“Nothing but the best on a tight budget!” That was the client’s requirement for this business event. It had to be unique, and it had to exude quality. We put our heads together and came up with the idea of taking the guests on a virtual journey to New York on the Red Star Line.
In other words, we went back a hundred years or more for our client. Between 1873 and 1934 the Red Star Line sailed between Antwerp and New York. The historic warehouses of the old shipping company currently house Antwerp’s Red Star Line museum. We were pleased to present this location to our client.
A good idea, or so it seemed. But not without its challenges. One of the biggest challenges was the logistics. The Red Star Line museum is a city museum, which means it is open to the public. We couldn’t set up the event until the museum closed at 17.00. The invitees were the sort of people who receive (electronic) invitations all the time. So our invitation had to be original.
- Set up at 17.00 and not before
- Organise an original, top quality event on a tight budget
Making it happen
Our location was a city museum, so we couldn’t set up until the museum closed its doors to the public. The museum closed at 17.00 and the guests began to arrive at 18.30. We took a strategic step and divided the museum into two.
We used black fabric to screen one area off and prevent the guests from entering. The majority of the preparations took place behind the screen, but it allowed us to welcome guests into areas which had already been prepared.
We kept the AV as compact as possible to allow the equipment to be wheeled in, connected and sound checked, and the caterer set up a tent on the pavement beside the museum. Everything went well in the end, right down to the final details.
✔ It took just an hour and a half to set up the evening event
We have told you the location. But did we tell you the location also provided us with the theme for the event? In other words, we created a total concept. We put the invitees in the shoes of the emigrants, who left more than 100 years ago. It all started when they arrived at the car park. The guests left their mechanical horses behind them and were taken to the entrance by horse and carriage. Lots of extras were used to bring the idea to life. A town crier, a poor peasant family, Albert Einstein, the ship’s captain, the pest controller: all were given a role.
The walking dinner was entirely theme-based too. The evening started with a trio of Antwerp river eel, followed by specialities from the United Kingdom and Ireland. And it ended with a luxury American hot dog. And yes, we hit an iceberg along the way, in the shape of a delicious sorbet. The guests were served by seamen, to the sound of a jazz band live in the background.
✔ An original and top quality event on a tight budget
And we can round off with a nice anecdote from the evening:
The extras were true to life and mingled in with the guests. At one point the pest controller picked someone out from the crowd (who was also an extra, but the guests didn’t know this). The pest controller asked him to strip off and prepare to be washed down and disinfected for lice. Assuming that the poor victim was a guest, one of the managers demanded an explanation… And that’s a measure of how well we actually did on this project!