Dine Brands’ Large-Scale Events

Finds a partner in GhostRanch

And so GhostRanch kind of picked up the broken pieces and put the puzzle back together for us. They created systems and workflows and timelines that were realistic for us and for our presenters. And then for those who were doing the content, they always came prepared to meetings. They gave great ideas, and found a way to kind of streamline some of our content, which could get very, very long and boring at times.

“They weren't just executing graphics, but they were invested in the brand and the storytelling and the culture.”

— Mia McMahon

Previous Pain Points?

In completing our recent projects on the conferences, we have really enjoyed working with GhostRanch over the past three years, it has been a fantastic experience for us and for our conference producers and for our content producers.

Some of the pain points we had prior to working with GhostRanch, were everything from version control, to not having the right slides when we arrived on site to, you know, the narrative being off, or one of our presenters having one slide deck that they had utilized previously. And they were trying to like merge it into a slide deck that was for conference. 

And so GhostRanch kind of picked up the broken pieces and put the puzzle back together for us. They created systems and workflows and timelines that were realistic for us and for our presenters. And then for those who were doing the content, they always came prepared to meetings. They gave great ideas, and found a way to kind of streamline some of our content, which could get very, very long and boring at times.

“The communication from the very start was flawless. ”

Was there a moment where you realized hiring GhostRanch for your events was a good business decision?

I think that there were two that stand out in my mind by way of aha moments. One of them—and this is gonna sound just so trivial, or minute, but I think it means the world to us who know—a lot of times as conferences are planned, we're so busy focusing on the logistics that there's that whole layer of, of content and general session that almost gets brushed aside while the brand is leveling up through their life strap plans. 

And so one of the things that I thought was really just refreshing was, when we first started working with Ghost Ranch, there was the asked to just get on the phone with us and talk through the brand and the culture and feeling like they weren't just executing graphics, but they were invested in the brand and the storytelling and the culture. So that initial meeting of like, show us what you've done before. Let us look at previous assets. Talk to us about like the feeling of the brand. And you know, is the style more masculine or feminine or nature II or corporate or tech or, you know, down home. And so, you know, just getting our folks to kind of start talking about how they feel. So then ghost ranch can translate those feelings into graphic presentations was was big. 

And then another thing was where I thought just alleviating things and being like, Oh, wow, they do what they say they're going to do. The communication from the very start was flawless. It was we're working on this, and we'll have something back to you by Thursday. And it wasn't like Thursday, end of day or Thursday when everybody was eating dinner at home with their families. It was like Thursday at 10am. So they delivered on promises of when they were going to get things and then that way we could kind of keep our momentum going.

Had Dine Brands ever worked with a presentation specialist before?

Yes, so dine brands Applebee's and IHOP had all worked with presentation specialists in the past. And you know, this is not to knock anybody's anybody's work at all. But I don't think that we understood that caliber and experience really says a lot when you are putting together programs the extent and nature that we're doing so, as an example, we had kind of historically used some of our production companies who have in house design teams to design the slide decks, but it felt like some of that work was flat. I would say it wasn't as as engaging as it needs to be. And they weren't like along, they were more concerned about like, tying in the whole conference together than really amplifying like that general session where we have people captured.

So was there an effect on the folks that would be using these decks?

That's a great question regarding execution. So I think what, kind of, alleviated our executives’ nerves, and instilled confidence in us using GhostRanch was the fact that GhostRanch caught it all, and made improvements before we needed to suggest it. 

Our executives are really busy, and so the reason we hire outside subject matter experts is really so you guys can lean into your talent so they can focus on their business. And so one thing that really came in handy is that, when we would be doing slide reviews, and if a change needed to be made, GhostRanch did it right away. It wasn't like, “documented the change, and went back and fixed it,” which sometimes causes misses. They fixed it right away and got that feedback right then, which just helped us not have to do multiple reviews for making multiple slide edits.

And so that was one thing where I think our executives really felt comfortable having GhostRanch have a seat at the table to weigh in on ways they could, you know, fix a slide or present a graphic for that type of thing.

What was the experience at the conference, having the rancheros on site, what was the impact of having them there in person?

Well, we love having the Rancheros on site. And that is twofold. A, because it's like, the best, most positive energetic personalities we could find. We really felt like they were a part of our conference planning team. And so it was great to have them along for the ride and have them see what their finished product is. 

And then from the more logistical side, we were making changes on site, and it happens. It's like it's, it's unavoidable. And I think having a Ranchero there with us just made sense. There were things that came up like, “Oh, we're gonna randomly announce a winner, can somebody make this slide deck?” And so rather than having like our Comms person in the back of the house, trying to like, take a slide apart and re-enter information and not have the correct fonts and this and that the other, we had a Ranchero behind the stage, you know, back there in video village who was executing, as the show was happening, changes made immediately, and having them to lean on was, I think, reassuring for our communications team, as well as our executive team.

Have you been able to use these assets in any other places across the brand? Have the slides lived beyond the conferences at all?

Some of the deliverables that GhostRanch created for us we’re consistently using, because they're part of our brand template, so we use them every day. That's, that's a very easy answer.

As for the conference deliverables, yes. We have used them in our earnings reports. We've used them when we present to our board of directors. We've used them when we've gone to outside conferences and trade shows. Or “oh, can I get that slide on development.” We've used that as like, you know, maybe a pamphlet or architecture piece for you know, future franchisees. 

