Author Archives: Graphic Events Matt

Custom Chocolate Creations

About two months ago I heard about Chocomize, an online company that allows you custom create your own chocolate bars. Being a concierge company, I thought a little research into these custom creations was in order. You know, so that we can offer our clients something different (what can I say, I’m a dedicated guy).

Just log on to their website and you’ll be guided through the step by step process of creating your bar. You start off by picking what chocolate you want to have for your bar (dark, milk, white) then choose up to five ingredients (or toppings) to go on your bar from about 100 different options. They have almost anything you can think of to put on a candy bar; nuts & seeds, fruit, herbs & spices, candy, decorations, and more! One bar can run you anywhere from  $5-$15, depending on your selections (and not including shipping). While this may seem like a lot to pay for a candy bar, you have to remember that what you’re paying for is the customization. And at less than $20, I definitely think you’re getting a deal.

So what did I end up with when I finally got my delicious goodies, er, I mean research? Take a look:

The bars are packaged beautifully and securely in their shipping boxes. Check out the sticker indicating that the contents of the box should be protected from heat.

Opening up the box yields a tightly packed insulated bubble wrap bag.

Inside the padded bag the bars are packed between two ice packs.

Once everything is unwrapped you finally get the the nicely packaged bars of your order and ice packs.

Flipping the packing over gives you information on just how much care went into creating your order.

For the health conscious there is nutritional information on the back also listing possible allergies.

To really get a good feel for what Chocomize could do, I decided to order two bars.

The first was a white chocolate bar (pictured above). What goes good with white chocolate? What else other than Oreo cookies. As for the rest of the ingredients, I decided to add some color to the bar so I threw on M&Ms and rainbow sprinkles. I have to say, when you take it out of the box for the first time, you are blown away by the visual presentation of what you just got.

For my second bar (pictured below), I went with the traditional milk chocolate. The milk chocolate bar had more of my favorites: toffee, graham crackers, and hazelnuts. As you can see from the pictures the milk chocolate bar wasn’t as flashy as the white chocolate, but I definitely liked it better.

So how did the bars taste? They’re pretty good. The quality of chocolate they use is pretty good on it’s own. And while I can’t speak for the tons of different ingredients on the site, the ones that I did get on my bars were on par with how they would taste if you had bought them separately in the store. Though, it all depends of what combination you go for.

Half the fun though is simply trying to figure out what kind of bar you’re going to make and then seeing it for the first time when you open up your package. If you want party favors or giveaways that are a bit more different and unique, then Chocomize might be the answer.

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We’re Official

A new sign under our long standing logo declares that our office is the "Concierge & Information Center" for Waterfront Plaza.

“What do you do here?” That’s a question we frequently get at our office at Waterfront Plaza (the complex formerly known as Restaurant Row). With our office being on the ground floor and relatively high foot traffic that passes us by on a daily basis, each of us that works in the office usually has a stock response prepared for just such questions.

While answering this question comes with the territory of being a concierge, there are times when I just wish people understood that what we do is similar to services provided by the concierge at any hotel or resort you would stay at while on vacation . . . we provide help, information, and special expertise to the tenants, employees, and visitors to the property.

Well, to give passers by a better idea of what we do, we decided to have a new sign installed in our window. Though not as big as originally conceived, we hope that our new “Waterfront Plaza Concierge & Information Center” sign helps convey the message to everyone that we’re here to provide help and service.

And let me tell you something, it seems to be working. During the installation of the sign (the sign wasn’t even fully up yet), people started looking at it and came in to ask for directions for a tenant on property. YAHTZEE! The sign started paying for itself immediately! They saw the sign, understood it, and came in to ask for directions. Once the sign was finally up we did see a higher amount of walk in traffic the rest of the day.

Here’s hoping that in the coming days and weeks we have to answer less “What do you do here” questions.

Our sign guy Tim from TLT Designs installing our new window sign.

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My Life . . . In Little Itty Bitty Cups

You’ve seen them. You know, those people at the store. Hell, you may even look forward to seeing them . . . people giving out samples.

