For more than a month, the submissions for the Great Event Photo contest have been pouring into (or is it onto?) Cvent's Facebook page. Each photo represented not only a chance to win the $10,000 grand prize or $1,000 as a finalist, but also celebrated an event, meeting or conference that was deemed the best by someone who was involved with the event as the planner, host or an attendee. The sheer number of submissions—1,400—demonstrates the incredible diversity of the industry that it is Cvent's pleasure to serve.
Not only that, the contest revealed the importance of having the right venue. For that reason, the venue that hosted the event of the Grand Prize Winner wins $8,000 worth of complimentary advertising with Cvent.
With the votes in and tallied, we are now happy to announce the Grand Prize Winner and 10 Finalists for Cvent's 2011 Great Event Photo Contest, as selected by our judges from the submissions that drew the greatest number of fan votes:
Grand Prize Winner: “World Balloon Convention 2010”
Planner: Julie Conner, Pioneer Balloon
Company Venue: Sheraton Dallas
They say everything’s bigger in Texas and, boy, did the first-ever World Balloon Convention live up to that reputation when it blew through the city in April 2010!
This enchanting event drew nearly 700 balloon artists from around the world (46 countries, to be exact) to the Sheraton Dallas for a five-day convention that united balloon professionals for education, competitions, networking and parties. Nearly half a million balloons were used throughout the event, as attendees put their skills on display with jaw-dropping balloon creations—such as a knight battling a dragon, balloon dresses and even some with special effects like exploding confetti.
Closing out the Convention was the Festival of Balloons, a one-day public event that showcased the balloon artists’ creations. Pictured above, the magical entrance to the Festival of Balloons featured towering balloon “trees” and gates, welcoming guests into a larger-than-life display of art. More than 5,000 people showed up to see balloon sculptures ranging from the extremely intricate to the colossal, many standing up to 18 feet tall. The highlight: popping all the balloons at the end of the Festival.
Delegates were also treated to two fabulous parties during the WBC. The opening night costume party—entitled “Balloon-a-Mania: All You Need is Love…and Balloons”—featured‘60s-themed decor. Two nights later at the Grand Gala, guests were dazzled yet again by the elegant balloon decor and special effects.
The recently renovated Sheraton Dallas provided the perfect backdrop for the event, with its high ceilings, breakout rooms for competitions and classes, and more than sufficient number of sleeping rooms. In fact, the WBC plans to return to the Sheraton Dallas for its next convention.
The World Balloon Convention earned top marks from our judges for the impressive photo of the gateway to the Festival of Balloons, originality of the event and its concise, compelling photo description.
"Mad Hatter Un-Bridal Shower”
Planners: Heather Broeker and fellow bridesmaids
Venue: Carlsbad Estate
With a little creativity, a lot of hard work, and a tight budget, Heather Broeker turned her friend’s surprise bridal shower into Alice’s whimsical world of wonder. No detail was left untouched, as the bride-to-be followed homemade signs that directed her down a path marked with rabbit footprints and into a room with Drink Me vials, Eat Me treats, a rabbit pinata and an “Alice” dress.
Determined to stay on budget, the planners had shopped at consignment and dollar stores for mismatched dishes and party supplies, saved tissue paper and cardboard to create flowers and paper keys, and designed all invitations themselves—instructing guests to join them down the rabbit hole, but to keep it a secret, or “it’s off with your head!”
“RealWorld User Conference”
Planner: Deborah Drake, RealPage, Inc.
Venue: ARIA Resort & Casino
How do you make software for property managers a fun topic? Well, if you work at RealPage, you host your annual user conference in Las Vegas with educational sessions by day and a 70s themed party by night. Oh, did we mention that they planned a flash mob? Yep. They sent out a training video on “how to do the hustle” to their employees, and jumped into the dance at the beginning of the night. Talk about getting the party started!
Their challenge now is figuring out how to out-do themselves for next year’s themed party. Any ideas?
“Big Night Out: A Night for All Seasons”
Planner: Cara Williams, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto
Venue: The Liberty Grand
The event planning team of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto went above and beyond with the agency’s 41st Annual “Big Night Out” Gala in June to create an inspiring experience in celebration of those who make a positive difference “every day of every season” in the lives of the Toronto’s youth. With an aggressive goal to raise more than $500,000 for the agency, the team worked hard to draw more than 700 business and community leaders to attend—making this the biggest Gala ever for the organization.
Each corner of the room represented a different season—transitioning from spring to winter in the picture above. The event planner, Cara Williams, said it best: hearts warmed as the decor cooled. With over 300 children waiting for a Big Brother or Big Sister, the proceeds from the event went to connecting children with much-needed mentors.
“Remember Alex Brown Tour of Texas”
Planner: Maurice Kennedy
Venue: Palm Harbor Homes Location
The Brown family lost their daughter, Alex, in a tragic texting and driving car accident, and made it their mission to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. After meeting the Brown family of the Remember Alex Brown Foundation on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Palm Harbor Homes was touched by the cause and teamed up with the family to spread the word.
