Crescendo Tailored Events Finalist for Small Agency of the Year

Tailored events specialists Crescendo celebrates being a finalist at Conference News Awards 2021

Run by one of the events industry’s leading titles Conference News, the CN Agency Awards are an annual celebration of all the great work that event management agencies do for the industry as a whole.

CEO & Founder Russell Allen, had this to say: “It has been fabulous to be in the running with such an impressive line-up of businesses. We’re really proud to have been recognised as finalists in the Small Agency of the Year category, especially by a panel of such esteemed event professionals.”

“Congratulations to all the finalists, winners and runners up as well. I am delighted that Crescendo has been in the running. It’s recognition of all my team’s hard work”.

“Thank you to everyone who voted for us.”

www.crescendo.co.uk
www.fruitfulteam.com

How Crescendo delivered a one-of-a-kind virtual event that could not go wrong

W hen tailored event agency, Crescendo, was approached by a world-leading international organisation to replace its annual senior leadership conference with a virtual event, they knew they’d be under pressure to deliver a flawless experience. When they learnt that the event was scheduled over three days and required interactive access for 600 participants across 11 time zones and 64 countries, they realised they’d need a powerful technical partner to deliver this one-of-a-kind event without a hitch.

The challenge

The event took place in March 2021 and began with a presentation to the client’s full employee base of 40 000 staff to launch a new digital, community-based movement. This was followed by the first virtual version of the company’s senior leadership conference.

“It was a colossal undertaking,” says Crescendo founder Russell Allen. ” Our client has a robust fairness and anti-discriminatory policy and it was very important to them that everyone had access. But the organisation comprises many joined-up companies that have come together via acquisitions and mergers over the years, and each has its own technology heritage and firewall structure.”

After testing a variety of virtual event platforms and tools, the client decided that the only way to guarantee access for all staff was to use Microsoft Teams. But there was a snag.

“After the whole-room presentation by the CEO, the brief was to replicate the feeling of a live event, with cabaret-style tables where people talk with their neighbours,” Allen explains. “A standard Microsoft Teams implementation wouldn’t have been able to provide this combination of ‘broadcast’ and small group interactivity.”

The solution

Although Crescendo has a strong technical team in house, it needed a production partner that could deliver something that had never been done before, so it brought in audio visual and entertainment technology specialist Anna Valley.

After an exhaustive consultation process to establish exactly what was needed from both a content and technology perspective, and extensive testing, the partners designed the solution for the virtual event from the ground up.

The conference included pre-recorded video contributions and live feeds with remote presenters, as well as the interactive activities across multiple small groups. The Crescendo team produced over 70 individual videos for the event which was run entirely from Anna Valley’s master control room at their virtual event facility in South West London.
The broadcast vs small group conundrum was solved by using 60 individual laptops, each running a separate meeting for 10 participants, thus creating the “cabaret table” format required. “This meant we could begin by pushing a broader show into all the tables at once – so everyone could watch the plenary session together – but attendees could then participate in a workshop among just the people at their own table,” says Allen.

The result

“The client response has been mind-blowing,” says Allen. “The CEO was hugely impressed with the technology, which really fitted with the company’s pioneering spirit. And the level of contingency planning was phenomenal. Every minute was pre-recorded, so if a link had gone down, we would be up and running again within two minutes.”

Anna Valley beat some stiff competition to get the job. “We were looking for the best partners to pull this off, and it became very apparent that Anna Valley were the best partners,” says Allen. “We admired their technical capability, the fact that they had everything on-site and had repurposed their offices into studios. But above all they really understood what we were creating. They understood that the way we were using this technology had never been done before, and that testing was critical. There was a real synergy around the level of perfection we’d need to make this happen.

“This was a business-critical project. The pioneering spirit of designing a new solution that was on brand, but equally it had to work. Anna Valley got that, and they really delivered.”

If we can help with any further information, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

Behold, the Great Outdoors!

With companies now planning their next big get together Russell Allen, Owner of Team Interactions specialist Fruitful, reveals how clients are thinking outside of the conference room box.

Over the last 18 months, across the nation, workers have spent lockdown sat WFH at their kitchen table or enjoying more time outside than they ever have done before. Now that temperatures are finally beginning to rise, the sun is becoming less of a stranger and as covid restrictions lift, we here at Fruitful are finding that companies and their employees are valuing outdoor space more.

