Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles sat down with event producer, Doug Wright, who’s in the middle of choosing the perfect venue for a corporate anniversary bash.
AA: You do a lot of marketing environments, product launches, and sales meetings. Is it a nice change of pace planning a big party?
DW: The diversity of my clients always makes the work interesting, whether it’s a gala charity event at a Manhattan hotel, condominium sales centers around the country for New York based developers like The Related Companies and Extell, or a hospitality lounge for Grand Centenario Tequila at the bi-annual Mercedes Fashion Week in L.A. In this instance, a financial services firm approached me to handle their 10th anniversary gala, and they want to do something a little out of the ordinary.
AA: And this client was considering an overnight somewhere up the Hudson?
DW: We began by looking at unique sites outside of the city itself, and thought an overnight at a spectacular location would be memorable. One of the biggest challenges is securing venues for the dates the client needs, so when you’re looking at six locations or so during peak season you need to move quickly. Many places like Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Locusts-on-Hudson, and Wave Hill are very in demand as wedding sites, so the competition is steep. We fortunately managed to get reservations at each of them with the exception of Locusts.
AA: But now it looks like your client will switch to a location closer to their offices?
DW: As we dug deeper into the weekend plans, it became apparent that bussing 120 people on a Friday night in August could require that dinner be served on the luxury coaches themselves given the likelihood that traffic would be at a standstill. We’re now also looking at several spectacular city locations like the new Whitney, The Glass Houses in Chelsea, and 4 World Trade Center, which has incredible city views. We still will need to bus everyone in luxury coaches, but on time arrivals are more of a sure thing.
AA: Are there other activities planned for the guests?
DW: Yes, there is to be a team building event on Saturday, and we’re very excited about doing it at Rustico Cooking on 39th St. They have marvelous programs overseen by Micol Negrin. We want to have the group break up into small teams, each of which will be responsible for preparing one part of the meal. Not only is it fun to work together, but you get a great dinner in the end, and their wine pairings are delicious.
AA: What else was in the running?
DW: We also considered the Manhattan Yacht Club for a sailing event where everyone breaks out onto 15 sailboats, learns to sail, and competes in a race to the Club House for lunch, but the uncertainty of weather precluded that in the end.
AA: And Dempsey & Carroll will be doing a set of engraved correspondence cards for each guest?
DW: That’s what I’ve been discussing with the client. We’d include the copper name plates of each employee in a custom plush velvet bag. It would be a very luxurious and personal gift, and the custom white linen boxes would have the company’s logo embossed on them as a nice reminder of the anniversary, and the event. The client loves the idea!
Photos courtesy of: Doug Wright, Whitney.org, Locustsonhudson.com