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Event Management Tips: Planning for and Managing an Incident or Emergency On-Site During an Event

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In my last tip I outlined the importance of having a back-up plan when organising an event. In that post I reviewed the natural occurrences that can disrupt an event, such as adverse weather, and man-made concerns like bomb threats or terrorist activity.

In this blog I am going to discuss why it is important for Event Managers to plan for a major incident or emergency, especially in these days of terrorist attacks. It is the event manager’s responsibility to make sure all visitors and workers are not exposed to health and safety risks. This includes during the event and during the setup and takedown of the event for those who have access at those times.

The level of planning for an emergency will be dependent on the size and scale of the event as well as other factors including the degree of risk, the audience, the location of the event and its duration. A safety plan should be created that references all these aspects.

It is important to communicate all your plans with your employees and the events team during the planning. The plan should designate who is responsible for the various aspects of safety if an incident arises, as well as the communication paths and decision-making structure.

Good communication and liaison is important in order to share how risks will be controlled with the venue, management, emergency services and suppliers. It is also needed to communicate your prepared safety plan effectively.
This link gives an example of a guidance note for event organisers when producing an event emergency plan.

Planning for incidents and emergencies at an event

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Planning for Event Staff:

  • Create an event handbook
  • Know your location – understand the threats
  • Check venue security provisions are in place
  • Instigate a direct line of reporting in an emergency
  • Make sure all staff have emergency phone numbers for both event staff, venue and emergency services stored in their mobile phone contacts
  • Make sure staff know the emergency exits and first aid points
  • Confirm staff next of kin and passport details are up to date
  • Carry some cash at all times as this may be needed in an emergency
  • Download CitizenAid app on mobile phone
  • Risk Assessment: Consider the key risks, both for staff and delegates, include contingency plans to deal with situations of limited impact as well as responses to more serious emergencies
  • Produce and share emergency procedures with your staff, as well as incorporating the venue’s emergency procedures. Ensure that all relevant staff members understand what they should do in the event of an emergency, no matter what their normal working role is, including raising the alarm. Identify to them the location of exits and emergency equipment. They should know from whom they should receive instructions etc.
  • Have a pre-event briefing with all staff, show the National Counter-terrorism office video Run Hide and Tell
  • Pre-event make sure you charge phones and battery packs
  • Have radios on back-up in case the network goes down
  • Be mindful of local staff who may be affected as the incident is occurring in their local area or city

The Emergency Plan

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This should cover the following depending on the size and location of the event:

  • Mobilising onsite resources to attend and tackle the incident
  • Removing people from immediate danger
  • The management of any casualties including providing medical assistance
  • Raising the alarm and informing the public and telling staff what they need to do. It is worth having a code that you only use to tell staff there is an incident
  • Alerting and assisting emergency services
  • Incident control
  • Traffic management, including emergency vehicles
  • Controlling crowds and attendees including evacuation if safe to do so. If the incident is terrorist related you may need to instigate lock-down – follow instructions from the emergency services
  • Evacuation of disabled people and other vulnerable classes of people including children who may become separated from their parents. Plan for additional assistance requirements
  • Handing over to the emergency services where applicable
    Dealing with displaced and non-injured attendees; if in lock-down provide refreshments
  • Protecting property
  • Ensure that the plan is flexible to cope with changes in events
  • The plan for emergency situations should set out the overall framework for the initiation, management, co-ordination and control of personnel and assets in an emergency onsite

