The Business Excellence Awards Gala has become not only the premier event in the Chamber’s busy event schedule, it is also the must attend event in the Waterloo Region and I’m extremely proud to say it has grown to over 900 attendees, including the area’s most respected and recognized business leaders from every industry and size.
As an event planner, I experience the event extremely different from those of you attending and enjoying the event, don’t get me wrong, I definitely enjoy the event, but very differently than how you do! The event is something that I have been focused on for months, so, as the old saying goes, I get to “enjoy the fruits of my labour”, and see all of that hard work that Teri and I have put in come to fruition.
When you arrive at the venue, we have already spent at least 16 hours on-site getting ready (see the time lapse video – coming soon) – first everything is unloaded that has been piling up in our office the past several months, chat with the production team from Sherwood Systems, check the floor plan and make sure it matches the final version with 114 tables set for a total of 912 people, ensure that tables of 10 guests have a 6’ table instead of a standard 5’ table that is set for 8 or 9 attendees, the correct number of tables in each row, is far enough back from the stage, etc; then it’s on to the actual set-up, this year that involved setting up the centerpieces (unloading a pallet of bricks that each weighed 25 pounds) than adding the mirrors, jewels and finally labeling 230 spray paint cans and placing them as table numbers and to promote the evening’s website beagala.ca. After the tables were set it was on to setting up the cocktail reception with the industrial drums (and no, they did not come that clean!) as cocktail tables and the décor around the staging. Before calling it a day, I check in with the production team and we go through several things and decide to add/change a couple of things.
When I arrive on event day, first thing is to check in with the venue as I received several additions for the list of special dietary requests and need to ensure the Chef is informed, also have a few changes to table seating where additional seats have been added or removed. Then it’s time to sit with the production team and do a run-through of the event with regards to the script (which I wrote the week after the winners were selected), the timing of the voice-overs and videos, lighting, music, etc. After everyone is comfortable with everything, it is time to greet the dancers for rehearsal and when they are finished the Pixel Performer and MC are ready for a run-through as well! While I’m busy with these details, Teri and Dana are setting up the nominee reception, the registration area, and placing the #BEAgala and @GKWCC decals on the walls around the reception and in the washrooms!
While you are enjoying a cocktail during the reception, I’m taking care of any last minute issues in the room, handing out special dietary tickets or greeting award presenters with Heather at the registration desk. Then it’s time to ensure the attendees are moving from the reception into the room so we can begin our program, I don’t want to get behind schedule this early in the event!
I bring the dance group to the side doors to await their entrance and then need to go in the room, let the MC know we are ready and then kindly ask attendees to clear the aisle and take their seats, then cue the dancers! During the opening remarks I return to the registration desk to find out who didn’t pick up their dietary ticket, ensure anyone that is going on the stage has arrived and help last minute guests find their seats.
I admit that I’m not a very good table mate to my co-workers during dinner service as I have a million things running through my mind or am away from the table thanking sponsors, congratulating nominees or talking with the production team. Once dessert is served it’s time to get the show started! Again, I let the MC know we are ready and cue the dancers.
Once the awards presentations begin, I am focused on the presentation, timing and lighting. Although we did the run-through earlier, I monitor the screens to ensure they are showing the proper videos, both on the main and side screens (it is not a PowerPoint, they are individual short videos that Crankworks has developed and we went through a couple of weeks prior to ensure the content was correct – proper logos, company names, etc). I’m following along with the script to make sure nothing is missed, watching where the presenters are standing on stage, ensuring the winning tables receive their champagne and at one point am watching a party crasher to ensure they don’t make their way to the stage (although uncommon, that was a real concern for me this year!) Once the final award has been presented, the thank you’s concluded and the MC has left the stage it is high fives for the production team, “That’s a Wrap” is announced, it’s time for the After Party and time to relax and enjoy a glass of wine with the attendees!!
For me, the event is always something in the back of my mind and I’ve been asked many times how we keep making it better every year, how we come up with the themes and the creative elements that are put into them, and honestly it is different every year where the inspiration comes from – often the ideas that we start with look very different come the night of the event. For example, the pixel performance that revealed the winners I saw in an industry magazine a couple years ago and kept on a Pinterest board, for the dance performance, last spring I was with my cousin watching a dance competition and when a group of hip hop dancers came on stage, the energy in the room was immediately lifted and I knew we had to incorporate it into the event.
We are very fortunate to have extremely supportive members and have the opportunity to meet and get to know so many of them and their businesses at other Chamber events. When Teri or I call on them to assist the event in one way or another (stage props, awards engraving, photo booth, etc) their enthusiasm to participate is overwhelming and we are always very appreciative for the support.
The 130th Anniversary of the Chamber will be celebrated at the 2017 Business Excellence Awards Gala and yes, we already have some ideas in mind!!!