Trends in Gala Entertainment

Traditional awards banquets and galas tend to be boring, repetitive experiences for attendees and awardees alike. We tend to equate them to a high school graduation where the names of the winners are read and then the winner is paraded in front of their peers to receive their plague.  In many instances, people only pay attention when their name is read or the names of their friends are read and then everyone goes back to drinking the table wine. So how are today’s meeting planners modifying today’s award galas and entertainment?

The main objective of award galas is to reward and recognize someone for a job well done. An important key, however, is to do so in a powerful and personal way.

For example, find out interesting, meaningful facts about the award winner(s) and weave the details into the award presentation.  No matter what the budget, the key is to create an emotional, memorable connection between the company presenting the award and the person(s) receiving it. It is an effective way to inspire others to achieve and exceed their goals.


Reduced entertainment budgets also are driving enhanced creativity at awards galas. Based on the chosen theme, find creative ways to name your assigned dinner tables instead of simply numbering them. Reputable dance bands, photo booths (with props), and unique dessert/candy stations with portable containers are also very popular.

Instead of simply talking about what the award recipient did to achieve the recognition, showcase a short video of the person in the field or in their work environment describing the scenario. Another technique is to personalize the walk-up/sit-down music to the award winner.


The flow and timing are essential in keeping these events engaging and entertaining. Audiences today have shorter attention spans and planners must keep up by adding more exciting elements to their events. As audiences change, planners will change. As long as producers know their audience they can adequately create an event that matters and is entertaining.


And as technology continues to advance, it will play a much bigger role in award galas, with such things as live streaming for off-site recipients so that no one is excluded despite their physical location.

Considering incorporating mini-screens or iPads into the centerpieces. Let it rotate your company’s branding or live feed of stage through the night. When a winner’s name is announced, show photos and share information about the individual. The night is about them, so let them be the star.

The basic concept of rewarding people for exceptional service will never go out of style. The way in which the award will be presented or the technology used to enhance the experience will continue to evolve, but the basic objective will remain the core of the award experience.