Emergency Procedures

  • Check all escape routes are available, well lit, unlocked and unobstructed
  • Appoint people to be responsible for implementing the emergency procedures in the event of an incident or emergency
  • Ensure that a clear management structure is place, identifying the key decision makers
  • Discuss plans with the police, fire and rescue service, the ambulance service, emergency planning and, for fixed premises such as stadiums and arenas, the venue management
  • Agree with the emergency services on issues such as access routes to the site, the use of any grid-referenced maps, rendezvous points, and transfer of authority for a major incident from the event organiser to the emergency services
  • Stopping the show/conference: Identify key people and initiate a show-stop procedure, communicate with presenters and attendees; have an agreed public announcement for this.
  • Evacuation – Remain calm and encourage attendees to keep calm. Work as a team. If evacuation is required direct people towards emergency exits
  • Lock-down: After stopping the conference or show direct people to a safe area within the building; explain to attendees why it is not safe to leave. Provide refreshments if required. Keep in contact with the police and emergency services regarding the situation
  • Review after the incident. If incident impact has been limited you may be able to start the show or event again. Only restart after consultation with emergency services. Make sure staff and services are ready and in position for the restart
    After an Incident
  • If evacuation proves necessary, make sure delegates are assembled in the correct holding area, check everyone is alright. Listen to emergency services for information about when to release attendees
  • If in lock down make sure attendees have refreshments, if in a hotel check whether bedrooms are available, work with the venue or hotel operations management
  • Only allow people to leave when instructed to do so by the emergency services
  • Assist delegates if they require accommodation, transportation, flights etc…
  • Have a debrief afterwards with events staff as well as venue see what went well and what can be improved upon.
  • Review incident and emergency plans for future events

Find out more
B2B Event Management Logistics Tips – Risk Assessment, Health and Safety, insurance and contingency planning

Health and Safety Executive and Excellent Government website on event safety and emergency procedures

Managing an event

Incidents and Emergencies

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Corporate reasons for having a conference

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There can be many business reasons why a company should consider having a conference, and events are an important part of the marketing mix.  Listed below are some marketing reasons for holding a conference or seminar that a company or organisation may use to promote.

Reasons for a conference could be:

  • A medium for passing on information, specifically for new products and services
  • Internal communication to employees regarding internal information, such as training, boosting morale, making announcements, launch a new culture
  • Used by associations to network and educate their members
  • Yearly or quarterly way to communicate with their sales force, partners or distributors
  • A forum for discussing world issues or topical subjects

An example of benefits for the business client to attend a software companies conference or seminar

  • Excellent communication forum for the end user, ability to meet senior managers from the corporation,  to get advise, discuss business propositions, get answers straight from the software engineers, product developers
  • Ability to fast track communications to the highest level
  • Good for the client to feel that they are having an impact on the future direction of the company and its products in relation to their requirements
  • Excellent for networking and meeting other users and hearing their business experiences, share ideas, solutions to problems
  • Good for education and increasing knowledge of the products and business environment
  • The event enables the attendee to build up a picture of the quality of the company products or services

Benefits from the Companies perspective

  • One of the marketing vehicles for increasing regular communications with both current, new and potential customer
  • A platform enabling the company to know the client better and understand their business needs for the portfolio of products and services that they are developing
  • Make the customer feel that they are being listened to and giving the company first hand research into the future product direction
  • Excellent PR opportunity to made customer feel important and build on loyalty and customer relationship by sponsoring a drinks reception and dinner
  • Good opportunity to get the TPV/Resellers involved promoting the companies products and making them more involved with the clients, as well as strengthening the business alliance
  • Opportunity to increase sales of products with users through workshops demonstrations
  • Event feedback should be measured against the objectives to understand the bench mark for the next event.  All events should be reviewed and measured to see if it has been a good marketing vehicle for ROI, and how to improve on future events.

Exhibition and Tradeshow Review of ROI

Following on from the last blog on Exhibition and and Tradeshow review and follow-up where we reviewed the logistics, sales lead follow-up plus feedback and analysis.  We will now look at reviewing the original objectives to see if the ROI was achieved.

ROI (Return on Investment)

  • Review your ROI by looking at your original objectives for attending the trade show and see if they were met. If this included a sales target it may take some time before you can determine how successful the show was at generating revenue.
  • The two primary reasons for exhibition performance measurement are
  • To justify the investment.
  • To gather information to make your investment more profitable.
  • A good measurement system can help you determine whether you should continue exhibiting at a specific show, and if so to what extent. It can help you identify your exhibit program’s strengths and weaknesses. It can also provide benchmarks for comparing different shows you that have exhibited at, and measure what your exhibition return was for the current year when compared to last year’s show. You can even look at how your marketing budget spent on trade-shows compare to other sales and marketing media. If you’re going to win the game of exhibiting you must have a score keeping process.