The Great Outdoors

Clients who would usually come to us seeking a nice indoor venue for 500 people, are thinking outside of the conference room box and seeking adventures, or at least space in the great outdoors but not in an obvious field. We were tasked to find creative options for a particular brand that is a lot more urban. This client is now looking to hold their conference on Brighton Pier exclusively.

Companies are not just flocking to the beach however. Another client of ours moving away from the classic hotel suite is eyeing a well-known outdoor covered market offering, where guests can move around freely with a greater flow of air in more inspirational surroundings.

In a time where ‘business as usual’ is a bit of a contradiction in terms for companies
big and small, it is clear that getting the team together to bond again face-to-face remains of paramount importance.

Be it on a beach, in an outdoor market, at a bespoke mini festival or team adventures and sumptuous feasts in the countryside, we really love playing our part in getting employees back together by putting our creative minds, venue partnerships and deep knowledge of venues to good use.

Here’s to the next exciting ‘out there’ brief!

Getting to know Suzanne O’Shea

Both the Crescendo and Fruitful businesses are delighted to have brought on board Suzanne O’Shea as Event Operations Director.

CEO & Founder Russell Allen says, “In line with our strategy to develop our experience in high end production and bring this invaluable skill set in house, Su’s impressive events background and forensic eye for detail has become a huge asset to the business.”

We are very pleased to share below some insights into Su’s role:

Getting to know… Su O’Shea

Su

What do you do at Crescendo? I wear many hats! That’s the beauty of working within a boutique agency with a tight knit team. I get to work on project design and delivery, business development, marketing and strategy and unpacking the production cases after an event, all of which I love doing and wouldn’t have it any other way.

How do you approach your work? Firstly, with gratitude that I get to do what I do. Although what we do can be challenging, I don’t see it as work. I truly cherish what I do and the people I have the honour to work with so feel very lucky every day that we get to create amazing and memorable events and experiences together.

What has been your favourite event to work on? There have been so many but the most spine tingling was producing Tom Fords pre-Oscars fashion show in LA where we managed to fulfil Mr Fords desire to make it ‘snow’ rose petals as a last-minute request for the grand finalé.

What is your top tip for making sure an event runs smoothly? Impeccable planning, clear communication and having an A Team.

What do you keep on your desk? As little as possible, I don’t like clutter!

I never leave home without… Phone and credit card which is pretty much all I need! …and a face mask these days.

How would your colleagues describe you? They call me a machine, not sure if that’s a compliment or not though!

What new skill did you pick up during lockdown? Gardening, I come from a family of gardeners and have resisted for many years but during Lockdown, me and the garden made friends.

What does a good night out look like to you? Good food, wine, company and lots of laughs.

Favourite aftershow party? I produced an after-show party for Michael Kors at the Boom Boom Room at the top of The Standard in New York. The views were stunning, and it was wall to wall beautiful people but the best bit for me was working with Duran Duran who played an intimate set for the party.

Best venue you have held an event at? The iconic and glamorous, mid-century design, Four Seasons Restaurant in New York, the birthplace of the ‘power lunch’ and home to the original Madmen. We had the honour of producing a dinner and fashion show for Tom Ford which was the last activity the space saw before closing its doors and permanently ending an era that had lasted 60 years.

What’s the strangest place you have held an event at? An aircraft hangar, belonging to the client, in Ohio for 1500 guests for the Wexner Foundation 30th Anniversary Gala Dinner. Transport for site visits and to and from the event was via the client’s private jet which was a lot of fun!

What’s your goal for 2021? Stay happy and healthy and continue to create amazing events and experiences for our clients whether they be virtual, hybrid or in person!

Russell Allen, Fruitful Team Interactions

Nice to (re-)meet you…

After months of virtual meetings and nice to ‘e-meet yous’, is it time to get the team back together. But after nearly a year of lockdown, what will people expect when returning to a face-to-face event? Russell Allen, Owner of Team Interactions specialist Fruitful, gives PA Life his top tips.

After months of virtual meetings and nice to ‘e-meet yous’, is it time to get the team back together. But after nearly a year of lockdown, what will people expect when returning to a face-to-face event? Russell Allen, Owner of Team Interactions specialist Fruitful, gives PA Life his top tips.

