[Ripple Effect Series] Righting the Ship

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Hey, Sailor! Righting the Ship When a Plan Goes Awry

In our inaugural article in the ‘Ripple Effect’ seriesinformed musings from the vantage point of expert event planners—I introduced the concept of how even the most seemingly minute details can have big ripple effects. In this second installment in the series, we will define ways in which a seasoned event producer (skilled at clever improvisational maneuverings or fancy footwork) cranks their thinking cap into high gear when even the best laid plans go askew. How do we right the ship? And now for the perfect segue…

Top Gun? What a fantastic theme to have some fun with for a celebration!

AppDirect’s Partner Summit was a conference for deep learning and connections between clients, partners and platform enthusiasts all taking place in San Francisco. Our clients had a smartly conceived Top Gun theme scheduled during Fleet Week, when our nation’s naval forces descend on San Francisco’s waterfront for shore leave and an awe-inspiring display air and water shows that are a throwback to an era when we would display our military might.

The climax of the week’s events was a party at the Exploratorium, an sensational science learning center based on a historic dock jutting out into the San Francisco Bay. Team Kennedy Events had a crackerjack plan for the night with a trumpeting entry band, an 80s themed band, and AppDirect’s executive team delighting everyone by making a grand entrance in flight jumpsuits, à la Tom Cruise. With views of Treasure Island, the Bay Bridge, and a majestic aquatic landscape – with walls of windows, an open terrace over the water, and uncharastically perfect weather, what could go wrong with this evening?

And then – wah wah wahhhhh – Maggie and Shelly arrive to set up the event, and there is a ginormous gray wall obstructing every single view of the Bay.  A wall? More specifically, a four story giant naval ship’s starboard side was parallel parked alongside the entire length of Exploratorium with no plans to go anywhere for the night. We were facing a night of no views, one of the intended main attractions.

Making Friends With Neighbors

Meanwhile, on the ship…the sailors, just down from Canada, were enjoying an incomparable bird’s-eye view of our party, looking down on us from their multi-storied vessel and curious about our party. Being friendly neighbors (and crafty, quick-thinking improvisors), we invited them! And being friendly Canadians, they accepted! Instead of just looking up at their ship, we were now dancing to Madonna covers and sharing the bar and their tall tales with our fascinated attendees, not to mention thematic floor-to-ceiling maritime wallpaper where there was once an incomparable view.

The crowd was delighted, if not a tad smitten with our men in uniform, and the Kennedy Events gals played it off – in true Kelly McGillis form – like this was always part of the master plan. You couldn’t have asked for better, theme-related entertainment or guests.

Before This Ship Sails, the Conclusion…

Clearly, this event I just illustrated might have turned out quite differently. In the hands of less experienced event producers unable to display grace under pressure with some fancy footwork, the client would have been rightfully disappointed, and the guests would have likely been bewildered. After producing scores of similar events, the Kennedy Events special-ops team was able to deftly and gracefully improvise as soon as an obstacle was thrown in their path. Everything from the small details to the large potential game-changers, can indeed have big ripple effects.

Stay tuned to find out what happens when 150 guests arrive for an event set for 125…


Do you have a conference, gala, fundraiser, or strategic meeting on the horizon? It’s not too late to get help with your fall or winter event! Contact Kennedy Events for a free consultation.

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