Every concept starts with a single idea. A tiny seed of a thought that has the potential to grow into something big. Or, if you’re South Wharf Events, something enormous.
South Wharf Events recently played host to an event that saw nearly 5,000 guests gather in the South Wharf promenade precinct. 5,000. That’s about the size of Festival Hall. Imagine hosting 5,000 guests at a high-end catered cocktail party. Guests with different dietary requirements. Guests who have been to this event hosted by these venues before and want to see something new and amazing.
You’d be forgiven for balking at the brief. But the team at South Wharf Events are seasoned professionals and welcomed the challenge.
“First, you need a vision, and you need support. Be that financial, or creative,” explains South Wharf Project Manager Justin Victoor.
It needs to wow the client, whilst meeting their brief. Once the project managers and event coordinators have their vision, the logistical prepping begins…a year in advance.
Council permit applications need to be lodged (and approved). Contractors need to be organised. Furniture needs to be ordered. Menus need to be designed. Supplies, drinks, staff, strict OH & S guidelines to be met…the list goes on.
“Because we’re using eight existing venues along the South Wharf and Dukes Walk precinct, the existing furniture has to come out of each venue. All the bar products must be cleared from every venue, replacing them with products from the drinks package selected by the client,” explains Justin.
“And if the client wants to use corporate branding, that’s a complete change. The furniture used for the event will be ordered and brought in, in line with their branding.”
The ‘to do’ list of elements that require organising, sourcing and planning in the lead-up to the event is monumental. But believe it or not, it pales in comparison to the event’s bump-in day.
From early in the morning, to the early hours of the next morning, contractors, staff and hired hands set up the event’s infrastructure, without any detail left to chance. Then 12 hours later, it’s packed down.
The morning of the event itself is organised with military-style precision. There’s a job board, wiped and ‘reset’ every few hours, with Teams A and B given tasks to be performed in 15 minute blocks. There’s even a check-in for temporary staff, complete with wristbands. This level of organisation is necessary when maneuvering a mass of workers. In all, there will be 150 staff on the floor, and 200 back of house…before considering the technical staff and management team.
Each venue is a centralised point of operation, with each team member assigned a specific set of jobs. Whether it’s removing furniture from Showtime to make way for one of the many pop up food and beverage activations, or rigging one of the stages for the variety of entertainment available throughout the night.
“Communication is key,” explains Justin.
“Although we’ve set up a precinct, every venue works as though they are managing a separate party. That way, each guest is given the high level of service for which South Wharf Events is so famous. It’s important everyone communicates and works together to keep things flowing.”
You can see this flow of precision long before guests are due to arrive. Every person knows their task and goes about it efficiently. There’s contractors hanging things up, putting things down, moving furniture up and down the length of the precinct.
The most impressive feature of the operation is no-one looks particularly stressed, or frazzled. After all, the entire team are seasoned professionals. Justin got his first big start working on the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
“I don’t really get stressed,” smiles Justin. “I tend to take things as they come, one at a time.
“The important thing is to be adaptable. You can’t plan too much, because you have to be able to think on your feet.”
It takes a group of people passionate about their work to pull off an event of this magnitude. While organising an outdoor cocktail party precinct for 5,000 people sounds like a nightmare for many, for this group of professionals, they love seeing it all come together.
“Big events are special. You want to see the it through, you want to see it come to life.”
And to see this seed of an idea, one year in the making come to life, it’s quite a sight.
Want to enlist the help of the South Wharf Events team for your next event? Click here to make an enquiry >>