Twice a year at Red Velvet Events, we truly put ourselves to the test by becoming our own clients! We plan our internal All Hands Meeting, where we review our recent work and draw out a road map for the future.
But this meeting isn’t all business. We leave plenty of time for our team members to sit back, relax, and experience our amazing creative and event-planning skills for themselves. Catherine Roepke oversaw the planning for our most recent All Hands Meeting at the gorgeous and newly $150M renovated Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa, which was also our most fantastic meeting yet! While it was an internal-only event, she happily agreed to share some secrets of the planning process, give us a glimpse into the itinerary, and talk about how to wow people who create events and creative experiences for a living.
How does Red Velvet Events’ All Hands Meeting influence and impact the company culture?
Catherine: Red Velvet Events is known for our fun culture – we work hard, play hard, and strive to constantly outdo ourselves with amazing and creative events. Our internal All Hands Meeting is time that we set aside twice a year to reflect on the past six months and look ahead toward what’s coming in the next six months. It’s a great opportunity for us as a team to celebrate our wins, talk about our goals, and dream together on how we’re going to get there.
How did you come up with the theme for this All Hands Meeting?
Catherine: We kicked off the planning process by sitting down with Cindy to learn what her overall goals were for the meeting and retreat. Then LeeAnn and I worked together to create a fun theme around which to build the experience. We based all our plans for our two-day retreat (which included staying overnight at the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa) on a spin-off of our tag line: Outplan. Outplay. Out of Office!
What was the itinerary for the meeting?
Catherine: While Cindy puts together the content for the meeting portion of the retreat, I worked with Omni to make the rest of the experience fun and different. I wanted to help our team enjoy all that the newly renovated Omni had to offer, and I wanted to move everyone out of a traditional meeting mindset and be ready to take on the meeting and activities for the day. For example, we kicked things off with an amazing breakfast buffet (omelet station, anyone?) and passed around Bloody Marys and mimosas. Based on the team’s feedback, it was a pretty great way to start the day!
Later in the afternoon, we took small group tours of the property. After that, the Omni surprised us by moving our lunch to the beautiful new Hill Country Pavilion! We had a fantastic barbecue lunch at one long farm table set up so we could all sit together.
We finished the day with dinner with all of our families and plus-ones at Blind Salamander, their newest restaurant that will be opening to the public in late August. Throughout the meeting, we sampled the best from each of the restaurants on property and enjoyed each other’s company while watching the sunset from the wrap-around patio.
We had two goals for the All Hands Meeting: to have a successful meeting, and to have our team walk away feeling relaxed, refreshed, and ready to take on the second half of the year. I worked with the Omni Barton Creek team to plan different activities that the team and their families and plus-ones could sign up for (or not!) to build their perfect day relaxing around the resort. They had the option to sign up for spa treatments at the all-new Mokara Spa or tennis or golf clinics with Omni professionals. We also had cabanas on reserve all day for the team to use while relaxing at any of the three outdoor pools. In addition, each team member was given a stipend to put toward anything they wanted to participate in during their stay as a thank-you from Cindy for all of our hard work this year!
How does a top-level meeting planner plan their own meeting, and how does it help them plan meetings for others?
Catherine: The planning process for our All Hands Meeting was the same for me as it would be for any of our regular clients. I wanted Cindy to feel like she could focus on the actual meeting content and be confident that I was taking care of everything else!
However, having the opportunity to plan something for our team was a little more personal, so it was really fun to think of things that would matter to them – things I knew they would enjoy and that would make them feel taken care of. For instance, we created welcome amenities that were delivered to everyone’s room after check-in. Everyone received a reusable water bottle with small bottles of champagne and orange juice for DIY mimosas, plus hydrating face masks they could enjoy while they were relaxing in their rooms. We further customized these, and the kids who were staying got fun animal-themed face masks so they could participate when their parents were using theirs, while the fur babies got personalized treats with their names on them to enjoy as well.
Challenging ourselves to think outside the box on what would surprise and delight attendees who plan events for a living was such a great exercise and so fun! As a team, we can all take what we learned and experienced, building and expanding on it to go above and beyond to create amazing experiences for our clients.
Can you list what you love most about the Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa? Why is it such a great meeting and event facility?
Catherine: The fully renovated Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa is such an amazing property and pretty unique for the Austin area! I think one of the best things about it is that it can truly be an all-inclusive venue for an event. They have great meeting spaces, incredible food (ask anyone on our team; we’re all obsessed!), beautiful locations on the property that can eliminate the need to go offsite for receptions and parties, and amazing amenities that the whole group can enjoy, like the spa and golf. It’s just a short distance from downtown, and it’s in a great location in the Texas hill country that you can get to without a long drive.
If you haven’t been out to see it yet, definitely make some time! We’d recommend going and staying until sunset. Make sure to pick up an individual s’mores kit at Velvet Joe’s Coffee House (the coffee shop off the lobby), settle into a comfy chair by a fire pit on Lady Bird Lawn, and watch the sunset. Without a doubt, you’ll leave just as in love with Omni Barton Creek as we did!