A multi-room, multi-day workshop for Boots Retail USA employees. The event included a General Session (GS), seven (7) break-out rooms, and a “break” room where lunch was served as well as two coffee / refreshment breaks.
This event had several challenges:
- The client selected Weylin, the restored Williamsburg Savings Bank Building located in Brooklyn. The venue is unique, and not a traditional hotel with a variety of meeting rooms and spaces.
- At the time of the initial proposal, this workshop was a “work in progress,” and as Boots Retail is a new Walgreens subsidy here in American, this division has never been produced events before.
- There would be a need for a variety of audio-visual technologies to aid in both the participant’s education, but also their enjoyment of this experience.
First, Bestek worked as a team with the client to establish the goals and needs of the event. Because this was a new organization here in America, Bestek acted as “tour guides” for much of the journey helping the client evaluate alternatives and understand the values and limitations of each one. These decisions were more than just standard production technology like the format of the media (16:9 vs 4:3) or type of displays (Projection VS. Monitors, DLP VS. LCD VS. LED), but also included discussion about the schedule, staffing, and room layouts.
While we knew the event needed 9 rooms at a minimum, the venue only has 6 rooms, two of which were the larger, beautifully restored main “dome” rooms. So clearly, we needed to divide some rooms; Due to the client’s budget, pipe and drape was used as a divider. At that time, the parent company was advising for projectors and screens in all rooms, which was a concern for the Bestek team, due to required throw distance and limitations caused by ceiling height in some of the rooms.
Next, we met with the client’s team at the venue twice before the first USA workshop to be held in Chicago, about 2 weeks before the New York Workshop. It was obvious at both meetings that the client needed Bestek to be creative, patient, and flexible as the workshops were still being created but also, the client’s budget was limited. Fortunately, we then discovered that much of the banners and signage were already created by the parent company, located in England, and did not need to be part of this event’s budget. Initially, the show schedule required 12 wireless mics for the GS. We discovered that the schedule for the GS was flexible and were able to reorganize some of the schedule, allowing us to “leapfrog” the wireless mics and, therefore, drop the count down to 5.
Immediately after the Chicago event, a conference call occurred which, of course, helped secure many of the details and, therefore, decisions for the event. At this time, less than 2 weeks prior to load-in, details such as which rooms needed projectors and screens, flat-panel monitors, flip charts, wireless mic, etc. were becoming clear and the client asked us to add a video recording of the General Session.
The Bestek team was still certain many decisions, not to mention changes would occur after load-in—even such things as which breakout session would occur in which room! Therefore, we decided to send additional equipment such as screens, projectors, monitors, and mics to the venue, and with the venue’s permission, to store these “spares” in their basement. Our suspicions were correct; During the walk though at the end of the load-in day, the client did start changing not only which breakout session would occur in which room, but also the orientation of each room, and thus requiring our equipment needing to be shuffled. This required us to add crew, which we had on standby –one AV Engineer and two stagehands for the rehearsal day to be prepared for the client’s changes.
The final challenge was the lighting. The Bestek-installed lighting system was designed for events (weddings, bar mitzvahs, award shows, and galas) not workshops. Because this was a workshop, even with all available window shades up, it was determined that more room lighting would be needed for the moderators as well as the participants. Fortunately, many rooms have ‘specials” designed into the lighting plot which we used to light presenters, moderators, and the tables the attendees would use in their exercises. In the case of the smaller rooms, and when moderators requested lighting changes to keep the overhead lighting out of people’s eyes, battery-powered LED up lights were provided to add lumens to each room.
The Final Outcome
For the General Session, Bestek provided a sound system with 6 wireless mics, audio for video, lighting, video recording, and multiple 10k projectors. We also provided 8’ wide screens with seamless switching, and a 40” confidence monitor. The client provided most laptops, with Bestek providing Mac laptops running playback pro software for their videos.
For the breakout rooms, each had either a projector and screen, or 55” monitors connected to client provided PC laptops. Every room had easels for flipcharts as well as event signage.
Most rooms also needed additional lighting, both from above either house rigged pipe or floor supported truss, as well as up lights. Also, since room changes occurred at the end of each day, multiple overlapping crews were used to minimize overtime.