Grow Your Premium Event Into A World-Class Experience

By Troy Sugrue , Executive Creative Director

Learnings from the KEA World Class New Zealand Awards

The Right Honorable Helen Clark, John Key and Sir Jim Bolger walk into a bar…

Well, it’s not exactly a bar. This is the KEA World-Class New Zealand Awards, one of the most exclusive black tie events on the NZ calendar. This event is so fabulous that our trifecta of Prime Minister’s were hardly noticed amongst the formidable line up of business, cultural and sporting superstars.

If you’re wondering how successful the event really is, here are some indicators for you to consider:

  • It’s expensive but sells out every year. This year tables of ten were $3,500 and the 80 tables available sold out in record time, with many people unable to secure a seat.
  • Many guests have been to every event – once you attend you don’t want to miss out.
  • The Sponsors are some of New Zealand’s most aspirational organisations.
  • And probably the greatest accolade – the guests are the most illustrious collection of Kiwi’s you will ever see in one room.

Since producing the 2015 event this July, many of our clients have asked us about the secret to KEA’s success. So what does set the KEA event apart from others?

We’ve identified 4 key areas where we can all learn from KEA’s journey.

(Note: This is not advice on the basics. This is master class tips for events that are already premium)

  1. Genuine Gravitas
    The KEA awards celebrate amazing people doing incredible things on a global scale. They are genuinely inspirational. If you are simply launching a new product or rewarding your top achievers you need to make sure there is an aspect to the content that is genuinely inspirational. This could be your charity partner, one of your winners or a special guest. Someone needs to bring real gravitas.
  2. Distill the content down to the purest essentials
    Apparently the Oscars is a boring show to sit through – there’s just too many awards and fluffing about for TV, but watching a compilation of the top six awards is fantastic. KEA only have six awards. The rest of the night is limited to one entertainment piece, a cultural component (opening mihi) and carefully produced, and relevant messages from sponsors. Be brutal – Less is much much more.
  3. Let Your Stars Shine
    The KEA award winners already know they have won, so they don’t spend half of their speech pretending to be surprised and unprepared.  And, because the awards are limited to just six people they are given more than a couple of minutes to speak. This means they can actually say something heartfelt and meaningful. Many people comment on the quality of the winners’ speeches. They are hero content that the event is built around.
  4. Plan to build over time
    You cannot achieve the KEA magic in year one. Great events are like iconic sporting fixtures – they take years to create. Focus on aggressive evolution every year. Evaluate your production quality, MC and entertainment, sponsor partners, media impact and ultimately the nature and caliber of your audience.

You could say that KEA is lucky because their winners are highly aspirational people who guarantee gravitas and impact. But at the same time KEA is a not-for profit and has limited resources to work with. We commend them for building an inspirational event brand that stands amongst the very best in Australasia.

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