Sherpa Group Events is a flexible “Swiss Army Knife” boutique event agency serving clients all over the world with event planning and consultation services. The owner, Heather Sharpe is a multi-award-winning Event Producer with many years of experience leading corporate and community strategic initiatives. She has twice produced the largest public event in BC (Honda Celebration of Light 2014 & 2015) as well as the largest New Year’s Eve event in Canada (Vancouver 2015).
Heather Sharpe serves as Sherpa Group Events’ Event Producer and The Event Coach – a supportive consultant to clients who only need a little “coaching” to make the most of their event. She is also an Instructor for the Event Management and Promotions program at the Centre for Arts and Technology Okanagan and regularly speaks to industry organizations and writes for publications on sponsorship best practices, event production, and creative world-class event design.
She is one of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce’s Top 40 over 40 for 2019 and was a Finalist for the 2019 Business Excellence Awards.
How long has your company been producing events? What is your main focus?
Sherpa Group Events was brought to life in 2013. However, we have been working in the event industry for decades. We have taken those years of experience working in corporate events, not-for-profits, and in an agency environment to gather knowledge and expertise in all aspects of event planning.
Our main focus is now serving as an experienced consultant and adviser to event planners, event committees and volunteers around the world through The Event Coach. Sometimes, event professionals simply need someone outside their immediate circle to bounce fresh ideas off of. Maybe you need a fresh set of eyes on your sponsorship package and benefits or full support in getting something new up and running. Maybe you don’t want to reach out to someone in your immediate area due to concerns about competition. We love to work on conferences, festivals and gala fundraisers – either as a local resource in Canada or as a “ringer” brought in to ensure that the show and production run smoothly.
The Event Coach and Sherpa Group Events are here to collaborate and work with you, your clients or your events.
What do you enjoy most about your role in corporate event planning?
The event industry is certainly not an easy line of work – often included in the Top 10 Most Stressful Jobs!
But when you love what you do, it’s not negative stress, it’s motivating stress. I have a passion for the industry and often advocate to raise awareness of its economic and social impact on communities.
What I enjoy most about producing events, is the aspect of bringing together all the disparate pieces and making something truly beautiful – kind of like working on a jigsaw puzzle. You start with ideas, challenges, objectives, and hopes, but they’re often all out of order (or even upside down if you use the puzzle analogy). You use the tools and training of a professional to work through the process of bringing people, vendors, and ideas together and when it’s all done, you have an amazing experience. You have engaged people and experiences to meet the clients’ goals. It’s a very satisfying end to a job well done!
Do you have any advice for a company having a hard time choosing a theme? Is a theme necessary?
Too often, companies feel that they have to have a creative theme for their event. Not every event has to be “Roaring 20’s” or “Circus”. This often results in business events with silly sub-names, decor or costumes (yuck!).
Remember that the theme for an event can be as simple as a brand, colour, or style. This sort of theme helps your event have continuity and offers a cohesive look and feel for the guest. It also doesn’t compete with the company’s brand or culture and allows for an integration of company or product elements.
If your company is planning a social event or an incentive trip, then certainly find a theme that goes with the location, time of year, or once again, your company’s brand. If you really want to get creative, think of immersive engagement events based on recent or blockbuster movies. I’ve seen Titanic done well as an immersive event, as well as Alice in Wonderland or The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. There were several years when the Great Gatsby style of event was very popular.
Be careful choosing whether or not to use a theme and if it is appropriate for the client, the guest, and the brand.
What do you see as the corporate event industry’s greatest challenge, currently?
We have come a long way, but the event industry continues to struggle for recognition and legitimacy in the corporate world. Too often we see postings for in-house event professionals that also include working reception, filing, or other non-related duties. Or even worse, we see a posting for “senior” level event professionals where the pay is just above minimum wage.
With the help of our professional associations and other organizations, we continue to show the economic impact of the event industry and that “Meetings Mean Business”. Through public speaking and media opportunities, we can educate people on the value of events in the marketing program and how our communities are getting back to in-person connection and engagement. The concerns about us being separated by technology have been heard and we are finding more and more need to get together, to meet, and to experience events together.
What is your favorite city for events and why?
The world is my oyster and I shall not go hungry. It’s wonderful to be able to leverage today’s technology to be able to meet, connect, and plan events all over the world.
Of course, I am biased in that I believe Canada is the best country for events and further to that the west coast. I love the variety of venues and professional supplier partners that are doing great work in Vancouver. However, I have to say that if you are looking for a new incentive destination – check out the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan Valley is very much like Napa Valley but further North. It is in the South West area of British Columbia and is defined by the many lovely areas surrounding Okanagan Lake. The region is known for its dry, sunny climate, dry landscapes, and lakeshore communities and particularly fun lifestyle. Its primary city is Kelowna and is known as the second-largest wine region in Canada, with beaches and ski hills both available a short distance away to keep your event attendees engaged and intrigued. (www.TourismKelowna.com) I would love to show you around!