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Global Event Planner Nirjary Desai Discusses How a Heart of Service Will Create a New Better Normal in the Service Industry
KIS (cubed) Events
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor
Published – June 21, 2021
CEOCFO: Ms. Desai, what is the overall vision behind KIS (cubed) Events, and what is your focus right now?
Ms. Desai: KIS (cubed) Events started as an experiment while I worked for corporate America. The name came from my marketing teaching of the KIS principle (keep it simple stupid). That always stuck with me. When I was looking for a name for my company, I was exploring the clients I had, what type of events I wanted to create, and what strategy I wanted to use. KIS (cubed) was born with the concept of keeping it simple, sophisticated and stylish.
CEOCFO: What types of events are you involved with today?
Ms. Desai: We specialize in destination luxury brand experiences, corporate events, and luxury weddings.
CEOCFO: When did you realize that was a good strategy?
Ms. Desai: My background is in corporate management and brand management for hotels, corporations and the travel industry. I had the opportunity to work with C-
When I completed my MBA and moved back to the US, all my friends were getting married and they were asking for my help. From there my business grew because their guests started contacting me. It was never something that I intended to do, but it just fell into my lap and I leaned into it.
CEOCFO: What have you been doing over the COVID year?
Ms. Desai: During the past year I focused my energy on creating educational content for our industry. I partnered with a magazine platform called Mandala Weddings. Our teachings were focused on how to build a better business for anyone in the event & service industry.
We curated 16 weeks of content: restructuring to reassess your business, serving yourself to serving others, the beauty of philanthropy, brand strategy and the pivotal party setup. We saw this as a way to give the people in our industry a light at the end of the tunnel and to start trying to see things differently.
CEOCFO: What do you understand on a basic level about an event that allows you to provide exceptional services? Do you come at it from perhaps a different approach than others?
Ms. Desai: I think the number one thing that is so important in events is that you have to remember what the goal of the event is. For example, with weddings there are just so many emotions involved in that. The father of that bride could be a corporate client one day. The number one thing is remembering that we are humans serving humans and you are in this business to provide your clients the best possible experience. You have to put yourself in their shoes.
I also think transparency is extremely important when it comes to this industry. People are so focused on the glamour. For me, it is about the cause and effect of what you do and these are the things that will make your event successful. I approach my business with open-
CEOCFO: Would you go over your tagline -
Ms. Desai: Simple, sophisticated, stylish are the three approaches we use when it comes to marketing and sales. There are clients that want elevated service but they want simplicity, they want a clean look to their event, they do not necessarily want things over the top, so we use an approach that keeps things simple for them.
Sophisticated is the approach that provides the simplicity, but also the elegance in bringing style and a more manicured and curated event. Stylish is the approach where there is no holding back, the client wants all the bells and whistles and budget is not a consideration and they really want to put on a show. That is kind of the way we handle our service and productions.
CEOCFO: How are you getting back to live events these days?
Ms. Desai: We have added protocols to keep our clients and their guests safe including our staff and partners. We are focusing on everyone being vaccinated, everyone is required to upload and bring their vaccination and people are also required to get a PCR test 72 hours before traveling and bring the negative results depending on where they are traveling to. We are having guests when they are checking into the hotel have their temperature checked by our team and have guests sign liability releases that they are attending these events at their own risk and they are not going to hold the host or any of their acquaintances and/or producers liable.
For us it is just making sure that no stone is left unturned. We are working with our vendors and vendor partners to ensure that their staff is also safe. Wherever we go there are going to be other patrons that are going to be on the facilities so our job is to make sure that we keep everyone safe at the same time.
CEOCFO: Where do people want to go today for destination events and how do you know what is going to be the next up and coming place?
Ms. Desai: I think that last year people were so isolated from the human connection that people are just ready to get out. We are seeing it when we are speaking to our clients and they are telling us they are expecting a greater amount of attendees. People are traveling all over Mexico, Dominican Republic, Aruba, kind of all over the place. Right now, people are sticking within the United States or North America and the Caribbean because getting to Europe is not as easy at the moment and there are a lot of restrictions.
