Anne Eves Kotlarchuk shared her story of growing up in Kingston with her entrepreneurial parents, moving to Toronto to start her adult life, and then relocating to Kemptville to begin life as a wife and mother. She studied hard and won her first role at Kemptville College in Finance and soon took on additional responsibilities when the Event Planner became ill. She soon found out that she loved leading the large number of various events that took place on the campus. Over the years she welcomed many groups for hosted conferences and meetings taking care of every detail. She eventually switched career focus to lead the event planning sector for the college full time. She enjoyed over 25 years with the college.
She shared with us the experience of planning a large conference for college leadership members to visit, only to find out as she joined the staff in the auditorium that the gathering was planned to relay the news that college would be closing. She told of the various thoughts and feelings that everyone dealt with when hearing the news and how it impacted many.
Thinking of how this news was going to impact her customers and vendors, she quickly set out to gather as much information about other options to host events within a 1 hour radius. As she gathered this information and shared it with her vendors and customers, they suggested that she parley her skill set and connections into a business. So she did. She launched ALK Event Management in 2015.
She’s now widely known for hosting the highly successful SHOP LOCAL SHOWCASE in Kemptville (Apr 22) and Kingston (TBD) as well as the BRIDE & GROOM SHOW in Kemptville (Jan 21). She also hosts a variety of smaller fundraising events for a number of organizations. She’s taken everything she’s learned about hosting large events and developing relationships with small business and created a unique experience that offers many perks for both the vendors and the attendees.
We talked at length about how we, as those who have side hustles, and small businesses can best decide whether or not to participate in a trade show. She described how her events are different and how she takes care to invest back into the area by spending advertising dollars to ensure a great turnout of attendees.
We all have had experiences where the turnout was disappointing, essentially impacting our decision to attend that event ever again. We’ve also had experiences where there has been hidden costs and hidden expectations after you have paid your vendor fee.
Anne described how she plans her events and the various bonuses you receive as a vendor at her trade shows: free parking, free admittance of attendees, email coaching, pre-event vendor networking, passport component for attendees for grand prize eligibility, beverages and hors d’oeuvres, and lots of pre-event advertising. In addition you have her solid experience with the venues that she works with and understanding of how best to attract attendees.
She also shared with us her other business venture, language classes. She works with language experts to host classes in Spanish, French, Sign Language, and Inuktitut. She’s thrilled to see so many people interested to learn a new language and learn about other cultures. A great opportunity to learn the language before you take off on your next vacation.
Her and hubby have also turned their empty nest, complete with former granny suite, into the lovely Abbot Road Suites.
Learning how best to present ourselves at a trade show, and understanding what we should expect from the vendor host was a valuable discussion to have. Connecting with Anne and learning about her story also enabled us to understand just how unique her events are.