Valerie Bihet, founder, CEO and head meeting planner of The VIBE Agency in Miami, creates an event by looking through the lens of high-profile clients, including multi-megabrand Estee Lauder, for which she planned a semi-annual team-building and brand experience conference. The talented Parisian was tasked with creating an engaging conference, which she chose to take place at Miami’s Bass Museum while adding offsite experiences at the SLS Hotel, W Hotel and Bâoli Miami. The five-day seminar was bustling with educational workshops, experiential sessions and receptions for employees and partners. Bihet takes us through the looking glass.
How did you win the business for the Estee Lauder conference?
In order to win business like I did with Estee Lauder, it is a lot about the personality you have and if the client feels comfortable with you. You must come up with a good proposal understanding their need, objective and creativity. They were asking me to propose a theme for the conference, so I came up with how to rejuvenate your life, and they were confident in my team.
How did you incorporate Estee Lauder’s business strategy into the event?
In luxury, you have a lot of differences between e-business and stores. In the end, the objective is to sell and make sure the brand is well represented and well exposed. I showed them that I understand the strategy, their positioning and their challenges, and then determine what their goal is. Once I understood that, I came up with a theme: “E-volution.” The “E” was a wink to the brand Estee Lauder, and evolution meaning progress, growth—it’s not revolution, but its evolving and changing to be better, more opportunities, and to be focused on the e-market. Once we agreed on that, then I created all of the graphic design: badges, stage design, banners, menus. Once it was done, we proposed the design concept with a 3-D technical rendering.
How will this year’s Estee Lauder event be different?
I have to think about a new theme, which is the concern for most of the operation right now. I just finished a book on team building called “How to Think Bigger Than Big,” and created an activity based on that. So, when we met to discuss this, I saw a blink in the eyes of the client—I believe I am on the right path. Now everything is about business and sales. You need to think about what’s going on around you; what you are surrounded by; what people are talking about; what people have; and usually this is how you work on the team.
How do you select destinations for events like this one in Miami?
When I think about the cities for different options, I think of “Thinking Bigger Than Big,” so I proposed Austin, Texas, because I think their city is in tune with this concept. Everything is bigger in Texas. I mentioned to them that I was doing another big international conference in Austin and they were very interested. This also really follows the evolution theme, too, because the city is booming. You have more people arriving everyday [in Austin] than you do in San Francisco. I’m always looking for these things and how to build them into my story telling.
What advice would you give someone in the industry looking to create the same type of experience?
Be aware of your surroundings; educate yourself on everything. We are never just looking at one thing: flowers, lights, etc. We must look at economics. When you read a book, you come up with an idea and you see how you can turn it for one of your clients. We are always looking for sources of inspiration in movies. One of my favorite movies, “The Fifth Element,” that is now 25 years old, everything in this movie now exists. Your imagination, creativity makes things happen. We need to believe and be creative. If we believe, then we will make it happen.
What trends do you see being the most influential in 2019 in cosmetics?
The big trend that will continue to grow is experiential marketing. It is no longer simply a backdrop or just photos of everything. They are looking for what the experience is. In all of the Estee Lauder mini showroom space, everyone had an experiential moment for 20 minutes experiencing each brand. We don’t do a backdrop like what you are seeing on the red carpet with sponsors—people are looking for it to be more.