Washington D.C. is a paradise for event planners: landmark venues, an elite crowd, and a lot of political fundraising. One of the District’s best guest list curators is Kimball Stroud.
Kimball knows that every party is about the people who attend. “What’s the point of having an event if the right people to influence aren’t in the room?” The big influencers in the capitol are donors, who support political players for whatever reason they have. At some point in their careers they all meet at one of Kimball’s events.
It all started with her first event planning position with the Presidential Inaugural Committee for President Clinton’s first term. From there, Kimball moved into political fundraising for high level officials. These events are closed, hand-selected, and take place in private residences. Very early on, Kimball figured out a way to find the best venues and compile power play guest lists to match these exclusive gatherings.
“I’ve always enjoyed the site selection process and worked hard to make my political events more interesting by identifying new donors to host and securing celebrity special guests to create excitement for potential donors,” she says. Over the past years, Kimball Stroud Associates has taken fewer political candidates as clients, and instead started shaping the social landscape of Washington itself.
What the Oscars are for Los Angeles, means the White House Correspondents Dinner weekend for Washington. What this weekend in April mean for event planners in DC?
The WHCA weekend is one of my favorites in DC. It’s an incredible opportunity for event planners to draw a high profile audience. The main events are usually produced each year by the same people. It’s a tough market to break into and one of the key elements of having a successful event during that weekend is the guest list of attendees. There are numerous events throughout the weekend, and it’s important to be a stand out from the same old same old.
Is the crowd different compared to other weekends during the year?
Typically the “celebrities” in Washington are the elected officials – not the case during this weekend. The star power during the Obama years has been off the charts. It will be interesting to see what happens during this weekend in the next Administration.
“What is the point of having an event if the right people to influence aren’t in the room?”
What do you like the most about being an event planner?
I love the creative process of event planning. I’m always amazed watching the evolution of the concept paper being turned into the real thing. I also get a lot of personal satisfaction when my clients are happy and our guests have an enjoyable experience.
Describe yourself as a professional?
Driven, creative, hard-working, a team player, and usually easy to work with.
Why do you love working in events?
I’ve always loved bringing people together.
What type of events do you typically work on?
There’s no “typical event” with my business. I produce large and small receptions, film premiers, fundraising dinners, as well as book events and fashion events. There is one common thread with my events – they almost always support a cause or mission.
What is your biggest event nightmare?
An event where no one shows up.
Are you an Android or an iPhone person?
Are you using any tools to manage your entire planning process?
Excel spreadsheets, Google Docs, Event Farm and zkipster.
What websites, applications or services are you using to find event venues and what do you like about them?
Haven’t used one – DC is a small town. We typically hear about any new event spaces opening up.
What’s your favorite application or service for marketing your events?
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
What applications are you using to engage your event attendees and why?
We typically just use email. The majority of our events are invitation-only and it’s a niche audience. We haven’t produced large-scale public events.
How have you used technology to add a special or unique touch to your event?
We work with an incredible tech team and they use animated graphics and other creative visuals when appropriate for our events.
Now for the rapid fire round! Tell us which application or service you’re using for:
Event registration: RSVP links on invitations or Event Farm
Ticketing: When we use tickets, we have a will-call prior to the event
Guest check-in, seating, name badges, staff and guest alerts: zkipster
Meeting scheduling: Microsoft Outlook
Team and/or staff management: Google Apps
Presentations: Microsoft Powerpoint and Adobe
Space/floor plan design: We outsource this typically
Finally, what piece of event tech can’t you live without?
The guest list app.
Photography: Dan Swartz