There is a very good article by Jefferson Davis of Competitive Edge which is available on the Internet in a number of places including:

http://www.ewea.org/offshore2011/fileadmin/eow2011_documents/exhibition/9_Exhibit_Measurement_Made_Easy_How_to_Measure_Exhibiting_Results_and_Return_on_Investment.pdf

The article outlines six basic measurements that almost every company should be measuring:

  1. Return on Objectives: What specific goals were you pursuing and what progress did you make toward those goals?
  2. Exhibit Budget versus Actual: What was your total exhibiting budget and what did you actually spend?
  3. Post-show Sales Written: How many orders and what was the total value of orders written after the event? Ideally, you should measure post-show sales at the 90 and 180 day points, unless you have a very long sales cycle. Also take into consideration the frequency of the show.
  4. Quantity and Quality of Leads: How many leads did you capture? How many were A – B – C leads? What is the estimated total sales potential of the leads?
  5. Cost per Lead: What was your cost per lead? Divide total number of leads captured by total show investment to determine this number.
  6. Cost per Interaction: What did it cost you to generate a face-to face contact? To determine this number simply multiply your total lead count by 2.4. This will give you a pretty accurate method way of determining your total booth traffic. Then divide total show investment by estimated total booth traffic.

These six basic metrics are by no means all that could and should be measured, but they are a very solid starting point. They will give you a very good picture of whether you are winning the game of exhibiting.

There is one final metric that all exhibitors should attempt to measure – the elusive exhibiting Return on Investment. To determine ROI accurately you must first be able to track at-show and post-sale revenue. Once you have that, simply follow the formula below.

Here is a Return on Investment example:

Total post-show sales from exhibit leads:                250,000€

Less cost of sales or gross margin:                             -190,000€

Equals Gross Exhibit Profit                                         60,000€

Less Exhibiting Costs:                                                    20,000€

Equals Net Exhibit Profit:                                           40,000€

Net Exhibit Profit 40,000€/Exhibit Costs 20,000€ = 200% ROI

Track the trade show organisers analysis of the show number and type of attendees to check whether this might be a show you would like to continue to attend.

You now have the basis for having the analysis and justification for exhibiting and also for participating in future exhibitions.

 

Exhibition Review and Follow up part 1

Completion of an Exhibition

Your exhibition at a trade show has now finished and there are certain steps you should complete before the whole project is wrapped up.

Logistics

Hopefully the stand or pop-up, all the equipment, literature and give-aways have been carefully packed and returned to office or place of storage.

  • Check that all items have been returned.
  • Unpack boxes where literature needs to go back on the rack or in the literature cupboard.
  • Assess how many give-aways you have left and, if they will be required for your next exhibition, keep record of the number. Order replacement stocks as required.
  • Check that the pop-up has been correctly stored in its box or container and note any breakages or things that need to be fixed before next show.

Sales Lead Follow-Up

The same process should be used for both paper lead forms and leads collected from a scanner in the form of data files.

  • Review leads and grade each according to their urgency, for example as hot prospects or as courtesy follow-ups.
  • Arrange a meeting with all sales personnel and sales management regarding the leads and allocate the leads to appropriate representative or product team.
  • Follow up leads with the required action, for example send out an email or letter thanking attendees for visiting the stand or showing interest in your company, send out literature as requested, or follow up by phone to arrange a meeting etc.
  • Track results.
  • Remind all stand personnel to make sure that any business cards collected are input into the sales database or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system so that they are updated with relevant information.

Feedback Follow-Up and Analysis

  • Send out a feedback form asking stand personnel for their feedback on specific aspects to do with the trade show that you are interested in and also ask them how they felt it went overall. Ask for any suggestions for improvement etc. Once you have the feedback forms returned analyse them for any learning points or actions required.
  • Follow up with a debriefing meeting for all stand staff and sales and marketing personnel, so that they can share findings and discuss how to improve exhibit performance for the next show.
  • Track the trade show organiser’s analysis of the show attendees by number and type to check whether this is a show you would like to attend again.
  • Review lead contact details and analyse their job titles and profiles to check whether this is a show where the people with the appropriate job roles you want to reach are attending.

The next blog will include reviewing the original planned objects and follow up ROI

Exhibition on-site logistics tips

On-Site Logistics

Build-up – Arrive during the build of the stand. Prepare the stand for display with any graphics, audio visual equipment, furniture in position, hardware, brochures, give-aways, catering etc.

