Scottsdale is a posh oasis for those seeking a relaxing getaway for business or pleasure. The city is best known for its many beautiful and elegant Southwestern style resorts and spas, as well as the golf courses nestled harmoniously within the desert and mountain foothills. Downtown Scottsdale also boasts a vibrant art scene with more than 100 galleries, restaurants, and upscale shopping. For those seeking a taste of the old west, the "Old Town" neighborhood in downtown Scottsdale features rustic saloons and shops. But let's take a moment to dive deeper into Scottsdale and see some of the gems it has to offer.
Tours and Activities
Get ready for some thrills as you're transported into the heart of the Tonto National Forest on the Four Peaks Trail. Feel the adrenaline as the Hummer conquers the intense desert terrain as you learn about the wildlife and plants that inhabit this majestic landscape. There are no dead ends in this Hummer!
Move 'em on, head 'em up, head 'em up, move 'em out...keep them doggies rollin' through the Sonoran Desert on a cattle drive with real cowboys! Ride your horse at the back of the pack and take in the scenery, or ride up front with the cowboys and keep those cows on the straight and narrow! Regardless of where in the group you land, you're sure to leave the trail a happy camper.
Cosanti is part art studio and part architectural experiment with the landscaping highlighting what is possible in the desert. Paolo Soleri was a colorful and passionate Italian architect who first came to Arizona in 1947 as a student of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Soleri became known for his work on bridges, but his passion was creating frugal, self-sustaining cities. He spent his life working toward that vision and developed a concept he termed arcology (architecture + ecology). Soleri and his wife moved to Scottsdale in 1956 and founded Cosanti as their home and studio.
Cosanti—which means "Before (or Against) Things" in Italian—was a living experiment for Soleri's vision, and he resided there until his death in 2013. Soleri created earth-formed concrete structures, with domes that seem to defy gravity, and a space that has a bit of an otherworldly feel.
Soleri is probably best known for his beautiful hand-poured bronze wind-bells, and the Cosanti Foundation continues to create more than 50,000 bells each year. While wandering the grounds, you'll be mesmerized by the rhythmic sound of all the bells. There are bronze pouring's daily, which is quite the sight to see.
Taliesin West is located in the beautiful Sonoran Desert in Northeast Scottsdale. Frank Lloyd Wright began building this desert masterpiece in 1937 as his personal winter home, studio, and architectural campus. The facility currently functions as the winter homes, studios, workshops and offices of the 70 architects, staff members and students associated with the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and Taliesin Associated Architects.
On your tour of this National Register of Historic Places site, you'll experience Wright's brilliant ability to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces first-hand. The living quarters and the dramatic Taliesin West "Garden Room" are some highlights, as well as the living room that was the social gathering place for Wright and the many famous guests he entertained. Walk through his Cabaret Theater, Music Pavilion, Seminar Theater and Wright's private office—all linked by dramatic terraces, gardens, and walkways overlooking the rugged Sonoran Desert—and see for yourself how the site amplifies the desert's natural beauty.
The Sonoran Desert boasts some of the most magnificent views and sunsets in the world; a truly unforgettable and picture-perfect experience in the middle of the desert. People from all around the world are continually in awe when viewing the beauty of the natural landscape and standing among the towering and majestic centuries-old Saguaro Cacti. The splendor of this land combined with an Arizona sunset gives a perfect mix of vibrant colors, unique landscape, and breathtaking views that sets the scene for the kind of incredible experience only Arizona can bring. From large in-ground fire pits, a dance floor, and a band-shell, this unique venue is a blank canvas for events from Western, Native American, casual, upscale, modern, and more. The possibilities are endless!
G Collection is an extraordinary venue that offers a unique entertainment and dining experience unparalleled anywhere in the world. The focal point of the venue is its classic automobile collection, which is surrounded by a fascinating array of antiques and rare, historically significant antiquities. This space serves as a full restoration shop for the collection as well as a multi-room, multi-layered event experience.
Enter the Automotive Museum, home to some of the rarest cars in history, and see your reflection in the spotless, handmade Zagato-bodied cars from the 1950s and 1960s. The Lounge area features a hand-painted bar top created by using automotive paint, high tops, and booths for guests to enjoy drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and dancing. Move through a private game room featuring classic interactive video games to the fabulous Barn Room, where a collection of all original, unrestored cars awaits you.
"The Duce" is where Prohibition meets produce...well, at least in the late 1920s it did. The building is a warehouse that once anchored a bustling produce district during the day. Yet at night, duce, vice, jazz and other not-so-clean fun would take over. Today, The Duce offers a variety of retro recreation games such as ping pong, duce bag, shuffleboard, and foosball. Though let's not forget the full boxing ring, 1915 Chicago soda fountain, and trailer-made food reminiscent of mom's 1960s kitchen—all made from scratch.
La Puesta del Sol is Spanish for "The Setting Sun," and you'll see how this space earned its name right from the start. Stunning 360-degree views from La Puesta's incomparable vantage points, perched atop a cactus-dotted mesa, provide unlimited vistas of Arizona's spectacular sunsets. Try a mouth-watering BBQ menu paired with country music and cowboy games and experience an "Arizona Luau" like no other.
Ready to discover everything the Scottsdale area has to offer? Contact our
Hello! Arizona team for more information about these and other activities, tours, off-site events, dine-arounds, transportation, on-site themed events, and more!
