Easing The Pain Of Event Planning

Terra Foti with her son Taj Montero. PHOTO BY THOMAS FOTI

Terra Foti with her son Taj Montero. PHOTO BY THOMAS FOTI

Parties are generally a good time — but party planning? Usually not so much fun. Picture this: Your office (or group of friends, or family) puts you in charge of organizing the annual holiday party. First up, you have to choose a location. But where do you even start? You’d probably have to call dozens of venues to get an idea of what types of events they are good for, how many people they can accommodate and how much it costs just to find one that suits your needs.

It’s a problem Terra Foti saw again and again during her years working in the hotel and hospitality industry. So, last October, Foti launched SkyFace LLC to help clients with venue-scouting needs. The one-woman company provides site selection and contract negotiation services for all types of events, including company parties, private social gatherings and business symposiums.

“Not a lot of companies have a dedicated event planner internally. Then you all of a sudden assign your assistant or you assign someone else to take the lead on finding a venue,” Foti explains one morning in her home office. “Then they are taken away from their immediate role and having to do all of these things. That can prolong the process of selecting a spot and negotiating appropriately.”

After growing up in the Islands, Foti moved to Las Vegas and began a career in sales and marketing with various hotels. She started as a sales assistant, and by the time she moved back to Hawaii to take a position with Hilton Waikoloa Village on Hawaii island, Foti was a senior sales manager. She then went on to become assistant director of sales and then director of catering and events at Hilton Waikiki Beach.

With SkyFace, Foti utilizes her breadth of knowledge from her 15 years in the hotel industry to act as a liaison between the venue and the client.

“SkyFace allows me to serve in an industry that is home for me by allowing me to assist in what can be a rigorous exercise in venue scouting and oftentimes a lengthy contract process that follows.”

Here’s how it works: You tell her what you’re looking for in an event, and she can narrow down a list of venue options. Once she helps you select the perfect site, she then works with the venue to negotiate the contract terms. Foti walks her clients through this to make sure they understand the agreement. From there, she remains the point of contact throughout the rest of the planning process. For some events, depending on the client’s needs, Foti also can provide full planning services.

Among the transitions that Foti faced when exiting her corporate position was the lack of accessibility to networking events.

So she created her own. Shortly after launching SkyFace, she founded RUSHwahine, an all-woman networking group that hosts events about once a month. So far, RUSH has attracted women from all fields — including corporate executives, entrepreneurs, yoga instructors and jewelry makers — and is open to any wahine who wants to expand her circle both professionally and personally.

“It is interesting the gamut of women we get,” she says.

But for Foti, it’s more like a bunch of friends getting together and providing opportunities for business collaborations. “Reverse networking,” she calls it — finding friends first, business contacts second.

“Just being able to give everyone an opportunity to breathe life into each other — you can connect with people who you can utilize to benefit your business and who you can give business — is huge for me,” Foti says.

The next RUSHwahine networking opportunity is Sept. 25 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at M Nightclub.

To register, visit rushmuse.eventbrite.com.

For more on SkyFace visit facebook.com/helloskyface.