  • Store any additional travel boxes with stand builder or in exhibition storage area.
  • Check all boxes and items have been delivered to the stand or collect them as required.
  • Prepare and give to company representatives and exhibitors their stand roster schedule. Make sure that you have the right combination of expertise on the stand at all times and that you have scheduled meal and coffee breaks.
  • Let all staff know who is the official company spokesperson should you have press coming to the stand.
  • Inform staff of any competitions and how they work, and how the lead forms are filled in and processed.
  • Perform a practice run with all equipment to check it is working. Rehearse any presentation.
  • Inform staff who is in charge of the stand and what each person’s role and responsibilities are.
  • If press packs are required deliver them to the press centre.
  • Re-confirm any booked meeting rooms.
  • Re-confirm times, places and staff attending any hospitality events such as parties, drinks receptions and dinners.

Logistics during Show

  • Before the show opens make sure that you arrive first before the opening of exhibition hall so that you can unlock the office and storage areas and make sure that everything is ready and working before the tradeshow opens.
  • During the show check the stock levels of give-aways, display literature and catering.
  • Make sure that staff do not put all their coats and bags in the back office rather than in the cloakroom where they should be.
  • Make sure that you or another designated person is allocated the responsibility for turning equipment off or locking up at the end of the day.
  • At the end of the day run through any logistics for the next day and identify any problems experienced and communicate what can be done better. Then unwind with staff informally.
  • Take plenty of photos of stand during the show.
  • Collect leads and, if appropriate, make sure that those back at the office prepare any follow up that is required.

Close of Show logistics

  • Allocate duties and responsibilities to staff regarding the close of show and tear down. Debrief staff.
  • Collect any storage boxes.
  • Clearly label any boxes that are returning to the home office.
  • Make sure items from the stand are packed securely and put away. Use your inventory check list for this.
  • Arrange for the transportation of any boxes. If items are being collected by the stand builder make sure that they know which these are and confirm when you expect them back in the office.

In the final tip we will be outlining follow up process from the exhibition and feedback.

Use Your Events Budget for a Corporate Christmas Charity Event

It isn’t just the endless TV re-runs of Scrooged pricking the corporate conscience that makes Christmas the optimum time for charitable giving – although many companies actively seek out opportunities to demonstrate corporate responsibility throughout the year, Christmas really is the time which really brings out the best in businesses, and their employees.

So, as well as setting aside some funds for an employee event to celebrate the festive season, Christmas could also offer your company the chance to spend some of the events budget on the gift of giving for the wider community. What’s more, by incorporating a little corporate social responsibility into a Christmas team event, you’ll be promoting additional goodwill to your employees, something which is certainly relevant to the budget and the time of year!

Making sense of corporate social responsibility

But why is corporate social responsibility important? At its most basic, corporate social responsibility involves the conducting of business in an ethical way which recognises the impact of the business (activities, production, location etc) at social, economical and environmental levels, and locally, nationally or even internationally.

As such, it is something which is not only important but highly relevant to all businesses, big or small. Demonstrating sound practices in corporate social responsibility openly and transparently – including sharing it with both staff and customers – goes a long way towards building a sound business reputation and trust in the company or brand.

Of course, corporate social responsibility within the business itself can take many forms, for example: such as through Fair Trading, ethical sourcing of components or carbon-neutral manufacturing, but many businesses fall short of demonstrating recognition of their social responsibility, particularly within the local community. Supporting a local charity as part of a corporate event is another way to share the responsibility and allow both employees (and possibly clients) to be involved in the company’s local area and some of the ‘greater good’ that the company is doing.

Best benefits?

The purpose of charitable acts is of course to support a cause, whether this is through raising funds for, or raising awareness of, the cause itself. However, when supporting a charity at a business level, there are plenty of additional benefits to all of those involved:

