How About a Human Guest Book?

This past November, the owners of Nerve, an entertainment magazine and Web site, held a promotional party at Spa, a snazzy Manhattan venue. At the event, there were two guest books — a woman named Mo and a man named Garrett. Guests were invited to sign their (mostly unclad) bodies. Now there's something you don't see every day.

The human guest book is just one of dozens of out-there ideas showcased at BizBash.com, a Web site that bills itself as a “free online and offline resource center for special events and business entertaining professionals.” Because it really is for event professionals, the site has a link where you can find the agency that delivered Mo and Garrett, should you decide that a skin-based data capture system is something you want for your next event.

The BiZBash.com Idea Center is the brainchild of two entrepreneurial brothers, David and Jonathan Adler, who have teamed up with New York City-based event industry specialist Richard Aaron, CMP, CSEP. They envisioned a Web site at which event planners could step outside the mainstream network of hotels and conference centers to explore what the Adlers call the “nooks and crannies” of New York City for unusual venues and services. Based on a recent visit to the site, we'd have to say they've delivered on the vision and then some.

By far the best feature is the event showcase, where planners can see concise case histories of events, with links for creating RFPs to all the suppliers involved. Thus, if you like the oversized badge/schedule combo tags worn by attendees at the recent Book Industry Summit, you can follow a link to Doublespace, the design house that came up with the idea. Planners can search for ideas by industry (yes, there is a technology/Internet category), by event type (anything from a block party/street fair to a convention) or by type of supplier (caterer, premiums, etc.). For those who want to cut directly to the good stuff, a search category called “BiZBash Trendsetters” is where we found the human guest books and the oversized badges. If you're looking for a fire-eater, they've got those, too.

The Web site also offers a planning function where event managers can create an event and find venues and services for it — including event management companies for those who want to outsource. The planning interface is straightforward and cleanly integrated with all the suppliers who participate on the BiZBash site. Frankly, though, this little business application seems beside the point compared to the wealth of event planning ideas that dominate the site.

To be kept up to date on what's going on at the site, planners can subscribe to a weekly e-mail newsletter, the “BiZBash Event Style Alert.” Also available is a weekly e-calendar of New York City events.

One other aspect sets the site apart from run-of-the-mill planning sites: editorial independence. Suppliers may pay to participate in the site, but they are not exempt from bad reviews from BiZBash reporters. There is even a “bad ideas” folder describing things not to do when running an event in New York City.

Will BiZBash expand beyond Manhattan? A cross-promotional deal recently made with with mpoint.com (aka PlanSoft) suggests that it will. Watch this space!