… And, they said it was a peacock theme…

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: That’s obviously vastly beyond our limit, but we want to know and understand how those guys work.

    Toby: Yeah. What does that even mean, the peacock theme?

    James: That’s correct, but their creativity… Where does that thought process come from?

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: I mean, that’s absolutely amazing fascinating to me.

    Toby: Yeah. And then, we start asking questions… We’re in a stage now we’re asking questions. Is there a thing we can do to enhance or help you with your peacock theme? I think with the stock show of actually dressing as peacocks. [laughs]

    James: [laughs]

    Toby: But, at the same time… We’re perfectly willing to do that, are we? [laughs]

    James: [laughs]

    Toby: I don’t know. Anyway, but yeah. It’s just really important that on events of any scale, but especially when there are lots of suppliers working together. What could you have? You could have a caterer. Obviously, the bands, sound guys, lighting guys could be completely all separate companies.

    James: Yup.

    Toby: And obviously, we do those three things but we also regularly go out and just do the band and have certain lighting people.

    James: So, I think what you’re discerning in there is focusing a little bit more on the strategy and the techniques to ensure that things go smoothly?

    Toby: Yeah. So really, you’ve got to be planner. The bottom line is if you’re going to be a professional person in the events industry, regardless of whether you happen to be a supplier of certain type caterer, whatever. You have to be conscious of planning.

    James: Yup.

    Toby: And, you’ll deliver a better product if you understand in the early stages what the aim is: the customer. And, that’s not just for us about music anymore… It’s about the whole atmosphere of your day. Because, we’ll only provide the best music solution if we understand their vision.

    James: Correct.

    Toby: I’ll give you a great example of that straight away. If we’re doing music throughout an event…

    James: Uh, huh.

    Toby: One of the questions that I ask quite early on, and definitely the answer is normally yes in the winter months is: Tell me if your dessert is… And you’ll start with hot or cold. Are your dessert [crosstalk]?

    James: Yeah. Great question.

    Toby: I really want to know if I’m going to have to talk to the caterer and the chef and understand how they’re going. If they’re running late, you know… Once something’s at the right temperature, we need to make sure that the guests are back in their seats to enjoy the food as it should be tasted. Because obviously, our clients have invested a load of money in their food –

    James: And, they only expect the very best.

    Toby: They only expect the very best, and they want to know that we are going to just go: “Oh, sorry we got five more songs to go.” You know.

    James: Yeah.

    Toby: And that’s it. Actually, first things first, let’s go to the kitchen… Get the guys who are working with the catering team to give us a thumbs up when they’re ready. It’s those little details that literally, you know, they are unnoticed.

    James: Yeah.

    Toby: But, my God are they noticed if someone screws up. So actually, just to have a good team together, and that’s what we’ve really learned and continue to learn. You know, what’s the best ways we can help all these other people plan? And obviously, sometimes there is no planner. So that’s why we’ve become planners [crosstalk].

    James: I think it’s that situation where sometimes, there is no planner. Where we, by default, ended up planning it.

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: And, I think that’s where our particular knowledge, that default situation.

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: It’s where our knowledge of event planning actually stemmed from.

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: But, do you agree with that?

    Toby: Yeah. And, we’re talking about, you know the events that we’ve worked on our small, corporate and small private events with maybe, eighty, ninety guests. All the way up to events with four, five hundred plus.

    James: Uh, huh.

    Toby: You know, six hundred guests… Big weddings, big corporate international do in India, France, Dubai. All those places, you know. And again, how do these people from different cultures –

    James: Yup.

    Toby: – within the UK or outside plan? It’s all interesting, it’s all very important.

    James: I think the angle that you are hitting on there is really interesting. Because, planners tend to control work within one particular market genre. From a better one to a better one.

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: But as a band, we’ve tend to interface with other genres. So, I just, the wedding market for a demonstration.

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: I can think of hundreds of English weddings we’ve done. The Jewish market…

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: We’ve been to India for weddings. Egypt, that was another one.

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: And, wasn’t there a Swiss one at one point?

    Toby: Yeah, it was a Swiss one and a Norwegian one, I think as well. It’s slightly different customs, slightly different.

