Aug 24
Brush off the Dust with These Unique Teambuilding Activities

Teambuilding Activities

Whether your group is looking to give back or wants something a little edgier (did someone say axe throwing??), we asked our colleagues from across the country for some of the most unique and creative teambuilding activities in their area. Consider these during your next program for a truly delightful and engaging experience that forms friendships and promotes team unity.

Wine a Lot

Grape Stomp and Wine Tasting

Grape Stomp and Wine Tasting

Grgich Hills' Grape Stomp and Wine Tasting is a favorite of Samantha Gonzalez, CMP, Sales Coordinator for Hello! California (Northern) in San Francisco. Grgich Hills Winery ferments grapes that are grown at five different vineyards belonging to the Grgich estate, which has consistently produced award-winning wines that are enjoyed across America and all around the world. Their vineyards have been in full production since 2003, creating wines that are 100% estate-grown, produced, and bottled.

To begin their visit, guests are invited to jump in a barrel of freshly picked grapes and stomp away to create the very juice that may someday become wine! During the stomping, guests will sip on a complimentary glass of Grgich wine, which they can take home as a souvenir from their memorable grape stomping experience. They'll also be able to put their grape-stained feet on a white "I stomped at Grgich Hills" t-shirt for another unique keepsake.

Stomp and T-Shirt

Following the stomp, guests will experience the true essence of Grgich Hills' wide variety of wines. As one of the premier wineries in Napa Valley, this learning experience and tasting is a treat in itself.


Walk on the Wild Side

Class Axe: Dallas Axe Throwing

Axe Throwing

Remember to duck! Just kidding. Patsy Phillips, Product Development Manager for Hello! Texas, loves this exciting experience: axe throwing! After all, what's more perfect than putting co-workers in a cage and giving them axes? Prepare for 1.5 hours of high-intensity learning and pulse-pounding adrenaline as your guests battle and overcome the challenges of properly throwing an axe, and then compete in the ultimate elimination tournament! Each guest will have to dig deep and call upon their inner woodland beast to prove themselves for this team builder. Since Axe Throwing can be done by anyone of any size, everyone in the company is on an equal playing field where adaptability, quick learning, and ample amounts of confidence determines the winner.


Hit the Right Note

Team Songwriting Adventure

Team Songwriting

Led by award-winning hit songwriters, guests will have the opportunity to create and record songs that will motivate, define, and inspire your entire organization. Don't worry if you're a little tone-deaf; you don't have to be a good singer or an extrovert to participate and have a great time. Jenna Nelson, Product Development Manager for Hello! Nashville, says, "It's fascinating how each team comes up with a different melody and lyrics while still sharing the common themes of their organization." When the songs are finished, teams get together in harmony for some light-hearted performances and compete for awards.


Clue Them In

Get a Clue: A Murder Mystery Game

​A dastardly deed has been done in D.C.! This Washington, D.C. networking activity is reminiscent of the board game "Clue," where an eccentric billionaire has been murdered and it's up to the guests to figure out who did it! Did he push his butler too far – and get pushed off a building as a result? Or, was his cook tired of the insults about his stew and bubbled over for good?

A quirky costume detective will be on the scene to interact with guests and entertain them as he investigates. Guests will network organically as they interact with each other to determine who committed the crime. Danielle Guido, Product Development Manager for Washington, D.C., loves that this activity is highly customizable. The victim, suspects, and their professions can be customized for any group or industry, with the premise of the game ranging from espionage to theft (or just about anything else!)

​      Quirky Detective 

Do a Good Deed

TOMS Style Your Soles

Want to make a local AND global difference while your guests bond with each other and have a great time? Romy Linde, Director of Sales for Hello! California (South) in San Diego, suggests TOMS "Style Your Soles" teambuilding activity, in which guests decorate and provide shoes for local children in need. Guided by an energetic emcee, guests will use their creativity to sketch and design their own shoe line. A representative from the local homeless shelter will be on hand to accept the shoe donation on behalf of their community. The best part? In addition to each pair of shoes designed during the event and given to the local shelter, TOMS Shoes will match and donate an additional pair to children in Africa, Asia, or South America. Guests will walk away at the end of the day knowing they've made a real difference, literally putting shoes on the feet of people around the world who otherwise would never have them.


High-Tech Hijinks

"Get to the Point" GPS Scavenger Hunt

GPS Scavenger Hunt

What's the point of going to a great destination if your guests don't get an opportunity to really experience it? Tait Moline, Product Development Manager for Hello! Arizona, recommends the "Get to the Point" GPS Scavenger Hunt, where guests explore an area as they compete in challenges by using their team tablet to find specific points on a map. After a brief training session to ensure the team captains understand how to use their tablet, they begin their race to GPS coordinates where they can view their challenges and score points. Scoring is tracked in real time and once the hunt is over, teams meet up to learn who emerged victorious and earned the coveted award medals. But, win or lose, all will get the point of this adventure – to connect with their colleagues and enjoy a fun-filled event!


Did one of these unique teambuilding activities catch your eye? Contact us for more information or to find out about other activities in your destination!


Aug 24
Destination Deep Dive: Dallas

Dallas Skyline

Let's mosey on over to Dallas, Texas for a look at some of our most popular tours and activities. The Dallas motto of "Big Things Happen Here" certainly rings true with a multitude of unique experiences. Whether your group is looking to be immersed in presidential history, wonder at the marvels of artists such as Picasso and Warhol, get a true Western experience at an authentic ranch, or imagine themselves as a pro football star at the home of the Dallas Cowboys, visiting this popular Texas city is an absolute must.

