Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremonies Dress Rehearsal – So inspiring

Luck was smiling on me yesterday. I was gifted two tickets to see the dress rehearsal of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies!

Now don’t get all excited I’m not going to spill the beans about what I saw or who performed. I respect the producers wish to keep it a surprise. What I will do is tell you how I felt and the challenges and success of actually getting in to BC Place to see the dress rehearsal.


To start with the the line ups of people were amazing. We started at Robson and Beatty at 3:40pm and we didn’t get into BC Place until 5:05pm. Now luckily the dress rehearsal only had about a 1/3 capacity inside so if you are seeing the Official Opening Ceremonies I highly recommend giving yourself plenty of time to get inside so you don’t miss a thing.


The actual entrance into BC Place was at the corner of Nelson and Pacific and it was a bit of a zoo. Not much if any signage and no crowd fencing so it was almost a bit like a mosh pit. The Energy was electric, I saw many people I knew in the crowd and all faces were smiling and full of anticipation. I was already starting to feel my Canadian pride seeing how well mannered we all were + the huge volunteer force in their Olympic outfits.

So after getting through the airport like security we are now inside BC Place. Another line up at the concession stand. This was actually slower and more painful than security. Staff are really unsure and they actually ran out of the veggie dog my friend ordered so we had to wait 10 minutes on the side. Ok now we are in our seats, we enjoyed the remaining moments of the preshow. the sound was a bit echoed but that is what a dress rehearsal is for. To fix technical difficulties.

6pm sharp the dress rehearsal begins and my heart filled with pride. Multiple times during the show I had tears of joy in my eyes. The show was magnificent and even though most of the big performers weren’t there I was uplifted and truly awed. I think the world will really understand what it means to be Canadian. More importantly I think this will help Canadians remember what it means to be Canadian.

My only disappointment from the night is the realization that I won’t get to see in live on opening night. If you are going be loud, be proud, be Canadian!

The Grand Opening of Pride House Vancouver

As you may know I am enjoying the Olympics and writing for the Metro Blenz News Squad. I’ll be posting my blogs there over the coming weeks and then I’ll repost them here on my blog for you all to share as well. As always your comments are feedback are welcome.

By Marc Smith

Yesterday, Feb 11th, saw yet another first in Olympic history occur in Vancouver. The first ever Pride House was opened in the heart of Downtown Vancouver at Qmunity, BC’s Queer Resource Centre. While to those of you who are not a member of the LGBT community this may seem small and insignificant it is in fact a major accomplishment and milestone. One I felt proud to be apart of and thrilled to be able to show the world that Canada is truly a country where diversity is celebrated.

Professional and Olympic caliber sports are one of the last remaining hold outs where people in the LGBT community feel they need to hide their authentic selves for fear of rejection from their peers and of course the almighty $$$ support from business and associations.

Politics aside Pride House Vancouver means that LGBT friends and family in Vancouver + all those visitors from around the world have a safe space to come hang out and celebrate the Olympic Spirit with others from their community.

I attended the official opening ceremonies and here is a video of the brief opening remarks from Qmunity Executive Director Jennifer Breakspear.

A chance interview with Indian Olympian Shiva Keshavan

Here is an excerpt from one of my Olympic blogs on the Metro Blenz News Squad

Taking a walk with a friend enjoying the beautiful Vancouver sunshine we stopped at the local UPS Store on Nelson & Cambie to mail off a package. We walked in to a sea of video cameras from two local TV stations and a large group of regular folk with cameras. What did we walk into? A scandal maybe at the UPS Store?

Even better, we walked into what turned out to be an impromptu media scrum for star Indian Olympic Athlete Shiva Keshavan. Upon asking and following up with further research when I got home it turns out that  Mr. Keshavan was the worlds youngest Luge entrant ever to participate in a Winter Olympics (Nagano 1998).

Click here to read more, see the pictures and watch the video.

Touching Gold – A Mint of an Experience

The following post is an excerpt from my blog postings on Metro Blenz News Squad and was one of the highlights of my Olympic Experience!

A once in a lifetime experience occurred today. I held in my hands all 6 of the Olympic and Paralympic medals! A first in modern Olympic history the IOC allowed the host nation to exhibit and make available to the general public actual Olympic medals. Here’s the story of my Gold Medal experience.

7am I arrived at the SFU Segal Graduate School for Business at Granville & Pender. Actually during Feb 12th to 28th it’s been transformed into the Canadian Mint Pavilion. In front of me were about 100 dedicated people mostly local Vancouverites.

In front and behind me were 2 people soon to become my Canadian Mint tour buddies Arjunaand Vena. We spent the next two hours sharing our Olympic experiences, passing on tips of what to see and what wasn’t worth the wait.

