Event Planning (And Planning When Things Don’t Go According to Plan!)

by Danielle Steffan, Event Coordinator

Event planning is a very fun and exciting field to work in! There is nothing more rewarding than seeing your clients happy and overjoyed about their event being perfect.  While most of the time the industry is very rewarding, there are also unexpected things that can come up. In order to ensure our events go as smooth as possible, there are several issues coordinators need to be prepared for. From my experience, there are several common situations that may come up while planning an event: poor weather, miscommunication, and a budget gone wrong.

The weather is something that we have no control over, but it is something that we should consider when planning an event. If the event is using outside space, it is always best to have a back-up plan in mind. As event coordinators, we should always be thinking of alternative solutions in case something happens. Luckily for us at the Convention Center, we have plenty of space if Erie weather does not cooperate. We also have a large, versatile space called the Anchor Plaza which has a large tent with sides; if there is bad weather, we can still utilize the space.

Another situation I have run into is miscommunication with the client. It is our job to make sure we are getting every detail from the client and making sure that nothing is over-looked. Forming a great relationship with the client is very important. We want to turn the client’s vision to life and try our best to do this. Although we try our best to make sure the event is perfect, sometimes there is a miscommunication between us and the client. If this does happen, we just need to make it work!  Here at the Convention Center, we have a great operations and food/beverage team and we all work together to make sure the clients vision is successfully executed.

Lastly, another struggle event coordinators often face is the client’s budget. Whether it’s small or large, we as coordinators need to make sure that we stay within the budget. If the client wants more than what the budget allows, we need to be creative and think of options that would work for the client in their budget. The budget can sometimes be the most challenging part of the event, but making sure we communicate exactly what the client can get within the budget will help the entire event run successfully.

These are just a few things to be aware of, but the majority of the time events run smoothly!  It is our job as coordinators to think fast if something unexpected comes up. It certainly makes the job more fun and exciting.


Happy 10th Birthday, Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel!

The Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel has been a staple of service and success in Erie’s hospitality market for the last 10 years.

On Wednesday, the Sheraton recognizes its success with an internal 10-year celebration at 3 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel that will also recognize the 11 charter member associates that opened the hotel back in 2008.

“It was 10 years ago that we opened the hotel up to the public,” said Daniel Pora, general manager of the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel. “We’ve had 10 years of great successes in that time and we are excited to recognize everyone for their hard work.”

Since it opened in 2008, the Sheraton has been atop consumer rankings in various categories. This past year, the Sheraton was in the top 3% for all Sheratons in North America for overall satisfaction, #1 for Restaurant Overall Food Quality and #1 for Restaurant Overall Service for all Sheratons in North America, and Top 2% for Overall Property Style and Design and top 2% for Overall Hotel Condition for all Sheratons in North America. The hotel has also finished ranked #1 in the Sheraton brand in Guest Satisfaction for five of the years that the hotel has been open.

“I am very proud of all the associates’ hard work, dedication and passion for excellent customer service and making sure the hotel is very clean and well maintained on a daily basis,” Pora said. “We have an amazing family of associates at the Sheraton and their hard work certainly has paid off over the years.”

In addition to its exemplary service for guests, the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel has also rooted itself into local programs and provided opportunity for growth in the region.

The Sheraton’s partnership with Mercyhurst University’s Hospitality Department has proved fruitful for both parties – currently, the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel boasts six managers, three supervisors, seven interns and 15 hourly associates all from Mercyhurst University. The Sheraton has and will continue to hire local talent and allow them to thrive at one of Erie’s top hotels.

The Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel also partners with Erie High School and Strong Vincent Middle School. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, six students with special needs from Erie High School come to get on-the-job and life experiences. Every other Friday, 16 students with special needs from Strong Vincent Middle School assist in the laundry, kitchen, restaurant, and perform light maintenance work.

“We are very fortunate to have such a great working relationship with the Erie School district and local community,” Pora said. “It is very rewarding for not only the students in these programs, but for the hotel associates that get the opportunity to work with them and help make a positive impact on their education.”

The Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel looks to continue its connection with local programs and continue celebrating success in the future.

Spring (finally!) in Erie

By Erica Krystek, Event Coordinator

Spring has finally arrived (sort of — don’t look outside just yet)!

