It takes a special personality to capture other special personalities in an event. Enter award-winning event producer Todd Fiscus, whose spirited events have been featured in publications from Elle Decor, The London Times, and Vanity Fair, to many more.
While trends in the event arena are ever-changing, one element for Todd Fiscus has remained the same: great events focus on the spirit of the host. His namesake company, Todd Events, has been producing events for over twenty years with the host’s personality consistently as a focal point.
Todd has become well known in event professional circles for intricate designs and decor. His philosophy centers on creating a different feeling for guests every time they walk into a party put on by him and his team.
We talked with Todd as part of our First Impressions project to learn more about his insights on producing majestic events that capture the essence of what makes each occasion unique.
Learn what makes the event host tick to accurately portray their spirit
It’s no secret that the guest experience at any event is important. But for Todd, the guest experience begins with the host. “The most important aspect of my job is making the event capture the spirit of the host,” he says.
Over the years, Todd has become a master at analyzing clients to get to the root of their personality and purpose. He attributes this to his taking the time to get to know a host, adding that oftentimes they become friends.
You have to spend time with them and be their friend, their confidant, their therapist.
However, with different people comes different personalities. Getting to the core of a client in itself is its own experience according to Todd. “Sometimes you can get an understanding of who a client is instantaneously,” he says. “Other times, it takes hours, days, or months.”
When it’s difficult for a client to open up, Todd adapts his strategy to uncover their individuality. “You have to build a personality around them and dig a little harder because they’re pretty protected and guarded,” says Todd. But regardless of how guarded, Todd continues to attempt to discover their true essence. “You have to spend time with them and be their friend, their confidant, their therapist,” he adds with a laugh.
Build your event like a good theme park ride
Uncovering the host’s personality helps Todd make each experience unique, and starts the process of creating a miniature world celebrating it. Like a good theme park ride, the event is an experience with ups and downs, surprises, and thematic pacing that starts with the first impression. “To me, the first impression should be the spirit of the host and not necessarily about me or my work,” he shares. “I make sure our work feels and presents itself like it’s part of the vernacular.”
For example, a project in Napa Valley might focus on the property – its stillness and gorgeous gardens. “I think that first impression would be a quiet one,” says Todd. Whereas the first impression of a debutante ball after party with a headliner rap star would vary greatly. “You better walk around the corner and say a couple of expletives,” he says with a chuckle.
I make sure our work feels and presents itself like it’s part of the vernacular.
He uses the metaphor of a rollercoaster to describe the rest of the guest experience. Sometimes, according to Todd, getting to the top may not hold anything especially spectacular, and that’s okay. “If there’s cocktail hour with string music before the big event, that’s like the slow ramp up,” he explains. “Then you get to the top and there’s that awkward moment, right before you whip down and scare the hell out of yourself.”
From then on, says Todd, the ride shouldn’t stop. “When you walk into a party and there’s a really great band or dinner, you want the ride to take off,” he says. “Take care of formalities at the beginning. People tend to loosen up once all that’s complete.”
Use your third eye for detailed planning
Once formalities have been taken care of, Todd makes sure the rest of ride is nothing but seamless. For this, he encourages his team to use, what he likes to call, the third eye.
“The third eye lives in your mind,” he explains. This tactic Todd uses focuses on the idea of seeing the event from a variety of perspectives. “Try to be the guest, be the bartender, be the server,” he says. “Be that person, do their job, and your event will be planned much more thoroughly.”
The third eye can also help you spot the heart of the party. For Todd, that’s usually the bar – the place where guests tend to congregate. “You have to build a heart because it’s like the kitchen in your house,” he explains. “No matter how hard you try, people stand in your kitchen.”
The energy that’s in a party comes right from the host.
The heart of the party, like the first impression, varies from event to event and should be well thought out. “It can be an immersive experience, like a piece of art where you go inside.”
For Todd, from the first impression to the heart of the party, it’s about focusing on the emotional outcome and continuously capturing the essence of the host. “The energy that’s in a party,” he says, “comes right from the host.”
Want to hear more from Todd? Listen to the full podcast with him we recorded in collaboration with GatherGeeks, and check out the rest of the First Impressions project.