"Work-Life Balance" seems to be the new buzzword of the last few years, and why shouldn't it be? We all struggle to fit the puzzle pieces of career, family, friends, and personal time together. The Hello! family is no different, and we were curious as to what steps our team takes on their road to achieving work-life balance. This month, we're interviewing two of our young professionals to get their insights while also hearing from two of our working moms. First, let's take a quick moment to meet our panelists:
Melissa GermainHello! Florida (Central) Account Executive
Melissa came to us in 2012 shortly after earning her bachelor's degree in Event Management with a minor in Hospitality Management from UCF's Rosen College. An active member of the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), she has served as a leader on the organization's student advisory board. In her free time this Florida native likes attending Orlando Magic basketball games, scrapbooking and volunteering with the Salvation Army.
Autumn HotenHello! Nashville Account Executive
Texas native Autumn Hoten graduated from Louisiana State University before joining Hello! Texas in 2016 as a Sales Coordinator. In just over a year she transferred to the Hello! Nashville office, first as an Account Manager, and later being promoted to an Account Executive. Autumn is passionate about being organized and creative, having good relationships, and communicating effectively. At home, she loves spending time with her one-eyed toy poodle named Kenzie Marie.
Romy LindeHello! California (Southern) Director of Sales
Born in San Diego, Romy brought her deep knowledge of the local scene and 15 years of experience to Hello! in 2017. Romy's wide-ranging experience gives her great insight into the hospitality industry. Her goal is to make her clients, vendors, and employees happy while also producing the best events possible. She enjoys working out and traveling with her husband, son, and daughter. A happy and outgoing member of the Hello! family, Romy has an eclectic taste in music, listening to everything from Coldplay to Justin Bieber.
Brianna MoodyHello! Arizona Senior Account Executive
Brianna brings more than 11 years of industry experience to the Account Executive role and a thorough understanding of the event management process from start to finish. Described as compassionate and determined, Brianna loves staying connected to the event community. As an Arizona native, she also loves spending time outdoors with her family in the beautiful Southwest. When she isn't busy planning awe-inspiring events, she enjoys time with her husband and four daughters, who keep her on her toes!
What Techniques Do You Use to Manage Your Stress?
Brianna (WM): When I feel things might be getting a little overly stressed, simply taking a deep breath and powering through usually does the trick for me. Stepping outside for some sunlight and fresh air helps, too.
Autumn (YP): I try to find positive outlets. I've been running cross-country since middle school, so running has always been a "go to" for me. As I got older it became a great way to let off steam. On calmer and colder days (I'm strictly a warm weather runner!) I turn to a book for a mini mental vacation and escape to somewhere else. Either activity can be as long or short as needed and majorly helps my mood.
Romy (WM): I agree with Autumn! Working out is how I let it all go.
Melissa (YP): I'm very thankful to have such an amazing Sales Coordinator and Account Manager by my side to help me through stressful times and divide up workload. When I'm with my friends outside of work, we also have a rule that we don't talk about work when we're catching up to help de-stress and not make work a constant topic. On days where I can't always see friends, a nice little run around the neighborhood always does the trick!
For the Working Moms, What Changes Have You Made to Your Work Routine After Having Children?
Romy (WM): There aren't as many Happy Hours or staying out too late, but honestly, nothing has really changed too drastically for me. I try my best to balance it all.
Brianna (WM): Adapting my schedule to work best for my family. Thankfully, a lot of people in our industry are juggling families while working, so it's great that we have the flexibility sometimes to adjust our schedules in order to make something else work. Leaving early one day or staying late another depending on our deadlines is very helpful. Formally scheduling everything on my calendar also allows me to not get sucked into something that I can't dedicate time to on that particular day.
How Do You Find Time for Yourself?
Melissa (YP): It can be hard to find time for myself during certain times of the year, but I plan yearly vacations with my close friends and that always gives me something to look forward to. We spread out planning times and get together usually every month to plan parts of our trip. I enjoy the "girl time" as well as searching for the best things to do in the country we're visiting.
Brianna (WM): Since I do commute to work on a daily basis, I use my alone time in the car for thinking and getting my mind right for the next action, whether that's on the way to work or when I'm heading home. Even though I wish I didn't have to spend quite as much time on my commute, I make the time productive by reflecting.
Romy (WM): I make it a point to try and schedule time to go out with friends, have a date night, take a wine break, etc.
Autumn (YP): I try to plan accordingly and be aware of any gaps in my schedule. I really focus on not overscheduling my down time. While spending time with friends always sounds great, sometimes knowing my own limits is a life saver. It gives me the opportunity to enjoy the time I need for some R&R since my job can be very go, go, go.
How Do You Remain Efficient During Your Day?
Brianna (WM): Trying to work smarter, not harder is very important! By keeping on track with a schedule, I can stay on top of my world with work AND homelife. One of the most important ways I remain efficient is by having a strong and skilled team by my side.
Melissa (YP): I remain efficient throughout the day by having my color-coded calendar appointments to note what tasks I need to get done versus what my meeting appointments are. Plus, having my daily checklist front and center is a driving force in my efficiency, since checking something off my list is super satisfying and pushes me to get things done!
Romy (WM): Three words: prioritizing, reprioritizing, and multitasking.
Autumn (YP): My lists and calendars help me remain efficient. I just have to make sure I use my checklists and prioritize.
Working Moms—Do You Have Any Outside Support System in Place to Help You with Managing Your Family?
Brianna (WM): My biggest support comes from my amazing husband, who does so incredibly much for me and our family. Not only does he have a full-time career himself, but he also picks up all four of the kids from their school on a daily basis, keeps them entertained, totes them all with him to activities, and gets dinner started! Our children are in pre-school, grade school, and we have a babysitter for our younger children, so there is a lot going on, but we love it!
