Corporate Event Expert Profile: Connie Luc, Vice President, Team Lead, Events Marketing, City National Bank
I first met Connie Luc when one of my former interns referred her for an internship in the Sybase events department, back in 2005. I hired her for the summer, and she was one of the most organized people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. As it turns out, that internship helped her decide that she wanted to pursue a career in events.
Luc was only in the Bay Area for school (she attended U.C. Berkeley), and didn’t stay long before moving back down to Los Angeles, where she quickly found employment at City National Bank. She had interned there for three summers and they were eager to bring her on board full-time. Luc started in community events and moved over to the corporate events team a year later. Thirteen years later, she is a vice president and team lead, and she and her greater team of seven manage more than 250 events for the bank each year that range in size from 20 to 500 attendees.
What type of events are you working on and who is your target audience?
City National is a private bank, and we base our business on relationships. We are known as “Bank to the Stars,” for our long history of providing financial expertise to the entertainment industry and are also experts in meeting the financial needs of entrepreneurs. Our target audience is primarily high net worth individuals, so we focus on providing “money can’t buy” VIP experiences.
We do a lot of hospitality entertaining as well as sponsorships — things like luxury suites or boxes at sporting events or concerts. Events can be great opportunities to get to know our clients better and meet new clients. We also host a lot of events for specific audience segments and communities.
We have repeated events annually, but we also are constantly coming up with new event concepts for the lines of business. We’ve moved towards holding fewer events that are higher quality.
What parts of your job do you like the most?
One of the reasons why I went into planning is because I love the human interaction. I don't think most people realize that there’s a whole village behind the scenes of any successful event — creative designers, PR, content, vendors, bankers and more. All around, it’s a collective effort and we all accomplish one goal together in a very successful way, which I find very fulfilling.
What are the biggest challenges that you see corporate event professionals facing today?
At City National, we’re moving towards a more strategic approach to events. That means more tracking and reporting, to find out our return on investment and just to have everything in one place. Finding ways to minimize manual work is important, because we just don’t have enough time.
Keeping on top of what’s out there, thoroughly vetting all the technology and making sure we have the best tools to meet our needs is one of my biggest challenges. I’d love to see a single system that would work for all our events and marketing needs. We haven't found a true one-stop shop, something that has all the event technology and the marketing and CRM all in one place.
Is there any one app, program or technology that you’ve found particularly helpful?
Zkipster has helped us evolve the way that we engage with our clients digitally and also on site — and has completely changed our event registration process. Their registration system has a great interface. The look and feel of it is really clean and chic, but it's also very user-friendly. You can build an invitation in the system and deploy it as a digital email invitation. Each invitee gets their own customized link. The invitee clicks on it and then it populates an RSVP page. They don't have to fill anything out because everything's already been pre-populated for them. Their first name, last name — everything. So all they have to do is say “I’m attending” or “I’m not attending.” That also helps us track (or prevent) any transferring of invitations.
On the back end, we’re able to see all the analytics: was the email sent, did they click on it, how many people registered — all in real time. And we can set up the app for print-on-demand badges on-site. The app can be accessed through an iPad, an iPhone or mobile app, and you can check people in in real time. If you have multiple event planners handling check in, you can all see real-time who has showed up and who hasn't.
If we have a banker who wants to know if somebody has showed up, they'll get a text message or email notification as soon as we hit the check in button. And we can upload photos of our guests (if we have photos) to make it easier to identify VIP clients, like speakers — that way when they’re checked in, someone can go and greet them.
We are also currently utilizing Salesforce as a CRM system and building event journeys to best capture the data all in one system. This allows for a more robust tracking and reporting post event including metrics on all marketing touchpoints to help us make decisions around planning future events.
Is there any place in the industry that you see disruption happening?
The events industry is constantly disrupted because of generational change. Millennials will take over the workforce fairly soon, but there’s a wide age range at our events. That actually produces another challenge — how to make our events appealing and engaging to all the different age groups. The majority of Baby Boomers aren’t interested in the experiential marketing or activations that the Millennials want, nor do they want to engage with mobile event apps. So how do you bridge that gap between the generations, so you're actively and effectively engaging every generation when they're all attending the same event?
If you could give a single piece of advice to event managers, what would it be?
For someone starting out in the industry, it's so important to stay connected because you never know what could happen in the future. It could be a job opportunity or even being able to work together on a project. Looking back in my career, it’s really the connections that I've made that have led me to where I am today.
For someone leading a team, just listen and learn. The biggest thing for me this past year has been learning from other people. No matter how many years of experience you have, things are going to change. Technology, trends — events aren't the same as they were 10 years ago. It’s important to stay relevant.
I’m involved in a young professionals’ group at the bank, outside of my events role. We’re working to build a future leadership group, launching different chapters in the different regions. I’ve learned a lot from the people who are younger than me. There are certain technologies they mention that I’ve never heard of, so I’m constantly learning. I also listen to the people I work with, whether internal or vendors. I think that listening and observing and applying it to areas where you have opportunities is really helpful.
What do you what do you like to do when you're not working?
I love coffee. There are so many artisan coffee places and it's the highlight of my day being able to drink a really good cup of coffee. I love traveling as well, being exposed to different cultures, seeing how other people live and just getting out of my comfort zone.
My favorite thing right now is ClassPass, which is a fitness membership started by a young female entrepreneur. You can choose different levels of how much you want to pay, which gives you credits. They offer barre, spinning, CrossFit, yoga. Everything is booked through an app, and you can use it in their network of studios nationwide, even when you’re traveling. You can try different things and you can also find your friends on the app, see what classes they're taking and join classes together.
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