Of the 700 or so events I’ve organised I’ve never attempted an Awards Dinner and here’s why

I had a chat one evening with an award winning event agency. Every year they sweep the boards at our industry awards. “How do you do it I asked?” The Director responded: “Simple, really. We have one person whose only job is to enter our agency for awards. We have the resource and we have the skills to know exactly what they judges are looking for”. I would like to say this was a Wizard of Oz curtain moment, but I’ve always been skeptical of awards dinners. If there is one event in our industry that needs disrupting it is the Awards Dinner!

I am pretty sure every event organiser knows deep down that the traditional format is a bit rubbish. It’s not that they are bad, they just aren’t great.

I attended an awards dinner a few years ago. 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 good 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 compère 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 wonder though, 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?

Awards Dinners – 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 organisation these events wouldn’t run. But it’s hardly the only type of event that can say that, but what about the people involved:

  • To you, the random guest: listening to a list of obscure organisations trying to win an obscure award or something that seems, to the untrained eye, totally worthless, are you having a good time?
  • To you, the 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?
  • To you, the losing nominee: Did you spent a lot of time on your pitch and was it worth it?
  • To you the company who places business because of an award: Do you realise, that more than likely they just nominated themselves, and may have only been up against one or two other companies?
  • To you the winner: you paid for the table right? Can’t you see you something is up?
  • To you the organiser: could you have run another event that added more value to stakeholders?
  • To you the panelist: could you have spent your time better doing something else, like mentoring?

Questions, just questions. If you do something different with your awards, please do let me know.

Published On: February 17th, 2016 / Categories: Behavioural Change, Innovation /