Romy (WM): Like Brianna mentioned, a support system is crucial. I'm very lucky and grateful to have my husband, nanny, and two sets of parents by my side.
How Do You Establish Boundaries to Keep Your Work and Personal Life Separate?
Autumn (YP): They naturally stay separate unless I merge them intentionally…so not really sure there's a boundary issue there for me.
Romy (WM): I try to make plans and organize play dates with my friends and family all of the time. I like to focus on my family on the weekends, though taking some weekend trips helps, too.
Brianna (WM): In this business, it's hard to keep our two lives separate because of how dedicated we are to our careers and our clients. I try to follow through as best as I can with my expectations so when I know I need to turn off, I'll turn off.
Melissa (YP): I have a company cell phone, which means I carry around two phones at times, but it helps me to "turn things off" when I can or be able to focus on my friends and family when I'm with them. Letting my team, as well as some clients, know if I'm out of town on the weekends also helps to set the boundaries.
How Do You Prioritize Your Time?
Melissa (YP): Utilizing my resources in the office is a huge part of helping me prioritize my time. I can share program leads with my wonderful co-worker, Robyn Boyd, to make sure we're capturing business and that each client is getting the attention they need. My Sales Coordinator and I also focus on upcoming and quick deadlines first and then go through our follow-ups. There is always room for adjustment and keeping parts of the day open for any pop-ups is also key.
Brianna (WM): Being flexible with my day helps me prioritize my time. Creating a list of what NEEDS to happen vs. what I WANT to happen is a "best practice" for me. If I can push something, I'll push it to help alleviate another stress that might be coming up.
Romy (WM): I take the kids to school in the morning, focus specifically on work during the day, grab the kids again after work, and then catch up on more work after they're asleep or step out for some "me" time to destress.
Autumn (YP): I'm kind of the same as Brianna…knowing how much time I have to work with and how long specific tasks will take is huge for me. For example, if I know I have to account for a meeting during the day, I can see what items I can effectively check off the to-do list in the time I have, instead of getting started on a task and having to stop midway through. That helps me focus on each task and minimize mistakes.
What is Your Biggest Struggle?
Brianna (WM): Not having enough time in the day! If we can just add, like, five more hours I think it would make life a little easier. Or better yet, if I could just clone myself, that would help!
Romy (WM): Trying to balance a busy life full of schedules and trying to be everything for everybody.
Autumn (YP): Knowing when to let things go. Having worked in several roles, it's sometimes hard letting others take on a task instead of just doing it myself.
Melissa (YP): I would have to say my biggest struggle is setting priority timelines with my clients. I always want to say "yes" to them and make things happen for their program, but this can also mean working late nights and having a full schedule.
Brianna and Romy—Do You Have Any Tips or Tricks for the Other Working Mom Event Professionals Out There?
Brianna (WM): Finding a partner that understands our world and values your love for the job is so incredibly helpful. We would not be able to do what we do without the support from our loved ones. Being true to yourself and setting real expectations has also helped me a lot. I know I'm going to miss things, but I also know that I am doing the best that I can.
Romy (WM): It takes a village. Life is so busy…try and live in the moment!
Autumn and Melissa—Do You Have Any Tips or Tricks for the Other Young Event Professionals Out There?
Autumn (YP): Find a job you love with a great company. I might be stating the obvious, but I've come to learn that not everyone thinks this is possible. It absolutely, 100% is, and you shouldn't give up looking for it. Second, it's OK to know and communicate your limits. When I started my career, it wasn't just another job to me and I was so afraid to lose it that I thought I had to be superwoman, taking on everything that was thrown my way. You WILL get burned out (and quick!) working like that. If you have others that can help, let them.
Melissa (YP): Knowing your limits is something that will be a key tool in being successful, and not over-stressing about things. Having a release or activity outside of work helps to balance your life and keep your stress down. Definitely learn from others and ask questions about things that are new to you, so you know what to expect and how to maneuver a situation.
We hope you were able to find at least one small tidbit in there to help manage the crazy. We'll be back next month with our On the Road to Work-Life Balance: Part 2, where we'll get some tips and insight from our teammates who are well established in their position, as well as those who are finding their way through brand new roles.
In October 2017, a leading real estate franchise was hosting 5,000 guests for the closing night event at their conference in Las Vegas. After designing the event twice due to changes in the venue, Las Vegas (and the country) was rocked to its core with a mass shooting that changed thousands of lives forever. The landscape of the event morphed overnight, where real-world threats and significant last-minute changes threatened to derail months' worth of hard work.
Our client wanted their guests to enjoy an outside block party and initially decided on a space in downtown Las Vegas with a "Vintage Vegas" theme. Several months later, the client asked to switch the location to Toshiba Plaza and its next-door neighbor, The Park. They also wanted to change the experience to a "White Wedding" theme. One key piece of décor we ordered was a custom, oversized Heart Locket Sign on which guests would write love messages on a lock and attach it to a large heart (similar to what you would see on the bridges of Paris.)
Then on October 1, tragedy struck when a gunman open-fired over an outdoor concert on the Las Vegas Strip. The following day our client (understandably) asked that the event be relocated inside. The only space that would fit their 5,000 attendees was the T-Mobile Arena, meaning that the direction, planning, and execution of the event needed to be completely redesigned in less than two weeks.
