Feb 7, 2023

Courtney Barnes

Event professionals can be likened to artists – they bring fantasy worlds to life! They may not use paint or clay, but their preferred medium is an event space. One of my favorite aspects of working in the event industry is seeing how well a space can be transformed. Whether it’s a simple classroom style setup for a meeting or an over the top auction/gala. Sometimes I’ve seen the space transform 5 or 6 times in 1 week. From a bodybuilding competition, to a tech company all hands meeting and then to a non-profit gala for a local animal shelter. Truly – no two days look the same around here!

In my 8 years here at Meydenbauer Center, I’ve seen so many incredible room transformations – it’s hard to think of which one might be my favorite! They say you always remember your first. And my first major room transformation was for a New York City themed holiday party in our Center Hall space. The space was transformed from “just” a meeting space to the hustle and bustle of New York City life. The center of the room was transformed into a Central Park inspired dancing area. While the other areas around the room represented different boroughs. There was Manhattan, which screamed elegance and upscale with chandeliers, diamonds and martini glasses. Then there was the Brooklyn inspired pub area with pool tables, comfy leather couches and delicious street foods. From there, you’d make your way to Chinatown! Lit up in red, with gorgeous lanterns everywhere – and various Chinese take out food boxes filled with delicious treats. Finally there was Little Italy which looked like an authentic Italian restaurant run by a family who’d owned it for 30 years (even though it was put up earlier that day)! It was incredible to walk the space for that event.

Over the years I’ve gone on arctic expeditions, safaris in the Serengeti, road trips across the United States, deep dives under the sea, trips to mythical places such as Candyland and even flown in rockets off to space! All without ever leaving the building. I’m a bit biased, but I think my very favorite was our Road Trip themed Sync Up event we threw a few years back. The transformation started the moment you walked off the elevator. The lobby space was decorated to look like a vintage gas station in the Pacific Northwest. There were pine trees, suitcases and even a gas station attendant with a cocktail waiting for you to “gas up” before your trip. As you walked into the room (via a Roadway Carpet), you were immediately whisked away to Southern California. Off in the distance, there were videos of people surfing the waves. You could even hear the waves if you listened closely enough! You could get your caricature done on the Boardwalk while eating a delicious SoCal style taco. Once you moved on from there, you were off to explore the Midwest! Which included lots of animals and roadside attractions. Including the World’s Largest Fork! Which sat right next to a food station with the world’s tiniest forks! Only these had delicious meatballs on them. From there, your road trip ended in New England! Off in the distance you heard a dingy, saw a lighthouse and had more photo opportunities while you grabbed a drink from the yacht club inspired bar. And who could resist a delicious lobster roll while visiting? Don’t worry – they had those too!

For me, what makes a transformation so successful is thinking of those small details and final touches. Road map themed centerpieces, a random tourist walking around the party taking photos with everyone, a playlist featuring the songs you grew up listening to with your parents in the car. Or maybe you play lions roaring in the parking garage as guests arrive for the Safari. Perhaps, there’s giraffe shaped croutons on the salad. The options are truly endless. And that’s the reason we all got into events anyway, isn’t it?

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