Hospitality Hall of Fame – Oceans Legend
At this year’s Allie Awards we were beyond thrilled for our team, event partners and client to be recognized by winning BEST EVENT: CORPORATION/ASSOCIATION (OVER $100K) for our work on the 2015 Hospitality Hall of Fame Awards. In its 16th year, this is the 6th year that Destination South Meetings + Events has had the honor of producing the reception, dinner and ceremony. Making this year special, our team had the exciting opportunity of helping to re-imagine the event structure and flow to engage with even more of Atlanta’s movers and shakers of the hospitality community.
Held at the Georgia Aquarium, gone was the traditional sit-down dinner with awards and speeches presented as dinner was being served. Guests entered through the Aquarium’s special events entrance, and from there were guided through a small portion of the ballroom, concealing the excitement that was to come later. Through this pathway, guests enjoyed a surprise underwater greeting by a diver swimming among fish behind a large exhibit window. During the cocktail reception guests enjoyed an open bar, wait staff pass hors d’oeuvres and the beauty of fish life on exhibit in that viewing area.
Immediately following the cocktail reception guests were guided into the Dolphin Theater by mascots in whimsical starfish and seahorse costumes for the awards portion of the evening. The Dolphin Theater is part of the Aquarium’s public attraction where visitors enjoy a theatre setting with a highly choreographed live dolphin show. While the Dolphin Theater show is lots of fun, it’s an unlikely venue for an awards ceremony. But guests this evening were in for big surprise! The Georgia Aquarium dolphins kicked off the show with an impressive act where audience members could be heard gasping with each flip. Then high over the pool, local television personality Nikky Williams appeared on the catwalk to welcome guests and host the show. Each time an inductee was announced, he or she was heralded by dolphins flipping back and forth and a ballyhoo of lights and celebratory music. Between each recognition, video segments were shown onto cleverly mapped sunburst-shaped fabric sails behind the pool – a technical feat that had never been carried out in this location before. It was a slick and energized show with all speeches, videos and awards completed in an hour!
As the awards ceremony came to a close, guests were led into the ballroom to experience dinner in an elegant and tropical inspired environment. Around the ballroom walls and on the ceiling, video projections created a mesmerizing under-water effect – one wall featured a huge window into the beluga whale exhibit. As guests took their seats the lights went down, a spotlight fell on the cabana stage, and a vocalist appeared accompanied by a trio of white-clad musicians on a second stage. Screens on either side of the stage area displayed a rotating sponsor loop throughout the evening, and a sheer drape ceiling treatment connected the two stages optically to the rest of the room.
Dinner was served and guests were then free to move around and visit each other, enjoy coffee and dessert, or a drink from the bar. Informal entertainment followed by dessert stations gave guests the security that they could leave early if they so desired…except no-one did! The party was so enjoyable and refreshing, that the majority stayed until the very end!