July 23, 2014

Event Planning

Show & Sell

Hoopla is still big, but Florida's meeting planners say corporate branding events and philanthropic fund-raisers are more focused -- and more expense-conscious.

Art Levy | 10/1/2008

At the height of the real estate boom, the parties that developers threw to herald a new condo complex underwent a boom of their own. Particularly in south Florida, even the tamest opening of a condo sales office required high-end food, neon-colored cocktails, loud music, wild decorations and barely dressed models dancing into the wee hours.

Model with cognac bottle
A model flaunts Remy Martin’s new cognac bottle designed by David LaChappelle at a party hosted by Remy Martin and put on by Zhantra Entertainment in Miami. [Photo: Zhantra Entertainment]

In 2005, it wasn’t uncommon for a condo party to cost between $200,000 and $300,000. “The developers were spending huge dollars,” says Elaine Meier, owner of a south Florida marketing and public relations firm. “Each opening had to be bigger and better than the one before.”

Eventually, however, attendees came to care more about the parties than the condos. “Toward the end, there wasn’t much buying. It was, ‘Where’s the party?’ ” says Yaffa Mizrachi, a principal with Langston Mizrachi & Co., a Plantation public relations firm.

Post-boom, with the broader economy cooling along with the real estate sector, Florida’s multimillion-dollar event business has had to adapt. Heather Wilson, an event manager for ME Productions in Orlando, says there are still plenty of corporate events statewide, including awards dinners, seminars, sales meetings and gatherings of professional associations. Hoopla is still a staple at many events, but targeted-marketing events with a sharply defined focus — and budgets — have replaced the extravaganzas.

“There’s less spending on fluff and more on meaning,” Wilson says. “Corporations, they really want to make sure that you’re just not enjoying an event but that you’re also understanding the meaning behind it and getting a message. There’s more branding.”

ConceptBAIT floor design
ConceptBAIT designed a tropical Florida theme when the Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau threw a party last year to celebrate the unveiling of its new name, Tampa Bay & Company. [Photo: Chanele Hernandez]

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