Tours

Presidential Tour

This tour combines two well-known "Presidential" attractions in Dallas: The Sixth Floor Museum and the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history. Films, historic footage, and hundreds of photographs and artifacts chronicle Kennedy's 1960 presidential campaign and his influence on current events. The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum serves as a resource for the study of the life and career of George W. Bush while also promoting a better understanding of the Presidency, American history, and important issues of public policy. The Library and Museum preserves and provides access to Presidential records, preserves artifacts, and produces innovative museum exhibits.

Presidential Tour

Sculpture and Art Tour

Did you know that Dallas has a rather extensive art district with globally recognized collections? The Sculpture and Art tour lets guests visit two of the more popular local museums: The Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center. The Dallas Museum of Art boasts a stunning collection of more than 22,000 pieces, spanning the third millennium B.C. to the present day. Artists on display include Warhol, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Monet, O'Keeffe, Pollock, Rothko, and more. The Nasher Sculpture Center is home to one of the finest collections of modern and contemporary sculptures in the world. The museum was a long-held dream of the late Raymond and Patsy Nasher, who together formed a comprehensive collection of masterpieces by Picasso, Matisse, Rodin, and Calder, among others, which continues to grow and evolve.

Sculpture and Art Tour

Grapevine Wine Tours

Would you believe that Texas is the fifth largest wine-producing state in the U.S.? Board the Grapevine Wine Tours and see for yourself with a unique wine-tasting experience you won't soon forget. Guests will sample vintages from three of Grapevine's most acclaimed wineries, each with its own unique history and charm. Move from one fabulous tasting room to the next in climate-controlled comfort while your tour guide recounts the history of wine-making in North Texas. You'll also visit the Historic Grapevine Township, with its rich array of art galleries, shops, and restaurants.

Wine Tour

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Give your guests a "natural" break and encourage them to wander freely through the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, which features 66 acres of lush, breathtaking display gardens that offer seasonal color all year long. Home to the Dallas Blooms, the Southwest's largest outdoor floral spring festival, the Garden provides a tranquil oasis where visitors are surrounded by the beauty of all four seasons.

Dallas Arboretum

Off-Site Activities

AT&T Stadium

Looking for a "WOW" factor? AT&T Stadium has it! One of the most expansive stadiums ever to be built, the AT&T Stadium is a modern marvel located just west of Dallas. This $1.2 billion football stadium is home to the Dallas Cowboys and is the largest domed structure in the world. No expense was spared in creating this luxurious facility with more than 300 suites, numerous clubs, and a retractable roof that can open and close in 10 minutes. More than just a football stadium, it can change surfaces to host a variety of events on many different surfaces like natural grass or hardwood. With 22 flexible event locations, the stadium is also an ideal place for meetings.

AT&T Stadium

Ford Center at The Star

Curious as to what it takes to run the Dallas Cowboys? Get a true behind-the-scenes look at The Star, where the entire team spends their days training and practicing. This 400,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility features over 30 flexible event spaces that include the Ford Center (a 12,000 seat indoor venue,) Grand Atrium, Tostitos Championship Plaza, and many more. Whether you're a group of 10 or 5,000, The Star provides all business amenities along with chef-crafted catering and first-class service.

Ford Center

Backyard

Come enjoy good times, great food, and cold drinks with your furry (and non-furry) friends! This 12,000 square-foot, open-air, pet-friendly space allows guests to relax in a patio scene with playful seating such as bar swings, painted picnic tables, and lounge furniture. Dozens of interactive games such as ping pong, Jenga, corn hole, shuffle board, pool, and more are available, along with a state-of-the-art light and sound system, over 30 large customizable TVs, and 2-20 ft. LED screens. To top it all off, guests will dine with delight on All-American cuisine, made from scratch, and enhanced with the ever-so-playful cocktail menu, wine, and over 45 beers to choose from.

Backyard Collage

Circle R Ranch

If you want a true Texan experience, put on your boots for an evening of western fun at the Circle R Ranch. Leave those big city worries behind and experience an authentic ranch set amidst rolling hills and green pastures, complete with picnic tables, whiskey barrel tables, beautiful Texas skies, and BBQ cuisine. Once dinner is complete, head on out to the arena for an exclusive rodeo performance featuring bull riding, bronco riding, barrel racing, and a rodeo clown. End the night with a custom firework show set to a song of your choice to put the perfect exclamation mark on your evening.

Circle R Ranch


Think Dallas would be a good fit for your next program? Contact Janice Dowling, General Manager of Hello! Texas, at jdowling@hello-dmc.com or 512.643.1170.


Aug 21
Destination, Managed: A Brand in Crisis

Destination, Managed: A Brand in Crisis

In April 2017, a major automaker held its annual dealer conference for 3,500 attendees in Las Vegas, Nevada. The brand was in crisis – the company had recently made headlines for a series of fines and litigations that had tarnished its otherwise extremely positive image. Social media enflamed the tension, ensuring the kind of word-of-mouth, nationwide coverage that would reach the company's top dealers that were attending from across the United States. That's where we come in.