5 Steps to create a successful Auction for your Fund-Raiser

One of the most commonly asked questions I get asked by non profit groups is how they can maximize their fund raising efforts at their events with Silent &/or Live Auctions. Now I am not a professional fund-raiser but I’ve certainly seen enough auctions both successful and others less so to pick up what I think are the 5 tricks to success. Here they are in no particular order :

  1. Have auction items that appeal to your guests.Auction items must appeal to the guest who have bought a ticket to the event. Knowing the demographics of your event attendees is very important. If you can obtain items for your auction that are both within the price point and interest of your guests you have a greater chance of raising significant $$.
  2. Merchandise Merchandise Merchandise. Display your auction items to their best advantage – People want to see what they are buying. Make sure to take items (i.e. a flat screen TV) out of their boxes and remove the plastic wrappers. Make sure items that are not physically present (gift cards, travel, etc..) have alluring and graphically interesting presentation posters. Also make sure your auction table items are merchandised at varying heights so that the display is interesting enough for the eye to scan the whole table and not want to miss anything.
  3. Add a “Buy Now”  option – this is usually set at the full retail value of the item or 10% above the full retail value. This allows a serious bidder to stake the item as theirs and guarantees you reach your funding target for the item. Having guests at your event realize that a Silent or Live Auction does not = garage sale prices will also go a long way.
  4. Build up excitement and bidding. Your last live Auction item should be the climax! During your event lead up to the main auction with a smaller teaser auction. Pick items with a smaller price point that are sure to go for full value. this builds up bidding excitement and gets the room primed for the main auction which will help you raise more $$.
  5. Send them an Auction teaser. Educate your guests with what’s available for auction in advance of the event. If they know about the fabulous items in advance they come prepared to bid on the item(s) they really want. For larger value items they may even put together a group to bid on it to split the cost (ie a vacation cabin rental, harbour yacht cruise, etc…) Here’s an example of one of my clients that’s doing it right A Loving Spoonful’s Project Empty Bowl.

These are just some tricks you can use to ensure auction success. There are many more and are unique to your auction, charity and the actual event. Please feel free to share your ideas.

How to use Twitter & Facebook to Raise Your Profile & Increase Business

Do you often wonder …

How you can use twitter more effectively? or

What should you tweet about?

Well, I’ll share ALL my social networking secrets with you on Tuesday, September 14.

I’m giving a practical, interactive (and that means bring your laptop) 1 hour session that will walk you along, step by step, from concept to real tweeting. I will demystify Twitter and Facebookand show you how, as a successful entrepreneur, I’ve actually used social media to triple my network, enhance my public profile, and secure better clients. This seminar is for Business Owners & Professionals that would appreciate a hands on, knowledge packed session on how to effectively use Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin for their business.

To fit into your schedule you can choose from 1of 2 classes. Please choose 1 only.Breakfast Session – 7:30 am to 8:30 am with registration and light networking at 7 am. Free coffee and Wi-Fi will be available for all attendees.

Lunch Session – 12:30pm to 1:30 pm with registration and light networking at 12 noon. Free coffee and Wi-Fi will be available for all attendees. Please feel free to brown bag your lunch.Marc Smith is the owner of Amuse consulting Inc, A boutique event planning company based in Vancouver that specializes in creating client and staff engagement events. Clients include RBC, VanCity, and A Loving Spoonfulto name a few.

Please see the web site for more info on Marc & Amuse Consulting.

A revamped + special announcements

After 5 1/2 years in business I thought it was time to update my website and incorporate some of the amazing technologies and suppliers I’ve gotten to work with over the past 5 + years. The website design (courtesy of SplitMango) was also a great opportunity to announce 3 new exciting products and partnerships we worked hard over the summer to be able to bring to you our clients and friends.

So here’s what’s new:

  1. Our new website is designed to make it easier for you to understand what we do here at Amuse. We create great events for our clients that enable them to engage with their clients/staff & future prospects. Some of the features include; Fewer navigation bars, Easy to click on Call to Action buttons, More integrated Video showcasing our portfolio and of course Better integrated Social Media access icons
  2. A new partnership with Ballet BC where we are the exclusive seller of the “Nutcracker Party For Kids” an exclusive family event that is a perfect holiday celebration for you, your staff & their kids to enjoy.
  3. Effective Sept 7th 2010 we are the exclusive venue manager for the Harrison Galleries at 901 Homer St, yes that’s our new office space as well. This means that any organization that is looking to hold their next event at the unique and versatile Harrison Galleries only has to call us and we’ll take care of all the details for them
  4. We are launching our Holiday Celebrations Made Easy By Amuse. This is a one stop stress free package that is ideal for the small to medium-size office. A holiday celebration for everyone at the office made easy. Access to some of the best restaurants in the city and all of the worry taken care of for you.

Now there will be more to come in the upcoming days and weeks. Rest assured at Amuse we are constantly striving to be unique, engaging and of course as cutting edge as we can be so that we are able to make your event the best it can be.

Life’s More Fun in Costume…

…especially if you’re at an event! We’re thrilled to be ‘guest blogging’ on the new Amuse website and we thought it most fitting (no pun intended) to write about costumes + events and their perfect marriage!

