Caryl Lyons has been in the business for 27 years and is a wealth of knowledge in the event industry. Now, she is using what she knows to help others in the event industry make their mark.
The mark she’s made is quite impressive as well.
Her company, Roar Events, has executed events from high-tech conferences to intimate gatherings.
If you’re looking for the perfect space for a meeting, banquet, or party, you can use Caryl’s app Capacity.
And her educational platform, Roar Playbook, helps event planners up their corporate event planning game.
Caryl is the event guru.
Franceska McCaughan: How can florists provide value to the corporate event space?
Caryl Lyons: Don’t give me any wedding florals, no wedding florals. With corporate events, you’re going to have florals on stages. It could be lots of greenery and trees or floral walls for those Instagrammable moments.
FM: Speaking of Instagrammable moments, one thing I don’t think a lot of people outside of the industry realize – social media is huge for us.
CL: Yes! Influencer events are actually considered a corporate event, and they are really, really floral-heavy to create those Instagrammable moments. For some of our clients in that space, one of their goals is to get traction on their hashtag, and florals are one way to tap into that type of brand activation.
FM: What’s the difference between influencer events and corporate events?
CL: For corporate, it’s a lot of small touches. We do a lot of stuff on high boys, so it could be a small votive with a sprig of flowers, and we will make a more ornate arrangement for the bar to make that a focal point.
FM: What is it like designing for corporate clients versus, let’s say, weddings?
CL: Corporate clients tend to give the same type of instruction: “we want these colors, this is the look and feel, but we give you creative control to make it happen.” And once the design is approved, it’s yours, and it gives you so much more freedom as a florist versus being stuck with someone else’s Pinterest board with one singular vision in mind. So, you can pretty much do exactly what you want. But, again, it’s about thinking outside of the box – what else can we create that people will remember?
We did an event in Costa Rica, and it’s actually one of my favorite tablescapes. I wanted to bring in lots of colors, mix-matched tables and chairs, centerpieces that were tall but that people could see through; I wanted to bring in pineapples and use the flowers native to Costa Rica to keep it fun and eclectic.
FM: I love that you brought that up because I think florists must remember to source local, especially in places like Costa Rica. We need to be using whatever flowers are either locally grown there or something that would make sense for the look and feel of Costa Rica. So it’s swapping your go-to roses and hydrangeas that you’re used to and comfortable with for more tropical foliage and doing something super creative with that.
CL: Designing for weddings, florists can get so stuck mimicking what they see and lose sight of their authenticity when it’s a florist’s originality and creativity that really adds value to the corporate event space.
FM: So Caryl, tell me, what makes you feel inspired?
CL: Oh, so funny. I get tons of inspiration actually from weddings, and then I corporatize it. I also get tons of inspiration from site visits and award shows. I love seeing the latest tech they’re doing at award shows. I get so much inspiration from that. I’ll be watching TV, taking pictures on my phone, and sending them to my producer like, “Okay, how much would it be to create a floor like this? Because this is really cool.”
FM: Why are flowers in a hotel lobby so important? I’m partial, but I think flowers are essential for a hotel. It’s almost like a ribbon on a gift; it ties everything together. It reflects their brand standards and reflects whatever authenticity is in the hotel – from the location to the colors in the lobby.
CL: It really sets the tone for me. It lends itself to what you’re going to expect from your experience – will it be formal? Relaxed? I was at a site visit, and the florals were all pink tones, and they were just orchids – so simple, yet so impactful. I was at another site visit at a very eclectic hotel, and they used Proteas in all these color tones that matched the lobby. It was so cool.
FM: What is your best advice for creating strong and long-term partnerships between a hotel and a florist?
CL: Especially right now, I think it’s good to bring flowers, whether you want to work with hotels or get into the corporate event space. If there’s a way you can show them your style and how you would design for them, I think it goes a long way to getting your name out there.
FM: I’ve been telling students in the Hotel Florist Profit Method that now is the perfect time to form relationships with hotels. Even though there might not be an opportunity right now, they’re not going to forget how you made them feel while they were trying to get back on their feet. So if you can make them feel supported and give them attention now, the hotel will naturally feel inclined to give you that attention and support back when their business starts coming back.
CL: And look at event venues too because they all have offices. That would be a good idea to do with corporations as they are coming back to the office. A lot of companies will hire florists to design for the front entrance of an office space.
FM: Exactly. We did a lot of that as well. It’s also sitting down with those event contacts and asking them, “How can I support you and your clients?” If you can show up in a helpful and supportive way, then you are already naturally building that partnership.
I feel like the playing field has really evened out. So many veteran florists have exited the scene or shifted to something else, and many new florists entering the scene don’t know where to start. I think it’s such a great time to get out there and start networking as much as possible.
CL: I think a piece so many people miss is the power of networking. When we moved to Texas, I posted it on Facebook, and so many of my friends were like, “Oh my gosh, you need to meet so-and-so, you need to meet this person. This is going to be a great connection for you.”
FM: Absolutely. Some of my biggest clients were word-of-mouth clients. We were Tiffany’s Texas-wide florist, which literally came from a referral from our hotel work. So, really show up and have that human interaction and try to create those relationships that way.
CL: And rather than reaching out and saying, ‘Hey, can you help me?” it’s more like,” Hey, I’m new here. What are you looking for?” because I do things from a completely different perspective that the client may not even know about. So I’m here to help them.
FM: I always say, “How can I add value?” When you show up from a place of service, it is naturally a win-win situation versus coming in with your own agenda and no flexibility.
Caryl, thank you so much for your time today. Where can people find you?
CL: You can find me at roarevents.com, roarplaybook.com, Instagram @roarevents, Facebook @ROAReventsgroup, and I’m really into Clubhouse at @caryllyons.
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