The Event

The Welcome Reception was an opportunity to reconnect dealers with the brand again by celebrating both its rich history and the future success of the company. From The Heritage Lounge that honored the company's legacy to The Innovation Bar that showcased future offerings, our client's brand was the star of the experience. As guests journeyed through four uniquely designed spaces they revisited the past, connected with the present, and celebrated the future of innovation.

THE HERITAGE LOUNGE

Guests began their journey in The Heritage Lounge, a space where attention to detail and feeding into guests' subconscious would make all the difference. Working closely with the client, we procured archival, never-before-seen, black and white and sepia images to display while legacy marketing slogans were projected on the walls to provide an authentic guest experience. Aside from the imagery, we created comfortable lounge spaces that had a vintage look and feel combined with subtle branding for a cohesive look. Overall, The Heritage Lounge created a living museum that highlighted the steadfast nature of the brand along with its commitment to excellence. This great spot allowed dealers to relax and network while basking in the history that they each shared. This commonality sparked engaging conversation and an opportunity to appreciate the company in a completely immersive environment.

The Heritage Lounge


THE PASSAGEWAY

Yet the Welcome Reception was not only about where the company had been, it was also about where they were going. Connecting The Heritage Lounge and the futuristic Innovation Bar was a central hallway named The Passageway, which acted as a time warp to transport guests from the past to the future. This narrow hallway could have easily been overlooked as a pass-through space. However, using our creativity and ingenuity, we draped it with LED black drapery that immediately transformed the area with an "outer space" look and feel. Textured linens were added to clear chairs to speak to the timeless and weightless qualities of space. The Passageway created a transitional path that alluded to the change of time between the two ballrooms and allowed the group to pause and reflect on the brand's history before heading into the future.

The Passageway


THE INNOVATION BAR

After exiting The Passageway, guests moved into The Innovation Bar. This space showcased a sleek, modern design that embodied the company's commitment to the future and being on the cutting edge. In stark contrast to The Heritage Lounge, The Innovation Bar took on a lighter color palette of white with accents of blue and silver, providing a lightness and freshness to the space that complemented the overall open layout of the ballroom. Gobos were artfully placed for an updated style of brand messaging, such as "Stay Calm and Drive On," which fit with the sentiment of the event perfectly. Transforming the ballroom into The Innovation Bar provided a fresh haven and enthralled guests with a sense of enlightenment.

The Innovation Bar


The Challenges

With just one week left until the production of their event, the client became concerned that their mostly male attendees would skip the welcome reception in favor of watching the last March Madness basketball game. Rather than try to compete with one of the most well-known tournaments in sports, we were asked to develop a creative solution and design a fourth space as a company-themed sports bar. The room was a success and wound up being standing room only due to the popularity of the March Madness game. Our team was able to take what could have been a severe threat to the event's attendance and make sure our client's extremely important message was heard.

Sports Bar

We were also asked to accommodate a 75% seating requirement with just two ballrooms, which meant our teams had to get creative in how we balanced the client's wishes with event flow and décor concepts. Our creation of detailed floorplans and renderings not only helped our teams with planning, but also helped us demonstrate to the client how we were meeting their request. The last-minute addition of The Sports Bar became a blessing in disguise, as it allowed us to exceed our client's request for 75% seating.

The Result

As the program came to an end, we were overwhelmed with the amount of gratitude from our client and the hotel – it was beyond what we could have imagined. Our ability to produce an artistically inclined event was demonstrated clearly by how each space transformed and took on a personality of its own, while still keeping the same story in mind. Attendees gave rave reviews, saying that they had been inspired and energized with a memorable experience.

We intercepted the company at a crucial time in their history. Capturing the essence of their brand, with its rich history and influence on culture, carried a heavy responsibility of being inspiring, innovative, and all-encompassing. Setting the tone for the evening and creating nuances that engaged the guests made for a transformational evening that elevated the client's expectations with great value.

Brand crisis with your top dealers? Not anymore. Destination, Managed. 


Aug 16
Hello! is Nominated for Five Awards by One of the Industry’s Premier Organizations – ILEA!

Five Esprit Nominations

Update (8/17/18): Congratulations to Cameron Rust and Janice Dowling, who took home Esprit Awards for "Best Entertainment Production: $25,000 - $75,000" AND "Best Event with a Legacy" for their work on Give Kids the World's annual fundraising gala. With two award wins and three additional nominations for Hello! Las Vegas, we couldn't be prouder of our teams!

Original story below

We are incredibly honored to be nominated for 5 Esprit awards by the prestigious International Live Events Association (ILEA). Want to know what it takes to be an award-worthy event? We're giving you a closer look at what happened behind the scenes.

A Vegas Hangover

Nominated for: Best Corporate Event: $75,000 - $150,000

One epic party concept, two completely different designs. What do you do when your event needs to overlook the Las Vegas Strip from The Cosmopolitan's multi-level pool deck, but the hotel is concerned about ruining their recent $15 million renovation of the pool area? You build two different visions for an event whose final plans and execution are at the mercy of the hotel's approval.

A Vegas Hangover Crowd Overview

A large insurance provider was hosting their famous costume party night, known for its outlandish themes and creative costumes, during their conference for 2,000 guests at The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. It was the client's first time in Vegas, so it was time to go big and give their guests an authentic Las Vegas experience with elevated events and five-star service, leaving an impression that transcended guests' expectations. We created a "Hangover Las Vegas" theme; a nod to the fun and relatable content of the movie "The Hangover," which captured the most famous scenes from the movie: Caesar's Palace garden, the dentist's office, the bathroom tiger, and the wedding chapel. Like in the movie, this event would help people form real friendships with some quirky mayhem and surprises along the way.

