What I’ve Learnt From Creating Amazing Events In The Last 30 Years

What I've learnt from creating amazing events in the last 30 years

What I’ve Learnt From Creating Amazing Events In The Last 30 Years

This is a Founder’s post written by Founder and Director of Table Art, Gary Martin.

After being involved in the events industry for 30 years, I know a thing or two about creating amazing events. For me, this all began back in the 1970’s when I was a young boy and my dad ran his own themed events company. I got firsthand experience about how themed events should be planned and here are a few nuggets I’ve learnt both then and down through the years.

Themed Events Are All About Creating Unforgettable Experiences

Firstly, themed events are all about creating unforgettable experiences. My dad taught me that and I’ve never forgotten it. It’s what drives me in all the themed events I’ve been a part of.

Too many people fail to realise that a themed event is an experience therefore, they end up with something ok, perhaps even good, but that’s about it. It’s simply forgettable. With all the detail that goes into a themed event, you have to keep the guests’ experience at the forefront of each decision. Each themed event must be designed to live on in the memories of the guests.

From the first invitation to the grand reveal, from the entertainment to the ambience. “How do the guests feel?” When will they say “wow”? When will they get their phones out to take photos… or turn to the person next to them, and say ‘this is incredible!’ If we’re not innovating, creating and working with that expectation, we’re not creating magic. If we’re not creating magic, we might as well pack up our flight cases and head home.

New York event themed styling with Table Art

The Industry Is Constantly Shifting And Changing

The events industry is constantly shifting. We’ve all seen shifts in entertainment and the growth of app-based bookings. Then there is social media and the digital transformation behind the scenes.

Increasingly, it will be interesting to see the impact of the different disruptive technologies with the growth of drones, battery storage, augmented, virtual and mixed reality, iBeacon, 3D projection mapping, wearable tech, IoT devices, artificial intelligence and big data. The role these will all play in impacting events has the potential to be seismic with 32.9% of event professionals in a recent Eventbrite Pulse Report stating disruptive technology was the second largest trend to impact events this year.

Regardless of the role of technology, people love to gather together and share experiences in person with others. There’s often a sense of celebration and excitement. I’m noticing that aesthetic trends are aligned with changes we see in bars and restaurants. One thing that rarely changes is the need for event planners to maximise the impact of an event within budgetary restrictions. In short, don’t expect an army of robots providing the ultimate in customer service to be serving dinner at events in the near future.

007 table centrepiece for James Bond themed events

Get Professional Help

Running an event takes a creative eye and a well-thought-out approach. Over the years, I have realised that the event professionals expertise is similar to that of an interior designer. Of course, most people can pop down to Ikea and pick out tasteful items to put in their house. There are enough magazines and apps out there to inspire us.

However, when a professional designer is involved, you can expect a greater visual impact. You’ll also get a consistent theme and attention to detail that comes from years of experience. They know how to use signature pieces, where to source unique items cost effectively and how to create the most stunning impacts.

Good event professionals have the ability to take the measure of the room, understand how guests will feel and produce experiences that amaze them. Sometimes this may be one-off dramatic pieces, like the large elephant we use in our Dream Circus events, and other times it will be the accumulation of many areas where there’s attention to detail.

It may be a clever use of technology and an understanding as to what is a growing trend as opposed to a passing fad. For instance, the innovative event planners I know are embracing Augmented Reality, giving guests a dual experience that blends virtual experience through mobile phones,  creating a more immersive experience in the real world. Event professionals know how to find and build teams who have a wide-ranging expertise, build anticipation and draw guests into the ‘what comes next’ experience.

I am both honoured and excited to work alongside a community of event planners who are constantly pushing the boundaries and creating the incredible. If you ever want any recommendations, be sure to ask us, as there are some talented planners and firms we’d love to recommend.

Acrylic candelabra table art centrepiece

Table Centrepieces Make Your Event Standout

I’ve always had a huge drive for creativity. A big light bulb moment for me was understanding the importance of the middle of the dining table. Being one metre from the guests, and therefore in their viewpoint 80% of the time, there was the possibility to create your own piece of something ‘unforgettable’ right under the guests’ eyes.

Initially, people used helium balloons and placed pebbles on mirrors. They knew the importance of proximity, but let’s be honest, who wants to stare at mirrors and stones all evening? I wanted to create a table centrepiece that looked amazing. Not just amazing but could be illuminated and radio controlled throughout an event and be synced into the night’s entertainment. Table Art was born.

We heard ‘Wow’ a lot, with guests whipping out their phones for selfies. Now with the latest innovations, we’re seeing table centrepieces tastefully complement the theme of the night. It’s not that Table Art replaces other props or screens. It simply provides a greater bang for your buck in the experience department.

Crystal ball table art centrepiece

Make Key Relationships

Throughout my lifetime in the themed events industry, I’ve always known the importance of developing lasting relationships with innovative partners. Together we can create the ultimate themed event experience. We currently have collaborative relationships with partners like Blue Parrot Company and Axis Events who we’re working with to develop the next major shift in themed events. On top of that, we work with partners throughout the events industry: themed event planners, lighting, staging and entertainment companies to name but a few. We understand what it takes to work well with others.

An important relationship for Table Art was with Hilary Devey from Dragon’s Den. I told her about our idea for table centrepieces and how it would revolutionise the industry. She understood the significance, believed in what we were doing and enabled us to secure key investment. This helped drive our business forward as innovators in the industry.

Relationships are central for anyone in the events industry.

Acrobat table art centrepiece

Innovating Is Crucial

A constant state of innovation has helped us drive Table Art forward as the largest, most innovative and trusted global table centrepiece company. That’s a bold statement to make but is one that is backed up by data. We work with the biggest events names in the industry and are responsible for Table Art in many of the world’s leading events. Creativity is at the heart of our success.

One of our current innovations is to give guests a real Imax Cinema style surround sound experience from their seats. We’ll be the first within the industry to have made this happen and love being innovators. This complements our ongoing explorations using different technologies and materials like copper, timber, leather and crystals.

Over my 30 years in the events industry, those that know me often say I never stop. I’m always thinking about the next design or fresh idea. At Table Art, we have a blank canvas each day, which helps us imagine and create unforgettable experiences. It’s because of the incredibly talented team I work with, that we’re able to create experiences that make our clients consistently thankful. That’s why our team grows and stays with us; when you’re the leaders in your field then you’re able to retain top talent.

Chillout event styling themed bar

Conclusion: Creating Amazing Events with Gary Martin

I have learned a lot throughout my career, starting from my early beginnings helping my dad with his events business.

It has been one hell of a ride, full of ups and downs, countless long days and nights. But I wouldn’t give any of it up or change a thing. My dad blessed me all those years ago by giving me the best apprenticeship in the world. Now I can say I have the best job in the world!

If you’re putting on an event then please get in touch with me at Table Art on +44 1926 831357. Or if you’ve got something interesting to say about the Events Industry then be sure to get in touch as we’re looking for talented people to interview. 

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