We worked quickly to reconfigure the décor and entertainment to fit (figuratively and literally) in the new space. Despite the last-minute difficulties, given the heart-breaking circumstances, we were pleased that the Las Vegas business community came together to ensure a successful outcome. We were also challenged with keeping key pieces that the client loved within the design while making them work with the new direction. One of their favorite pieces—the Heart Locket Sign—now became a "Vegas Strong" standing memorial where attendees could write messages of support for the shooting victims.
It was finally time for the big night. After moving through heightened (and much appreciated) security to enter the building, guests were treated to an opening hour of music with a lively and upbeat vibe. Harkening to the original Vintage Vegas element that many still loved, we brought in a Pink Cadillac for a photo opportunity. Elvis later came on stage to sing and perform a vow renewal ceremony for guests before a surprise name-act headliner closed out the night. Once the event concluded we loaded everything out within a mere three hours so the space could be turned back into a hockey rink for the following day. Once the strike was underway, some of our team members took the Heart Locket Sign that now had hundreds of goodwill messages attached to it and placed it at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign memorial.
The biggest challenge was redesigning this event multiple times, with the added safety issue and last-minute scramble following the shooting. Being able to stay on top of the changes and successfully adapt meant a great deal of communication, coordination, resourcefulness, and most of all, the "can-do" positive attitude our clients know they can count on us for.
Other than successfully redesigning the event each time, we knew we had met the client's objectives when we received nothing but compliments and thank you's after the event for creating such a memorable night. The client mentioned several times how grateful they were to have us as a partner and couldn't imagine anyone else successfully reworking the event multiple times and then starting from scratch with less than two weeks to spare.
Evolving ideas for the night and its theme? No problem. Last-minute safety concerns? We've got you. Destination, Managed.
We want you to fall in love with our destinations and find the hotel or venue that's a perfect match. Site inspections are the gold standard for determining whether the location is a fit for your group or not, and like a parent evaluating a potential suitor for their child, there are plenty of questions that need to be asked. Whether you fancy yourself an expert or a novice at site inspections, here are some of the most important considerations when finding the space that's meant to be.
How many people are you expecting? Location options can often be narrowed down based on group size alone.
What time of year will your group be coming in? Some venues work better in the cooler months while others shine in the sun!
If the event is off-site, how far are you willing to travel from the hotel?
What are the demographics of your group? "Knowing the average age, male/female ratio, and what the attendees do for your organization helps us cater to the group as a whole," says Jennifer Janette, Senior Director of Sales for Hello! Florida (Central).
Getting to the Heart of It
Vehicle Drop Points
From the moment you arrive on site, look for vehicle drop points to see how far the walk is from arrival to the main location. Make sure you scope out all areas, including private dining rooms for restaurants and green rooms for venues. "I look at it from a sales, creative, and operations perspective and truly try to think through all aspects of the program from proposal to production," says Krista England, Director of Product Development for Hello! Las Vegas.
How many guests can the venue accommodate for a reception? What about a seated dinner? This question is always a front runner because capacities can vary. When quoted a number, always ask, "Realistically, how many would you recommend?" The number that's typically given is what the fire marshal has approved, which is higher than what we would bring in. This is one particular area where our expertise comes in handy; our seasoned teammates are able to see a space and estimate how many guests would fit comfortably. If you anticipate adding entertainment and décor, remember to factor that in as well.
If your site is a restaurant, ask about the different table configurations that can be done in the space(s). The number of guests the space can accommodate will vary depending on the style and size of the tables (i.e. kings tables versus round tables, etc.)
What (if any) furniture or tables does the venue/restaurant have? This is important for a couple of reasons: 1) If they have furniture, are you able to move or remove it? 2) If they don't have furniture, are you able to bring in your own? If you are, then the question becomes, where is the service elevator and how large is it?
From catering to entertainment and décor, we always ask if there is a preferred supplier list or if we are able to bring in our own. Our teams work hard to cultivate relationships based on excellent product and service so it's always beneficial to bring in one of our partners.
Hours of Operation
What are the normal hours of operation? If the restaurant or venue is normally closed when you're having your event, the space rental is typically less since you're not displacing regular business. Try buying out a venue during lunch or hosting a breakfast at a restaurant that is open for dinner only.
Food Preparation and Storage
It's important to understand how and where the food will be prepared. If you're looking at a venue, is there a full kitchen? Does the caterer need to bring all food fully prepared before they arrive on site? If they do, how will they keep it warm? Can the caterer store extra food items anywhere on site?
If the group is not doing a full buyout, how will that work with other patrons? If it's a venue, will there be another group nearby? If it's a restaurant, where does the group walk through in order to get to their area?
After operating thousands of programs each year, our teams have become quite adept at recommending locations that would work best for your group. Contact us to get started and we will propose (not literally!) a crafted list of options specifically for you.
A leading American clinical laboratory hosted a Masquerade-themed event for 1,700 of their employees at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center. The night's event featured luxurious décor that transformed the room into a masquerade ball and included over eight different table décor and soft seating looks with custom centerpieces. Crystal chandeliers glittered overhead while large swags of velvety drapes hung from the ceiling. Attendees were swept into a mysterious world where, for a few hours, co-workers could mask their identity and meet for the first time.
Our client wanted an opening night party that immersed guests in a theme they could connect with. We decided on a Masquerade due to its versatility, relatability, and ease of interaction. Attendees were notified of the theme weeks before the conference so they could prepare a mask or costume. But let's face it—not everyone has time to pre-plan and as we all know, sometimes "stuff" just happens. To help, we had interactive mask-fitting stations throughout the meeting space the day of the event to assist attendees in picking out their masks. Our clever planners also knew this would generate buzz and build anticipation for the evening.