A Vegas Hangover 1

We began envisioning how we could bring "Hangover Las Vegas" to life. The event was originally planned for the entire fourth floor of the hotel's conference area, but discussions began about relocating the event to the Boulevard Pool; a recently renovated space that offered unobstructed, multi-level views of the Las Vegas strip. Knowing the dynamics of the group, we knew it would elevate our guests' authentic Vegas experience. Getting hotel approval to host an event with heavy foot traffic and tons of heavy décor on their $15 million newly resurfaced pool area was another story. It also meant we had to go back to the drawing board and redesign the costume party in case we were able to successfully leverage our relationships and gain that approval. We DID receive approval – just one week prior to the start of the program. Had we not been prepared appropriately for both scenarios, this would have meant a mad scramble that may not have fulfilled all of our client's wishes.

A Vegas Hangover 2

The expression for each of the vignettes depended on both the big and small details in order to bring them to life. Each vignette combined customized décor, activations, entertainment, and lighting to transport guests into each "scene." We also worked with The Cosmopolitan to design food and bar service that played into each of the themed areas for a fully immersive experience.

A Vegas Hangover 3

Guests were free to explore and create their own experience throughout the night. The musical entertainment kept the energy pumping, with attendees dancing all night. The client decided to extend the party on-site for an additional hour – something they had never done before! In speaking with the client they expressed how they had never experienced such a dynamic costume party and that we had outdone ourselves in making this an EPIC event for their company.

Give Kids the World Gala – A Night of Dreams

Nominated for:

WINNER! Best Entertainment Production: $25,000 - $75,000

WINNER! Best Event with a Legacy

In September 2017, Give Kids the World hosted its 29th annual gala for 1,550 attendees at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. The gala is just one of those events that touches you in ways you didn't expect and inspires us to do something extraordinary. Give Kids the World Village is a beloved Central Florida nonprofit resort that gives magical cost-free vacations to children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. For a brief moment – one week –  they are free of the worries of doctors and needles and the burden of the realities they never thought they would ever have to deal with. As it approaches its 30th anniversary year, this once-humble event has grown from a simple "thank you" dinner for a few top donors into an award-nominated event that is not only its largest annual fundraiser and a celebration of its mission, but an experience that transports its over 1,500 attendees from around the world to far off fantasy lands and into the intangible imagination of children.

Give Kids the World Decor

We develop and execute the overall theme and show flow of this meticulously-planned, five-hour long event, guiding its food service flow, designing the décor and table design, and producing its multi-act theatrical show. It's a highly involved process, as the logistics require us to manage an entire AV team, seating for 1550, and a completely custom show with over 70 performers. Organization is key to ensuring our product matched the creative treatment and aligned with the goals of the event and the goals of our client.

This year's event, "A Night of Dreams, Darkness to Dawn" dove deeper into the Village's mission than ever before. The show moved attendees through the realization that your child has a life-threatening illness through the progression of sunset to twilight, night and dawn through modern dance, acrobatics, music, and song.

Give Kids the World Entertainment

By developing a clear, strategic creative treatment, we were able to ensure that the Village's message was deeply present in the event. Along with strong logistical organization, we produced this event on-budget, in a very short window of time, and with new technology that our guests had not seen before. After the gala, we received great feedback from guests that were unfamiliar with the Village but were inspired to support it after their experience.

Give Kids the World Entertainment 2

GEN BLUE

Nominated for: Best ILEA Team Effort Over $150,000

In the midst of planning an already challenging event, an unspeakable tragedy strikes. Las Vegas (and the country) was rocked to its core with a mass shooting that left 58 people dead and 851 people injured. The landscape of this outdoor event for 5,000 guests changed overnight, where real-world threats and significant last-minute changes threatened to derail months' worth of hard work.

The client wanted an outside location for their 5,000 guests to enjoy a "block party." They decided on a space in downtown Las Vegas with a "Vintage Vegas" theme. Several months later, we were asked to look into relocating the party to Toshiba Plaza and The Park, this time with a "White Wedding" theme. Due to security concerns following the Las Vegas shooting, we were asked to hold the meeting inside the T-Mobile arena. However, with the arena's sports schedules and possible memorials, securing the space was anything but guaranteed. Once we received confirmation for the space, we immediately jumped into coordinating new plans with all parties , including arena representatives, production, catering, and the client. We also needed to get approval from the arena's in-house catering team to allow outside food and beverage into the arena, since contracts had already been signed with restaurants in Toshiba Plaza. Given the heart-breaking circumstances, we were touched that everyone was accommodating, understanding, and willing to pull together to ensure a successful outcome.

T-Mobile Arena Entrance

After developing a solid plan for moving forward, the scope then changed again as we were informed that the client had booked the Goo Goo Dolls. We needed to rearrange the space and include a large concert stage and appropriate AV. We redesigned the event for a fourth time, working to reconfigure all décor and entertainment.