So all of those items have lived on in perpetuity, in some way, shape, or form. They're referenced frequently, specifically when we need to, like, gather quick data for something like earnings or investor day, or to meet with an analyst. So we've been really fortunate to have these kind of pieces that follow us throughout the year, until our next experience in working with GhostRanch.

Accessibility of Assets

Accessible assets have been the best part of this entire plan and partnership with GhostRanch. Historically, what had happened is, you know, we'd be like sorting through emails where it was like “version 22.” And we'd need to say, “Oh, was that the last version? Or is this the final version?” And I think, the storage process, that GhostRanch brought to us was perfect and accessible, and it didn't allow for infiltrators. 

So, you know, if you're a comms person, and you're the one managing all of the decks, you're outside presenters don't have access to it to be like, “Oh, I just need to grab this slide.” And then they pull from it and delete everything. So, you know, we've held it in, you know, I would say, close within an arm's reach of our executives, but able enough to access it, when the request has come through.

Impact on Event Production Agencies

Yes, you know, what's fantastic is, we actually work with two different third party planning agencies who both sing the praises of GhostRanch. It's been, it's been just a seamless transition. And you would think, for third party planning agencies that actually have creative houses in house, you know, they wouldn't play well in the sandbox. But it has just been an extremely symbiotic relationship between GhostRanch and our third party planning agencies—specifically from the production and tech side.

I would say, because GhostRanch is able to speak the language and walk the walk, they have willingly joined our production calls. We have gone back and forth on if you would, like lingo, and they have like, weighed in on edits for graphics. Or when one of our brands recently changed the screen in the middle of production planning. And so go strange had to go back and revise all the decks, two different sizes. And it was great having both of them be a part of the process versus production, just kind of telling GhostRanch, what was happening. So GhostRanch was able to get the news right away. 

And then when we made adjustments to slides or things happen in slide reviews, those Ranch was would actively communicate with the production team just saying, Hey, we're going this avenue. Now we need to make accommodations for a video here or that. So it has been just what I think our most successful partnership with dine brands or third party agencies and GhostRanch in the eight years that I've been doing conferences at this.

What was your experience with the team's communication?

I remember when I first put in the request to work with Ghost Ranch, I heard from somebody almost immediately, and it was, “we're excited to meet with you.” And they loved our brands. And were super enthusiastic and did research before even speaking to us—which is one of my pet peeves when people reach out and want to garner business from us, and then they know nothing about the company. 

And I think just GhostRanch did their homework. And then, in that, when we started planning together, they were highly communicative. We were appointed kind of a team lead to work with each of our content people I was left, or I was also looped in our third party agencies were looped in, we had consistent meetings and calls. And then if there was need to have additional meetings, we set those up. 

They were super responsive on email, but didn't over email where it's like, wait, I can't keep track of how many emails they've sent in. It just has been like a five star experience through and through, by way of, like, having a partner who acknowledges your request, and who sends back almost exactly what you need, 100% of the time. 

And so I think from a communication standpoint, GhostRanch is far superior to what we've experienced from from other presentations, specialists.

Other opportunities

There's a lot of opportunities for anybody who would be willing to work with GhostRanch. As an example, I do hope that in the future, we can use the ancillary arm of GhostRanch and have your team help us that our craft our story, really kind of getting into the fabric of our of our companies and teaching our executives kind of how to tell the story.

So what they say, and how the slides are created are really just like, you know, pristine from start to finish.

What would you say to someone on the fence?

I would say that it's a mistake if you don't work with GhostRanch. We have just… like, leaps and bounds in improvements. From the details to the graphics processes to the logistics by having ghost ranch as part of our team. It's, it's a no brainer. It's completely worth the investment. You'll see it right away.

Distinguishing factor?

Sure, and you're probably gonna want to cut this one out of the interview. But I will say when we initially got the GhostRanch costs, like there was a bit of sticker shock in like, "oh, wow, this is expensive than we're used to investing in our programs."

But after going through the process the first year and then seeing the value in what GhostRanch provided, now it's a non-negotiable when we put together the budgets. It's worth every penny.

And one of the things that I think GhostRanch did really well is you guys gave us a budget and you stuck to a budget. You were really transparent if that was changing in some shape or form. And most of the time, if there was a budget adjustment, it was truly because of something that we had changed. And so obviously, we were willing to pay for it.

And so that's the one thing that I would say, was initially like, oh, man, like, are we going to be able to afford this? And then after we were like, that was the best investment.

So, a ringing endorsement for GhostRanch and, and knowing what it takes to put together these these large scale events.

“Having them to lean on was reassuring for our communications team, as well as our executive team.”

Another distinguishing factor

I think what another one of the distinguishing factors between GhostRanch and anyone else is just the fact that like, I feel like you guys internally are a team, and you're talking and you're respectful of like, your clients.

And we're in a unique situation here, at dine brands, where we have two brands under the same umbrella. And both of them want their own autonomy on designers and access and ghost Ranch was willing to give us the resources that our brands needed to, to feel comfortable in getting their conference taken care of.

Whereas most other agencies have been like, we've got one team of graphics, people working on this, and it's bouncing back and forth. And it's almost like a fingerprint, right? Like, everybody's graphic skills are different. You have one consistent team working on it, you they get to learn the flow of the brand, and their their graphics partner, and it just, you can tell, like, you can just tell the difference.

“Everyone should build GhostRanch into their conference budget.”

Mia McMahon

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