Regarded as one of the top Southeast Asian event producers, Nirjary Desai is the Chief Experience Officer and Founder of KIS (cubed) Events, specializing in one-of-a-kind event experiences with serious wow factor for renowned brands, celebrities and personalities worldwide. Born in Zambia, raised in South Carolina and educated in London, Her polycultural upbringing instilled a passion for global travel, socially conscious businesses and inclusive community building. Her worked within the hospitality and travel sector with American Airlines, IHG Hotels and Starwood Hotels & Resort and has founded several travel and hospitality industry brands and businesses.
As an expert, thought leader, and mentor, she specializes as a keynote speaker and panelist focused on: multicultural events, women in business leadership, minority and small business owner discussions, Southeast Asian influence, philanthropy, motherhood, corporate DE&I, entrepreneurship, multicultural experiences, authentic womanhood in life and business, staff and team diversity, and creating a “Seat at The Table.”
Connect with Nirjary on LinkedIn and follow KIS (cubed) Events on Facebook and Twitter.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Women in Business
- Event Industry Trends
- Multicultural Events
- South Asian Influence/Culture
- Diversity Equity & Inclusion
- Training Programs
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio. Brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s New standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:25] Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio, and this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor, Onpay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories. Today on Atlanta Business Radio, we have Nirjary Desai with KIS (cubed) Events. Welcome.
Nirjary Desai: [00:00:44] Hi Lee, How are you? Thank you so much for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:46] I am doing well. I’m so excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about KIS (cubed) Events. How you serving folks?
Nirjary Desai: [00:00:53] Yeah. So KIS (cubed) Events is actually in Luxe elevated boutique experience Event Marketing agency. We work with our clients, either personal clients or brands to help deliver and bring their mission to life in a seamless way for their events.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:12] So what’s your backstory? How did you get involved in the event business?
Nirjary Desai: [00:01:17] So it’s really interesting. You know, I never planned on being in the event industry, so totally fell into this space. My background’s in marketing and brand management, originally from the hospitality industry and travel industry. I used to work for previously known as Starwood Hotels and Resorts, now part of Marriott International, in their marketing and brand management side. And about 18 years ago, South Asians started utilizing a lot of full service properties in hotels. And you know, with my family being in the hospitality industry, I was just getting pulled into so many different aspects of the business. And for my corporate job, it was really interesting because there was a lack of cultural competency when it came to cultures, cuisines and the multicultural celebrations. So I got pulled in from that perspective, and then I saw a big void as far as like the average hotel company or property or venue or vendor suppliers that didn’t really know about a lot of different multicultural ethnic communities and their culture, their cuisine and how they celebrate in order for them to gain the market share. So I was, you know, working with friends, family. My business kind of just started from viral marketing through my own network. And it’s crazy because now here I am almost 18 years later where we’re doing stuff all over the world, but we’re also helping other businesses or entrepreneur or women owned companies or even just doing training in the hospitality industry.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:02] Now, do you find that there is a thirst for this type of knowledge and they do want to kind of immerse some of their team in these different cultures so they can really serve them in the way that they would like to be served rather than just have them pull from a menu of items that a bunch of people that aren’t them thought about in a boardroom somewhere.
Nirjary Desai: [00:03:26] Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s a big thirst. I think the other thing is where our industry overall and where our global economy is when it comes to labor or just even raw material goods and supplies and just reliability and professionalism, I think the biggest thing that we are noticing in the hospitality industry right now is. The hospitable has been kind of removed and we as our company are really trying to bring that back. You know, I think being in the service industry has been looked down upon for such a long time and now more so than ever, the industry’s lost a lot of people. So having to reeducate the current, um, market of individuals who are servicing these communities is extremely important because we want to make sure that wherever clients go, they feel included and that it’s an inclusive environment and it’s welcoming.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:32] Now walk us through what it’s like working with you. So if a client or a brand comes up to you and says, I want to do an event, do they already have that baked or is it something where they’re looking at you now they can begin thinking about what it could be or, you know, some of the trade offs they might have to make? Like what stage are they at? And the event creation stage when they first start having conversations with you or the team.
Nirjary Desai: [00:04:57] So it really varies. We have clients that come to us in the very beginning stages and then we have clients that come to us after they’ve selected a destination or a location or a site. You know, we are turnkey, so we do like the approach from beginning to end. I think it also helps kind of quality control the event from start to finish. And our clients really appreciate that because we’re really focusing on leaving no stone unturned.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:28] Now, when you are involved at the beginning, they could be coming to you with just like, Hey, I want to do this in in Maui, and then you start off from there. Or they can say, we think the theme should be whatever. And then that’s the theme. Like, like how does this kind of brainstorming in this event creation work?
Nirjary Desai: [00:05:52] Well, number one is we get to really understand our customer and our client, right. In the business that we’re in. If we’re working with a corporate client, our client is not just the marketing manager or the CMO or whatever. You know, it’s an entire team that is aligned with what the mission of the event is, right? So we really kind of go through a think tank of understanding their mission, what their goal is. Is this something that’s internal? Is this an event that’s more internal or is it more external for their customers? You know, are they trying to promote more team building? What is their goal from the event? So it’s not just like, oh, hey, give us a theme or give us a destination. It’s for us to also really understand their mission and think that’s a big part of today that’s necessary is to really understand the mission of these brands and these clients. And then if it’s a personal client, you know, that is, say, planning a destination event or a reunion or some sort of retreat or something like that, it’s really understanding, number one, what is important to them is cuisine important to them? Is logistics important to them? Is budget important to them? Because based on that, that’s what we are going to focus on as far as recommending a location or what’s going to be the right place to pick, you know.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:14] So when they have kind of an idea of the outcome they desire, then you can start narrowing down the options or giving them options that maybe they hadn’t thought of yet in order to, you know, evoke that emotion. Maybe that’s at the heart of what they’re trying to deliver.
