Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Lisa Jennings. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Alright, Lisa thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Risk taking is a huge part of most people’s story but too often society overlooks those risks and only focuses on where you are today. Can you talk to us about a risk you’ve taken – it could be a big risk or a small one – but walk us through the backstory.
There have been quite a few risks taken with regards to Wildly Different! The first was Jane and I gathering the courage to go out on our own to open the company. It was a risk to see if our fantastic friendship could even survive a partnership – everyone told us partners NEVER work. But we are blessed and have never had a fight in the 19 years we’ve been in business!
The biggest risk, however, came when the pandemic hit. Many suggested we should just shut our doors and hunker down until it passed – it would be a couple of months at most! However, we decided to go into high gear instead and transform our business. We already had a couple of virtual team building events we offered remote teams, but we didn’t even advertise them, as our core business was leading team building events in person. When the pandemic hit, we took the risk to expand our offerings from 2 virtual games to 20. We developed a totally new marketing approach to let people know we were offering virtual games. We offered free games to partners, not only to have them experience it and spread the word, but to give back and help them touch base with their internal teams during a very tough time. We worked around the clock to get this done and when we were ready…it was crickets. But, only for about a month and then the tap turned on and requests for virtual games went through the roof! We are very proud that we were able to keep ALL of our employees during a time when people in the hospitality industry were being furloughed and let go. And, our team said keeping busy helped to save their sanity during those trying times, as they were not only kept busy, THEY grew as they contributed to our success.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers?
Our company, Wildly Different, which has been in business since 2003, is a female-owned company that specializes in play-based team building events, charitable give-backs, and networking activities for corporate groups. Our mantra is “Play Outside The Cubicle.” We have a number of standard team building offerings, but where we really shine – and why we are called Wildly Different – is in coming up with custom solutions to help our clients meet their specific goals and objectives. We love that we never know what request may come in next when we pick up the phone!
Jane Schuliger and I were friends before opening the company. I have a degree in Leisure Services (a fancy name for recreation) from FSU and I created and operated fun special events for a variety of organizations ever since graduating. Jane’s background is in Marketing and she went to work after graduating from Miami of Ohio in the hospitality industry where she quickly became known for her imaginative ways to get people to fall in love with the brands she represented using fun as her approach. We met at another company we both worked for and instantly clicked. We would often have long conversations about someday putting our own spin on a company that offered team building events and one day we finally decided to make it a reality!
We love getting to play for a living and especially enjoy it when our clients – some of who were doubtful about team building, or who had a bad experience with it in the past – come back gushing about what a great time their group had. It’s one of the reasons why the company’s tagline is “Team building for people who hate team building!”
The company has created and delivered in-person team building events for groups as small as 5 on up to 3,000 people. We have also operated virtual games, even before the pandemic, with our niche being large groups (unlike many of their competitors, there is no limit to how many can participate in their games at once). Finally, we also create custom experiences for organizations that have recreation staff to operate events, but who are looking for fresh concepts they can deliver. to their guests. For instance, Wildly Different has created a number of tabletop escape room experiences and hunts for cruise lines, hotels and communities to self-implement.
Can you share a story from your journey that illustrates your resilience?
One of our favorite events that shows our resilience is the all-day, Amazing Chase-themed event we held on board for 2500 people who bought out a cruise ship to hold a meeting at sea. Our event was scheduled all day during an at-sea day. We took some pretty staid company and product content and created “wow” custom challenges that made the most of what was on the ship. For instance, teams had to rewrite lyrics to a popular song to extol the virtues of their product and perform it in the Karaoke lounge. They had to visit the sun deck and decide which yoga move they needed to do next in a sequence based on answers to product-related trivia. We had to manage all of this…but were only allowed to bring 4 people on board! We trained the client’s managers and the ship’s crew to help us deliver it all and we’re proud to say it went off without a hitch!
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
There are several things that the Wildly Different team does right that has built up our solid reputation in the market. First of all…we LOVE what we do! When you have that attitude, your passion shines through. We do all we can to deliver an amazing customer experience from the moment an inquiry comes in, to once we’ve packed up the event and beyond.
We are always lightening quick to get back to those who reach out to sales. You would think that’s an obvious thing that everyone does, but sadly, we hear from clients that it’s the exception and not the norm. We ask a lot of questions and then pay attention to the details, trying to find the perfect experience to meet the client’s goals. Once an event goes definite, our Operations team continues to deliver, ensuring all of the client’s questions about the event are answered and their expectations are not only met, but exceeded. Finally, when the event is over, we always take the time to show our appreciation and send a little gift to our clients to thank them for doing business with us.
The other thing we are well-known for is our creativity. We are constantly thinking about new experiences we can come up with and where we really shine is creating custom content that brings our client’s objectives to light in a fun way.
- Website: https://wildlydifferent.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wildly_different/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WildlyDifferentTeamBuilding?fref=ts&ref=br_tf
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/2523422/admin/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/wildlydifferent
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/WildlyDifferentUSA