Tech companies continue to raise the meetings and events industry bar, with DJs spinning contemporary beats, eclectic venues providing artsy backdrops and artisanal F&B menus becoming industry standard now. The Tableau Software event in Seattle last May was no exception.
The annual company meeting and global sales kickoff took place May 10 to 15 in the company’s headquarter city, and about 50 percent of the employees were flown in to stay downtown at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, Sheraton Seattle Hotel, Grand Hyatt Seattle and Hyatt at Olive 8. The meeting was held at the Washington State Convention Center, where the group was able to test out some new audiovisual capabilities such as a 100-foot LED screen. Becky Harris, internal events manager for Tableau Software, says the screen was so bright the group could only use 17 percent of its lighting capability.
“We had lots of great comments around content and learning and bringing everyone together in one space,” says Harris. “They liked having the networking opportunity with global employees. The CEO introduced employees from different regions all with their own branded T-shirts, balloons or noisemakers representing where they were from. It was really festive, and attendees had fun building their own party within our company meeting.”
Three evening events held at venues across town at the Fremont Studios and Fremont Foundry, the Seattle Aquarium and Beneroya Hall kept the party going. For the all-company event on Tuesday night, event organizers closed down the street between Fremont Studios and Fremont Foundry. Throughout the two venues, there were photo booths, cigar and whiskey bars as well as a silent disco. Several bands played, including Deep Sea Diver, which Harris says helped get the crowd involved, and a female employee’s band called the Golden Idols, with DJs playing in between sets.
Tom Douglas, one of Seattle’s better-known chefs, catered the event, but there were also food trucks and an outdoor barbecue with grilled salmon. As if that wasn’t enough, a s’mores station and Seattle Dog stand open for late-night munchies rounded out the smorgasbord.
A sales event was held Wednesday night at the Seattle Aquarium. Harris says that working with the venue was easy because it has an in-house caterer, and the group chose a menu that highlighted Pacific Northwest cuisine, using fresh, local ingredients. Plus, the group was able to take over the entire building. Attendees walked through the exhibit space, checking out the sea otters and touch tanks before exploring the deck that wraps around the building overlooking the water.
On Thursday, another sales event was held at Beneroya Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony. The group used the hall’s grand ballroom and Founders Room, where more bands and a DJ entertained the crowd. Tuxedo and Tennis Shoes Catering, the in-house caterer, served a wide variety of food options, ranging from chef-prepared sushi to sliders and curly fries.
In between all of this, individual teams also organized their own team building activities.Will the group meet again in Seattle? “It’s really not a hard to decision to make when you want to stand on the front lines of technology (facing Mt. Rainier), among some of the world’s leading data scientists (with a cup of hot brew in hand),” answers Harris.
“It’s as though Seattle went on a scavenger hunt, collecting the best from cities all over the globe and then perfectly positioned herself in the Pacific Northwest.”