- Audience Response System IML Worldwide
- Audiovisual Production LA Sound Company
- Awards Society Awards
- Awards Show Judging Day venue Sofitel Los Angeles
- Awards Show Rentals and Title Sponsor Classic Party Rentals
- Bag Drop Sponsor Mars Chocolate North America
- Cocktail Reception Catering Along Came Mary Productions Inc.
- Cocktail Reception Spirits Barcelona
- Cocktail Reception Spirits Party Hats Inc.
- DJ Champagne Showgirls Inc.
- DJ The Bobs
- DJ The Three Waiters
- Draping Design West Coast Drape
- Front Lounge, Show Office, VIP Lounge Furnishing Plush Lounge
- General Session Sponsor Paramount Pictures Studios Special Events
- Industry Partnership ISES Greater Los Angeles
- Invitations Alpine Creative Group Inc.
- Keynote Seat Drop Sponsor Creative Graphic Services
- Lighting and Staging ShowPro
- Lodging Accomodations Wilshire Grand Hotel & Centre
- Main Lounge Furnishings AFR Event Furnishings
- Photography Brightroom Inc.
- Production Honeysweet Productions Inc.
- Promotional Sponsor Drum Cafe
- Promotional Sponsor La Quinta Resort & Club
- Radios Radios 1
- Rear Lounge Furnishing Lounge Appeal
- Registration E-vents Registration
- Registration Equipment NMR Events
- Retail Catering
- Show Bag Sponsor Terranea Resort
- Signage SignMakers
- Trade Show Floor Florals The Hidden Garden, Floral Design
- Venue M.M.P.I. Events & Space/M.M.P.I. Fashion Group
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LOS ANGELES More than 1,500 event industry A-listers gathered at the L.A. Mart on June 11 for the third annual BizBash L.A. Expo and Awards. The mart’s second floor proved an ideal location—a large space configured to accommodate education sessions, a main stage, three spacious lounges, and the trade show floor. Hidden Garden provided dramatic floral arrangements for the show office, V.I.P. lounge, and lounges. Show banners outside the L.A. Mart and directional signage inside were printed by Sign Makers and designed to include the expo’s logo and colorful sunburst. On-site communication was easy with radios supplied by Radios 1.
This year’s theme, “Bash the Expected,” encouraged planners to think strategically about their events and introduce new ideas during a challenging year. Faced with budget cuts, planners must think more creatively than ever before to keep events relevant and on message. The expo’s marketing included invitations created by Alpine Creative Group. BizBash’s staff created buzz before the expo by using social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Special offers posted on industry sites, as well as tweets on Twitter, announced speakers and the expo schedule and provided registration reminders.
A team from E-vents Registration sped attendees through the on-site registration process with a bar-code-scanning system in the main lobby. NMR Staging supplied the on-site registration equipment, including computers and badge printers. All attendees received white recycled polypropylene tote bags sponsored by Terranea Resort. The bags included show-branded M&M’s courtesy of M&M Mars and a special subscription offer from BizBash Masterplanner, as well as the show guide.
In a fun, old-fashioned contest, BizBash awarded the 500th planner to arrive on site a special prize. Ed Gallo, event manager from Warner Bros. Special Events, was shocked by an impromptu celebration featuring confetti, noisemakers, and applause from onlookers as he was awarded an M&M’s dispenser and five pounds of custom-branded M&Ms. Gallo was delighted by the surprise and said that he would share the prize with family and friends.
Just over 300 planners attended education sessions that started shortly after 8 a.m. and lasted all day. “Financial Issues for Planning Events From the Inside Out” drew a standing-room-only crowd. Robb Thornsberry from Infinity Events gave tips on cutting expenses—such as simply asking for discounts—which can be effective in today’s economic climate.
The “Planning Successful Nonprofit Events and Galas in Challenging Times” session also attracted many planners, who heard from a panel of experts that included Judy Levy, owner and partner of Levy, Pazanti & Associates; Rene Jones, founding director of the U.T.A. Foundation; and Ken Scherer, C.E.O. of the Motion Picture & Television Fund Foundation. Education sessions were filled with planners taking notes and listening intently during the 50-minute programs.
The general session, sponsored by the Studios at Paramount, opened at 10:15 a.m. as attendees gathered in the California Ballroom. The room was enhanced with Chiavari chairs from Classic Party Rentals, the official sponsor of the Event Style Awards. The general session’s seat-drop sponsor was Creative Graphic Services. West Coast Drape defined the main stage with black velour draping. The audiovisual team consisted of LA Sound, which provided audio, and ShowPro, which lit the main stage. Event production management for all main-stage activities was handled by Erick Weiss and his team from Honeysweet Productions. Glow Design Group created the on-screen media design, which was projected on plasma TVs. Light tubes hung horizontally between the screens.
The Bobs, a jazzy a capella quartet that blends humor into its shows, opened the session with an energetic and entertaining performance. The quartet's rendition of Cream’s “White Room” was a crowd favorite.
With the entertainment complete, it was time to get down to business with the 2009 L.A. BizBash Hall of Fame induction ceremony. This year’s Hall of Fame inductees were Howard Bragman, chairman, C.E.O., and founder of Fifteen Minutes Public Relations; Paul Dreher, assistant director of catering at the Beverly Hilton; and Hillary Harris, director of Warner Bros. Studios Special Events. Each inductee was presented with an inscribed silver charger acknowledging their contributions within the event industry. Dreher ended his acceptance speech by saying, “If you’d like to have an affair, call me,” which brought laughter and cheers from the audience.
