Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to plan a variety of events offering innovative event ideas. I thought I would share one of my top ten favorite events.
When I was employed as an event planner for Sage Communications, I was hired by a foundation to design, plan, and execute an event geared towards the young professionals who actively support the arts. The strategic objective of the event was to engage young professionals in the DC metropolitan area. The foundation wanted to create a lasting memory in the attendees’ minds and establish the fall event as the “party to go to”, thus increasing the foundation's visibility within young professional community. Through this event, the foundation would begin to build its base and would start the process of establishing a core group of young professional advocates, supporters, and donors.
The event was definitely not the average cocktail party or reception. It raised the bar and pushed the limits. It added a level of attractiveness, style, and intrigue. The theme was film noir (40's & 50's stylish crime film genre) and the venue was a historic home in the heart of Georgetown.
The COO of the foundation had the brilliant idea to stage a live murder mystery throughout the house as guests arrive. Guests did not know who was in character and who was not. Multiple people "died" over the course of the night, with the last murder taking place via a loud gunshot. During this time, guests were also enjoying hors d'oeuvres from some of the hottest restaurants in DC, listening to an amazing pianist and 40's themed singer, partaking in a whiskey tasting, lining up to be served the flaming craft cocktail served outside, taking 40's themed pictures with props in an awesome photo booth, and exploring the many rooms of the house that were transformed to match the theme.
As the murder mystery ended, we found out who did it, and the standard thank you remarks were made, guests were surprised to see flashing headphones in the ballroom. Everyone rushed over to learn more. We announced dancing would begin in the ballroom as the DJ's speakers suddenly went silent. People wondered if the speakers failed. The flashing colors of the headphones were so intriguing everyone eagerly grabbed a set. As each person put the headphones on, they found the DJ's music was loud and clear.
We introduced silent disco to Washington, DC! The ballroom had approximately 100 guests dancing and the only sounds coming from the ballroom were off-key singing and heels hitting the dance floor. The DJ's music was wireless transmitted to headphones. Even better, people could walk through the house and outside in the gardens still listening to the music. What a sight, to see a couple with headphones on rocking out in the garden as others were quietly talking and enjoying cigars.
The event was a hit! Silent disco helped to solidify this event as stylish and innovative. BizBash listed the event in their Event Report for 2013: 30 Ideas from Fall Benefits.
I all honesty I must admit, NO ONE thought silent disco would work. The host committee blankly stared at us when we introduced the concept, but said they would go along with it.
Lastly, I'm sure you are asking, why did we have silent disco? Well, we introduced silent disco since we had a noise ordinance and could not have amplified music past 10 pm. Silent disco allowed dancing, conversation, and fun until midnight. :)
A seasoned independent event specialist will have a significant number of vendor, supplier, and venue contacts. They know the caterer who specializes in delightful food and service the large 400 to 1000 person galas, the creative caterer who displays works of catering art, and the finest catering company to use for an intimate dinner of 10.
If you want exclusive access, an independent event specialist will deliver it! These planners have relationships with the most prominent restaurants and can secure the “hard to get reservation at the last minute”.
Want to recreate an event you saw in a magazine, your independent event specialist can do it. They know the production company (more importantly the specific tech) that provided lighting for the coveted pre-Super Bowl party. Your event will have the same lighting effect for a fraction of the Super Bowl party’s cost courtesy of your event specialist;s contacts and relationships.
Last minute requests, no problem. Independant event specialists are able to fulfill last minute requests for a specific type of chair to be used on stage for the president of your organization with only hours to spare. When a major storm hits and floods your event venue, they can quickly call another venue/hotel, coordinate a transfer of all vendor deliveries to the new space, and work with the stakeholders to communicate the changes to the guests.
Why are independent event specialists more successful in delivering these positives results? Typically an independent event specialist has worked as an internal planner for a few companies, they have had clients within a number of industries, and they have had experience planning variety of event types. All of these traits create a rather extensive and robust vendor and venue contact list.
If you have an event to plan, considering hiring Christi Rich your strategic event specialist today.