We were also asked to build the design for 100% seating, but without having a sea of tables in the ballroom. Despite the size of the ballroom, it was no small task to achieve that while simultaneously making it look intimate and purposeful. Our solution was to use the furniture and tables as part of the décor. We used the columns, chandeliers, and drapes to create pockets of seating and lounge groupings while moving furniture into intimate spots that fostered casual conversation. The result was an immaculate look that was as cozy as it was grand.
Imagine preparing an event that would take two days to load in, and then being asked to strike it in a mere four hours. If you're thinking "Yikes," so were we. Always up for a challenge, we found creative ways to repurpose lighting structures that were used in other conference events, and designed with large scenic pieces of décor that could be broken down easily. We also created pathways throughout the space that would allow multiple suppliers to access their products, so items could be broken down by different teams at the same time (oh how we love efficiency.)
It was a great compliment when the client sang our praises in our post-event survey, yet it was an even bigger compliment when they returned to repeat the conference the following year. They were so pleased with our service that they chose us as their DMC without bidding the program out to others, which is the highest compliment any client can give.
Ingenuity? Check. Wiping of multiple brows after working like crazy to ensure flawless service? Check. Destination, Managed.
Predicting a trend that will dominate the special events industry is often like a shout into the dark. Rather than predict what linen or entertainment will be the most popular, we like to look at the heart of what makes an experience great: connecting guests with the story and message of our clients. Here's a look at what's new, what's now, and what's next in our toolbox to help you craft your experience.
Getting your photo taken at an event is a concept that's almost as old as the Chiavari chair, but this once-passive activity has become a way for attendees to further immerse themselves in the message and story of an event. As social media and technology continue to inspire everyone to be their own personal photographer, how we take photos and describe our daily lives becomes a part of our identity. The modern attendee has developed their own personal brand and are well-versed in lighting and composition. They crave ways to take photos and engage with others in the process.
As this continues to evolve, the lines between décor, photo opportunities, activities, and takeaways will continue to blur. Rather than having isolated areas dedicated for photos (such as a step and repeat,) consider making elements in your event as photo-friendly as possible. Create focal points that organically inspire a selfie, add a character that creates a sharable moment, or even integrate accessories that allow guests to become a character in your story.
Technology integration has taken an incredible leap forward in recent years as mobile devices become a greater part of who we are as individuals. Yet with that comes concerns about privacy and the morality of data collection. As with anything new, it can often be unsettling at first, but technology will start to feel more human in 2019 and connect guests in a tactile way like never before. Augmented reality will become a crucial way to bridge the gap between physical and digital. From wearables that track your location to facial recognition that calculates guests' level of enjoyment, real-time analytics will allow meeting planners to better personalize an event for each attendee.
Look for projection and LED screens to continue to enhance branding and immersion, while technology evolves into being a truly crucial tool in creating the guest experience. Rather than question why a piece of data is being requested, the attendee of the future will want to connect and share data as they look forward to the returns in their experience.
There's been a noticeable shift away from brands relying solely on advertisements; instead, they have a diversified mix of ads, experiences, and a social presence to project a holistic identity. Likewise, this trend has extended into the events that our clients plan for their employees. Gone are the days when a branded pillow was enough to immerse a company's attendees in its message.
In 2019, brands will fully embrace their identities at events and turn their attendees into enthusiastic brand ambassadors. Try thinking of your company's brand as a person with their own style and hobbies—what kind of event would they throw? What colors, activities, and music would they use? Consider using the product or service your company is known for and integrating it into the event in an unexpected way; whether that's a food experience, an activity, or the color palette that forms the basis of the event's design.
As our physical world continues to merge with the digital space, attendees will crave intimate, physically tactile moments. It's no longer sufficient for an event to just look good, it needs to have moments that surprise and delight and satisfy attendees' desire to physically connect. In 2019, textiles will become a key tool in telling stories, whether it's a linen with an unexpected texture or string drape that transforms an open-area furniture grouping into an intimate lounge that makes guests feel more connected to the event and their peers. As a contrast to the digital evolution, the richness of textiles will encourage attendees to open up and embrace the moment.
This year is also about throwing out the rule book when it comes to color, fabric, and functionality. Look for more exciting ways to use textiles for self-expression in everything from fabric-covered walls that surround an event to the juxtaposition of two seemingly dissonant textures like leather and linen.
Historically, art and design have heavily influenced our culture to create very distinct styles for each decade. As technology evolves and a new social group comes into prominence, so changes the mainstream look. As we continue to become a closer, more connected world, this centuries-long trend of reinvention will be turned on its head as we mix elements from different decades together to create a style all our own.
By integrating eclectic moments from multiple heritages, it allows attendees to feel both familiar and challenged by juxtaposed design and items they may or may not be familiar with. Try mixing mid-century modern furniture with a futuristic piece of art, or designing a traditional ornate dining table in grunge-worthy monochromatic colors. This helps an event feel more like a living, breathing entity that guests feel attached to; whether that comes from mixing items from different time periods, different parts of the world, or even just mixing unconventional colors.
Interested in how we can put these into practice for your next program?
Say Hello! and let’s work together to build your next experience.
The Gala Awards, presented by Special Events magazine, is one of the industry's most prestigious awards and honors excellence in event/wedding design, catering, and production. Let's take a closer look at the awe-inspiring and award-worthy events that earned us FIVE nominations!
