What ingredients do you need to cook up the best event for your corporation? How about a tense politically charged environment, media coverage that has everyone on edge, a government managed venue, and a client who is one of America’s most recognizable and trusted food producers? While the combination sounds daunting, we faced this very challenge back in 2013, when the looming specter of the government shutdown coincided with a returning program of our trusted client, Campbell’s Soup. As CSI celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, it’s good to reflect back on events like these, knowing our team has the experience to solve whatever comes our way.
When faced with the opportunity to bring together a five-star culinary experience and the iconic brand’s executives, the CSI team rose to the occasion. Taking inspiration from Campbell’s product line, and partnering with the Library of Congress, we planned to present a show stopping farewell dinner featuring a world-renowned chef. As we neared our program dates however, and the rumblings of Capitol Hill’s closure became louder and more eminent by the day, we were faced with more than the typical event planning challenges.
As our primary responsibility was to ensure that the government shutdown did not impact the guests’ experience, we got to work fast…many calls were made to venues across the district as soon as a whisper of threat seemed like it would become reality. There was no time to waste! Developing a full scale Plan B meant connecting and coordinating with venue, vendors, caterers, etc. to create a complete furlough-proof ‘alternate event’, all the while continuing to manage the logistics and design of the original event plan at the Library of Congress. With great fortune, our friends at the Corcoran Gallery were able to ensure availability as a backup venue, which was wonderfully similar in tone to the Library of Congress. Receiving the professional courtesy of a tentative hold – without a deposit – we proved to our client that we could demonstrate strong relationships with Washington’s top venues just in case the Library of Congress was closed.
America held its collective breath as the calendar turned to October 1st and the dreaded government shutdown began. At CSI, we continued to use our resources and expertise to ease the anxiety of our clients, especially the team at Campbell’s Soup, whose big evening gala at the now closed Library of Congress was a mere 18 days away. Plan B was looking more likely by the day.
Fortunately, two days before we were to wow the guests of Campbell’s Soup at the prestigious Library of Congress, the government re-opened! Seamlessly flipping back to the original plan, CSI was able to ensure that guests celebrated fully the night of the reception. Fortuitously, the threat of the government shutdown only added flavor to a successful concept and event execution. Guests arrived to our original venue, and were met with the Children’s Choir serenading their entry. Tiered rose ball centerpieces created a central focal point in the space, and trumpet heralders called guests to be seated for dinner service.
While government shutdowns may not be an everyday experience, in a city as politically and socially active as DC, the CSI team is well aware of the planning challenges we face here, and leverage our experience and knowledge at any venue we travel to for our clients. The same attention to detail showcased for Campbell’s is still a daily part of the CSI attitude, as we continue to grow and celebrate our 30th Anniversary in 2017, our recipe for success remains the same, creating an exceptional experience, every time, whether it’s in the office – or the kitchen.