Love what you do! My work is my passion which means I love that Wow! moment I get to create for my clients. Nothing like the happy and satisfied faces of clients and their guests when they experience the unexpected.
As a part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brett Galley.
Brett Galley is the Director of Special Events and owner of Hollywood POP. With her unique blend of theatrical and artistic background, Brett has satisfied the demand for full-service event design, planning, name talent booking & production in the Greenwich CT & tri-state area. She then shared her talents Nationally & Internationally. She and her team have produced events and concerts with or for American Express, Diana Ross, Katy Perry, Tony Bennett, Bon Jovi, Lionel Richie, Smash Mouth, Obama, The New York Yankees and the Museum of Modern Art.
Before joining the family business, Brett was the Entertainment Director at New York City’s iconic eatery Tavern on the Green.
She heads an all-female team of very talented and unique event design specialists & talent booking producers that bring the same flair and creativity to Hollywood Pop Gallery that she does.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better.
I was raised in New York City and was fortunate enough to travel the world with my journalist/artist mother and explorer father. Thanks to them my life has never been dull and therefore having a career in the event industry is a true calling for me. For me, partying is a way of life!
As the owner & Director of Special events at Hollywood POP Gallery, I have called on my innate entrepreneurial skills to create what I describe as an ever evolving dream career.
I live by the philosophy that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life and I’m fortunate to get to do what I love along side some of the most amazing people anyone can hope to work with.
Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
My mother is acclaimed artist Joyce Galley. She opened her first art gallery in Greenwich, CT over 20 years ago. In between art openings she would rent the space out for parties. My Grandfather had been a movie producer and owned theaters, therefore my mother thought the word “Hollywood” should be in the name. Specializing in pop art at the time, Hollywood POP gallery was born. Following my time at art school, and after a stint as entertainment director at Tavern on the Green I decided to join the family business full time and see how I could enhance HPG clientele’s experience.
As the gallery became a hot spot for social events, we made the decision to satisfy the demand for full service event planning, design, and entertainment bookings by taking HPG to the next level.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Not sure this was a funny “mistake” but it sure was funny!
Years ago we used to provide holiday entertainment for Whoopi Goldberg’s annual Christmas event each year. It was a fun celebration filled with her friends, family and famous colleagues. Every year a different theme. Part of what we did to create a magical experience was that some of the performers dressed as elves and made a grand arrival to the party with Santa Claus on a speed boat. All the guests and their children were so excited to greet us. One year one of our performers who was playing an elf wasn’t feeling too well. She didn’t want to disappoint the children so she arrived in the dressing room and promptly got too sick to go on!
It was too late to replace her and although I was the planner/designer ,(And BTW I am NO performer!) there was no choice but for me to throw on the elf costume and get on the boat.
As the colorful performers arrived with Santa we could see the children jumping up and down and their parents getting closer to our boat. I was trying to hide behind Santa as he bolted off the boat belting out “Merry Christmas!”….Whoopi took one look at me and said….”Brett?????….is that you?”
My lesson here was, “the show must go on”…..even if it means dressing as an elf!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My mother would definitely be top of the list as it was with her we founded HPG and her curiosity always inspired me! I’ve also had the privilege to work with some very well-known clients who have pushed me to become the industry professional I am today.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
The event industry is all about relationships and trust. Especially when dealing with private clientele as opposed to corporate, people can get very nervous when spending a big amount on a party. That’s why providing them with great customer service is key because it will create trust which will make the whole experience pleasant for client as well as for us!
Our clients come to us because they know we will always have their best interest in mind and they trust us with their vision and budget. If your only goal is to make as much profit as possible from each client, it will quickly backfire because if a client feels like you overcharged them, they will not return. I always believe that honesty is the best policy, and when you have your clients trust it makes planning so much smoother for all parties involved. There is nothing better for business than a happy client as word will travel fast!
We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
There are a variety of reasons that can happen, but I find poor customer service usually being the result of staffing issues. For instance, if the company gets very successful quickly they don’t necessarily have the time to look into staffing needs which can result in your team being overworked and not having the time they normally would have for each client. Another reason can be poor management.
It really is all about having a great team and that everyone is working towards the same goal. I am very lucky to have that!
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
When a client comes to us, they are not only paying for the service they are also paying for our years of expertise and knowledge. When there is lots of competition it means the industry is doing well as there is demand for services, which essentially is good. However, you need to find your own niche and stand out from the crowd which we have always have done. I don’t believe competition will necessarily help improve the customer experience if the company is already lacking in it, but it might force them to restructure their business model. To be a successful business in the service industry, providing a great customer experience should be ingrained as one of your core values. Do good work and success will follow.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
There are so many! But one in particular comes to mind that was more recent. We had a client who wanted to surprise her husband for their wedding anniversary by taking him on an amazing trip to Ireland, where they were to stay at a beautiful old castle near Limerick called Adare Manor.
Little did he know that she also had made arrangements to fly in their best friends, some of which were part of their wedding party 25 years earlier, to surprise him as he simultaneously celebrated his birthday. Since her husband is a big time golfer, we had all the friends waiting for him at the golf range where he was set to have a private lesson with a well-known professional golfer. Boy was he surprised!
The long weekend was filled with fun activities and pampering followed by private dinners each night. On the day of the departure, we organized traditional hound dogs and horses to escort them as they were leaving the manor. Everyone loved the dogs!
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
Not only were we a part of creating a lifelong memory for all the participants, but we’ve since done multiple parties for the same couple and they have referred us to their friends.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Know your clientele and learn what will WOW them
2. Build a team who share your vision and passion
3. Be curious and creative
4. Never stop learning and being innovative. Find the vendors to work with who can help take your business to the next level.
5. Love what you do! My work is my passion which means I love that Wow! moment I get to create for my clients. Nothing like the happy and satisfied faces of clients and their guests when they experience the unexpected.
Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
It’s all about maintaining those valued relationships we’ve worked so hard to build and we believe that the good word will carry which it has for us, as most of our new clients have usually been referred by someone we’ve worked with. A referral is the best acknowledgment we can get! It’s very important to always follow up after an event and to keep in touch and maintain the relationships.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
So much exists already. There are some wonderful projects in our industry and I would love to get the word out!
- The Birthday Project- www.thebirthdaypartyproject.org
An online source to donate a party package of food/cake/decorations and entertainment to foster kids and children living in poverty
It would be great to create the same model for Senior facilities/homes.
- Garbage Goddess- www.gorbagegoddess.com
They try to create a deeper reverence for our planet. GG is revolutionizing our notoriously wasteful industry by creating sustainable options and leading by example, hoping other party-makers and party goers will be inspired to do the same.