Later on in the month of May, I was told there was an event in Washington DC I should go on, with event planner Dan Smith and Randy Mellon. What an experience….
So we were flying to do an event for another corporate client which was décor only, and for 3000 people. We flew on Virgin America, which has great moody lighting, touch screen entertainment system and a chair which was more comfortable than my bedroom! So after a very comfortable flight we landed in America’s capital Washington DC… well not to make this an anticlimax but it was wet… wet and miserable. I thought we landed back in Wales!? The only thing missing was the sheep.
Anyway, we then arrived at our hotel, which can only be described as a MASSIVE greenhouse. It was the Gaylord National hotel, and man it was nice. The shape of the hotel from a bids eye view was a H, and covering over the front empty part of the H, was a glass atrium, with plants, birds, bars, restaurants. This place was very nice indeed. At this point I was thinking “man I work too hard”
So by the time we arrived, checked in, got shown to our rooms, we realized we had to get to work. After all that’s what we were there to do….? So straight to the bar we went, where we discovered Loose Canon IPA… not the friendliest of beers. However a discovery was made that night… having an accent works. It really does! As soon as people hear you say “hello” they immediately want to know more! Drinks, numbers, advice… all because I have an accent. I LOVE THIS PLACE! Needless to say this frustrated Randy because no one would give him any attention…
The next morning it was genuinely time to work, so we went to meet with the corporate organizers to see where we needed to set up for the event, what we can do to make it work for both the client and Good Gracious! It was interesting from my perspective to see the discussions take place. Meaning I could see where the compromises were, I could see what both parties wanted to achieve, and see what our roles will be within this event.
As I mentioned the event was décor only, so Dan had all the linens and other materials delivered prior to our arrival. We then spent the day trying to prep ourselves as best we can, so it makes our job easier for setting up the main event. The preparation included the moving of materials in the right places so we didn’t have to the day of the event, unpack-aging anything and everything and any custom design that needed doing. All this proved beneficial later on.
The day of the main event then arrived, and it was time to hustle and work. Again this was a very interesting process to watch evolve. How an empty ballroom, turns into an amazing event venue, and how different parts contribute to making this happen. Such parts include the lighting people, the hotel staff, the entertainment and of course Good Gracious! We all had to communicate and work together in order to achieve the same goal.
It was important for me to see, take part and understand what was going on. For instance laying out all the tables and chairs, and understanding WHY they were placed so specifically. I know this is what might be seen as an insignificant detail… BUT YOU’D BE WRONG! Dan took the time to explain to me why he was doing what he was doing, why he chose the colors, the style, down to every detail. The tables and chairs affect the flow of foot traffic, effect queues at bars, focus attention on a specific area where there might be entertainment. All these things have to be thought about.
To conclude, this event was a great success. The room looked great, and we had nothing but positive feedback from the client. This of course meant a celebratory drink was in order, so off to “work” down at the bar.
KEY LEARNING POINTS
• I will gladly stay in a Gaylord National hotel again
• I will gladly fly virgin America again
• Prepare as best you can to make it easy on yourself
• Compromise with other vendors and your client
• The English accent can get you what you want! (ish..)