According to the Economist, in 2019, the workforce spent only five percent of their working time at home. In 2020, that number shot up to 60 percent. So, what will this mix look like in 2021?

Currently nearly all meetings are online – people plug in, listen, take part, and feel they are involved, all while WFH. But for most it is not the same as a face-to-face gathering. As lockdowns begin to ease and people are eyeing up returning to live events – there will be a tipping point when those weekly meetings no longer happen online – suddenly if people don’t attend, they begin to miss out.

At Fruitful we have over twenty years’ experience in the bank of helping businesses big and small inspire and motivate their staff both online and in the flesh. If you’re wondering how to make the most of these first meetings, here are our top ‘back to work’ team interaction tips:

  1. Begin dialogue with your colleagues by designing a brief questionnaire asking them what they would like to see – this will help define objectives.
  2. Ensure plenty of networking time – after lockdown, the social aspect is going to be important.
  3. Mix up the agenda and the room layout so people feel they have space and are comfortable in groups. Communicate this ahead of the event so people know they are going to be safe.
  4. More than ever, people will value outdoor space. Look to hold your meeting outdoors or somewhere where there is an easily accessible networking area in the fresh air.
  5. Generate team spirit by creating group activities which will encourage collaboration. If the budget permits, engage with a team interactions specialist.
  6. Ensure you take a poll on how the day went against your objectives.

And if you need assistance ensuring your meetings hit the mark, please do get in touch, as we would love to help ensure your company hits the ground running this summer.

Ash

Meet Ash, Crescendo’s newest member of the team, tech consultant, graphic designer and festival goer.

As Crescendo’s project assistant, Ash plays a key role in aiding the team in delivering first class events. Previous roles have been mostly tech centric for Matrix, Anna Valley and the Ark Conference Centre as well as working with England Rugby ahead of the World Cup in Japan.

Otherwise, Ash is a keen golfer so you will find him at the driving range or relaxing at home.

Jon

Meet Jon – Crescendo’s brilliant virtual, hybrid and face to face events production director.

Jon lives and breathes events and is passionate about taking client content and turning it into engaging, involving experiences that drive understanding, motivation, and ultimately positive behaviour change.

Jon’s previous career highlights include working on large scale musicals like Les Misérables & Grease, and global brands such as Rolls-Royce, Airbus, GSK, Google, Intertek, Pfizer, Astra Zeneca, Mars.

At the weekend you will generally find Jon in a pub or restaurant with friends, or out running to mitigate the eating and drinking!

Jamie

Meet Jamie, Crescendo’s cat whisperer, wordsmith, and vintage clutter collector.

You would not know it to speak to him, but Jamie is a former editor of Loaded Magazine and sports journalist, who has worked for several national newspapers. Armed with a whippet-quick wit, Jamie is the kind of person you want in an ideas pitch because he does not think like the rest of the room.

Just don’t get him onto his favourite subjects of Britpop, The Beatles, his children or the pedestrianisation of Norwich City centre… unless you have a few hours to spare.

Justin

Meet Justin, Crescendo’s master of all things Tech. Fluent in English and geek, Justin is the lynch pin between all colleagues, technical contractors, and suppliers.

Since joining back in 2005, Justin has played a key role in the company including creating Crescendo and Fruitful bespoke digital engagement platforms. With a wealth of previous experience that includes the London 2012, Glasgow 2014, and Rio 2016 games, Justin is a team player who really knows how to get things over the finishing line.

When not infiltrating his technical wizardry, Justin can be found in his workshop at home crafting bespoke furniture or restoring his track car. Otherwise, he will be out and about with his dogs, hill walking or mountaineering.

Joanne

Meet Jo, Crescendo’s accountant, the company conscience, and master of all things finance. 

Since 2009, Jo has been making sure that the books balance, that all ethical considerations have been addressed and that the Founder does not spend too much money on growing the business!  Jo’s ability to think outside of the box and work with the bigger picture, keeps Crescendo honest, aware, and strong.

When not being Crescendo’s excellent number cruncher, you will find Jo at home enjoying time with the kids, family, and friends.  Her diligence and work ethic means that we do need to remind her to occasionally make time for some holiday!