On my travels, I'm often asked what the most inspiring event idea I've ever come across is? Of course, the honest answer is that there isn't one particular idea above all others, as it's mainly down to the interplay between several ideas that creates great events.
Having said that, there are various events that are still talked about for years afterwards (the wedding of a great friend which involved hidden abusive messages about every guest, discreetly and painstakingly written on the inside of the place cards is a particular favourite!). However, the story I'm about to tell is still talked about over a decade later! This story was resurrected at a cocktail party in Wiltshire last Saturday night. Hosted by friends who have just sold their business, their country pile (complete with his and hers Aston Martins out front!) was a refreshing reminder that excess is still very real and attainable - if you're willing to fight for it. Where's the shame in that? Having heard this story a few times over the years, I was honoured to meet someone who actually claimed to be there (no names I promise!).
So, here goes. Once upon a time, in a bygone era where it was acceptable to publicly celebrate one's success and when it actually helped you attract positive publicity, a global financial institution threw a party for their team and clients in their new London offices. All the right people were there to bask (and share) in the glory of another successful year (following a lot of hard work and if, like me, you work even harder than that and are not as rich as a banker yet then you too may be a busy fool, get over it! - or join a bank) and rightly so (IMHO). The atmosphere was jubilant and the entertainment was mesmerising. The City of London's unique and eclectic skyline was twinkling as if in the early evening afterglow of this bank's dazzling performance. But one, clever and symbolic idea stole the show. Before the heating system was fired up (and just imagine getting this signed off today) they pumped their entire radiator system full of, possibly the one liquid more valuable than oil - Champagne! I suspect that in today's climate you'd be confined to filling your office radiator system with Prosecco, such is the budget cutting madness of post Olympic Britain ;-)
At this Champagne reception, guests had to serve themselves (see, it wasn't an unlimited budget after all) and were all handed (instead of the obligatory name badge) a radiator key with which you could 'bleed' a radiator of choice whenever your glass needed recharging! I guess the overriding theme/message was that success 'flowed through the veins' of this global market leader. And it was brilliant.
Excess is good. In moderation, of course ;-)
Just imagine how far (and fast) that message would have travelled in the age of social media. It's a great shame that so much negativity surrounds the celebration of fiscal success these days but events, whether they're celebrations, training exercises, or sales and marketing initiatives have been proven time and time again to be the most effective medium for just about any eventuality (take my word for it or see Keith Prowse's recent survey for yet more evidence - Keith and I are both right!)
So I say "Celebrate", spend more on events, make them memorable, maximise your unique opportunities to do something amazing, support an industry that's there for a reason (to help you inspire your target audience) and achieve massive (and measurable) results via the social networks as your reward for daring to be different.
Talking of different, this week saw me do something frankly unacceptable. Three 6.30am runs in three consecutive days! Taking in Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill, Camden Lock and, this morning, the South Downs, I've been hobbling to meetings all week. Today's was a huge treat though and just reward.
The flamboyant and gloriously eccentric (reminds me of Arthur Somerset) Managing Director of legendary restaurant group, Boisdale (Belgravia, Bishopsgate and Canary Wharf), Ranald MacDonald, invited me to his incredible Cabot Square establishment for a spot of lunch. And when I say lunch, I mean lunch. The way it used to be - big, fun, social, businesslike and delicious. Even the flowers were edible! The biggest (most beautiful) steak I've ever been shown and a choice of (literally) a thousand whiskies were amongst the highlights. But most of all, this venue harbours a sensational series of spaces for a great variety of events. You'll see them soon enough in the venue section of the site but you've got to see this place to believe it. It's huge, with beautiful oak floors, stunning original artwork (check out the movie on Facebook, because some of it does weird stuff!), beautiful authentic tartan carpets, a walk in humidor (complete with cigars from as far back as 1951) an Oyster and Champagne bar, private dining rooms with stunning views of the City (including 20 Fenchurch st (launch party next week) and the Leadenhall Tower) and a state of the art live music stage (kitted out with a £250k sound system!), Boisdale means business and I genuinely believe its one of the most multifaceted, relaxed and exciting new corporate event spaces on the London events scene. Its surprisingly affordable too. Perhaps we'll invite you to lunch one day in August...