Complimentary salon services at an event

'Guerlain Boutiques' offered complimentary salon services to entice guests to choose the BGR 2009 Inauguration Brunch in Washington, DC. Photo Courtesy of Westin Rinehart.

Many special event planners search for new and interesting ways to attract attendees to programs. The objective is to catch someone’s interest in a way that they feel they will want to attend the event. One such idea may be to incorporate complimentary salon and spa services into the event.

Jacie Reid, Managing Director of Westin Rinehart, based in Washington, DC, did just that: she incorporated the use of salon and spa services for some of her high profile special events for several years. Westin Rinehart is part of BGR Group, a bipartisan government relations, strategic consulting, mergers & acquisitions and investment firm, also in Washington, DC.

A brand ambassador for Guerlain Paris, creator of high end cosmetics, Reid incorporates make-up application and other salon services into an annual event she organizes for Behind the Bench, the National Basketball Wives Assoc. during NBA All-Star weekend each year.

And when faced with creating a special event on the day of the U.S. Presidential Inauguration in January 2009 — a time when everyone is vying for the same high-profile guests — Reid incorporated this concept into an inauguration party that her firm hosted that day.

Inauguration Special Event at BGR Group

BGR hosted a brunch for guests that was scheduled during a window of nearly five hours for guests in its Washington, DC office (great tip on saving money!). The reception area conference rooms were converted into Guerlain Boutiques, and guests were able to watch Inauguration activities on plasma TVs throughout the office (including the conference rooms).

“With the inauguration happening in winter, you realize that the weather is drying for the skin,” Reid explains. “And after people gather during the day for a speech or reception, there’s little time left to get ready for the evening balls — especially once you consider traffic.”

Recognizing this challenge is what helped Reid’s event stand out. Salon services at the BGR event included moisturizers (face and lips), fragrance and make-up applications by professional artists using all Guerlain products. And the salon and spa services were available and used by both men and women.

“The event was a success,” Reid reflects. “So many people were anxious to do this, and they were excited to have cosmetics available to them.”

The BGR event was attended by 785 people, including some celebrities in town, and Reid estimates that more than 200 people took advantage of the services (most lasting between 10-15 minutes). Logistics was the important thing to consider.

In fact, the initial plan included three salon stations in the morning which were quickly increased to six stations for the remainder of the day.

Advice for Planners Considering Salon and Spa Services at Events

Reid advises planners who are considering salon services to really plan in advance. “Depending on the size of your event and the number of guests, really make sure you know your audience and what they would like to enjoy,” Reid adds.

For those who are considering a similar event, it’s not unreasonable to consider approaching a local salon and spa to offer these services.

Reid advises that planners should leverage the value of visibility with event attendees as a way of negotiating to save money for the event. Possible negotiating tactics include offering to share the cost of technicians or offering to pick up the cost of supplies.

And the value of word of mouth cannot be emphasized enough, especially for local events. “Technicians may pick up new clients who may never have known how good they are,” Reid suggests.

Originally published January 2009.