In January we took on a special marketing job for two mainland clients sampling their products in Kmart and Sam’s Club. In broad terms we were going to be the face of our clients in the marketplace since they could not be here themselves. Believe it or not, this is a fairly common practice since I hear that stores that do provide this type of service to vendors tend to charge a lot of money for the store to do it. Enter Isle Concierge.

Before I get any further let me tell you a little about the products we were sampling:

The first was mix1 (@mix1), a protein and anti-oxidant drink that comes in five different flavors and is packaged in brightly colored bottles. For those that may not know, it’s protein based so it has it’s own distinct taste if you haven’t had protein based products. This is something you would drink as a meal on the go or would be good to drink after work outs. The second product was Bora Bora (@BoraBoraFoods) bars which are nutritional bars made up of all organic ingredients such as dried fruits, nuts, and grains. While they come in seven different varieties, we were only going to be sampling two types: Exotic Coconut Almond and Wild Pomegranate Pecan.

Believe it or not putting on a sampling, or ‘roadshow’ as it is sometimes called, takes more work than you would think.

Prep Work Involved:

  1. Knowledge :: Since this wasn’t our product we had to learn about it and even try the product before we could go into stores and sample it. There’s no worse situation to be in than being out on the floor when someone comes up to you and asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have the company that we’re sampling for provide us with information, brochures, handouts, or talking points for us to go over. Sometimes we don’t have this luxury and have to do research about a product on the company’s website. Whatever the case may be, knowing about the product being sampled is probably the most essential component of the whole operation.
  2. Logistics :: This involves knowing how much product you are going to have on hand to sample, knowing who store contacts are, knowing what kind of manpower you have, knowing what the timeline and dates for sampling are, supplies you are going to need on hand, and everything that goes with planning an event is all taken into account to make sure things run smoothly. Ideally you would like to just show up when required, pass out samples, and call it a day when done–no muss, no fuss.
  3. Presentation/Decor :: Perhaps you didn’t notice it at the time, but everything has a look. Any brand or product worth a grain of salt has a way that they want their product to be portrayed. Whether it’s a big tent or banners with the product’s name on it or, just the way the table is dressed, how the product is presented can sometimes be just as important as the product itself. Having whatever you need to present your product can be key to sampling.

Table presentation for Bora Bora was pretty extensive with having to convey a tropical feel at the table, hence the skirt, tropical table cloth, and faux lei.

Then we have the actual sampling itself. Now in my humble opinion, the goal of a sampling isn’t so much to sell the product to people (although that is a very important secondary goal) as it is to educate people about the product. Let’s face it, aside from those impulse buys near the checkout stand, how many of us actually buy food that we’ve never tried before? That is why samplings are so important–if you can have someone try out the product before buying it, and they like it, it’s not going to be a stretch for a customer to pick it up and throw it in their cart.

Prime location near the front of Sam's Club Ke‘eaumoku.

Of course the thing that will make or break any sampling is same as in real estate: location, location, location. A good location will give you two things: 1) high traffic and 2) high visibility. Near the store entrance, high traffic aisles, and near the registers are the preferred sampling spots. The further away you get from these kinds of areas, the longer your day is going to be.

Not so great table location in Kmart--far away from the front of the store.

Now just because you put food out in little cups for people take, doesn’t mean your job is over. It’s anything but. Here’s a list of people you need to be aware of when you’re behind that sampling table:

  1. The Average Customer :: The average customer is willing to stop at your table, try out the sample, possibly ask a question or two, and continue on their merry way. Let it be known I like average customers. Why? They’re bold enough to come up to the table and be open minded enough to at least try the product. Boldness + Open Mind = GOOD.
  2. The Strong Silent Type :: These customers are the ones that pass you by without looking at you or acknowledging you. It’s not that they’re mean, in fact they might be perfectly hospitable under other circumstances, but on the battlefield in store aisles–it’s war. The key is acknowledging them and inviting them over. Just offer up the courtesy ‘Hello, good morning/afternoon. Would you like to try some _____,’ is sometimes all you need. You might get them to open up, you might not, but anything stronger than this and you’ll lose every time.
  3. The Inquisitive Customer :: You’ll know these customers when you start to get a barrage of questions about the product. These customers could just be really curious or have legitimate health concerns about the product. Whatever the case may be, this is when knowing the product as well as being able to think quickly on your feet is essential. What happens when there’s a question that we can’t answer? That’s impossible because we have an answer for every question. Seriously though, when we are posed a question that we do not know the specific answer to, the follow up answer is generally ‘I’m not sure about that, but you can probably get the answer (here). ‘Here,’ in this case meaning a company website about the product, consulting with a doctor or nutritionist, or some other avenue where a customer can find out that answer. You never want to end with a simple ‘I don’t know.’
  4. Children :: Kids provide their own unique challenges during sampling. Most of the time they tend not to care what they’re trying, they’ll go through multiple samples, and the worst part–they don’t have purchasing power. I always suggest erring on the side of caution when children want to try samples by asking them if it’s ok with their parents (or whoever they’re with) if they can try the samples.
  5. Sample Pirates :: I’m not talking Captain Jack Sparrow here. These customers are the ones that raid your table, but it’s not gold or treasure their after, it’s booty of a different kind . . . in those little cups! It may come in the form of showing up and eating/taking more than two or three samples and continuing on, stopping and pretending to talk with you while they eat multiple cups, or trying to disguise their raid by coming around several times to make it seem like they haven’t taken that many (or even a combination of these tactics). Whatever the case may be, rest assured that they will relieve you of samples. The most you can do is remain vigilant and be aware of them. A good tactic to slow things down is to just to let the samples run out and wait till they move on before restocking.

In any case, giving out samples in little itty bitty cups isn’t something for the faint of heart. It takes time, careful planning, and some comfortable insoles. Remember that next time you go to the store.

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Tis the Season–Right Now

Life comes at you pretty fast, especially this time of year when there’s parties and celebrations of all types to go to, family gatherings, and don’t forget the Christmas shopping while you’re at it. December has to be the busiest time of year for us here at Isle. This week alone we have three rather large parties that we’re coordinating. Add to that a few meetings, a bump in deliveries, two markets and you have a perfect storm. Don’t believe me? Here’s what we have on our palate for the rest of our week:

If I hadn’t erased Monday and Tuesday already (I was so excited we survived I wanted to ERASE the memory<–see what I did there) there'd be a lot more dry erase ink on our boards. Suffice it to say, I think we might rival Jolly Old St. Nick.

So how do we do it? That is truly where the magic happens. It really comes down to two things: scheduling and manpower. Our scheduling is crucial in making sure everything in our day is possible. Things like a simple delivery to making baskets–everything gets logged somewhere on our calendar. From there, tasks are assigned but most of the time our staff pretty much knows who is responsible for what. Then there's the manpower. Luckily with UH in finals week, most of our part time staff is available to work extra hours.

Here's a few glimpses from the past week and what's been keeping us busy:

Set up from yesterday's tenant appreciation celebration at the Bank of Hawaii Waikiki Center

Our 50 basket pick up from Kapuakea today.

And here are all the Angel Tree donations we've been collecting at Waterfront Plaza as well as gift basket orders.

Of course I could go on . . . but I hear the prancing and pawing of little hoofs.

Happy holidays everyone!

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Filed under Out & About, Thought Process

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Isle_PetWalk_Backs

Was it worth getting up über early in the morning just to walk the dog? As anyone at Magic Island would have told you on Sunday, the answer was yes. The Hawaiian Humane Society held their annual Pet Walk this past Sunday, October 4 and we were there participating in our first community/charity event.

Marketing2

Our marketing campaign was not extensive, in fact it mainly consisted of bombarding friends and family members with images of our mascots (Buddy) urging everyone to donate and help sponsor our cause. Our goal of $1000 was ambitious, but you know what they say, “it’s better to aim high . . .” In the end we collected a modest amount of $275. We would really like to extend a warm mahalo to all those that generously donated. Hopefully next year we can do even better!

