The Overview

This event, for a client I had been working with for several years, was going to be big.  As an annual meeting of all the top revenue producers for this company, the event was equal parts incentive trip, educational forum and awards recognition.  The client wanted to make an impact with the attendees, and that is what we set out to do.

They let us know early on that we were going to have a couple of big name entertainment acts, two stages, an indoor reception space, exposition and outdoor carnival…yes, carnival.

It would be an understatement to say I was excited to dive into this project.

The Process

At our first site visit we were very pleased to discover that the venue had high ceilings, with no obstructions, and plenty of rigging options.  Being that these are the two things we so often fight in a venue, we knew we could do something great in these spaces.

The environment design process took about 4 months before we finally landed on designs for all of the spaces that we thought would work.  I produced CAD plan drawings and basic conceptual renderings for each space.

J1183 AE WSOS Full_Gatlin v17
CAD Drawing of Full Ballroom with All 4 Spaces

The main ballroom presented some challenges because on top of a full day of business sessions, we would have to produce a dramatic opening night of entertainment that included a famous magician, aerialist acrobats and two large kabuki drops. Oh, and we had to lower in a large sign that read “Imagine” with pyrotechnics! I love my job.


J1183 AE WSOS Salon_C Fri v6
General Session CAD Drawing

The client had an idea around a theme of “Imagine” and wanted a vintage circus feel so we worked in concert with our decór partner to bring this concept to life with elements such as this fabric tent that would be above the audience for our opening session.

Fabric Swag Tent
Opening Session Just Before Doors
Opening Session

The awards/concert space needed to be something special.  Through multiple meetings with the client and the band’s management, we were able to find the sweet spot between our needs for a dynamic awards program and a real concert feel.  This was achieved by revealing the band, after the awards, with movable LED walls that were taken off stage, via trolley system, for a seamless transition from awards to concert.  Oh, and the band was kept a secret until that moment.  It was a really cool surprise.

J1183 Awards Rigging Elevation
Awards Rigging Elevation
Awards Banquet Just Before Doors

After the opening night session, the attendees were treated to a full carnival with midway attractions and a carousel.  I designed the carnival layout, lighting and audio, and it was definitely a learning process, but the entire team came together and pulled it off and it was amazing.  The night was capped off with a full fireworks show.  What a night!

Carnival Midway Games

The meal room, which is now affectionately known as the “light bulb room”, was decorated with about a thousand light bulbs strung at different heights from festoons with a large sign over the entrance that read “Imagine” and was lit with about 200 lights.

Light Bulb Room
Light Bulb Room Being Strung

The Summary

In the end, the client got the huge event they wanted, and the reviews from attendees were incredibly positive.

I believe there are opportunities to learn something on every project, but this particular project provided learning opportunities at every turn. It took an incredible team and quite a few sleepless nights to pull this one off, and the end result was well worth everything we put into it.  It’s not every day that you have such an amazing client that allows you to do such big things, and I cannot thank them enough for including me on the journey.

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