Awards night season is as exciting as it is daunting – putting on a great show in front of the biggest names in your industry sector is no small feat. But, execute it well, and your organisation will achieve valuable industry credibility. We’ve put together some key secrets to pulling off Award Night – and make no mistake, every detail counts.
Does your sector prefer glitz and glamour, black-tie formality or a laid back air of innovation? Are your guests young creatives, or suited hedge fund managers? How much time are they likely to have?
Answering these questions will guide all other steps in the event planning calendar, since the crowd you’re hosting will determine the best venue type, décor options and even food and drink. A sit-down three-course meal has its place, but many guests will favour networking opportunities over formality. At the same time, street food and cocktails will only work among a niche crowd. Think about your guests’ professional values – and the impressions you want to leave.
From award decisions to special dietary requirements, the decision-making process is long – so start early. Research your options and have alternatives on-hand, in case a venue cancels, or that great sound system becomes unavailable. Outline every detail, and budget accordingly – if you’re short of refreshments, or supply event programmes with low-quality design, influential guests will notice.
At the same time, avoid getting too weighed down in the details: remember the purpose of the evening is a smooth-running announcement, to recognise success. Awards show mishaps are as common as ever, and even the most experienced event managers can benefit from taking a step back in the immediate run-up to the night. Ask the most important questions: who are the winners, how will their names be stored and announced, where will they be seated and will they be present? Double-checking details like job title and organisation is always worthwhile.
A key purpose of awards evenings is to bring organisations and decision-makers together: connection is powerful, and your guests will know this. Attendees will be looking for talent and partnership opportunities – and it’s your job to facilitate talks. A cocktail reception before the event can be a great icebreaker – you can’t guarantee the key professionals will be able to stay late. Consider your seating arrangement: are tables close enough to support interaction, without appearing crowded?
Once you’ve chosen a great venue, with a clean, professional look to suit your line of business, start planning how to best use space. Reception rooms are great for greetings and refreshments – but other smaller rooms can be used for press, industry exhibitions or fun photo opportunities. These details can work wonders, creating a stimulating event that goes above and beyond expectations.
A great host or guest speaker can make all the difference to your awards event. A dull, unknown host will set the tone of the evening, but a relevant speaker with key topical knowledge will engage guests, bringing the entertainment to life. Announcing a high-profile name can set the tone for pre-event marketing, creating a perception of fun and cementing your event as a notable date on the industry calendar.