Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Satish Punjabi is the Director of Impressario Inc Pte. Ltd., an event organiser in Singapore. Satish loves the challenge of planning events and finds the process fascinating. He started his career in the corporate world, but after 20 years, he decided to take the leap and pursue event planning. He and his team specialise in weddings.
(1) What was the inspiration behind the name “Impressario” and the tagline “Impressing the Impressed?”
I was looking high and low for an apt name when I decided that I wanted to start my own event planning business. I have always had clients who enjoyed the finer things in life and have told me that they were impressed with my work. The word stuck in my head and after some Google research on different meanings and languages, the Impressario name stuck. By definition, Impressario is a person who organises and directs stage events.
The tagline was conceptualised with the thought of impressing a niche clientele of affluent personalities who know what they like and understand what it takes to leave another person impressed. It inspires us to stay humble and always aim to level up our services to deliver above and beyond our clients’ expectations.
(2) What made you want to leave your job and pursue your passion for event planning?
I have always enjoyed the creative nature of event planning. As much as I loved my previous job, sitting at a desk from 9-to-5 no longer bode me well after more than a decade. I noticed that people were constantly asking me to handle different parts of their functions, weddings – even funerals! – and I suppose I found my calling there. The idea started crystallising in my head after I planned my own wedding from scratch, and a few years after that, with the support of my family and friends, I decided to dive headfirst into running my own event management firm.
(3) Describe an Indian wedding in a word.
Busy! There’s always so much to do. And I’m not only speaking from an event organiser’s point of view. I’ve seen how parents of the bride and groom are constantly running around trying to figure something out. The couple also has a long list of things to prepare from the makeup to the outfit, and so many decisions to make. All this excites me. My team and I make it a point to not only focus on organising the events but also organising the schedules and, well, basically the lives of the important people in a wedding so everything runs smoothly.
(4) A wedding requires conceptualisation, research, bookings, selections, itineraries, confirmations and rehearsals. How do you keep on top of things and ensure every detail is taken care of?
A system has to be set in place. While I’m not a pen-and-paper man, my team is aware of the process I have in my head and rolls out the plan from the moment a couple engages our services. We have a checklist that we follow to the tee, but we’re also extremely aware of last-minute issues that always crop up. It’s essential to always be on your toes as a wedding planner – you just never know what’s coming next.
(5) What was the most challenging event you and your team planned to date?
Impressario has done events with almost 1,000 guests before but nothing prepared us for COVID-19. We had a couple who hired us to plan a destination wedding but all plans were scrapped due to the pandemic. We ended up organising and executing a pandemic wedding for them here in Singapore and boy was it hard. There were so many rules and regulations to follow, so many instructions to circulate and so many guests to turn down. Having said that, it once again served as an important reminder that anything can happen and that we’re always prepared for last-minute changes to come in. The wedding ran smoothly in the end with minimal hiccups – nothing we couldn’t handle.
(6) What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
At the end of a long wedding week, when the eyes of the couple and their parents well up with gratitude, or when the bride and groom are rendered speechless and can only hug us to thank us (pre-COVID, of course) – that’s what we live for. It’s these little moments of appreciation that make every single thing we do worthwhile.
(7) How has the event planning scene in Singapore evolved through the years?
Ideas are ever-changing. Something new always comes up. For example, since Impressario was conceptualised, we’ve had the need to change many different types of technology that we work with. It’s no more simple smoke machines. It’s now LED lights and dance floors. And this technology will keep changing. Now with the pandemic, it’s no longer just videographers, it’s a full suite of video equipment for live streaming, for instance.
(8) How badly has COVID-19 affected the events planning industry?
It’s been hard. At one point, there were zero events and that definitely burnt a big hole in a lot of event planners’ revenue generation. We’re patiently waiting for regulations to be slowly lifted, but until then, we cannot be complacent. We used the COVID-19 lockdown to work on rebranding efforts (since we finally had the time!), we even updated our website, focused on some marketing efforts, and even included a new service line to our organisation. The wheels need to keep moving.
(9) Apart from wedding planning, what other projects do you take on?
Impressario Inc Pte. Ltd. now has two brands. I Do By Impressario works on weddings – local or destination, while Impressario Concepts handles Corporate, MICE and social events – whether it’s your dinner and dance, or a birthday party. We don’t shy away from taking on any event, big or small. To us, each event is unique and has its own set of challenges that we’re ready to tackle.
(10) Who has inspired you in your life, and why?
There isn’t one single person. While I have always been grateful for my late parents for being present in my formative years, and my supportive wife, who is a constant pillar of support, I look up to businessmen who are always hands-on with their work. People who are experts in their fields are also an inspiration to me, and I admire their command of the language of their industry and the name they have built for themselves.