This is an interesting topic for me as I am seeing a change within the events industry as to the style of events that we are hosting. What is causing this? Is this a reaction to Brexit? Or possibly a downturn in the economy? Or is this simply a move away from the traditional events into a new medium?
Just because something has always been done that same way doesn't mean it always should be!
For years we saw all awards show follow the standard format of:
Sparkling Reception, Three Course Meal with half a bottle of Wine, Coffee, Awards, DJ, Carriages
This is a tried and tested formula and one that the majority of people would expect. However, this style does have its limitations which has catalysed the change away from the tradition onto new styles.
Look at what you want to achieve before deciding your format, times & package
At your standard event, you have 45 minutes to an hour (if you are the first to arrive) to network with people who are not on your table. Whilst this may sound like a lot of time, in reality, by the time you have arrived at the venue, queued to get in, queued for the cloakroom, gone to the bar, this is normally around half an hour.
As many of you are aware when you arrive, you need to warm up to your surroundings. After moments (and of course the first glass of sparkling wine) the time to chat has shortened and the main room has opened.
Once you are seated for dinner, the food is served, the awards are presented and it is often hours before you have a chance to network again. By which time, you have probably had a few glasses of wine and the idea of networking with people that you do not know is not always top of your agenda!
The networking opportunities are always a benefit additional to the main purpose of attending an event. Crucially in modern society, time is money and we are programmed to grasp opportunities, and whilst you are sat down for three hours, you have a small reach of the two people sat either side to get to know.
It is a large amount of time that people are expected to sit still during a traditional dinner. Here is an example of the traditional timings for a seated awards dinner:
7pm 1 Hour Reception
8pm Call to dinner
8.15pm Speech by Awards Director
8.20pm Dinner service starts
9.50pm Dinner down awards show ready
10pm Awards Start
11pm Awards Down
Guests are seated from 8pm - 11pm which is a long time for anyone to sit still (especially after they have had a full day at work). By the time of the presentation of awards, guests are becoming bored (whether you put on entertainment or not) and they get restless. This is not what you want at the prime time of your awards.
Budget can play a large part in whether you choose a three course dinner which can work out triple the price of a standing event when you consider all of the associated costs to the event like centrepieces, tables, chairs and the actual cost of the food in the first place.
Think outside the box
We are seeing a trend towards a reception style of event for awards to which I think the reasons may be the inherit problems with the above. Event with bowl food run very differently as the event can encourage networking while food can be served during the reception making the whole event more time and cost effective.
There is still appeal of awards events being in a seated style, which does come at a cost for large number of venues but does not really affect the timings.
At Ministry of Sound we are able to cater for up to 200 people for sit down dinners but a staggering 1,600 standing so we naturally host more standing awards shows than sit down dinners. That being said, at my previous (The Bloomsbury Ballroom) we also saw this trend and the more cutting edge and creatively disruptive; newer award ceremonies preferred reception style and the response from the guests was nothing but positive.
Don't be scared to turn an event on its' head during planning to see what you can achieve!
Whilst I cannot and would never tell anyone how to run their event, I would ask everyone to think outside the box a little every now and again and ask yourself the question of what you want to achieve at your event. Remember the venue will be able to recommend to you what works best within the space as they have seen the good and the bad but never be afraid to ask the venue for their thoughts on your event as they also want the venue to work the best it can for you!
I would love to discuss this with you and talk through your event in greater detail so we can ensure that every event is not only bespoke but also perfectly designed to achieve your goals. Please feel free to contact me on
firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7740 8621
Written by Adam Quigley