  • Team building: Nothing brings even the most disparate of teams together like a charity event and including work teams into a Christmas event offers a real chance for teams to bond as individuals, explore their own strengths and weaknesses on an ‘alternative’ task and is a great exercise in working together for a common goal which actually supports someone else.
  • Publicity and PR: Being involved with the charity sector is excellent for public relations and demonstrates dedication to local community, regional, national and international issues or concerns. Any publicity and marketing for the event also particularly benefits charities by raising public awareness of their existence, the work they do and the support that they offer. This is often of most benefit to small charities which cannot afford to pay for publicity themselves.
  • Employee retention: Loyalty, value and worth are all qualities which employees need to feel from the management, in order to pride themselves on their role in the company and the work they undertake. Offering employees the chance to demonstrate their worth by getting involved in something fun and giving (on work’s time) is a great way to bring staff together and help them to recognise how much the company values the work they do, in the context of valuing and supporting a charity or good cause. The goodwill generated from this kind of event can increase employee satisfaction and the potential for employees to stay with the company in the longer term.
  • Communication: Working together on a group task, and in support of a charity, is a great way to break down communication barriers and enhance specific skills, such as participation, instruction giving and following. For teams which mostly work virtually, physically working together can establish an additional communication bond and allow participants the opportunity to experience new ways of working and a greater understanding of each other’s’ skills and strengths.
  • Another goal, another role: One of the key things about plopping the team into a completely different activity with an alternative, neutral goal in mind (ie: the charity or the event task rather than the business) is that everyone gets the chance to take on a different role. Those who would normally lead the team can contribute to the performance from within the team, whilst another person can take a role in organisation and delegation of tasks. This is training at its most alternative and fun, which also offers plenty of scope for follow-up in appraisal.

Of course, it’s all very well seeing what can be achieved from demonstrating a bit of corporate social responsibility at Christmas, but what kind of events could your company put on to help achieve this?

Santa fun run

Paying for employees to take part in a charity Santa run (including the fees and the paid time off to participate) can be great for morale, as well as fitness. Supporting staff with a training schedule and even group sessions from a personal trainer can demonstrate your investment in their success (and health) and can also help to revive stalling production and employee motivation, as well as raise cash for charity.

Christmas Bake-Off

Hosting a Christmas bake-off is a great way to get teams working together creatively and in one of the most trending ways currently. Bakers from all levels of business are mixed together to face the same challenges as the candidates from the popular BBC show, including Masterclass and technical tasks. As well as the fun of participation and treat-based production, sessions end with the bakers choosing to sell off the baked goodies, donate them to a local charity or ensure they are well received as birthday cakes for a needy family, as organised by Free Cakes UK.

Christmas build-a-bike

Team building and charitable giving combine with the challenge of putting together high quality bikes, which can then be donated to the team or company’s chosen charity. The team don’t need to be engineers, just willing and up for the challenge of acquiring the parts and materials before all working together to build a bike for charity. For additional fun, competing teams can be pitched against each other to finish first and then pass-on the know-how to other teams before everyone passes on the bikes to the chosen recipients.

Charity Treasure Hunting

There isn’t much which is more festive than London’s Christmas lights and Team Tactics offers the opportunity to complete this challenge against the seasonal sights of London’s city scenery. Charity treasure hunts involve a style modelled on the frantic searches of The Apprentice, with plenty of chances for teams to hone skills and share a great day out, all whilst raising funds for charity.

Whatever your corporate Christmas calendar holds, extending the events budget to include something completely different like a charity event can be a great way to demonstrate your social awareness and thank your teams – and local charities – for all their hard work throughout the year.

Guest Blog from Team Tactics Ltd

 

Guest Blog: How to pick the perfect giveaway for your event

Swags gotta have swags!

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If you’re anything like me, and by that I mean cheap and love freebies, you would relate marketing events and fairs to a shopping trip for practical stuff you’ll need for the coming year or so. When I’m at such events, I’m usually also on the lookout for freebies I can get concrete use out of. Swags such as pens, notepads and T-shirts are very common at events and for good reason – they’re things everyone needs on a daily basis. In other words, they’re practical. But practical as they are, you don’t always have to go for the same old pens and T-shirts. If you prefer to stand out, you could opt for more creative giveaway ideas.

The basic aim of a swag is to lure event-goers to your stand. That’s the very first step to getting people interested in what you’re offering. Hook them in with a good freebie and proceed from there. From the point of view as a freebie-consumer, you could have the most mundane and mainstream product/service and your stall could be the dullest one in the entire event hall. But if you’ve got an attractive-enough giveaway, I’m making a bee-line for you.

The last event I’d gone to was a work fair some two months ago and while I was looking forward to seeing what job offers there were out there, I was personally more excited about the freebies. They definitely fulfilled their aim of luring me to the different job stalls as I managed to score a number of interviews. But I was perhaps a little over-excited about the freebies which may have compromised my composure during the interviews!