Here are a few things to do around Erie in the springtime:

  • Lake Erie Fishing: Ask any angler and they will tell you fishing in the spring means Trout, which begins its opening day on April 14th. Or join the S.O.N.S of Lake Erie, to help protect our native species of fish.
  • Erie SeaWolves: Nothing says spring like baseball! Join the Seawovles Friday April 13, 2018 for the home opener at UPMC Park.
  • Presque Isle State Park: Whether you like to bike, run, or walk, Presque Isle has amazing sunsets with breathtaking water views.
  • Sara’s Restaurant: Order a signature orange-vanilla ice cream cone. Sara’s opened for the season on April 1st.
  • Erie Zoo: Grand opening was held on March 3rd. Mark your calendars for the Zoo Parade May 19th.
  • Asbury Woods: Try out the 2018 Maple Festival April 14th & 15th
  • Frontier Park: Not only is there a labyrinth to serenely walk though, trees and other foliage to identify, and strategically placed memorial benches, LEAF is also celebrating their 20th birthday this year! Join Lake Erie Arboretum at Frontier Park for adult art classes, and family yoga classes.
  • Erie Microbrew Fest: Take part in the longest running craft brew festival in our region on Saturday April 7, 2018 at the Brewerie at Union Station. Tickets are $35 in advance, or $40 at the door, with VIP tickets selling at only $50 in advance! Designated Drivers are offered a discount for being a team player and may enter at a head cost of $20.

And, of course, we’ll have plenty of events at our venues this spring! We have concerts at the Erie Insurance Arena, events at the Bayfront Convention Center, plays and concerts at the Warner Theatre, and more!

We’ve been in hibernation for an entire season, it’s time to put away those winter boots and get into the spirit of spring in Erie!

From Erie to LA and Back: Why I love Erie

by Jaclyn Lachimia, Food and Beverage Manager

I have been a part of the Erie Events family now for 9 months. Prior to the Bayfront Convention Center, I spent almost a decade wining and dining first class clients in sunny Los Angeles, California. It all came with extravagant weddings, events, primers and parties and all the glitz and glamour while being surrounded by great professionals of the industry and serving a client and guest list that was unreal.

Yet, moving back from a big city, to what I like to call a “BIG SMALL TOWN” was quite the change — in a good way. This is where I was born and raised and I have to say working with the Erie community is something you can’t find anywhere else. There is something special about being a part of this community.

My first large event I serviced here at the Bayfront Convention Center was the 2017 Varsity Cup of 900 guests, which honored young local athletes. Then, in November of 2017, we served 1200 guests for the 24th Annual LECOM Student Scholarship Auction. Two great events for our city, but that’s only two of many.

Also, it is wonderful to be so diverse in the events we do here at the Convention Center. From private events like weddings and parties to entertaining the community with events like Imagination Exploration for the kids and the MMA fights for the “big kids.”

As the Food and Beverage Manager here at the Bayfront Convention Center, my job is to make sure you are taken care of during your time here with us — whether it’s a meeting or an event, big or small. But I do not do it alone. We have an amazing team here from our management team to the service team and our kitchen and operations teams.

It has been a pleasure servicing and being part of the Erie Community so far. I look forward to many more years.

Event Planning Tips

By Martha Stickner, Sales Manager 

Many of you most likely know me as the wedding planner and event coordinator at the Bayfront Convention Center; however, I started the New Year in a new position!  I am very excited to share that I have recently been promoted to Sales Manager.  With that said, my roles are still very similar and I am focusing on the social market.  The goal for me is booking and cooking, as they call it.  So from start to finish, I am the contact person, which makes the planning experience a little more personal.

What I am really here to talk about in my blog this month is sharing some event planning tips!  I was recently on a planning committee for a local nonprofit organization and helped put on a dinner banquet outside of my work place.  It’s kind of funny because what I was helping with is what I do on a daily basis.  This time I was on the other end of things, which helped me look at planning in a different prospective: the clients!  I put together a small list of advice to keep in consideration when working with a large committee!

  1. Major decisions should start off being made by one key person in charge (that has the time to be in charge, because I see this happen a lot because people are busy with life)!  The more people giving input, the harder it is to finalize things!  This helps when communicating with a venue/caterer and keeps all the opinions to a minimum.
  2. Sometimes less is more in a lot of areas! Consider how many ‘materials’ you’re gathering, whether it be in donations, centerpieces, auction items, etc.  The more you have, the more you have to keep track of — before and even after the event!
  3. Reiterate to your invited guests in a positive way that RSVP is necessary and by a certain date. Receiving late responses causes a lot of stress for the committee AND the venue!
  4. Prioritize and delegate! Make sure that duties are clear to volunteers and split up evenly!  You want to make sure that volunteers get to enjoy the event as well so they are not too overwhelmed with duties during the celebration.
  5. When fundraising, make things affordable for the attendees! Consider the ticket price, and how much you think people are willing to give on auction items. Sometimes you have to compromise in this area.  As a professional, I don’t recommend skimping on the food, but try not to rely on the ticket price too much for revenue.  Then, don’t forget when it’s a cash bar, guests are spending there was well!  The more they spend on beverages, the less they have for other areas!
  6. Lastly is know your audience!! Each event, group or fundraiser is unique, but the person putting on an event should really understand what the outcome and goal is.  The people attending make or break the vision, so make sure it makes sense for them.  That way they spend more, give positive feedback and ultimately, they come back the next year and bring their friends!

The VIP Experience: Shopkins in Erie Plus More!