Immediately following the induction ceremony, BizBash editor in chief Chad Kaydo took to the stage and presented some of the best ideas from recent events covered in the magazine. Brent Bolthouse joined Kaydo onstage for a discussion of current market trends. Bolthouse gave details about recent Bolthouse VOX events like the T-Mobile Sidekick launch and Entourage party.
Attendees waited for the show floor to open while relaxing on white leatherette curved benches and rectangular ottomans from Plush Lounge. Plush also furnished the V.I.P. lounge and show office with comfortable black couches and glass-top coffee tables.
The show floor opened at 11 a.m. and featured 120 event suppliers showing off the latest products, venues, and custom-branded merchandise. Along Came Mary presented its new bling tables, while Glimmer Body Art administered temporary glitter tattoos in bright colors. Other notable exhibitors included Background Productions, whose models acted as strolling tables wearing colorful table skirts, and Madame Tussauds Hollywood, which featured a wax Denzel Washington. Kindle Living’s innovative new product the Kindle Heater received many wows from attendees who admired the look of the outdoor heater.
Drum Cafe gave away an interactive teambuilding event valued at $4,000 to one lucky planner. King Dahl, executive director of events at MGM Mirage Events, won the prize and will enjoy a custom event designed to promote unity and energy among participants.
For those who needed a break from walking the aisles, the show floor featured a central lounge created by AFR Event Furnishings that included red leather couches, ottomans, and highboys and stools. Skam Artist provided DJ services in the main-floor lounge.
California Pizza Kitchen supplied hungry attendees with its signature pizzas, as well as sandwiches, salads, fruit, and beverages. Cappuccino Man served as the expo barrista, pouring hot beverages and specialty drinks from his cart.
The show floor mini stage featured 20-minute education sessions and entertainment throughout the afternoon. Amy Marella, owner and founder of the Hidden Garden, presented “Decor on a Dime: Tips for Tabletops.” Rita Tateel, founder and president of the Celebrity Source, spoke on “Working With Celebrities: Trade Secrets From a Pro.” And Mary Micucci, founder and owner of Along Came Mary Productions, talked about “Cost Tips for Creative Menus.” All sessions were well attended and left participants with practical knowledge.
Brightroom Inc., the official show photographer, was on hand to catch the action. View and download show photos online and see what you may have missed.
The conference program continued in the afternoon with two additional education sessions. “Power Entertaining With Food and Wine” attracted a crowd to hear America’s first master sommelier, Eddie Osterland, talk about creating special experiences for event guests. Osterland answered questions and chatted with session attendees well past the end of the session.
Ray Hanson, director of iml, led the session “Gen 2.0 Technology: Demos and Explanations of What to Adopt,” giving attendees information on building their personal brands and on why contributing to the online conversation on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter is so important. Session attendees participated in a survey using iml’s handheld audience-polling devices.
Lounge Appeal showcased some of its new furniture options in a lounge on the rear show floor. The lounge included white vinyl and Ultrasuede sofas, corner couches, and glow tables and cubes. Decorative blue throw pillows completed the look. Megavision Arts provided dynamic wall projections, such as the show branding and logos in the main and rear lounges.
The energy continued well into the afternoon as attendees gathered for the Event Style Awards. Mardar Entertainment’s Hypno-Twist wowed the crowd with an entertaining act that culminated with two “hypnotized” entertainers acting and singing onstage.
This year’s award show, sponsored by Classic Party Rentals, bestowed 16 awards for the best events in California from the past year. Competition was stiff, with more than 150 entries received. Judges carefully reviewed and scored entries during judging day at the Sofitel Los Angeles in May. The crystal B-shaped awards were created by Society Awards and etched with the category and year. For a list of this year's winners, click here. Awards were presented by BizBash staff members and special guests, including Mike Miner of Classic Party Rentals, Erick Weiss of Honeysweet Productions, and Mark Furlet of the L.A. Mart. Champagne Showgirls were on hand to assist.
Joel Cutler, executive meetings manager at La Quinta Resort & Club, announced the winners of two trips to the luxury property in Palm Springs. The trips included five nights and either a golf or spa getaway package and were awarded to Pat Moore, senior meeting planner at Mattel Meeting Planning Services, and Valerie Ulrich, director of special events at First Republic Bank.
Immediately following the Event Style Awards, attendees filled the L.A. Mart’s main lobby to end the day with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and conversation. Along Came Mary catered the party with many tasty treats, including Manchego grilled cheese sandwiches and seared ahi tuna on a crispy wonton triangle with cilantro crème fraîche, papaya relish, and daikon. A crowd favorite was strawberry, chocolate, or plain cheesecake lollipops hand-dipped in crisp chocolate glaze. Champignon U.S.A. provided a wide array of cheeses, while Margarita King and Barcelona supplied beverages for the reception. Bright floral arrangements were provided by C.J. Masumoto & Sons. The Ladies Choice String Quartet entertained while guests sipped beverages and mingled with colleagues.
Party Hats Entertainment contributed to the fun with a build-your-own-hat station at the cocktail reception. Attendees picked from many styles and customized their selections with pins, fringe, buttons, and bows. We all know that event planners wear many hats these days, and Party Hats proved it!
BizBash would like to thank the L.A. Mart’s staff for accommodating our every need, as well as Classic Party Rentals and our exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees, all of whom made the event a tremendous success. The third annual BizBash L.A. Expo was certainly a memorable day for everyone who attended—and for those who couldn’t make it, there’s always next year.