Planning The Meetdraw Masquerade
As the glitter settles on the 32nd Meetdraw, which we hope you all enjoyed, we wanted to share some insights into the effort that goes into putting on such a big event.
Planning started months ago, the 2nd of August to be precise, when the Meetdraw Butchers met to pull together a core team to put on the event and discuss potential venues and dates. Over the past two years we’ve seen Meetdraw grow quickly, partly due to the growth of the Poole & Bournemouth digital sector and partly as we’ve been putting on larger events during the summer. In previous years the annual Christmas Meetdraw has taken the format of a black tie three course meal with ticket numbers capped at around 160. Whilst these events were successful and well attended we felt that Meetdraw has out grown those numbers. A decision was made to refresh the format to be more inclusive; aiming for a bigger venue, yet needing keep the event free to attend.
The first job was to secure that venue. A number of options were priced up and discussed resulting in a clear preference for the O2 Academy. The O2 was available on the 1st December, a date that would avoid clashes with the countless Christmas parties that would be happening later in December.
With the venue booked it was time to decide on a theme. The event team threw a few ideas around and the idea of a masquerade ball stood out; since we wanted to keep the black tie dress code (who doesn’t love a bit of a glamour at christmas?) we had what felt like the perfect theme for the venue.
This all happened in less than a week.
We took some time away from event planning, allowing the team to get on with their day jobs and focus on delivering the successful Meetdraw ‘Game On’ event.
On the 10th of October we paid our first visit to the O2. Having spent my student days at Slinky nights, and in recent years going to live gigs, it was a pleasure to explore the place while empty. We knew the venue was stunning, what we didn’t expect was how accommodating the management team would be (shout out to Will, James & the team at the O2 who have been ace). A quick tour of the venue (including gatecrashing the All Saints meet & greet) and we were left buzzing about the possibilities and opportunities that the venue offered. We’d already thrown around a few ideas, however it made sense to spend an hour in Chaplins and nail down a plan for the night over a few beers.
The following day we had designed a ‘save the date’ email and booked the Swing Unlimited Big Band who had played at the previous Christmas Meetdraw who were only too happy to play for the Meetdraw crowd again, especially at the O2.
With the band booked we had an event.
It was also at this point that it dawned on myself that, not by accident, all the pieces of a classic Venetian masquerade ball had fallen into place. With Swing Unlimited agreeing to a three hour set and initial discussions over set lists – including the Phantom intro – we knew we had booked the right band.
The save the date comms were sent out quickly and there was immediate buzz about the event on social media.
In the following week the other key suppliers for the night were booked; the casino & DJ (thanks for playing again Lee!). We also came up with a name for the event – The Meetdraw Masquerade – and produced the event Hero creative, written and designed social promotion material and had meetings in the next few weeks to discuss finer details.
Tickets were released on the 1st of November, exactly a month before the event, and the response was amazing with the best part of 300 snapped up on the first day. Steady social and email comms meant 876 were taken by the time ticket sale closed, nearly fives time as many as any previous Meedtdraw Christmas event. This goes to vindicate our decision to try something different this year and also acts as evidence of the size and strength of our local creative & digital community.
The response was simply amazing and beat all expectations we had.
From that point it didn’t take long for the event to be upon us. It always amazes me how fast the time goes and how little time you have to pull together all the details that make the event. Name labels, casino chips, posters, waterproof cocktail lists (which were designed and printed on the afternoon of the event), the red carpet you would have walked up – which was hand painted by a team of Butchers and volunteers. It all adds up to a lot of time and an incredible amount of effort.
On the day we rallied around the wider Butcher team as we knew it would be all hands on deck (or on the pump in the case of the blowing up 200 balloons). It took 4 hours of on-site setup with the O2 team. Whilst attendees were finishing their working days, getting glammed up and downing a few cheeky proseccos, the Butchers were on-site finalising preparations before opening the doors to those waiting outside.
What followed made all the planning worth it. Streams of smiling attendees looking stunning in black tie and cocktail dresses, wearing a fantastic array of creative masks.
Everyone had really gone to town to make the most of the theme and it was a real sight to see.
We hope you all enjoyed your evening. From the feedback we’ve heard we’re sure you did. These are your Meetdraw events, without you they would not happen and Meetdraw would not be a ‘thing’. If you have any feedback, we would love to hear from you. The feedback we get will be discussed at the next Butcher meeting when we will get together to discuss what worked and what didn’t at the event.
We would love to hear your feedback, positive or negative. We always listen and take comments on board to make future events that are even better. If you would like to share your experience of The Meetdraw Masquerade, contact us via Twitter or Facebook or drop an email to [email protected].
Lastly, thank you to all who attended The Meetdraw Masquerade. It was all of you that made the evening that bit more special.
Hope to see you all in March for Meetdraw 33.