My Best Meeting Moment By Wayne Williams, Atlanta Marriott Marquis

How to Shock and Delight Attendees Who Have Seen It All

Goal: Spectacular, Intimate Ambience

We were hosting 90 Marriott general managers from all over the East Coast, so it had to be something spectacular, something they’d never seen. But we also wanted to create a place where they could sit down together in a non-threatening environment and have a friendly conversation.

We knew these attendees would be some of the toughest critics, so the room had to sparkle and warm their hearts.

Rustic Twinkling Hanging Branches

We found farm tables that needed to look slightly worn, but not damaged. That morning, our decorator cut large branches, trimmed them perfectly and went through every single one to remove dried leaves or twigs that looked like they could fall. We kept them in buckets of water so they would stay fresh, then hung them from a central focal point on the ceiling, 15 feet up, where they sparkled with the light of embedded candle lanterns, twinkling like a Christmas tree.

Inspiring, Personalized Chairs

Our sharply dressed banquet captains, in tuxedos, threw the doors open, and we could hear the gasps and sighs when the guests entered. All the chairs were dark-stained wood, but they were all different. As guests walked in the room, you could see them looking for a chair that appealed to them personally, then finding folks to join them. While it was elegant, it was still comfortable—it was almost like sitting in a dining room at home. The menu was upscale Southern Flair with local produce like handpicked greens and baby sunburst squash.

 

‘Conversation Piece of Amazement’

We knew these attendees would be some of the toughest critics, so the room had to sparkle and warm their hearts. It couldn't be rambunctious or too loud, with people hanging from the ceiling. It had to be intimate, warm, friendly and elegant. And we achieved that. This event continues to be a conversation piece of amazement. It was a subtle flair of brilliance.