Arena Floor

Despite being in size-restricted areas, we pulled out all the stops to make sure we still created our client's wish for a "White Wedding." During the event, guests had the opportunity to renew their vows by none other than Elvis Presley, along with chapel photo opportunities and cotton candy served in champagne flutes. Our team also ordered a custom, oversized Heart Locket Sign on which guests were initially going to write love messages to each other on a lock and attach it to the heart. With the tragic circumstances of the shooting surrounding them, the sign now became a standing memorial where attendees wrote messages of support for the shooting victims. Rather than showing their love for each other, couples and other attendees showed their love for Las Vegas.

GEN BLUE Collage 1

Once the event concluded we had to strike everything immediately so the arena could begin turning the space back into a skating rink for the following day. During the strike of the event, some of our team members took the Heart Locket Sign with the goodwill messages for the shooting victims over to the memorial at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign. While installing the heart on site, Las Vegas residents who were there paying their respects emotionally thanked us for adding this heart display to the memorial site. It was a very emotional and memorable moment our team will never forget. 

Love for Vegas Strong

Reinvent the Night

Nominated for: Best Entertainment Production Over $75,000

Hello! Las Vegas produced the welcome reception for 1,600 guests of an enterprise software company at their annual conference. Over the course of the evening, three different themes came to life in front of guests' eyes; what started as a traditional Vintage Vegas-themed event morphed into a fluorescent 1980s wonderland, and finally into a techno electronic fantasyland. As each theme took over a single space at The Cosmopolitan, performers captivated guests with dazzling performances and interactive elements.

When guests entered the space they were greeted with a Vintage Vegas party by themed entertainers. We began the party using a swanky, slow build with live performances from The Rat Pack, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe. Guests enjoyed walking around and snapping selfies with the showgirls and other interactive characters while a speed-painter designed the Las Vegas skyline on a large canvas.

Vintage Vegas Collage

The lights and video graphics then morphed into a crazy 80's design as our high-energy 1980s band entered. The 1980s was all about excess, so we brought its "go big or go home" attitude with break dancers, Ghostbuster characters, and oversized, custom-designed Pac-Man characters. A host of 80's impersonators grooved throughout the crowd as exercise dancers tossed neon necklaces.

80s Collage

The DJ came on the speakers to ask the crowd if they were ready to move into the future. The DJ began playing pulsating tunes from his 3D booth, feeding into the crowd's already frenzied energy. Mood lighting and graphics once again switched up to match the new theme. Electrifying futuristic characters moved throughout the space along with a myriad of LED glowing performers.

Electronica Collage

We wanted to shake up the traditional event experience that uses different rooms and décor to segment themes. We began the bold challenge of transforming a single room into three different themes that would reveal themselves to guests over the course of the night. The event was originally scheduled to be in the pool area of the hotel, but a sudden, rare rainstorm approached the Las Vegas Strip. Our already short 2-hour turn time became even tighter as we had 90 minutes to mobilize over 75 performers from a dozen different companies to new green rooms and performance spaces, coordinate the move with our suppliers, and rehearse the transitions between the different themes. Had we been less experienced or unaccustomed to dealing with unexpected challenges, this could have spelled disaster. Overall, the guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves as they were continually surprised throughout the night. 


Jul 23
Top Things to Consider for Your Next Destination

Top Considerations

How do you select the perfect destination for your next program? Sure, hotel and flight availability certainly come into play, but there's so much more. See what our experts say are the important considerations that go above and beyond the basics.

How Do You Want Your Guests to Feel?

Selecting a destination that can provide that special experience is paramount. What surroundings will deliver the experience you want to give your attendees and leave a lasting impression of their time together? Mark Jarrell, Director of Sales for Hello! Arizona, loves to plan with a little contradiction in mind. "When planning a program, I especially like contrasts…a modern hotel paired with an off-property rustic ranch, or a classic resort with a modern off-property venue. Creating that special experience that people wouldn't necessarily expect presents dramatic results," he says.

The Destination's Event Calendar

Always check your proposed destination's event calendar for public events and festivals that are taking place at the same time as your desired program dates. Kelly Kruszewski, Director of Sales for Hello! Florida (South) says, "Sometimes city festivals and events can be a positive thing for your group to experience, but it can also affect your program by limiting resources and venues or increasing room rates during that time."

Variety and Flexibility with Food and Beverage

Heather Phillippe, Senior Account Executive for Hello! California (Northern) touts this as an important consideration. "In San Francisco we are able to work with numerous food vendors within our hotels and venues, which allows us to offer customized options within a budget," she reveals.

The Lay of the Land

New developments, construction, and city infrastructure are important to take notice of, since this will affect the accessibility for your guests as soon as they arrive. "Many groups are attracted to the fact that San Diego is so easy to maneuver through since the airport is close to downtown," says Romy Linde, Director of Sales for Hello! California (Southern.)

How Important Are Off-Site Events?

If taking your group off-site is an important component of your agenda, make sure your destination is venue-rich to allow plenty of options. Engaging Hello! early on is paramount so we can make sure the destination has adequate venues that can accommodate your group size during your program dates. It's also important to look at the natural surroundings and terrain, since that will serve as the backdrop for your activities and experiences.

Time of Year

It may sound like a given, but be sure to take the weather and time of year into consideration when selecting your next destination. Be open to creating back-up plans; despite perfect planning, the unexpected can happen!

Where Hello! Is

Last but not least, always ask yourself if it's one of the over 35 destinations that Hello! serves; if the answer is yes, then you know you'll be in good hands. 