    James: [crosstalk] they arrive, there we’re really late.

    Toby: Yup.

    James: And actually, and the one in Egypt was going until five a.m., or something like that.

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: So totally, totally different from the ones which wrap up at about ten o’clock in this country.

    Toby: Yeah. So, the exiting thing about this podcast is there’s so much talk about –

    James: Yup.

    Toby: – and there’s so much to learn. And I think hopefully, you know, we love learning stuff. But also, as we share it with the people when hopefully, we can introduce other planners to plan as we’ve worked with as well. Maybe it’ll open their eyes, and open some doors as to different ways to work. Certainly, if people feel that they’re getting a bit stagnant, or they’ve just, –

    James: Yup.

    Toby: – you know, okay, “I’ve always been a wedding planner but actually really like to do some corporate. Or, I’d really like to take a band out to another country.” Or, you know, a way and do different stuff. Then hopefully, this will be a good forum for people to interact.

    James: But also, share tips and strategies.

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: To make sure that you have the very, very best event possible.

    Toby: Yeah. Just sharing, it’s all about sharing. And learning, to ensure that not only you’re the best you can be now, but you’re securing the fact that you can be the best moving forward in your journey into whatever kind of style of event management, planning it.

    James: And I think, we all would like to use this as a journey to meet other event planners from all over the world. And, understand more about what makes their events absolutely stunning.

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: Because, the style of events that we’ve seen in different countries is so different. They’re totally different techniques to designing an event which are both equally beautiful.

    Toby: Yeah. It’s great that suddenly we’re sort of, the passion is reignited. Because I think, you get to a certain point… A lot of people get to a certain point, and certainly we did. Where we were doing well in one area and actually, you know, it’s just fun and good to expand your horizons. Somehow with this planning avenue, and the other stuff we’ve done, just being musicians, our passions being reignited for delivering the best possible performance.

    James: Absolutely!

    Toby: And that’s like, not just a band delivering the best possible performance; it’s understanding.

    James: But I think, what we can demonstrate to our listeners is if we could have a great planner to with that makes us plan better. Which thus makes their event more successful, doesn’t it?

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: So Toby, who are we hoping to speak to in this podcast?

    Toby: Anyone that’s involved with events.

    James: So, give me some examples.

    Toby: So, obviously planners. Obviously, planners of different types: corporate, private, wedding, specialist – you know – religious type planners for specific religions of weddings: Jewish, Indian. Wherever it goes: secular, Christian. All those kinds of people, all the corporate lot, the international lot. But, remember that if you’re an event professional as I’ve said earlier on, if you’re a photographer, if you’re a caterer, if you’re a florist, you are a planner. Even if you don’t know it. There’d be a certain amount… If you’re doing well, you’re going to be planning, right? That’s just how it goes. If you’re a good pro, you’re a good planner. So, maybe tell us…

    James: We all know you love your schedule.

    Toby: I love it, all schedule depending on where you’re from. But that’s the point, isn’t it? The point is that: if a photographer comes on this podcast and say, “Actually, do you know what really works for me?” It’s when a caterer tells me this information up front, or when a band does this or when a…

    James: Or equally, what doesn’t work for him. [crosstalk]

    Toby: And, because he could vent what doesn’t work so people can come here and vent with us. People can say: you know, this makes all the difference. As with everything, it’s the details.

    James: Yeah.

    Toby: The art lies in the details as someone once said, and it really does. So if we can have a broader understanding of the experiences that we all have as a suppliers as well as planners, then I think…

    James: But also, I think we can look at some tips for helping communicate those details to the client as well.

    Toby: Yeah. And, that comes up in certainly one of those early interviews I did with Louise Perry where she talks about how she asks the questions, when it’s appropriate to ask the questions that stop any chance of miscommunication and risk the event.

    James: Because, what makes our lives easier as event professionals is keeping the client at ease, isn’t it?

    Toby: Hopefully yeah. Hopefully, we do keep the client at ease and that’s something we’re really quite precious about. I think the point is: if you’re good at your job, even in the early stages, it shouldn’t be stress, stress, stress, stress, stress –

    James: Yeah.

