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Creating the WOW Factor at the Annual Awards Dinner

August 3, 2017

Oh the awards dinner, a necessary event for most companies as they look to recap final numbers, honor achievements and celebrate wins. While it can be an exciting time, especially for award recipients, it can also slip into the abyss of the same old thing.

How do you avoid falling into a stale rut and design an over-the-top, high-five, WOW factor at the annual awards dinner? We took a look at destination venues and tapped a few creative minds to arrive at the following ideas:

5 Tips to create the wow factor at your awards dinner

Consider a Theme

Classic, elegant and timeless? Contemporary yet chic? Or even modern and casual? Get clear on the type of vibe you want for your attendees! No, we’re not talking red carpet and Oscar caliber eccentrics, but creating the perfect atmosphere is essential to a successful and memorable awards dinner. Depending on what you envision, there are several creative and simple ways you can carry a theme throughout the night. Whether it’s setting an emotional mood through lighting and music or enticing palates by highlighting certain food and beverage items. Oftentimes the best option is right in front of you! Weave the destination into your dinner by hiring local entertainment, offering cuisine indigenous to the area or using centerpieces filled with native plants and florals. With a theme in mind, you can easily incorporate similar touches to achieve your ideal setting.

Determine the space

While there are plenty of creative décor and staging elements to carry out a theme when holding your dinner in a hotel, changing things up a bit by using a unique venue can be just the fresh twist your event needs.  Newport Beach, CA has several venues that can add a surprise factor to your awards dinner.

New Port Theater – This “hip movie house” can easily be configured to accommodate a private corporate dinner or an awards banquet. It has an art deco vibe, a two-tiered reception area perfect for larger groups, and a spacious theater area equipped with high-tech audio/visual capabilities. This historic venue can accommodate up to 225 guests for a seated dinner and on-site staff can arrange all catering and decor.

Marina Park – This new facility spans ten acres along Newport Harbor.  Marina Park’s largest event space has a wraparound balcony and floor to ceiling windows with unobstructed harbor views. It’s equipped with LCD projectors/screens, podium, microphones and sound system. The event room can accommodate up to 144 guests for a plated dinner.

Newport Dunes – Try a complete shift for a traditional and often formal awards dinner by opting for a relaxed, yet chic beachside dinner. Newport Dunes sits alongside a calm, crescent shaped bay. The area has plenty of outdoor space along with a 14,000-square foot pavilion giving meeting planners a blank canvas to decorate. Groups can begin the evening with a reception beachside then move inside to a space that has endless possibilities.  Or if presentation screens are not necessary, consider an awards dinner at the water’s edge.

Achieve the wow factor at your awards dinner by turning up the basics

Turn on the Lights

Lighting can dramatically transform a space. Searchlights or spotlights can add an element of intrigue. Likewise, completely shutting down or lowering the lights is the easiest way to grasp audience attention. Need a discrete but effective way to signify program transitions?  Rely on color changing LED lighting to announce the changes.

Use Creative Seating

Think set design rather than dinner event. Tie the theme into various décor and A/V elements starting with the entrance, including your signage.  Boost anticipation by keeping the dinner a reveal, perhaps even downplaying the event a bit during the reception then opening to a wow factor with unique seating arrangements, creative tablescapes or even unusual tables and chairs. Rather than the usual banquet rounds, try glass top rectangular tables or even long conference tables set in a chevron pattern throughout the ballroom. Serpentine tables, usually associated with buffets are a unique option for non-traditional dining. The theme and ambiance can be incorporated with linen and chair choice so play around with colors and don’t be afraid to mix it up. Break up the monotony of a ballroom by alternating linen colors, try a gradual shift in color from dark to light or vice versa from the back of the room forward or use different colors on table clusters and in centerpieces as a guide to assigned seating.

Creating an over-the-top, wow event requires thorough attention to detail. Taking the time to understand the group’s overall vision and working with the local experts to help meet that vision is key when it comes to delivering a memorable program.

When you’re ready to begin organizing your next group meeting, contact the staff at Visit Newport Beach, the destination marketing organization for Newport Beach, CA. Visit Newport Beach opens the doors to this Pacific paradise with destination expertise, customized site visits, strong partnerships and valuable resources.

Written by Visit Newport Beach Meetings

As a not-for-profit Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), Visit Newport Beach provides destination expertise, customized site visits, strong partnerships and resources tailored specifically to the needs of meeting planners and their clients.

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