Association Congress

Friday, 5 August 2011

What is the point of Awards Dinners?

Rather bizarrely I attended my first ever awards dinner last month. I wasn’t nominated, and if you read this article, you will see why I am unlikely to ever emulate that feat. I was there as a guest first and organiser second. To be honest I can rarely separate the two and this does tend to lead to two rather annoying things happening. Firstly I can’t just sit still, experience the event and enjoy myself: I have to analyse the whole bloody thing. And secondly, after a few beers, my words with the organiser are rarely ever choice ones.
The first thing to note is that the organiser ran the event superbly. There were seamless transitions from one part of the night to the next; food and wine worked well together; unnecessary chat from the compare was at a minimum and they had chosen a very good host. The venue was good, the post award entertainment (always a tricky one to call) was OK and everyone seemed happy with the evening. The winners were visibly delighted with their win and the losers openly devastated at their ‘loss’. I say loss, but as the 6 foot 8 former Rugby player compare pointed out: “everyone who’s nominated is a winner”, and here! here! to that my jolly old chap. Now these are the truthful choice words I should have used when chatting to the harried event organiser. Not the moaning nit picking I wrongly decided was far more appropriate.
I wonder though - and all I was drunkenly trying to say was - can we as an industry, not YOU specifically, poor knackered event organiser, raise the bar at these events? Is this tired and tested format the best we can do? With this format are the guests, the nominees and the sponsors actually all losers?
What is in it for everyone anyway?
Let’s get this clear. If there wasn’t a chunk of money to be made by the hosting organisations these events wouldn’t run. But it’s hardly the only type of event that can say that, but what about the people involved:
-          If you are a random guest, listening to a list of obscure organisations trying to win an award like ‘Best Erection’ ( or something that seems, to the untrained eye, totally worthless, are you having a good time?
-          If you are a sponsor, are you wondering how you measure the value of your sponsorship (logos on screens are not enough these days) or exactly what you are paying for?
-          If you are one of the nominees who doesn’t ‘win’, have you spent a lot of time on your pitch and was it worth it?  
-          If you a company who places business because the winner has this award, do you realise, that more than likely they just nominated themselves, and may have only been up against one or two other companies?
-          If you won, you paid for the table right? Can’t you see you are being scammed?
-          If you organised it, could you have run another event that added more value to stakeholders?
-          If you were on the panel, could you have spent your time better doing something else?
Questions, just questions.
If we want to deliver more value and add some innovation perhaps we can look at the list of innovations from my last Blog innovation for award dinners and see if there are ways in which we can improve these events for all the people involved.
If you do anything differently or if you add innovation please let me know. Because after reading this, it’s unlikely you will be inviting me along to your dinner. I might be nominated for ‘Event Agitator of the Year’ though. If I did, I think I’d take a table.    

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