Jul 19
Destination, Managed

Destination, Managed

What keeps a client coming back to Orlando and our Hello! Florida (Central) team for eight years running? A lot of logistical prowess and dedication to excellence. Keep reading to find out how our experts successfully managed an intricate program for 25,000 guests of a major enterprise software company. 

The Event

This repeat client holds their annual conference in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center each year. As in years past, our team handled the transportation, bus wraps, staffing, on- and off-property events, theme décor, and more. The difference? With attendance growing each year, in 2018 we managed the program for an astounding 25,000 guests over three days. 

Conference Welcome Banner

The Challenges

Transportation

With the clients' guests staying at 49 different hotels, our Hello! Florida (Central) team had their work cut out for them in developing a logistical plan that would provide direct and efficient transportation for all attendees. Collaboration and experience melded together perfectly to create a daily shuttle service that spanned 15 different routes using 106 buses and the help of 72 staff members.

Convention Center Transportation

In addition to the daily shuttle service, one of the major challenges each year is transporting all attendees to a concert at the Amway Center in the heart of busy downtown Orlando. While normally a little daunting, our team was facing an additional challenge this year: a major thoroughfare – Interstate 4 – is currently undergoing heavy construction. Multiple off-ramps were closed, which resulted in our teams having to meticulously re-route the buses from any typical paths. Overall, we were able to accomplish this massive undertaking through the use of 202 buses, 100 staff, and 11 police officers to block off multiple downtown streets.

Amway Center Transportation

Branding

Branding the bus transportation was important to the client, who asked for 99 bus wraps. Ever the go-getters, our Hello! Florida (Central) team divided and conquered all 99 buses in just 24 hours using 16 different install locations and four teams. The client was thrilled with the end result; everywhere guests looked, the company's logo and branding took center stage.

Bus Wrap

On- and Off-Property Events

Over the course of the three-day program we were tasked with operating 31 on- and off-property events – everything from a basketball networking event and off-property dinners to on-property events with theme décor. Whether it was a 770-guest reception to a lunch for 20, our 18 Account Managers and countless Sales Coordinators made sure each event was both successful and memorable.

The Result

This program is a huge undertaking each year but we couldn't be more appreciative of our client's loyalty and dedication to our partnership. The feeling is mutual, as our client followed up after the program with this note:

"We wanted you to be aware of the outstanding service we received from your entire staff…It is impressive to come here year after year and see the same team in place. That says a great deal about your management….Although no event comes without its challenges…each [member of the team] went above and beyond to make sure our event was a complete success. I am always so impressed with how quickly any request or concern was addressed by each of them. Again, we would like to express our gratitude for all the hard work. We look forward to a very successful repeat in 2019 in Orlando and to work with your fine staff once again! We know we can expect the best."

Destination, Managed. 

Jun 25
What's in My Bag? DMC Edition

Whats in My Bag DMC Edition

Did you know you can use a razor to shave the little balls off of polyester linen? Have you ever considered keeping some high heel protectors in your bag so you can walk on grass without sinking? Our 10 offices operate thousands of programs each year across the country; take it from the pros and see what our experts say are their "must-haves" at an event.

Toolin' Around

Multi-Tool

Executive Vice President Douglas Kahler says having a multi-tool on hand is a life-saver: "It's so helpful to have a multi-tool with you, either a Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman type. There are many different versions and they can save you in so many situations."

Multi-Tool

Exact-O Knife

"To open the many boxes that often arrive for event setup." —Danielle Guido, Product Development Manager, Hello! Washington, D.C.

Mini Screwdriver

"Keep both a Phillips and flat head with you…you never know when you're going to have to jump in and help!" —Amanda Flaum, Senior Account Manager, Hello! Las Vegas

Scissors

Several of our teammates recommended scissors as a "must-have." Hello! Florida (South) Executive Producer/Department Director Vanessa Lopez particularly loves miniature scissors: “I’ve used them multiple times on site!”

Measuring Tool

"A ruler or laser measurer comes in handy when you need a quick measurement or to help visualize the footprint of smaller items." —Patsy Phillips, Product Development Manager, Hello! Texas 

For a Quick Bite

SELEWARE Portable and Stackable 4-Piece Twist Lock Storage Jars

"This snack jar fits in my laptop bag and helps when I don't have time to eat." —Kathleen Michael, Producer/Event Designer, Hello! Florida (South)

Granola Bar

Hello! Florida (Central) Sales Coordinators Lexi Watts, Gaby Delgado, and Bridget LaPorte all agree that granola bars can give you a quick boost when you need it. 

Seleware Container

Keep it Tight

Zip Ties

"They're especially good for hanging signage." —Susan Saville, Senior Account Executive, Hello! Washington, D.C.

"To fix literally anything that falls apart!" —Kate Connin, Event Designer, Hello! Florida (Central)

Binder Clips, Bobby Pins, Hair Ties, Safety Pins

"Binder clips can help tie back drape." —Cameron Rust, Senior National Asset Manager – Branding and Continuity, Hello! Destination Management

"Use hair ties as a rubber band to tie things – they're so necessary!" —Eva Lau, Director of Product Development and Samantha Gonzalez, Sales Coordinator, Hello! California (Northern)

Tape and Tacky Putty

"Double-sided tape to 'hem' pants when switching from heels to flats on site." —Paige Weeber, Director of Operations, Hello! California (Southern)

"Use duct tape to hold signs in place on a windy day or to mark the placement of items, buses, signs, etc." —Kathy Turns, Director of Operations, Hello! Florida (Central)

"I use tacky putty for everything from keeping easel signs on frames outside to almost any other need." —Alison Davis, Senior Account Executive, Hello! Florida (Central)

Tacky Putty

Staying in the Digital Age

Phone Charging Cables or External Battery Banks

Nearly half of our respondents can't live without their phone charging cables or an external battery bank while they're on site. "Taking dozens of calls from suppliers seriously drains a phone battery." —Regina Brooks, Account Executive, Hello! Florida (Central)

Bluetooth Device

"So you don't miss a single call from clients or suppliers." —Kelly Truitt, Destination Services Manager, Hello! Washington, D.C.

