By Jenny Berg Posted December 21, 2011, 4:03 PM EST
CHICAGO There's not much of a holiday slowdown for Noelle Provencial, experiential marketing and events manager for Groupon. When the season rolls around, Provencial is tasked with planning the company's massive Christmas party, which took place this year on December 16 and drew nearly 3,000 guests. Her first step: finding a venue that would hold such a sizable crowd. The search began months before the event.
“We were pretty limited this year in terms of the venues in the city that can accommodate [so many] people, and we definitely wanted a single space as opposed to a multilevel option” to encourage interaction and employee bonding, Provencial said. “Budget was also a key factor, so tenting Millennium Park was out of the question. When we toured the Aragon Ballroom, we knew right away that it was the right fit for our event. I love that it has so much built-in character. It was easy to really make it sing.”
The venue, originally a 1920s dance hall, has turrets, Spanish-style tiles, palm trees, and illuminated stars embedded in its ceiling. Building on the already-existent Arabian Nights look, Kehoe Designs brought in silk lanterns and flower arrangements hung with candles; Provencial also selected entertainment based on that theme.
Surprises are a key element of the Groupon holiday party, she said. “This year, the surprises included roaming performers: acrobats, belly dancers, and stilt walkers.” Other entertainment came from DJ Sasha Savic, who brought in a drummer and a rock violinist, local band Rock Candy, and even C.E.O. Andrew Mason, who serenaded employees with a customized holiday jingle.
“The atmosphere was 100 percent celebratory,” Provencial said. “The dance floor was the place to be, and Groupon employees danced and sang the night away. The photo booths were also a big hit.” Staffers could pose with holiday props that included lit-up Rudolph noses and menorah hats.