Mona Desai, special events manager at San Francisco-based Peerspace, applies the Airbnb model to events. Peerspace matches a planner looking for a venue to hosts with spaces ranging from intimate rooms to big warehouses with high ceilings. The 28-year-old has helped companies like Google, Facebook and Salesforce plan events. She’s seeing more requests for off-site events to get away from the normal scope of a company’s day-to-day routine. She discusses new trends and where Peerspace fills gaps in the events industry.
How did the idea behind Peerspace develop?
We came across guests who needed more than a venue. They needed amenities or vendors. Some of our hosts had the capability of putting the extra requests together, but some didn’t have a qualified list of vendors. So, we started doing a lot of that heavy lifting for guests and hosts. We find various vendors and amenities they need.
What are biggest trends you are seeing in event planning?
There is a big trend in celebrations. I feel like before, we were starting off with quarterly celebrations, half-year and year-end. Now there are all kinds of celebrations, such as a launch of a product or service. There’s a rise in happy hours too. There is also a huge rise in things like team bonding, wine tasting and mindful meditation for the office.
How can companies stand out and create the ultimate influencer event?
What we are most often approached for is a unique venue, something that stands out on its own. A lot of times, finding a picturesque venue is a huge priority. That can be anything from a live wall, with plants and natural elements, or a building with a high ceiling with lots of light, where there will be lots of photos taken and tagged for social media. We see that more for external events, when a company wants brand awareness. At internal events, companies want employees to contribute, so we might see a presentation where attendees can vote on their phones or ask live questions.
You indicated companies are also increasing employee-focused events. Are those events more rewards-based or training/educational?
I see both. There is a huge rise in doing these things out of the office, but both events are important. People see the benefits of arranging these for their employees.
What’s the one mistake you see companies make when event planning?
Not understanding the full scope of their event until event time. For example, an office administrator is told to set up an “all hands” meeting in the middle of June. Well, how much audiovisual will be needed? Will they need separate areas for breakout sessions, or will everyone remain in the same room? They might select a different venue if they must have a place that can handle 200 people, but they don’t have to put them all in the same room. And we don’t want any surprises at the last minute. Not giving as much attention to preplanning is where they can