Portable Thumb Drive

"I'm inevitably going to need to get something digital from one person to another." — Cameron Rust, Senior National Asset Manager – Branding and Continuity, Hello! Destination Management

A Strong Defense

Hand Sanitizer, Antibacterial Wipes, Emergen-C

"No one wants to get sick during Busy Season!" —Susan Saville, Senior Account Executive, Hello! Washington, D.C.

"You never know what needs to come off a table." — Kelly Truitt, Destination Services Manager, Hello! Washington, D.C.

First-Aid Kit, Band-Aids, Tylenol

"A small first-aid kit is a life-saver!" —Eva Lau, Director of Product Development and Samantha Gonzalez, Sales Coordinator, Hello! California (Northern)

Sunscreen, Extra Sunglasses, Water Bottle

"It's always sunny here in SoCal!" —Bill Yahres, General Manager, Hello! California (Southern)

Rub-Relief Stick

"Avoid those blisters!" says Kate Connin, Event Designer at Hello! Florida (Central.) Hello! Director of National Business Resources Julie Mezzina recommends foot petals' fabfeet cushions and BLISSTICK anti-friction stick.

Fab Feet Products

High Heel Protectors

"For when you're on site wearing heels and you need to walk on grass without sinking!" —Eva Lau, Director of Product Development and Samantha Gonzalez, Sales Coordinator, Hello! California Northern.

High Heel Protectors

Lookin' Good

Compact Mirror, Comb/Brush, Nail File, and Makeup Essentials

"I keep a makeup bag in general, but lipstick, concealer, and mascara are my 'musts' to look alive after an all-day install." —Vanessa Lopez, Executive Producer/Department Director, Hello! Florida (South.)

Makeup Essentials

Toothpicks and Floss

They're for more than just teeth! "You can use floss for possible cutting needs like cutting a cake into equally/evenly sized and spaced triangle portions," says Rebecca Waters, Sales Coordinator for Hello! Florida (South.) Eva Lau, Director of Product Development for Hello! California (Northern) has even used a toothpick to hold up a succulent.

Cologne/Perfume and Deodorant

"Especially on those long, hot load-ins, you've gotta keep smelling fresh!" —Aaron Tharp, Producer/Event Designer, Hello! Texas

Tide-to-Go Pen or Wipes

"For little accidents, either on yourself or on tablecloths." —Danielle Guido, Product Development Manager, Hello! Washington, D.C.

Office On-the-Go

Sharpies

"It's good for everything! Labeling, touching up furniture, etc." raves Susan Saville, Senior Account Executive at Hello! Washington, D.C. Hello! Arizona Event Designer Tressa Rini goes big: "I don't just keep black Sharpies but also wood-colored and metallic ones, too. You never know when you may need to fill in a small scratch on a table or charger."

Sharpies

Mini Stapler, Paper Clips, and Pens

"Pen, pens, and more pens! For signing contracts and making adjustments to floorplans on site…always have pens!" — Amanda Flaum, Senior Account Manager, Hello! Las Vegas


Jun 25
Program Primer: D.C. Block Party

Headline Photo

Let's take a look at our Washington, D.C. Block Party in the intimate community of National Harbor, Maryland, just outside of D.C. This casual reception-style event focuses on fun, food, and networking, allowing guests to flow between exclusive indoor and outdoor spaces to experience various menus as well as musical and interactive entertainment.

D.C. Block Party Collage

The Block Party takes place on Fleet Street, just across from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, where we shut down a one-block section of the street and buy out all six restaurants and venues. Guests can literally party in the street with the main stage band or explore the indoor spaces, discovering a unique menu in each as well as additional musical acts and interactive entertainment. With a different surprise at every turn, the Block Party has something for everyone. Guests will find dueling pianos at Bobby McKey's, a mechanical bull at Cadillac Ranch, 100+ beers on tap at BrassTap, savory BBQ at Brother Jimmy's, and major sports of the day at Public House. There is even a quiet refuge at Irish Whisper for guests looking to escape the crowds and relax.

D.C. Block Party Collage 2

In addition to the existing amenities, our Block Party offers many optional enhancements, including engaging atmosphere entertainment and countless branding opportunities—both indoors and along the street. With this large amount of available space just steps away from all of the National Harbor hotels, it's a fantastic option for large conferences to get their guests out of a hotel setting without the need for transportation.

Stage Photo

For more information about our D.C. Block Party, please contact Hello! Washington, D.C. General Manager Danielle Kambic at dkambic@hello-dmc.com or 205.591.3080.