"Sentimental Journey: A Step Back in Time"Hello! ArizonaWINNER: Best Multiple-Day Incentive Event
This financial services provider held their key annual incentive trip over seven days in Phoenix to honor their top-performing financial advisors. Their 2,000 guests expected the VIP treatment; little did they know that they were about to be swept back in time to an era when the kings of jazz reigned and people danced the Charleston to swinging tunes from big band orchestras. As we intertwined their magical journey with the captivating history of the Arizona Biltmore resort and Wrigley Mansion, mirth and merriment awaited guests with surprise and delight moments from arrival to departure.
Arrival Experience –The time-travel transformation began the moment our guests arrived at the Biltmore, where they were greeted by vintage bellhops performing custom choreographed dances that led guests to the registration area. They were greeted by our hospitality staff in costumes that emulated the look of 1920s telephone operators. Our kids' area featured a tote-bag decorating station and a "Yappy Hour" where guests played with puppies from a local shelter.
Wrigley Mansion: An Evening with the Greats – We asked ourselves, "What if the powerhouse duo of William Wrigley, Jr. and the Great Jay Gatsby threw a magnificent party?" A red carpet entrance welcomed guests to a world with secret-room surprises and hidden treasures, including a whiskey-soaked speakeasy and intimate cigar corner. We enchanted guests with vintage entertainment and showcased our innovation by creating one-of-a-kind Video Voyeur Walls.
Women's Advisor Lunch – We took inspiration from the Biltmore's iconic block motif to create an elegant and feminine women's lunch for our client's 60 female executives in attendance. We brought history to this event by incorporating frequent guest Jackie Onassis into the design. Each place setting held a velvet bag custom-embossed with Jackie O.'s quote, "I am a woman above all else."
Happy Hour: Vintage Circus – We transformed the space from the Women's Advisor Lunch into a wildly different Happy Hour before guests departed for their off-property dinners. Vibrant colors and playful music welcomed guests to a circus featuring games, light bites, and beverages, while sideshow performers seemed to come out of nowhere for ongoing pop-up performances. We used vintage suitcases/trunks to make guests feel as if the circus had just arrived in town and they had the unexpected adventure of traipsing through their makeshift home. Our expert planning and big risks paid off with an unprecedented level of attendance for this event.
Mid-Century Glam – This event was themed as if Jackie O. was hosting an elegant party with a guest list that included everyone from Audrey Hepburn to Twiggy. Keep reading for more information about this particular event, which has a stand-alone nomination for "Best Décor – Total Décor Budget $50,000 to $99,999"
Departure Bar – Determined to send our guests off in VIP-style, we designed a PanAm-inspired departure bar where guests could pick up snacks, magazines, etc. for their journey home.
"Mid-Century Glam"Hello! ArizonaNomination: Best Décor – Total Décor Budget $50,000 to $99,999
Welcome to the Golden Age of the Biltmore resort in Phoenix, Arizona. During the final night reception for this financial services provider, guests were swept back in time where they lounged on the Squaw Peak Lawn alongside famous guests such as Marilyn Monroe, Chuck Berry, and James Dean. Creative attention to detail made all the difference in weaving this enchanting night with the captivating history of the Biltmore. With a 360-degree rotating stage, authentic drive-in, and surprising flash dance performances, guests were enthralled with a night of fascinating elegance and excitement.
"Our Magic Moment"Hello! Florida (Central) Destination ManagementNomination: Best Multiple-Day Event Program for a Corporation or Association
This annual incentive trip for a large insurance provider pushes the envelope of design and entertainment to make their VIPs feel cherished at every turn. This year, the client asked for a visually stimulating and sophisticated interpretation of their conference theme: "Our Magic Moment." Incredible creativity and extensive preparation made all the difference as 11 events were executed for 2,200 guests over the span of just three days. This program fed the frenzy of their fun-loving attendees using captivating entertainment and decor, and enthralled guests who thought they had seen it all. Magical indeed.
A Remarkable Day of Revelry: Only the company's highest sales performers earn a coveted spot in this exclusive group. Each year these VIPs arrive a day earlier to be pampered, which began with an outdoor party that showcased eyelash/makeup stations, massages, endless adult beverages, and mouth-watering food service in the adult pool area. Following this was a reception and awards dinner featuring America's Got Talent magician/comedian Piff the Magic Dragon.
The day closed with a "Smoke & Mirrors" after-party, which married the mysterious and mystical to create an unforgettable experience with mirrored furniture elements, inflated spheres, and a drummer/DJ duo raised onto a platform above the 360-degree dance floor. With a giant disco ball hanging underneath, and a clear acrylic floor beneath our entertainers, we created the illusion that guests were following in the footsteps of Lionel Richie and "Dancing on the Ceiling."
General Session (Day 1): We wanted to make the long walk from the breakfast ballroom to the General Session a magical one. We used the Orlando Magic Drumline as parade entertainment and infuse an enthusiastic feeling to the beginning of the conference.
Citrus Beer Garden: This event was developed to give guests some fresh air with a down-home Florida flair. We chose yellow and orange linens, arranged with fun pallet furniture groupings and lively pops of color. We custom-built a beer wall that featured 12 taps of ice-cold, local Florida beers. Fifty faux orange trees were placed around the lawn to enhance the citrus theme. Our in-house design team created custom graphics for the event, including branded beer coasters and corn-hole boards.
