Rent out an extraordinary venue, mix in some hilarious entertainment, and you have a recipe for a memorable evening.
Consider the the piéce de résistance at the Global Event Partners Retreat in Washington, D.C. in June. Chris White, chairman and CEO of GEP, a worldwide partnership of destination management companies (www.globaleventpartners.com), secured The United States Library of Congress, which can be rented only six times per year. The 250 attendees had the great hall to themselves, and while sipping cocktails, were free to roam the various exhibits and admire the ornate architectural design. They also had the privilege of viewing the contents of Lincoln's pockets the night he was assassinated; the first major book printed in the west (around 1454), the Gutenberg Bible; and archived tapes of the Johnny Carson show in 1965.
During the cocktail reception, Dr. Robert Payne, “a noted political scientist,” mingled with the crowd and taped some interviews. Little did the guests know they were really being duped by “Mr. Double-Talk,” the secret ingredient to the entertainment that night.
Actor Durwood Fincher, who can only be described as hilarious, specializes in hooking people with his interviews that consist of a mixture of gibberish, a few industry buzzwords, and a request of the interviewee to comment on the questions. The resulting videotape of polite guests struggling to answer the nonexistent question was shown after the dinner to the great joy of all attendees. The videos, along with his equally bogus speech, brought peals of laughter to the room.