Jun 20
Destination, Managed: Reinvent the Night

Destination, Managed Reinvent the Night

Hello! Las Vegas produced the welcome reception for 1,600 guests of an enterprise software company at their annual conference. Over the course of the evening, three different themes came to life in front of guests' eyes; what started as a traditional Vintage Vegas-themed event morphed into a fluorescent 1980s wonderland, and finally into a techno electronic fantasyland. As each theme took over the space at The Cosmopolitan, performers captivated guests with dazzling performances and interactive elements.

The Event

When guests entered the space they were greeted with a Vintage Vegas party by themed entertainers. We began the party using a swanky, slow build with live performances from The Rat Pack, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe. Guests enjoyed walking around and snapping selfies with the showgirls and other interactive characters while a speed-painter designed the Las Vegas skyline on a large canvas.

Vintage Vegas Collage

A DJ came over the speaker and asked the crowd if they were ready to switch up the party. As guests cheered, the lights and video graphics morphed into a crazy 80's design as our high-energy 1980s band entered. The 1980s was all about excess, so we brought its "go big or go home" attitude with break dancers, Ghostbuster characters, and oversized, custom-designed Pac-Man characters. A host of 80's impersonators, from Pee Wee Herman to Tina Turner, grooved throughout the crowd as Jane Fonda-esque exercise dancers tossed neon necklaces to the guests.

Stay in the 80s Collage

The DJ once again came on the speakers to ask the crowd if they were ready to move into the future. At this point the crowd was not just cheering, they were screaming. The DJ began to play pulsating tunes from his 3D booth, feeding into the crowd's already frenzied energy. Mood lighting and graphics once again switched up to match the new theme. Electrifying futuristic characters moved throughout the space along with a myriad of LED glowing performers.  Electronica Collage

The Challenges

We wanted to shake up the traditional event experience that uses different rooms and décor to segment themes. We began the bold challenge of transforming a single room into three different themes that would reveal themselves to guests over the course of the night. To set the foundation, we designed a plan that utilized furniture, décor, lighting, and screens that worked well with each theme. For the client's high-priority item of entertainment, we scheduled a team of over 75 performers that would each have a role in all three thematic concepts. We developed a comprehensive show flow to map out the night, clearly detailing how the performers would be cross-utilized.

The event was originally scheduled to be in the pool area of the hotel, which only allowed a two-hour window for load-in. However, a sudden, rare rainstorm approached the Las Vegas Strip. Thirty minutes into our two-hour load-in window, the hotel made the call to move the party into the Chelsea Theatre. Our already short turn time became even tighter as we had 90 minutes to mobilize over 75 performers from a dozen different companies to new green rooms and performance spaces, liaise with the client's lighting and audio provider to re-focus lighting and microphone placement, move and set all décor elements, and rehearse the transitions between the different themes. Had we been less experienced or unaccustomed to dealing with unexpected challenges, this could have spelled disaster for the entire night and set a sour tone for the beginning of the conference.

The Result

The guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves and how our themes steadily increased in color and complexity throughout the night. Guests were continually surprised, which resulted in a heightened energy that continued to build each time the performers came out for the next theme. We knew we had hit the marks of our client after they kept walking by us and giving us a thumbs up to let us know everything was going great. We made sure to meet with the client the following day to conduct a post-event feedback discussion, and they told us several times how much they loved the concept we came up with. 

1,600 guests, 90-minute set-up time, 75 performers, and 3 themes in 1 event space after a brutal, sudden rain storm. Destination, Managed. 

May 31
Destination, Managed: Electric Rodeo

Electric Rodeo

The Event

Our Hello! Texas team was asked to create an unforgettable final night reception for 600 guests of a leading educational publisher. The client was "at a loss" for what to do; the final night had always been a big hit with their attendees and coming up with a unique experience each year was a consistent challenge. With many of the venues that could accommodate groups of their size already booked, the only feasible option was the Circle R Ranch. It couldn't have worked out better—the venue was the perfect size for the group, the perfect distance from the hotel, and the perfect price based on the client's budget.

The Challenges

The Circle R Ranch is a traditional ranch that prides itself on genuine Texas hospitality, making it one of the most charming western venues in town. With it having the perfect size, proximity, and budget…where's the challenge?

The client wanted to steer clear of anything western, rustic, or Texas-inspired.

The conference theme was "MINDSET," which focused on thinking into the future, remaining innovative as a company, and shifting perspectives from the old to the new. The client felt that sticking with a country-western theme in a country-western venue was in direct conflict with the message they wanted to impress upon their guests. We needed to completely transform this western venue into a modern, edgy space that inspired creativity, challenged guests' mindsets, focused on the future, and defied the status quo. Needless to say, we had our work cut out for us.

The client had hosted one of their last conferences in Miami, and they wanted to keep that vibe for the reception. We chose the décor based on this love of bright colors and modern design, creating a hot Miami club feel. Our lighting team installed custom fabric panels to cover the rustic poles and hung over 150 lighting tubes as well as various wave panels and colorful starbursts.

Electric Rodeo Collage 1

Electric Rodeo Seating

The overall effect of all this modern lighting on a rustic canvas inspired what we now call "Cowboy Pop" or "Electric Rodeo," our twist on the everyday western event that has been tremendously popular with many other clients.

Electric Rodeo Collage 2

The Result

The client and their team were overjoyed with the transformation. As the buses unloaded you could hear the guests getting excited and pulling out their phones to capture that "Instagram-able" moment. The client was still in awe at the end of the event and raved about the success of the evening.

Venue Exterior

Country-western to Miami-modern? Destination, Managed. 

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