When it comes to choosing the perfect giveaway, you could always go safe or go for something less conventional. With so many options for you to choose from, it can be rather overwhelming. Here’s one easy tip to follow – swags needs to have swag. Given that I’ve never had a green thumb nor been a fan of flowers, a great example of what your giveaway (from my point of view) shouldn’t be like is a pot of flower. The best swag should satisfy the basic criteria of being practical, light, small and easy to print on and cost-effective. A pot of flower is simply the exact opposite of these.

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What the perfect giveaway should be

Practical

A pot of flower sits in the corner of the room and serves no purpose besides taking up space. Plus, I’d have to water it every day – what a chore!

This is key. Items such as T-shirts, pens and thumb drives (they could only be 512mb and I’d still take them in a heartbeat) fair well as popular giveaways for this very reason. They’re items people can use over and over again. I’ve been using pens I got from such fairs for as long as I can remember and in fact don’t even remember the last time I actually bought one.

Light & small

Imagine lugging a pot of flowers all around the fair and on the bus/train home. Sure, it could make for a good conversation starter but I’d very much just prefer a photo of it, thanks.

Nobody, not even freebie-loving me goes to an event with a huge bag with which I can fill freebies. That’s just a tad bit too excessive. That being said, a giveaway needs to be small and light enough in order for it to be practical enough to be taken away.

Easy to print on

Hey let’s print our logo on this petal and have it wilt and fall! No.

If you haven’t already figured this out, your primary purpose of having a stall at a marketing event is to – duh – market your brand! The whole purpose of giveaways is to *drumroll* give away an item by which event-goers will remember you. And if your brand or logo isn’t indicated on the giveaway, chances are that nobody’s going to remember where they got the swag from.

Cost-effective

Forget the pots, flowers are expensive enough – ask anyone with a girlfriend.

You’re guaranteed to be the most popular stall in the event hall if you’re giving away a trip for two to Las Vegas as a promotional item. But unless you’re also harvesting bills or Bill Gates from your pots of flower, that’s obviously unfeasible. Since you’re going to be giving away these items for free, you have to consider the trade-offs. It’s important to not go overboard. Set a strict budget and stick to it.

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Another great example of a good giveaway is food. It’s practical in the sense that it satisfies hunger, is a light snack and small enough to fit in your stomach. That’s unless, of course, what you’re giving away is free steak in which case does not satisfy criteria #4. I remember being so hungry at the job fair that I was absolutely famished by the time I got to the PepsiCo booth. I needed to satiate my hunger and drown out the dreadful melodies being churned out by my stomach juices. That resulted in my shameless munching on Doritos as I was speaking to the PepsiCo representatives – probably why I didn’t get the job. But hey at least I got a free bottle of Mountain Dew after – score! Kinda.

Other items I picked up from the fair include this four-coloured-inked pen and heart-shaped notepad. They do satisfy the criteria of a good giveaway but given that I already have loads of pens and notepads lying around at home from previous fairs, I haven’t had much use for them just yet.

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Hands down my favourite giveaway from the job fair is this tote bag from Estrella Damm’s stall. Given that many supermarkets are now charging consumers for plastic bags, this is an extremely handy item. You’re saving money as well as the Earth! Plus, it can be used to carry all the other freebies from the other stalls, unless someone inadvertently picked up a pot of flower. It’s also simple and versatile enough design that I’d carry it on a regular day out as well. In fact I loved it so much I took a second one when everyone had their backs turned – or so I thought. Suffice to say, I didn’t get this job either!

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In a nutshell (just FYI nutshells don’t make for good giveaways), the main purpose of a freebie is to market your product/service. You want your presence to be felt everywhere. Think of a marketing event as a point where you disseminate information regarding your brand. You’re there to promote yourself and besides networking and chatting with event-goers, another way to do that is through these freebies.

Have you ever seen anyone give away a pot of flower as a freebie? Have you ever shamelessly stuffed your face with food giveaways? What’s the favourite giveaway of yours that you’ve taken? What are some of the most unique freebies you’ve seen around? Do share some of your freebie stories with us!

AUTHOR BIO
Lin’s an all-rounder in terms of physical shape. Her weekly schedule revolves around Printsome, football and abhors cutting her nails.

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