We are trying to encourage people to focus on the amazing destinations within our backyard or within the US. If someone wants to look for a beach and picturesque setting, well we have all of that in the US so why not consider that? A lot of people think that having a destination is cheaper and it is not necessarily cheaper. When you get into other countries and you get into taking business there, the way taxation works for the end consumer it is the same cost whether you were in the US and went all out or internationally.
CEOCFO: How do you help your clients both in weddings and in corporate events to decide what they really want?
Ms. Desai: The number one thing is listening to the clients come to us with ideas that are recycled. At the end of the day we are the professionals and they come to us because they want us to create a new experience. Our job is to focus and listen between the lines. When someone says they want something different, well they want something similar to what they have seen but they want it elevated or with a twist on it. The other thing is helping a client understand cost and budget. I think all of that comes along with the experience they are looking for.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about your staff -
Ms. Desai: When someone comes to me for work, I try to look for myself in them at their age or at their experience level and see what is important to them, and are they people who actually want to be of service. Are they people who are passionate about providing service and are they people who actually want to serve other humans? Being in the service industry requires a certain level of dedication and passion. It is not just about the glamour of putting on these beautiful amazing events and being able to travel internationally. So I definitely am looking for people who are not just attracted to the social media presence.
I want people that are about rolling their sleeves up whether it is helping our team or helping our vendor partners or helping a client. At the end of the day, we are in a business where we are humans serving humans and if you do not have that mentality then you should not be in this business.
CEOCFO: How important is it for an event to be unique and how can you make an event standout?
Ms. Desai: Every moment is great and I love making experiences which create the unexpected, unforgettable, and memorable. It is taking the time to listen to your clients but also pushing yourself. I am one of those people that if I have been there and done that, and we see so much in our industry, I do not want to do it at my event. I want it to be something unique but I also want it to be a part of that brand’s story or part of that customer’s story.
What is really important is the guest experience and the hospitality. Encouraging your clients to understand hospitality from the time the attendees and the guests arrive to the event or the conference. It is so important because how you make someone feel is what is going to keep the lasting impression and that person engaged with your brand and event.
CEOCFO: Would you give us an example of how you accomplish that and what you are able to do so that the event is exceptional?
Ms. Desai: We had the opportunity to work with Fortune 500 companies, individuals and nonprofits. What we look for is connection. People want to work with people they like and people they trust. In today’s day and age and during the past year what our industry has gone through, there is a different mindset executives are looking for when it comes to hiring services like ours. It is a mutual level of respect also for each other’s jobs and craft and mission.
CEOCFO: How do you deal with the unexpected?
Ms. Desai: I have been in this business over fifteen years and you learn along the way that you always have to be prepared for the unexpected. When clients hire you, they are hiring your professionalism but they are also hiring how agile and adaptable you are. You have to be ten steps ahead of the issue. I have seen a lot over the years of my career that I talk about it with the client upfront when we are in the contracting phase. I tell them the things that they can expect to go wrong, and how we will be prepared to handle it.
I focus on the backup plan and the issues for day one and foresee them because a lot of times when clients come to us there is a different level of mentality that everyone has. A corporate client tells you their budget and asks us to make it happen. With a social client there are so many emotions especially if it is a bride or something like that. They are wrapped up in the emotions that they do not think about all the things that can happen along the way.
CEOCFO: How do you reach out on the corporate level?
Ms. Desai: We do a lot of networking. We notify our wedding clients that we do corporate events. A lot of those same clients have corporate jobs and it is really about networking and being in-
CEOCFO: There are lots of companies in your industry, why choose KIS (cubed) Events?
Ms. Desai: One of the things I tell people that want to work with us is you are going to get a team to work with you, it is not just one person. It is so important that you work with a team that is going to be transparent with you. I think that is important because a lot of people use the used car salesman pitch and for me it is all about being transparent and telling you all that is happening and what you are going to expect. I think that is important. I grew up and was trained in this business. I went to hospitality school. I am not just someone who woke up one day and became a part of this industry just because it's what I wanted to do. All of that is really important as well in trying to solidify why we should be hired.
Also just being available consistently. We are responsive so our customers never feel ignored. Qualifications are important and building customer confidence with licensing accreditation, and that says a lot about a company. We are a five-
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“I also think transparency is extremely important when it comes to this industry. People are so focused on the glamour. For me, it is about the cause and effect of what you do and these are the things that will make your event successful. I approach my business with open-