First stop; imagine you’re at a fancy Champagne cocktail and everyone is dressed in basic black (surprise surprise). And you show up looking radiant in French glam! In an instant, you’re the hit of the party. You inspire energy and glamour into the event and all because you dressed for success.

Take a lovely summer garden party, for example. Dressing up isn’t just for kids, and the Boo La La team knows how to turn an average affair into a world of wonder! With Alice in Wonderlandbeing one of the biggest dress-up trends this season, the Boo La La team showed up to this garden party and turned it into a wildly fun fete!

And a simple single mingle with friends just isn’t the same if there’s no chance of meeting prince charming! Not to worry friends, with costumes in hand you’ll always attract attention…

We promise, life’s more fun in costume!

Boo La La Bio: After 25 years Carol’s Costume Corner recently rebranded and the store is now named Boo La La!

Boo La La (previously ‘Carol’s Costume Corner’), located in North Vancouver, is one of Canada’s most reputable and successful costume stores. The store offers thousands of costumes for rent (many of which being gorgeous vintage threads), hundreds for sale and a large assortment of costume accessories and wigs. Plus, now you can buy your favourite costume online from anywhere in North America!

Since 1985, Boo La La has been supplying Canada with the most sought after costumes and high quality vintage assortments. With exceptional personalized costume styling, Boo La La is renowned for their complete head-to-toe shopping experience. Whether looking for the perfect Halloween costume or a great get up for a theme party, the Boo La La team rocks the look every time. With our strong fashion background we understand not only the key costume trends, but also the proper fit and style. We ensure your costume looks amazing every time! We rock the look so you can rock the party.

The Secrets to Hiring the Right DJ Service

It is true what they say about the entertainment at any event, it is one of the key components to a great time. It is no secret that the market is saturated with DJs, so how do you hire the right DJ for your budget?

The process of narrowing it down: DO NOT make price the deciding factor. Compile a list of DJs you have seen in the past, ask friends for referrals, and ask for “preferred DJs” and opinions from your other event vendors. Then narrow your selection down to 3 professional DJ services. Look for a DJ Service that stands out from the rest.

Make contact: Book your DJ at least 6 months in advance. Although email inquiries are increasing in popularity, nothing beats talking with your DJ service over the phone. How they conduct themselves over the phone is a great indication of how professional they are and how they perform in public. Things to listen for… Are they confident? Can they offer you a professional and easy to read website to refer to? Did they answer their phone when you contacted them? Was there a quick turn around time when responding to your inquires? Or do you have to wait days for a reply back? All of these are indications of whether you are considering a full time professional DJ service. Do not be fooled into thinking that all-inclusive packages are the only options for your entertainment. A professional DJ service will spend the time getting to know you first and talk about pricing last.

The consultation: Whenever possible, ask to meet with the DJ or DJ Service at their office/residence. A professional DJ service will be proud of their environment, and will welcome the opportunity to display their equipment. This consultation is a great opportunity for you to meet with them in person, and start to build a relationship. This consultation will give you an idea of how they will treat your wedding/event and make your day a memorable one.

The full package: For your special event you need the full package. This includes a professional DJ, high quality equipment and lighting, and the right songs for your party. Some DJ companies emphasize the need to have a music library in the tens of thousands. Ironically, only 60-70 songs will be played, but if they are not the right songs then your celebration will not be memorable. An experienced DJ can help with this. Determine a general play list in advance and provide your DJ with a “do and don’t” play list. Get their input on your evening. Will they be interactive? Can they help with the cake cutting ceremony and the first dance? What are their suggestions?

Get it in writing: A professional DJ service will send you a contract. Make sure you discuss payment options and cancellation policies prior to signing. This is the time to determine additional items like: whether dinner for the DJ needs to be provided, music request list policies, exterior arrival times, lighting packages, and determining your assigned DJ. And let’s not forget pricing and extra charges.

Don’t just take their word for it: Ask to see the DJ service’s references and then qualify them by calling. Make sure to contact a previous client that has used the DJ that is assigned to your function. A professional DJ service will be honoured and proud to provide you with at least 3 recent contacts.

Pricing: Price is one thing – quality is another. All DJs are not created equally. A DJ’s rates can vary from a low $500 to a high $1500 in most Canadian cities. Anyone below $500 should be scrutinized to ensure quality of service, equipment, and track record.” Chances are, they are not a professional full time DJ, and they may lack experience, and most likely don’t have a license or carry liability insurance. Most good DJs should be priced in the $700-1000 range, depending on experience. Book the DJ you can afford and NEVER EVER book the cheapest (unless you are receiving a discount or there is a valid reason that they are the lowest price). Trust your gut feeling for the DJ you like and go with them. Remember, with hiring a professional, comes peace of mind.

Key questions to ask:

  1. What type of sound system do they use?
  2. Do they have a business license?
  3. Do they carry liability insurance?
  4. Do they use AVLA licensed music?
  5. Are they members of the Better Business Bureau (BBB)?