The Browns started a crusade immediately after Alex's death by traveling to nearby schools with her wrecked truck in tow, telling teens about the dangers of texting and driving. This photo, submitted by Palm Harbor Homes, garnered the most votes in our competition and is one of many that were taken during a week-long educational tour of cities in Texas.
“Top of the Rock”
Venue: Rockefeller Center
The QuintEvents team was tasked with pulling off a one-night sales incentive event for their client on a tight budget. They were faced with creating an experience that would live up to the lofty expectations set by previous years’ trips to luxury beach resorts, and knew the event had to really wow their attendees without breaking the bank.
QuintEvents found the perfect fit in the heart of Manhattan and booked the roof of the Rockefeller Center, knowing the glitz and glam of NYC would be sure to please.
On the day of the event, attendees found street vendor carts serving mini hot dogs, pizza and soft pretzels lining the entrance of their hotel, the Omni Berkshire. Whisked away by limo to Rockefeller Center, they were met by a “step and repeat” on a Blue Carpet lined with “paparazzi” and then ascended 67 feet to the “Top of the Rock.” Custom drinks, themed appetizers and a surprise appearance by SNL comedian Kevin Nealon awaited them at the top. Kevin mingled for photos with the NYC skyline in the background and treated guests to his stand-up show after dinner and awards.
QuintEvents: just FYI, we’re available to attend next year!
“The Kick ASH Bash”
Planners: Kay Zahn and neighbors
Venue: a field in Greer, AZ
Greer is a small town in Arizona with 300 full-time residents that relies heavily on revenues from its summer season, when its resident count reaches over 2,000 as vacationers flock to the secluded area. In June 2011, the residents of Greer were forced to evacuate due to a wildfire that was quickly approaching the town.
Over the next three weeks, the town lost 22 homes, 26 buildings, and over a month of their much-needed summer revenue. During this time, the residents came together to plan their first-ever outdoor music festival, which attracted over 1,200 attendees. The musicians donated their time, vendors donated the food and beverages, and residents of Greer opened up their homes to attendees. In the end, this small community really became a family and raised over $15,000 for the town’s recovery fund.
“National LCMS Youth Gathering”
Planner: James Lohman, LCMS
Venue: Louisiana Superdome and Morial Convention Center
Anyone willing to take on and execute a flawless five-day event for more than 20,000 teenagers must have quite a bit of faith, and that’s exactly the case for the event planners of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
Powerful marketing and promotion drew teens and adult volunteers from the LCMS’s 6,000 congregations to come together at the Louisiana Superdome with the goal of helping their youth grow not only spiritually but in every aspect of their lives. They turned the Convention Center into a hub for arts and crafts, athletics, music and spiritual experience. Attendees also took part in community service projects aimed at giving back to the community where they gathered.
“Harris Theater 5th Anniversary Celebration”
Planners: Harris Theater Trustee, Caryn Harris; Event Design by Heffernan Morgan Designs
Venue: Harris Theater for Music and Dance at Millennium Park
Sixty thousand white-feather butterflies imported from China covered the ceiling of Harris Theater’s 5th Anniversary Celebration. Falling in line with the theater’s initiative to bring more national and international music and dance companies to the Chicago area, the event featured an hour-long performance from the San Francisco Ballet. The performance was followed by a three-course dinner, held in a tent next to the theater, and a night full of dancing—during which guests had the opportunity to show off their dance skills with the ballerinas of the San Francisco Ballet.
The event raised $1.4 million for the non-profit, which is home for over 30 local companies that can’t afford their own theater. Harris Theater’s next fundraiser will feature the Paris Opera Ballet, and is slotted for June 2012.
“Resources Global Professionals Annual Meeting”
Planner: Nicole Spiridellis and team, Resources Global Professionals
Venue: Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center
A California-based company, Resources Global Professionals holds an annual meeting to bring together its management team from 80 offices worldwide. At the meeting, employees receive updates from the company’s leadership team, attend client panels and breakout sessions, and participate in team-building activities.
The picture above shows the outcome of one of the team-building activities. The 500 attendees worked together to build children’s bicycles, and then—surprise!—more than 90 children from the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan ran excitedly into the ballroom, where they were presented with the bikes to take them home as their own.
“SUTRA 5+1 (ATB)”
Planner: Ali Zamanian
Venue: Sutra Night Club
Put your hands up if you think this looks like a good time! ATB, one of the world’s most famous DJs, came to Sutra Night Club in Orange County, CA, where more than 1,000 attendees turned out to watch him work the turntable. He’ll be raising the roof again at Sutra this Labor Day weekend. Better get in line now!
Congratulations to our winners! To see the contest's honorable mentions, go to Honorable Mentions in the Cvent Great Event Photo Contest (Drum Roll, Please).