    Toby: – Leading up to a great event. It should be: finding your suppliers, getting a synergy with those suppliers, getting some good planning going regardless of what type of planning – whether it’s one of the suppliers or an external planner. And then, enjoying the lead up to the event.

    James: Yeah.

    Toby: Enjoying the bars. You know, certainly if it’s a private wedding.

    James: Those last couple of months are criss-cut aren’t they?

    Toby: Certainly are, and certainly weddings as we all know, aren’t the easiest things to deal with, but they’re exciting. And certainly, what we want to do is get people to relax and enjoy that time, you know. And, engage with [crosstalk]…

    James: Or, you could be a corporate planner for instance.

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: Who is trying to plan an event, as well as doing their day job as well.

    Toby: Yeah.

    James: Something else than doing this…

    Toby: But everyone’s trying to do their day job, right? So if someone’s engaged in their planning a wedding themselves, we want to maximize the enjoyment of being engaged.

    James: Yeah.

    Toby: Because, it’s such a short space of time for example. Of course the corporate guys, they’ve got loads of work on all the time… Someone perhaps has been given the responsibility to plan the Christmas do that they maybe thought was going to be fun. And then, suddenly they realized it’s actually quite a lot of work.

    James: Yeah.

    Toby: Again, we’ve had that experience a lot. And you’re kind of helping them, coaching them through making the right decisions. And also, getting them to understand why it’s important that they have certain aspects of music or staging or whatever. I forgot five hundred people, then it’s probably not wise to for the band on the floor, or whatever it is.

    James: Yeah.

    Toby: Yeah? So, it’s probably worth investing a little bit more rather than risking losing your audiences as it were. And, the feedback comes back that it wasn’t a great party because you’ve missed a couple of little details that you know would’ve made all the difference.

    James: Uh, huh.

    Toby: So that’s obviously, sounds as such a big thing and we’re really passionate about that.

    James: Absolutely.

    Toby: And, we’re geeky about that. But, it works and it matters.

    James: Yeah.

    Toby: And, when people can hear things…

    James: Sounds like one of those interesting things: when it’s right, no one notices; when it’s wrong, it’s horrendous.

    Toby: Yeah. We’ve got loads of examples of that, and there’s even a little speech video animation I did a while ago that explains that hopefully, pretty well only in sixty seconds so you won’t have to listen to us waffle. But, it’s all good stuff.

    James: Brilliant.

    Toby: We’re pretty excited about it. I’m excited.

    James: I’m excited. I’d love people to join our mailing list. Then they could find all about the Planners Planner.

    Toby: I would love people to do that, join our mailing list. It’s just on the sidebar, or is that right?

    James: It is.

    Toby: Yeah. Join our mailing list, It’s just on the sidebar.

    James: I’m glad you know where it is.

    Toby: Thanks. It’s not there yet is it? [laughs]

    James: It is.

    Toby: Excellent!


    [music playing]


    Announcer: You’re listening to the Planners Planner podcast. With Toby Goodman and James Eager. Visit plannerspod.com.


    [music ends]

    Show Notes

    00:45 – What is PP Pod
    01:10 – Why a podcast / utilising your ‘dead time’ to enhance your life
    02:00 – Who PP is aimed at
    04:05 – How James and Toby ended up planning
    04:55 – How Toby & James still work with other planners all over the world.
    06:05 – What event ‘Design’ means and why working together is crucial.
    08:30 – Why you have to be a planner, even if your job title doesn’t have ‘planner’ in it!
    09:10 – An example of a question to caterers that everyone needs to know the answer to.
    10:30 – When there is no planner, how to deal with things.
    11:00 – Where James and Toby have taken Metropolis.
    12:30 – How to secure your future by sharing.
    14:30 – Who we want to talk to on the podcasts.
    15:20 – How to say schedule!
    16:20 – How to communicate to other suppliers and your clients.
    17:15 – Letting your clients enjoy the pre event ‘buzz’.
    18:30 – How to get your clients to invest more, instead of risking their complete event.
    19:00 – Where to find a great 60 second video on appropriate sound design.
    19:30 – Be the first to find out whats new by joining our mailing list.

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