Curtain call was 7am for registration with the walk starting at 8am. There were dogs of every shape, color, and breed.

Our other mascot Aja was a little nervous about meeting other canines.

Our other mascot Aja was a little nervous about meeting other canines.

One of the highlights was probably when they started off the walk with Who Let the Dogs Out by the Baha Men.

One of the highlights was probably when they started off the walk with "Who Let the Dogs Out" by the Baha Men.

Aja and Buddy after crossing the finish line.

Aja and Buddy after crossing the finish line.

In the end, a good time was had by all.

Team Isle

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Back to School

This week UH started it’s fall session. While I’m sure the first thing many of us thought was, “oh great, more traffic,” for us here at Isle Concierge it means that scheduling our workers becomes a bit trickier. To begin with we are already a small company with nine employees. Needless to say, when five of us had to go back to school this week our company definitely felt the impact of heading back to school.

The past three months we’ve enjoyed having a full staff available in the office to handle anything and everything that’s been thrown at us. From events, to deliveries, and everything in between we did it all. Now with our part timers going back to school, the balancing act that is being a concierge is a bit tricker.

What does this mean for our clients? Not much. Isle Concierge will still maintain the high quality of excellence to those that we service. Where it’s really felt is behind the scenes. Scheduling deliveries and events will take a little work to make sure we have the appropriate staffing to cover everything. Ultimately though, it’s the faces we’ll miss seeing on a regular basis. Staff that we’ve worked with daily or 3-4 times a week for the past couple of months, we won’t see on a daily basis anymore and may only see them once or twice a week.

However, this is a sacrifice that Isle Concierge gladly accepts. We only want the best for our employees so if it means we have to juggle things a little bit then so be it. In the long run, it’ll all be worth it.

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Healthy Extravaganza!

The 2nd Waterfront Plaza Health & Community Fair was this past Friday, August 7 and it was met with a warm reception by the organizations that participated as well as those that attended.

Attendees standing in line at the Kaiser Permanente booth for pedometers.

Attendees standing in line at the Kaiser Permanente booth for pedometers.

In all, twenty-seven organizations participated in this year’s event and were out letting people know more about the services and products they provide. It was great to see a lot of people turning out for the event, having a good time at the different tables, spining the prize wheels, engaging with vendors, and collecting information.

The courtyard was filled with the sounds of Hawaiian KINE 105.

The courtyard was filled with the sounds of Hawaiian KINE 105.

Organizations were spread throughout Restaurant Row at Waterfront Plaza and attendees had to do some traveling if they wanted to see it all. It actually ended up being a good thing as people that racked up 1000 steps on their Kaiser Permanente pedometers were eligible to win an iPod nano! The grand prize giveaway at the event was a trip to Kaua’i on Hawaiian Airlines from Hawaiian 105 KINE, but it didn’t stop there. Attendees walked away with Riatea Helm Concert Tickets, t-shirts and samples from Mix1, and prize packs from Susan G Komen Race for the cure & HMSA. It was a swag-fest!

WFP tenant Bristol Hospice - Hawaii LLC talking about their services.

WFP tenant Bristol Hospice - Hawaii LLC talking about their services.

At times we jokingly say ” . . . well, at least you have your health.” To these people your health and well being is their top priority. That’s what I like most about this event… we get to work with a number of great people and organizations from Hawaii’s community. That’s what’s most important in this economic climate. Working closely with people and organizations in our community towards a successful and thriving Hawaii.

The logistics of it all . . .

My chicken scratches denote the intense planning that was involved.

Of course what would any good event be without it’s share of hiccups? Originally I wanted to do a “pre-health fair” post on the logistics of planning the event . . . and then Thursday snuck up on us. We were literally mapping out booth assignments until the last moment as there was a last minute drop out and add-ins that caused some reshuffling. All in all though it was a great event, and I can’t wait to do this again in 2010!

If you’d like to check out all the pictures from this year’s event, click on the photos in our Snapshot sidebar or click here.

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Filed under Health Fair, Thought Process