Cirque Couture: This annual costume party is both famous and fiercely competitive. Keep reading for more information about this event, which has a stand-alone nomination for "Best Décor – Total Décor Budget $100,000 to $250,000"
General Session (Day 2): We once again escorted guests from breakfast to the ballroom, but this time with branded heralding trumpets. In the style of a certain famous Boy Who Lived, each department of the organization had been designated a "House" with their own colors and custom-designed graphics. This wasn't your ordinary General Session, which featured the barons of balance, AGT's "The Russian Bar Trio," and Lyrian, whose LED suits flashed while dancing to magic-related songs (i.e. 24-Karate Magic by Bruno Mars.)
Wizardly World: We created a magical space where Quidditch towers and pumpkin pasties transported you to another world. Guests lunched at the communal tables representing each "House" before playing giant beer pong on (and through!) the Quidditch court. FloGo machines bubbled out our client's logo that floated over the event; an environmentally-safe branding opportunity that "magically" enhanced the space.
Closing Dinner: Guests enjoyed a sumptuous plated dinner before being dazzled by AGT's card-throwing act, Ricky Smith, Jr. and a pogo-stick stunt team. Additional entertainment included an ROTC Guard flag presentation, a children's performance of the national anthem, and an a capella group who crooned magic-themed songs during the transition of food courses as they sat amongst the guests (appearing as if by magic!) Top performers were then honored with an award presentation.
"Cirque Couture"Hello! Florida (Central) Destination ManagementNomination: Best Décor – Total Décor Budget $100,000 to $250,000
This large insurance provider's annual costume party isn't just an event, it's a spectacle of lavish décor, overflowing food and beverage, and captivating entertainment. This year, guests were invited to step right up into a "Cirque Couture" theme where guests didn't just attend this fashion-forward extravaganza, they were the stars of the show. Infusing the conference theme of "Our Magic Moment" at every turn, magic eight ball, leprechaun, and unicorn-costumed guests became part of the décor themselves as they traipsed through a kaleidoscope wonderland.
"Vizcaya Mansion Site Visit Invitation"Hello! Florida (South) Destination ManagementNomination: Best Invitation
In March 2018, a site visit for a financial services company annual incentive trip included a stop at the famous Vizcaya mansion in South Florida. In order to immerse the guests into the venue for the site, an elaborate backstory was created that tied into a video invitation book hand-delivered to each attendee's hotel room the day prior. The invitation featured a custom video message by the mansion's fictitious owner, elaborating on the event's theme, décor and food story.
Congratulations to our teammates at Hello! Arizona, Hello! Florida (Central), and Hello! Florida (South), as well as the other Gala Award winners and nominees!
We like to practice what we preach (we’re funny that way.) Before some of our design experts reveal our 2019 Event Trends at
The Special Event (TSE) in San Diego on January 8–10, we’re taking a look at our
Five Hottest Event Trends for 2018 and sharing how we put them into action throughout the year. We went bold, interactive, and like En Vogue, we gave our guests something they could feel.
What We Said:“…Velvet is a soft fabric that's here to stay. It's now available in many colors and brings a touch of luxe that doesn't feel over the top while elevating any setting..."
What We Did This Year: Velvet was just the start of it. Many of our designs fully immersed our guests in the looks and feels of their chosen destination. At a recent incentive program in Tennessee
(above left,) our Hello! Nashville creative designers envisioned a seating arrangement that would mimic the location's beautiful surroundings. Guests felt like they were relaxing on the gently rolling hills nearby when they took a seat on the velvety soft green couches, and they felt the strength of the local trees with wooden chairs and coffee tables. For an elegant gala dinner, Hello! Florida (Central) enveloped guests in the lap of luxury with the use of specialty linens. With mermaid sequins that magically revealed a different color as guests ran their fingertips over them, these guests’ tables just begged to be touched.
What We Said:“…You'll [see] bold uses of color, like the Pantone® 2018 color of the year, Ultraviolet, that celebrates creativity and a strong point of view…Of course, at Hello!, purple is always our color of the year, but nevertheless, 2018 is the year of being big, bright, beautiful, and emboldened."
What We Did This Year: When we said it needed to be big, bright, beautiful, and emboldened, we meant it. One of this year’s best examples was during a Hello! Florida (South) program where our teams recreated Miami’s popular Wynwood district
(below); an up-and-coming neighborhood known for its trendy art and many colorful murals. After guests walked through a literal recreation of the actual gates of Wynwood, a brightly-colored yarn-wrapped tree became a focal point for the event as lounge groupings with different patterns added to the vibrancy.
What We Said: To truly surprise and delight your guests, we suggested using interactive food and beverage entertainment, such as radio-controlled quadcopters and Napkin Ladies.
What We Did This Year: We surprised guests with an upside-down umbrella ceiling that floated down appetizers and other goodies for attendees to nosh on
(above.) We didn’t stop there though; Hello! Arizona created an amazing arrival experience for a client
(bottom right) where vintage bellhops greeted guests with custom choreographed dances to carry their bags and guide them to their one-of-a-kind registration area.
What We Said: “Geo shapes bring a print that is bold and versatile. The trend also flows into containers and furnishings, which add a playful detail to an otherwise basic item.”
What We Did This Year: This trend
shaped up to be quite popular with our clients. Twinkling centerpieces served as the perfect mood lighting during evening or inside events, while others were filled with custom florals and accents that authentically showcased the destination. We created focal points by using geo shapes in various décor
(bottom left,) and we even went big by combining some of our hottest trends, such as our Celestial Centennial event
(bottom right) that used geo shape décor as well as soft velvety seating.