Nirjary Desai: [00:07:32] Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s not as planning events and producing events in different parts of the world. It’s not just as simple as like, what’s your budget? What’s the destination you want to be at, you know, and like, this is.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:46] The color palette, Like, Yeah.
Nirjary Desai: [00:07:48] Exactly. We our, our processes, we do a very thorough analysis and understanding of our client. And then once they decide to move forward with us, you know, we go through a very detailed like budget meeting for them to really understand real costs, because one of the things is that a lot of customers don’t understand what the cost of doing business today is, especially if it comes down to working with different customs, different cultures, different countries.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:22] Now, when it comes to creating an event and choosing an event as a whether it’s a marketing, whether they’re doing it for a marketing purpose, maybe they’re doing it for talent, you know, keeping their talent longer, talent retention. Can you share maybe some of the like your pitch for somebody if they’re thinking of maybe taking some marketing funds and investing it in event rather than ads or investing it in other ways, or using events as a way for customer retention instead of other things.
Nirjary Desai: [00:08:55] Absolutely. Mean, number one, you know, anything and everything in marketing comes down to keeping it simple and stupid. That’s what I’d love to tell people this because I think the biggest thing is, is you have to invest in your people because when you invest in your people, they are more invested in serving your customer properly. And I think that’s a lot of, um, an area that, you know, companies are failing at because they’re so busy just looking at numbers from a scalability perspective, but not internalizing understanding everything that really goes into making the experience for the end user, whether it’s your employee or whether it’s your customer, extremely seamless. You know, we work with a lot of corporate clients who are really looking to elevate their brands, but from internally, you know, and they really are doing a lot of team building. They’re trying to do more education. You know, for example, if the client has an office here in Atlanta, but the company is headquartered, say, somewhere in Ireland, and they want to basically showcase to the team here in Atlanta what a team building day in Ireland would look like. But it would have to happen with all of the American US based employees. So, you know, we kind of help them curate, you know, the culture that is in Ireland. But here in the US through team building and through networking, but also understanding what the company’s mission and goal is.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:36] So is that a good client for you, somebody that is a global firm that has offices in the US?
Nirjary Desai: [00:10:44] Absolutely. Absolutely.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:46] So how do you kind of get on the radar for those kind of folks? How are you networking with global brands?
Nirjary Desai: [00:10:55] A lot through LinkedIn, a lot through our PR team. A lot of it also is cold calling, but most of it is relationship building. You know, thinking about it from that perspective, it all comes down to building the right relationship and understanding what is that customer, um, what are their pain points, you know, and how can you make a difference and how can you help them elevate their mission, You know, because a lot of what we’re seeing now is the cultural competency and cultural sensitivity and diversity. Equity and inclusion is a major area that companies are really trying to focus on as far as education and training is concerned. And we do offer those types of trainings. Um, you know, for example, if there’s a company that is, say, from India and they’re trying to do business in the US, we help with kind of the training of what it is to have a company in America, how the American mentality is, and then also what the South Asian customs and cultures are and how they operate and what’s important to them. So that way all parties can understand what everybody is trying to get into.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:12] Now, can you share a story? Don’t name the company, but maybe explain the challenge that they had in that regard and how you were able to help them get to a new level here in the US.
Nirjary Desai: [00:12:22] Yeah. So we actually are, for example, where we’re working with a company out in Mexico, you know, right now. And they are really kind of focused on understanding culture for the South Asian community because they are what we call a destination management company, right? And they are losing a lot of business due to not understanding customs or being able to communicate clearly with the client. So we’re basically going in and creating a custom training for them that’s specific to their service that they offer and to their business. But in order for them to be able to. Fuze um. The similarities between their culture and the South Asian culture, right? Especially if the customers are coming from the US and wanting to work with a company in Mexico if they were doing their events there.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:23] So what do you need more of? How can we help you?
Nirjary Desai: [00:13:27] Yeah, we are. You know, we are definitely looking to help any company that is looking to build their cultural competency and understand multicultural clients and how to do business in different parts of the world, but along with also how to build diverse teams. And what exactly is diversity, you know, when it comes to teams. So we would love to partner with businesses and companies that are looking to train and grow from that thought leadership perspective.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:58] So if somebody wants to learn more, have a more substantive conversation with you or somebody on your team, where should they go?
Nirjary Desai: [00:14:04] They should go to our website and which is kiss cubed events.com. Or they can connect with me directly on LinkedIn because we are really focusing on elevating excellence in the hospitality industry and the service industry.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:21] And that’s Kiss Cubed Events.com and that’s kiss cubed events with an s.com.
Nirjary Desai: [00:14:30] Yes, sir.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:31] Well, thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Nirjary Desai: [00:14:36] Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:39] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see y’all next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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