About 300 meeting and events professionals glammed up for the annual night of nights for the NSW and ACT industry awards at the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney to laud the best in the business.
Report and photos by Trevor Connell and Nate Cochran
The theme of the night was the Essence of Success and awards were handed out in nearly 30 categories that recognised top businesses, personnel and emerging talent.
Fabulous frocks for the ladies and debonair suits for the gentlemen were the order of the night with almost as much glitter parading the floor as was hung from the magnificent crystal chandeliers hanging over the assembled.
But no event goes off without a hitch and it rests on the shoulders of talent to come through in a pinch. Such was the case when MC Glenn Wheeler papered over a PowerPoint snafu that saw the name of the winner of a student category flash up on screen during the unveiling of the nominees.
Moving on without breaking stride, Wheeler made a characteristic joke before the blushing winner, Leilani Hile, made her way to the stage.
Later that night, as she was having her photos taken in the foyer, a savvy meetings professional thrust her card into Leilani’s hand – the one that wasn’t gripping her freshly minted trophy.
“Was that a job offer?” she was asked. Still blushing, Leilani could hardly believe her luck – barely out of school and she was already being feted for a role.
Proving that top venues are also those which care, Doltone House, which won Specialty Meeting Venue, was also recognised for its fundraising of $1 million over four years for research into mesothelioma.
Winners of the state awards go on to qualify for contention in the national awards to be handed down on April 24 at the conclusion of the annual MEA conference at SCEC.
The event had a French theme – starting with the standard Sofitel greeting on arrival “bonjour” through the black, silver and lace décor – topped off incidentally by some wonderful Chandeliers to Die For.
The audience were mesmerised by the opening performance by The Sand Artist. Brett Bower is a well-known cartoonist and has developed a new act where he brushes sand around on a glass table – the effect then projected onto the venue’s data screen during the event.
The main floor show featured an extract from the Bordello Blues Cabaret (currently running at Slide Lounge cabaret venue in Oxford Street). Nikki Nouveau continued the French theme through songs of unrequited love accompanied by two stunning dancers who languidly snaked around her and each other.
Following the awards the Buzz Band struck up and the dance floor was soon crowded.
Shari Carr AFMEA – MEA NSW Branch Committee Chair
Sally Simonds and Paul Losurdo – Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Michelle Romeo and SophieRose Wachtel – Romeo’s Chair
MEA NSW & ACT Events team
Venue, Catering, Technical and Event Production – Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Décor & Themeing – Romeo’s Chair
Chandeliers – Chandeliers to Die For
On-screen design – Branded Live
e-Invitation and Program design – Studio 24 Design
Print – Snap Printing North Sydney
Photography – EventPix
Master of Ceremonies – Glenn Wheeler
The Sand Artist – Brett Bower
Bordello Blues Cabaret – sponsored by In Nobody’s Shadow
Buzz Band – sponsored by NHM Entertainment
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