Andrea Cannistraci, President & Founder of andgreat, a marketing, branding and event company, is all about designing memorable events for clients and attendees. Recently, she partnered with Sonoma County Tourism and found a partner in her vision that was with her throughout the planning process. Read on to see how Andrea creates meetings that incorporate unique venues, fresh elements and meaningful meeting experiences.
SUZZANNE: Tell us, what does your job entail?
Having fun! We help tech companies with their marketing and events strategy. We specialize in site selection services that include sourcing luxury boutique resorts, managing the tedious RFP process, creating unique experiences, selecting brand-aligned venues, and negotiating contracts. And since my background includes over 17 years as a Director of Marketing, we also design email marketing campaigns, produce webinars, recommend team building activities, liaise with external suppliers, advise on branding & thought leadership, oversee social media, control budgets, maximize ROI, coordinate logistics, and manage the nitty gritty details that no one else wants to. We love the details!
SUZZANNE: What is one of your significant job challenges that working with Sonoma County CVB helped you solve?
Time. Nancy Garvey and the Sonoma County CVB greatly reduced my research time by reviewing the details of my unique programs and pointing me in the right direction in every aspect: venues, activities, transportation, dining, and logistics.
SUZZANNE: What are some of the distinctive attributes/destination offerings of Sonoma County that helped to make your meeting great?
My team prides itself on creating unique and engaging experiences in some unexpected locations. We bring fresh ideas and elements to change up meetings and events. We provide actionable take-aways that clients can apply to improve their attendees’ everyday work. Sonoma County is the perfect answer to my (clients’) needs. There are several unique luxury properties, and the local activities really impressed my groups.
SUZZANNE: What do you see as innovative or trending in the future of the meeting’s industry?
Great question. When I started this firm, one of my main objectives was to bring innovation to this industry. The programs we design will never take place in a cookie cutter big box property, behind four walls for eight hours a day. We look beyond the ballroom. We use unconventional outdoor space (hey, that fire pit over there looks like a perfect breakout session spot.) We guarantee a truly unique venue, in an unforgettable destination, and a memorable location. After all, we don’t plan meetings and events. We design experiences.
SUZZANNE: How would you describe the relationship you have with the CVB? What would you compare it to?
It’s a relationship unlike most. I feel they sincerely care. That’s a hard quality to find these days. The Sonoma County CVB really listened to my unique requirements, and took the time to understand me, my business, and my clients. They have become a trusted partner in a short time. The team is prompt and responsive. I love working with them because it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like friends talking about a destination.
SUZZANNE: What did your attendees say about your overall experience in Sonoma County?
After being in cookie cutter, big box properties in major cities for years, the Sonoma events were a breath of fresh air, literally. Attendees told me the conference felt more like a “retreat” than a business conference. The attendees knew where they were–they saw the vineyards every day during meals, breakouts, free time, and activities. They were able to experience the local culture and the plethora of unique activities that Sonoma County offers. The venues, and destination overall, blew them away. The bar has been re-set, and it’s high.
SUZZANNE: The top 3 things your attendees enjoyed about meeting in Sonoma County?
- The unique properties.
- The gorgeous outdoor areas that the big boxes don’t offer. Holding breakout sessions in the vineyards and in poolside cabanas was a foreign concept to them previously.
- Incorporating team building activities that were unique to the area. Many commented it was their first time doing a certain activity. As a planner, that’s a huge compliment.
SUZZANNE: Did you use a unique venue for a gathering or event while in the Sonoma County area?
Of course! That’s a requirement. Highly recommend the Benzinger Wine Cave for a dinner, Buena Vista for a wine blending class and the Audi Race Track for a morning of pure fun.
Thank you so much Andrea for talking with us today about your experience working with the Sonoma County CVB. To find more information about the Sonoma County CVB and 150+ other top meeting destinations, visit www.empowerMINT.com.