The Client Party
Aside from "How do you do this?" one of the most heard questions around the display is "Why do you do this?" Honestly, it started long before I started at the firm. I remember visiting it when I was a young student in architecture school in the early 90's. As I said, we've been doing this gingerbread thing since 1987. I started in 1997.
It started out as something fun for the guests at our Client Party to look at. The first couple of years it was a few gingerbread creations set on the table top. By the time I got to the game, the stakes were raised. The entire design studio was usurped for the display, there was a complicated voting arrangement, and the display covered more than 100 square feet and used LOTS of candy and icing.
The Client Party is a nice way to say thanks to our Clients and see them in a social setting right before the holidays. The display itself has become the center piece to the party, we create a fairly in depth ballot for the Clients to vote on their favorite creations. What do we win, you ask? Bragging rights, that's what. It's all for fun.
New office, new twist - we lit up a message on the exterior of our office as seen above. Have to admit, this was pretty cool.
Above you can see Great Room filling up Clients in the photo above. We had LOADS more space this year, the previous displays were very tightly woven into the interior of our office layout. This year's display allowed ample viewing and it never felt overwhelming. Clients had the opportunity to circle around the display (it was an island) and check their three favorite houses and three favorite accessories. A motor scooter served as the ballot box. At the end of the evening, we break open the ballots and start counting.
We had over 200 guests so we probably counted close a thousand votes total.
During the party, staff circulate to greet the Clients. I have seen, I won't name names, voting persuasion going on during the party. I think we may begin asking for photo ID for the votes to count next year. There was both a beer bar and a wine bar, and senior staff took shifts serving the Clients, which is fun. Below, Scott got into the Italian theme, Sopranos style, while serving a Peroni.
The Client Party dies down about 8 PM. It was a great turnout this year, as I mentioned. Some drove several hours on a week night to visit us. Around this time, the food and beverages are available to the whole staff and it is a chance for us to celebrate finishing the display one more year. Below you see some of our handsome Architects swapping stories.
Once we eat a bit and drink a bit, we get to counting votes. We typically recognize the top three vote winners in each of the two categories. It is competitive, let's just leave it at that. I've never won first place. I've place in the top three, but never have won. You really need to think about why people vote the way they do. You need a gimmick - something to set you apart. When I figure it out, I will let you know.
Once we go home on that Wednesday night, we need to start thinking about the publicity that awaits us in the days to come. We have TV, newspapers and yes, the open house nights for the public to plan. Those will be described in the next episode.