What We Said: “A selfie never tasted so good! The selfie trend is expanding to become the garnish on guests' cocktails with edible photographs…”
What We Did This Year: We stayed true to our word by gathering inspiration from the local destinations, event themes, selfie booths, and more to elevate an event’s playfulness and fun (now that’s what we call lip service!)
If you’re still reading at this point, you probably like what we do and are really interested to see more. Come visit us at TSE where we’ll be speaking and sharing some insight into how we became (and remain!) the Best in the Biz. If you can't get to San Diego this year, follow us on social media to see what's happening and discover our 2019 event trends:
Tuesday, January 8: 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM Room 30A; Session Number D04 Speaker: Cameron Rust, CSEP: Senior National Asset Manager – Brand and Continuity
Bedtime or Story: A Tale of Storytelling and Immersion Transporting Attendees from Passive to Passionate
Once Upon a Time, in a world where branded pillows and custom linens don't stay top of mind past the lobby bar, a (PACKED!) room of event professionals discovered ways to immerse and transport attendees from passive guests there for the open bar into brand evangelists. And they all lived happily ever after…"
Wednesday, January 9: 1:00 PM – 2:30 PM Room 30A; Session Number D09
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Come behold the design styles of four up-and-coming stars! Inspiring and practical, this session has something for everyone and the means to get it.
Douglas Kahler, Executive Vice President, and Michelle Wilkie, Hello! Florida (South) Director of Operations, accept the awards
We're proud to announce that Hello! has been named a BI WORLDWIDE Inspirational Partner for 2018! A two-time recipient of this prestigious honor (2017, 2018), this designation indicates that Hello! has maintained a loyal partnership with BI WORLDWIDE and provides outstanding service in the events industry.
Hello! has been recognized in the following award categories:
Never Give Up: A partner who demonstrated tenacity and willingness to go the extra mile during difficult circumstances
In It for the Long Haul: A partner who repeatedly demonstrates a commitment to partnership
Help Each Other: A partner who gave extra consideration around financial or concession negotiations
“We’re proud to recognize Hello! as an Inspirational Partner. Their high standards help us create great experiences and deliver powerful moments for our clients. We look forward to continuing our partnership,” said Paul Bergeron, Senior Vice President of Event Solutions at BI WORLDWIDE.
We wish to express our thanks to BI WORLDWIDE, and look forward to our continued partnership for many years to come!
"I hate receiving a 'Thank You' for my hard work," said no one EVER. November is all about giving thanks, which should also be an important part of your program. Saying "Thank You" isn't just about showing appreciation; it's about making attendees
feel how much you value them. The best part is that deep appreciation doesn't have to mean deep pockets. Here are our top 5 ways you can put an extra "Thank You" in your next program.
1) Give the Gift of Choice
Pop-up shops and markets can offer great gifts, but be sure to recognize each person's individuality. Rather than create a one-size-fits-all gift bag or a shop where attendees line up to take one of each generic item, create a gift market where each person chooses their own scent of soap, color of flip flops, style of sunglasses, or type of chocolate. Each person receives the same item, but it's special to them in how and why they chose it.
Pop-up shops featuring items such as name-brand sunglasses, designer beach towels, shoes, handbags, watches, and luggage will not only "WOW" attendees, but also allows each attendee to choose what is most valuable to
them (because let's be honest, not everyone has the same affection for bright yellow handbags.
Markets have the added benefit of creating an interactive experience during registration. You can even celebrate the destination and get your attendees excited for the days ahead. For example, Hello! Arizona loves to include gifts such as authentic Native American textiles and baskets, hand-crafted pottery with traditional Southwest designs, or soaps and lotions made with natural local ingredients such as aloe, sage, wild rose, cacti, and jojoba in their pop-up shops.
2) Be Socially Responsible
Another popular option is to give a gift that shows your company's commitment to social responsibility. There's an endless array of choices, such as buying sunglasses for attendees where money from your purchase is shared with a charitable program that fights childhood blindness. Your gift markets can include items such as Sudara loungwear, which is created in fair-trade conditions by women once trapped in the sex trade. Unique full-length pants, capris, robes, and men's styles are available, with each print named after an Indian seamstress whose life was saved. You can even take your speed-painting entertainment to the next level with an artist that donates the painting to your charity of choice, or gives back a portion of their fee to charitable initiatives.
3) Shout It from the Rooftops
Looking for an easy, budget-friendly approach? Two words: Social media. People love recognition, so finding a way to recognize your guests through today's most popular networking tools is a great way to say thank you while interacting with your attendees AND your page followers. Post or tweet
specific messages of appreciation to highlight an employee's efforts, or monitor your conference hashtag (make sure you have one!) and share or retweet your guests' experiences.
4) Recognize the Best of the Best
Let's be clear…every guest at your event should feel welcome and appreciated. But kick it up a notch for employees who have gone the extra mile to demonstrate their passion and commitment to the company. Create an exclusive mini-program prior to the start of your event, or even set aside a red carpet area for your top performers during your kick-off event or final night reception.
5) A Welcome Surprise
It's been a long day of travel. You arrive at your hotel, complete registration, and then shuffle up to your room…where you're greeted by a destination-inspired gift box filled with hand-crafted items from local artisans! Room drops can be traditional (local sweets, candles, lotion, jellies, etc.) or even a little cheeky ("Hangover Kits" with all the headache, breath, and tummy essentials attendees will need to rebound from your amazing welcome reception.) The best part? Working in tandem with local artisans also supports small businesses within the community. Finding ways to say "Thank You" may seem small, but it makes a big difference in the eyes of your guests.
Contact us to talk about how to build a package that expresses the appreciation and sentiment that only you can share.