Upcoming Events




My name is Holly-Anne Palmer!  I'm the Owner of Happy Hour Entertainment and a proud member of MPI Gulf States.  I'm honored to be a part of the Communications and Event Team of MPI this year and am looking forward to a wonderful year of blogging about current members, trends and exciting changes in our industry!  For my first interview I reached out to my dear friend Valerie Grubb, the powerhouse behind Human Resource Consulting and Training Firm, Val Grubb and Associates, author of best selling books including the newly released "Clash of The Generations" and the newly minted President of the New Orleans Film Society.   Check out what she has to say!

H-A – Val, I'm so thrilled to get your feedback for our MPI Gulf States Blog for August! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me! 

VG – My pleasure to have the opportunity!

H-A – For our members that haven’t had the incredible opportunity of meeting you, please give us a little bit of your background.  

VG – I’ve had my own HR Consulting and Training practice, Val Grubb & Associates, for nine years.  Prior to this, I helped to found the Oxygen Channel for Oprah Winfrey, Geraldine Laybourne and Marcy Carsey. It was fantastic fun (in addition to being a lot of work) and when we sold the company to NBC Universal, I took a senior role at the new parent company, but it just wasn’t the same.  I yearned for the freedom that comes with running your own show and thus, I went out on my own, specializing in Human Resources/Operations.  I regularly consult for small to mid-range companies wishing to expand, and larger companies seeking efficiencies in their operations.

Meanwhile, I’m a recent transplant to New Orleans (I moved here in January of 2016 after 18 years in NYC) and a few months after arriving, a dear friend approached me about joining the Board of the New Orleans Film Society.  I immediately said yes and am thrilled to share that I took over as President of the Board July 1st, 2017!  I’m honored to be helming the Society as we enter into our 28th Film Festival this fall!

H-A – Now that you have been in New Orleans for over a year? and have begun to immerse yourself in the event community, what do you find are some of the strengths of the New Orleans event industry versus New York, where you have spent a great deal of time? What makes New Orleans stand out?  And what can be improved upon? 

VG – Oh my goodness! I thought New York was a party town – NYC has nothing on New Orleans!!!! NOTHING!! There is such a love of life in New Orleans that is unlike anywhere else in the world and that joie de vivre shows up everywhere: parties, galas, Mardi Gras and other holidays.  The general frivolity and excitement of events in New Orleans constantly permeates the city. There is a lightness of spirit in NOLA that NYC just doesn’t have and I think that allows for greater FUN here. New Orleans allows you to be who you are - and events can really reflect what matters to a person at their core.  NYC can be about “upping the Joneses” while here it’s about catering to your soul. And NOLA knows soul. That is certainly one thing that makes NOLA stand-out from NYC and the rest of the world to be honest.

Other strengths of the event community here is the Southern Hospitality element.  I thought that was a myth before moving here but people really do care that you have a great time at an event and that you feel well taken care of at every turn.  You’re not a number here – you’re somebody who matters!  As an example, I’m pretty involved with SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), which hosted its annual conference here in June of this year, and I threw several parties in conjunction with the conference.  One party at the New Orleans School of Cooking was particularly concerning for me as it was for current and future clients.  I cannot even begin to tell you how NOSC  went over-the-top to ensure that my event blew my clients’ socks off! They cared as much as I did and that is unique and very special. That’s simply just not the norm in NYC or a lot of other cities. And I’ve seen that same level of caring in other parties I’ve thrown for the Film Society.

Hmmmmm…improvements. That’s a tough one for me as I’m just so in love with New Orleans right now!  Ha, ha, ha. Can I say parking?  I’ve gotten thousands of dollars’ worth of parking tickets and I drive a Vespa! So better parking would be great! And holy cow FIX THE POTHOLES!!  Oh wait, not sure MPI members can fix that, but ya never know!

H-A – What type of environment do you want to focus on when planning your upcoming NOFS events - for example, VIP Parties, Your Fall Opening Party, Your Spring Gala?  What do you think will make NOFS's events stand out, and why? 

VG – The Film Society parties really span the gamut! The opening night party to kick off the Film Festival (October 11th, 2017) tops out at 1,000 guests and really requires a va-va-voom environment to WOW sponsors, celebrities and guests.  And this is just the beginning, as we host parties every other night during the Festival, including the filmmakers awards ceremony where prizes are given out to the top movie picks.  It’s a really magical (but exhausting!) nine days in October.  Over the coming weeks, I will be excited to share hotels, restaurants and party spaces that we’ve partnered with for our upcoming 28th Film Festival!

Each Spring we hold a fundraising gala that absolutely requires a WOW factor.  We like to have our guests celebrate the achievements of the year and celebrate in fantastic Great Gatsby style.  This is typically one of our top rated events, and I love to see our guests feeling so decadent on this fabulous night out!

H-A – What has been the BEST event that you have attended in New Orleans thus far, and why?  What stood out?  What was memorable?  

VG – Wow this is a Sophie’s Choice moment – how can I pick just one?!?! I hate to say it, but I’m not sure I can pick a single event as I’m still a kid in a candy store while mom and dad wait outside! I’m loving every party I go to and feel I’m still learning and exploring. I must admit though that those parties that stand-out are those that embrace the culture of New Orleans such as including a Second Line, serving local dishes and cocktails, incorporating masks and boas or other Mardi Gras themes, providing entertainment from a brass band or other local favorites. Those small touches can go a long way for tourists hosting events in New Orleans as well as locals who all have a very hefty sense of pride in our community.

H-A – Let's say you're looking to put together a team building event for an HR client after giving a talk about how to better communicate in the workplace.  What would the "after hours" team building event be?  What would the goals of the event be, and how could a planner help you to achieve them? 

VG –  Another event I hosted in June during the SHRM conference is a great example of how a planner is such an asset when planning an event.  I led a workshop on themes from my new book Clash of the Generations: Managing the New Workplace Reality (which deals with how to manage multiple generations in the office).  I needed a space that was conducive to hardcore networking including several activities that required interaction amongst the generations, a working lunch and break-out space that varied in size throughout the day.

My planner started with my goals for the workshop: learning, interaction, flow, intimate yet large enough to move around, multi-purpose, etc.  Then she had me walk through the presentation, focusing on the exercises, and we talked through logistically how we could accomplish everything in the same space.  I was originally thinking of renting one large room with smaller rooms nearby, but she was able to create a lay-out that gave privacy amongst the groups. It was perfect as I could move quickly and easily from group to group (and I figured out it would have been a nightmare if I had to move from room to room). I needed to see when the teams as a whole were done so I could move on (and not lose anyone because they finished so early and got distracted).  Another thing she was very cognizant of is my pet peeve with hearing dishes clanging while someone is speaking.  It sends me over the edge.  My planner made sure that didn’t happen!  In addition to all of this, she helped me plan all my after-hours festivities which built on the themes from the day, while also highlighting the beauty of the city.  It was a marvelous day (and most importantly, I got business out of the event!).

A great event planner educates me on how they can help me achieve my goals. They take the burden of logistics off my back, but they go beyond that to help me create a brand image that makes attendees want to work with me. And THAT is an AMAZING thing and really separates the great planners from the merely good ones.



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