Everyone remembers a well-orchestrated event—the bacon-wrapped dates, star-studded guest list and cleverly named cocktails all play their part. And then there’s the space itself. Finding a venue with the right mix of allure and exclusivity can be the difference between a meh event or an amazing one.
Sixty-five percent of brand marketers directly correlate in-person events with sales, according to research from Event Marketing Institute. No surprise then that brands from Tiffany & Co. to iHeartMedia and Condé Nast are taking the party to the water—on a yacht.
“No event affords that luxury more than setting sail on a yacht,” says Hana Lee, director of marketing, strategic partnerships and PR for Hornblower New York. “Combining the familiarity of land-based parties or company affairs with the added dimension of navigating the globe’s waterways offers a distinct advantage and a lasting impression.”
Here are some of the essential elements to hosting a floating event that’s both exclusive and productive:
1. Celebrity endorsements
Packing a guest list with well-known names is a sure way to make any boat party standout in the memories of attendees. The Hollywood halo of having a star present at a party passes on a little stardust of its own, boosting your brand while protecting its integrity.
Captain’s tip: A product launch on a charter vessel such as Hornblower New York’s Infinity yacht can be made all the more special with a celebrity endorsement or two.
2. Build, foster and promote connections
Even more important than celebrities are the right attendees from your industry. In this way, the host shows that they know the right people and can facilitate connections, which builds credibility. It’s not so different from hosting a small dinner party. Food and drink are important, but connections and conversations are what people really remember.
Captain’s tip: Whether you’re networking on the pier or gazing out brokering a business deal with a view of the Manhattan skyline, the right people are the most element of all.
3. Don’t just host—entertain
Providing on-board entertainment provides a shared experience to help attendees break the ice at a networking event. Mass media company iHeartMedia, for example, has continued to connect with its listeners by sponsoring a series of pop concerts, earning street cred through its relationship with the world’s most popular entertainers.
Captain’s tip: Team-building events shouldn’t just be useful, but also entertaining.
4. Make it exclusive
An exclusive event is about more than just champagne and caviar. You need the right space as well as the knowledge of how to set the right tone. For example, Condé Nast and Tiffany & Co. have built first-rate brands through decades of experience serving customers—and they’re known for being able to throw an exclusive party.
Captain’s tip: Goody bags should be as memorable as the event. For example, free cufflinks mean that attendees will remember your particular event—and its host—every time they put them on.
5. Provide top-class catering
Ask someone what the best meal they’ve ever had was, and chances are they’ll be able to tell you every detail of the time, place, circumstance. Humans live to eat and eat to live, so serving aspiring gourmands the highest quality food and drink at events both makes an event memorable and also improves a brand’s standing. Partnering with like-minded alcohol companies such as Skyy Vodka or Moet—serving their products exclusively—is the best way to make experiential and sponsored marketing work in practice.
Captain’s tip: Holiday parties need not be the same old tired crudités and guests sipping insipid drinks. High-quality festive food packages can last long in the memories of guests on land or on water.
Competition is rife among companies trying to make an impression and maintain a foothold in their respective markets. Added extras such as the unique experience of having an event on the water, where people can meet, be entertained and have a good time are more important than ever. Knowing how to combine the desire to throw a good party with maintaining brand integrity is vital.