Meet Event Planner, Barb Harris, DMCP of On The Scene, The Event Company

August 29th, 2015 | hereschicago

Barb Harris, DMCP Chicago Event Planner On The Scene DMC

Jim Grillo, CMP of interviews Barb Harris, DMCP of On The Scene, The Event Company for this month’s Meet an Event Planner segment.

How did you get into event planning?

I studied Tourism at Indiana University, and was convinced I’d go into resort recreation management.  When I graduated college, I didn’t have a job lined up, and my old babysitter from childhood was in event planning, and called me to see if I could be her assistant for 6 weeks to help.  It turned out I was good at the job, I really enjoyed it, and the company was a great fit.  They ended up hiring me full time, and 10 years later – here I am still planning!

What’s your favorite place in the entire world?

It’s a toss-up between Chicago, London, and Wanaka, New Zealand.

Who is your best friend? What do you like about him/her?

I met my best friend Reva on the 1st day of high school, and I consider her my sister.  No matter the situation, she always finds a way to be positive and strong.  She is an incredible person!

What is your favorite movie of all time? Why so?

Wet Hot American Summer.  It is so over the top ridiculous.

What’s your biggest goal in life right now?

I just want to be better; not only in my career, but with my family and friends, too.  There are a million ways to define success, and always ways to improve.  I’m up for it all.

What was your family like growing up?

Perfect; isn’t everyone’s?  We took a lot of vacations – taking time out to refresh the mind and see the world was a priority to my parents.  It completely shaped my direction in life.

What were you like as a kid?

Much like I am today – very outgoing, adventurous, and wanted to be friends with everyone.

What should I know about you that I’d never think to ask about?

Three words: Extreme Karaoke Enthusiast

Did you—or do you—have a nickname? What’s the story behind it?

My name is Barbara, but I demand going by Barb.  I started doing this at age 11 because I thought it sounded “younger”.

Have you received any praise or accolades recently?

I was honored to be inducted into the Illinois Meetings & Events Magazine Hall of Fame this year as “Best Special Event Planner”.  I have also just finished serving two terms as the President of the International Special Events Society (ISES) Greater Chicago Chapter.

What type of events you plan?

On The Scene consists of experienced professionals that are a respected and trustworthy team consisting of meeting planners, event managers, designers, food and beverage specialists and transportation gurus.  Our services are predominantly in the corporate meetings and events world, and they look to us to be a strategic partner who can create once-in-a-lifetime experiences and environments that truly embody and evoke their brand and message.

What do you love about planning events in Chicago?

So much of my career in Chicago has been focused on networking and building relationships with industry colleagues.  When the opportunities arise to work together, I feel like I get to play with my friends.

Planning events outside of Chicago over the last couple of years has also opened my eyes to the caliber of talent this city holds.  We take for granted the scale and profile of some of these groups and attendees, but at the end of the day, these are truly world-class events.

What is your favorite restaurant or bar (Personally)?

It is a hole in the wall and nothing fancy, but Café Furaibo has been my favorite sushi joint since before I moved to Chicago.  I could eat it every day.

When not working, what do you love to do?

I am a social butterfly – I am with friends almost every day; dining in or out, going to concerts and street festivals, and traveling.

Have you ever sung karaoke? If so, what song?

I LOVE karaoke, and my go to jam is “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morisette.

Future trends in event planning?

From a strategic angle, people want engagement.  We are so stimulated by media and so easily distracted, we need constant ways to discover and see the unseen.  Festivals are a great example of companies finding unique ways to MAKE attendees want to participate in what they are offering.

What does it take to be a successful event planner?

Acknowledging you don’t know everything, the willingness to learn from mistakes, being humble, and determination.

What are you passionate about?

The International Special Events Society!  Joining this association has made me better at what I do, strengthened my relationships, and given me global perspective on the legitimacy of our industry.  Everyone should be a part of something so powerful and inspiring.

What do you recommend for others who want to get into the event planning profession?

It may look glamourous, but 90% of the time, it is the opposite.  You are the first one to get blamed, and the last one to get credit.  You will never know everything – it is constantly evolving.  Relationships are everything; you have to treat your clients and suppliers equally.  And you don’t get to start at the top!

Do you have any Association affiliations?

I have been affiliated with ISES since 2009.  On The Scene is also a longtime member of ADMEI and MPI.

What’s your favorite thing about your hometown?

Beverly Hills, Michigan was a perfect place to grow up; safe, great schools, friendly people, cultured, and diverse.

Which book(s) have you read multiple times?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts is a beast, but totally worth the time investment.  It is a beautifully written story with endless lessons about love, family, friendships, perseverance, justice and faith.

What’s on your bucket list?

To visit all 7 continents – Africa and Antarctica to go!

What are your thoughts about is an incredible resource for professionals in any arena.  The team is committed to educating you not only on just “what you should buy”, but it’s a huge platform for connecting, sharing information, and following what’s happening in our industry in this city.  The team is WIDELY respected, and everyone wants to see what they will do next.

Barb Harris, DMCP is the Senior Program Manager at On The Scene and can be reached at:

Barb Harris, DMCP | Senior Program Manager
On The Scene | The Event Company
Immediate Past President, International Special Events Society (ISES) Greater Chicago Chapter
500 N Dearborn St, Suite 550, Chicago, IL 60654
P: 312-661-1440 x 200 | C: 248-219-6859 | F: 312-661-1182|

On The Scene Destination Management The Event Company

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