By Dawn Betza, Marketing Coordinator

On February 24th, Shopkins Live! made a stop at the historic Warner Theatre and entertained fans of all ages.  The Shoppies and Shopkins characters took the stage for a live, interactive show that featured original pop music, state-of-the-art video and set designs and the favorite Shoppie friends Jessicake, Bubbleisha, and Peppa-Mint.


A look at Shopkins Live! VIP

As a special treat, VIP Party packages were available for purchase. The party package gave fans exclusive access to an after-show VIP party where they had the opportunity to meet and take photos with some of the Shoppies. The party began promptly after the show and lasted for over an hour. Some of the fun activities included sing-alongs, dancing, coloring and the chance to mingle with the characters.

Each package included the following:

* One premium ticket in the first ten rows

* Meet & greet photo opportunity

* Exclusive Shopkins Live! merchandise

* Exclusive Shopkins Live! VIP lanyard

Cost $104

So how much would you pay to rub elbows with your favorite artist? Purchasing a VIP package can either be an investment in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity or a complete waste of money….make sure to read the fine print, not all packages include an appearance by the artist.

Check out the cost of these VIP packages for some of today’s hottest stars ~

Black Sabbath $2,500

You get to go into Ozzy’s dressing room & ask him whatever you want.

Beyonce $1,505

A reserved front-row seat & pre-show reception with food & drinks, but no Beyonce.

Justin Timberlake $1,076

One stage bar ticket (watch from your own barstool, up against the center stage), but no schmoozing with JT.

Drake $1,000

A ticket in the first five rows & a professionally taken photo with Drake

Guns N’ Roses $1,750

A spot in the general admission pit & a backstage tour. No seat and no access to the band.

Taylor Swift $892

A general admission pit ticket & a tour themed collector’s box. No photo with Tay-Tay.

Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato $10,000

You & three friends get a dressing room backstage. Jonas & Lovato will both visit, sign items & take photos.

Pretty cool, but I would hate to be the mom writing that check!

Sculpting The Future An Ice Block At A Time

From Chef David Robbinson, Bayfront Convention Center

When I look up, I see the future.

Except for when the ice fogs up my glasses.

As executive chef, one of my responsibilities at the Bayfront Convention Center is to make the ice sculptures you see at many of our events. Like, for instance, Wine on the Lake, which we had just a few weeks ago.


Me working on sculpting a car made of ice.

We used 12,000 pounds of ice and 29 blocks of ice. Signs with company logos on them take about four hours. Ice work at the bar takes about eight. The car I made, which you can see in these pictures, took 36 hours.

It’s quite the process. I’ve been carving for many years. I carved competitively, in fact. But when I was asked to write this blog, I didn’t want it to be about me.

I wanted it to be about the future. And the ice, of course, but mostly the future.

When I took this job, my goal was to give back to the community. Working with Jake Juliano, our sous chef, has given me one way to do that.

Jake has been here for about four years. He had never touched a block of ice before this, but Jake came in and said he wanted to learn.

Be careful what you wish for.

It’s a continual training and learning process, and we do everything by hand. The whole point of ice sculptures is to show emotion, and it’s an art form which, like many art forms nowadays, is becoming more technological than hand-crafted. But here, every ice block you see — company logos, figures, cars — is handmade by us.

With all the other responsibilities we have, it’s been off-and-on training for Jake. But when we had the chance, I gave him an ice block, showed him the basic cuts, and we started along in the process.


One of the signs that Jake worked on.

We’ve had to look at the big picture — literally. “You gotta leave it big” is one message I’ve passed on to Jake. Knowing your medium is going to melt, you have to keep that in mind. If it’s marble or clay, it’s going to stay. But ice is going to melt. So you have to have a big piece to work with, because naturally it’s going to melt as time goes on.

I’m excited to continue passing my knowledge on. Where Jake is now, he’s proficient at signs, support structures and that sort of thing. The next step is to work on figures and human anatomy.

With our power tools in hand, Jake will continue to grow. And as I’m working on my pieces, I can look up and see all the progress that Jake is making, too.

The future is bright.

And cold. Very, very cold.

New to the Arena: Craft Beer

By Beth Wilkinson, Concession Operations Manager

What goes better with a game than something to drink?

We’ve got you covered. The Erie Insurance Arena is offering draft beer selections at two craft stations from “Lake Erie Ale Trails.”   Lake Erie Ale Trails consists of 12 local breweries: Arundel, Blue Canoe, Brewerie, Erie Ale Works, Lavery’s, Millcreek Brewing, Erie Brewing Co., 5&20, Sprague’s, Timbercreek, Voodoo,  and 7 Sins Brewery.

We’ll be offering two flavors at a time, one at each craft station. Flavors are offered on a rotating basis, so you will always have a new beer to try!

We see this as a win for us, you, and for local breweries. With the rise in popularity of craft beers, we are able to offer you more options and support local breweries at the same time.