An Awards Tale by Carolyn Mason, Senior Event Manager at Merlin Events London

Once upon a time in a place called ‘Pre-recession London’ companies would go all out on big Awards Dinner Dances. The champagne flowed in a never ending bubbly stream and guests all knew they needed to knuckle down for the long night ahead; 3 courses of the finest cuisine from top London caterers would be served while the nominees desperately tried to stay slightly compos mentis in preparation for the awards presentation. Coffee and Petit fours served and guests desperately downing cups of caffeine to sober up a bit!

Then started an hour of dramatic awards production with swirling moving lights with corporate gobos scanning the room and emphatic anthems such as Heather Small ‘Proud’ crying out of the speakers as slightly tipsy winners staggered up on to the stage and received their award while the runners up sat at their tables trying to look gracious in defeat.

In response to these large production awards, Madame Tussauds was kitted out in all the highest spec production including a rig of mac moving lights, integrated LED lighting and PA system. A huge permanent stage was installed with a back projected screen and ample plasma screens installed ensuring all guests could see the action.  It made Madame Tussauds one of the easiest and highest quality awards venues in London; making it super easy for the Client to host their awards with the whole rig in situ.

Then recession hit. 

Companies were not able to be seen to be spending money on such lavish affairs. Even though Madame Tussauds was cost effective with all the production included, large scale Awards were not the weekly occurrence they used to be…. Until clients got clever and invented a whole new and exciting way to present awards… the ‘chilled out Awards’; it’s basically a Cocktail Party from 7-10pm with an informal stand up awards presentation as part of the evening. Guests love it! They don’t get bored and drunk waiting for the big awards ceremony to start; they get to have a fun event & still enjoy a high production awards presentation but in a much more relaxed way.  It works. It’s a big tick in the company’s Finance Directors box too as they have a big awards celebration on a smaller budget.  This format has been tried and tested by leaders in the Event world when Haymarket brought the Brand awards to Madame Tussauds last year.  Check out for yourself how well it worked here 

So the Recession has spawned a new dawn for Awards; may we present the Chill-out Awards!

An Awards Tale by Carolyn Mason , Senior Event Manager at Merlin Events London written on 3rd September 2013.


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