Entertainment of the Year
At Wellington, we specialize in curating our client’s brands through signature experiences – including events, meetings, incentive programs and inventive gifting solutions. “How limitless is your imagination?” and strategically, “How can we shape that idea to align with the essence of your company?” are two of the first questions we ask potential clients. These are the very questions Joan Wells and Jada Hill asked themselves when founding the company as The Wellington Group in 1994.
We saw a real niche for a company that could provide quality event-planning services applied to a diverse group of events. The business model employed was unique – having a core team work with the client from the proposal through on-site execution of each event. No passing the baton at various points throughout the process, which was the norm at that time. The new model worked and the company got up-and-running quickly – with multiple incentive programs for Ford Motor Company and prominent Kansas City-area projects.
Fast forward two decades and Wellington is thriving. Several years ago, we began to realize that it’s not good enough to plan and execute events that run flawlessly. So we tweaked our business model to make it more brand centric.
Today, our sensitivity to protect the brand our clients have worked so hard to build defines our interpretation of brand curation. It’s been the driving force behind the signature events that we’ve had the privilege of producing for many of the worlds’ leading brands.
This year has been particularly significant in the life of Wellington. To date, we have experienced 15-20 percent growth. Since 2010, revenues have increased 400 percent.
Also driven by growth was the addition of 16 new employees, increasing the size of the Wellington team by 40 percent. These new team members were hired for an array of director, manager and coordinator positions in the areas of account management, strategy, communications, and information technology. This growing workforce necessitated the need to relocate and expand the size of our corporate office.
The addition of the association division enables Wellington to offer associations a corporate approach to event management focused on strategic planning and not just status quo execution. Associations are typically behind the curve when it comes to adopting new technologies; Wellington gives them access to proven digital marketing strategies, which drive attendance and streamline event processes. While we have produced meetings, events and incentive programs for numerous associations, this marks our first official foray into association event planning. The association team is led by a senior account executive with over two decades of association marketing experience.
The largest milestone that Wellington reached over the past year was the complete rebranding of the company – including the merger of two companies. The event production arm of the company was founded 20 years ago as The Wellington Group. In 2001 a sister-company, named Wellington Promotions, was formed out of the need for creative corporate incentives and gifts for events.
Although The Wellington Group and Wellington Promotions operated as two independent business entities, we shared office space and worked closely together to leverage each other’s strengths and give clients added convenience. The concept worked well for more than a decade. However, in 2013, management decided that it was time to take the pulse of clients and prospects. A professional branding firm was hired to conduct marketing research and make strategic recommendations.
What they found was brand confusion – even among longtime clients who thought The Wellington Group and Wellington Promotions were already one company. This year the two were merged into a single company, Wellington. At the same time, a new logo and colors were introduced and work began on a completely new and simplified website, which launches in early 2015.
These efforts also resulted in a new brand mission: “Curating your brand through signature experiences.” With that in mind, it is our goal to challenge a client’s imagination and strategically execute ideas to align with the essence of a company.
Finally, the past year marked a heightened focus on core technologies including a custom event registration platform and a creative social media plan. In addition, we continued to research and innovate, using cutting-edge technologies to enhance the attendees’ experiences.
Event Showcase one
National Dealer Meeting for Major Automaker, Mazda North American Opera
For the second straight year, Wellington planned the National Dealer Meeting for an automotive client. The meeting was divided into three waves with two regions per wave, which allowed corporate executives to spend quality time with each group throughout the week.
Creating a welcoming, automotive-themed atmosphere in a desert location was one of the biggest challenges. Wellington overcame this obstacle by buying out the hotel, adding subtle branding (e.g., floor mats, throw pillows, logo’d golf carts), and outfitting the hotel and event staff in matching uniforms to create a seamless experience.
Another challenge was filtering 200 plus people throughout the resort daily. Upon arrival, guests were checked into the event and their room simultaneously, eliminating a wait. Text messages kept guests updated and an on-property restaurant was renamed “The Filling Station” to serve as a mingling area and offered a custom lunch menu, snacks, and cocktails. Rooms were flipped daily without delays by executing a coordinated bag pick-up for attendees checking out.
Lastly, Wellington negotiated to use the 9th hole of the hotel golf course for the welcome reception since the hotel lacked an appropriate space for the theme. Custom-wrapped buses delivered guests onto the golf course where a signature drink was waiting for them to enjoy as they walked through a historic display of vehicles. Experiential food stations, cocktails, and the brand’s newest vehicle added to the outdoor festivities.
The goal of a custom experience for the event was successfully achieved as evidenced by post-event surveys completed by attendees.
Event Showcase two
Community New Year’s Eve Party, Kaufmann Center for the Performing Arts
Wellington planned a New Year’s Eve bash in one of the world’s most treasured performing arts centers. While it was important to maintain a strong appeal to loyal, established patrons, the arts center’s management team wanted to reach a new demographic.
A variety of performers were needed to attract new attendees, but it was also understood that appeal to established patrons would be key to ticket sales. Wellington’s in-depth research identified several well-known and widely appealing performers who were certain to please the old and new alike. To further accommodate the varying demographics of targeted patrons, Wellington offered several different admission choices/prices, ranging from black-tie to the late-night crowd.
The layout of the main hall in particular also presented a challenge with bars taking up much of the floor space. Wellington solved the problem by having a custom stage placed over one of the staircases, which created ample space for performers. The three phases of the night took guests on a journey through the center. The night opened with dinner served on stage in one of the halls and continued as performances began in both the great hall and the theatre. Live performances, aerialists and fireworks at midnight added to the excitement.
In the end, more than 3,000 people attended the event, which left Kansas City buzzing. Attendees left with a whole different perspective of the venue and a newer, younger crowd left with memories sure to inspire a return visit.
Event Showcase three
Major Automaker Vino & Vista, Lexus Western Area
Among the numerous trips that Wellington planned for a large luxury automaker client was Vino & Vistas to Napa. Faced with a potential “been there, done that” sentiment since the 14 couples on the trip were from California and had been on a similar trip to Napa two years before, activities and experiences that would keep guests intrigued were required.
Knowing there’s more to Napa than just wine tasting, Wellington planned a “culinary crawl” through the revitalized downtown riverfront area. The “farm-to-table” transition allowed guests to intermingle with organic farmers and boutique winemakers. The tour culminated at Morimoto Napa, the first West Coast restaurant opened by Chef Masaharu Morimoto – known to millions as the Iron Chef star– who interacted with guests.
Personalized winery tours gave guests the opportunity to experience Napa’s full bounty of flavors and learn from top winemakers and growers. Elevating the experience were hot air balloon rides above the beautiful Napa Valley and a private tour of elite properties designed by famed architect Howard Backen, whose client list includes the likes of actor Robert Redford.
Equally important as exciting activities, the client wanted exclusive upscale gifts left in guests’ rooms each night as a surprise. With strict branding standards and top-shelf expectations, Wellington was challenged to find Napa-themed experiential gifts that attendees would not buy for themselves such as signed copies of Chef Morimoto’s Cookbook: “The New Art of Japanese Cooking” and Howard Bracken’s Architecture Book: “From the Land” to remind them of their trip.