What We Learned From the 2013 BOMA/Chicago TOBY/Gold Circle Awards Gala: Our Night to Recognize the Best in the CRE Business

For the past several years, members of Chicago’s commercial real estate industry gather one evening to honor outstanding performance in office building management and shine a spotlight on the men and women who work on behalf of tremendous real estate assets. We’re referring to the annual BOMA/Chicago TOBY/Gold Circle Awards Gala.

An aerial view of the 2012-2013 TOBY/Gold Circle Award Gala

A view of the 2012-2013 TOBY/Gold Circle Award Gala from the south balcony in the Great Hall.

This dinner/awards presentation event, held the past three years in the Great Hall at Chicago’s Union Station, is our night to step out and recognize the true strength of BOMA/Chicago – the world-class properties and dedicated people who comprise this great organization.

The 2013 Awards Gala was held January 31 and drew more than 480 members and guests, perhaps our biggest attendance ever for this event.  It was a cold evening, but the mood and atmosphere inside the Great Hall was warm and encouraging.

From a survey, we gained some insight on how to better prepare for the 2014 Awards Gala and perhaps other events.  Here are three key findings:

Ways to Spread the Word:  We relied purely on digital communications to alert members about the event, but expected the news to spread organically.  Our survey pointed out that 69 percent of respondents learned about the Gala through our website, e-newsletter or direct email messages. Still, 31 percent found out from a BOMA/Chicago colleague.  The key takeaway is deliver your message digitally, and count on word-of-mouth marketing to help increase success.

The Value of Video:  To announce the TOBY (The Outstanding Building of the Year) and Gold Circle contestants, we developed a cost-effective five-minute video produced by our audio/visual contractor, Sound Investment.  The video was played after some messages from the podium, and just before our emcee announced the start of dinner.  The timing of the video helped keep the guests focused and made a natural segue to the dinner service.  One guest offered this supporting comment: “I thought the flow of the event was the best ever.  The video was much more entertaining than having someone read from a list.” Check out the video below, which was edited to include the winners.

Stand by Your Sponsors: BOMA/Chicago relies on member sponsorships to help drive revenues that keep the event on budget. One objective was to make sure guests were aware of sponsorship support for the Gala. We used several tactics to build awareness for our sponsors, such as including sponsor logos on all electronic event promotional messages and onsite signage, projecting sponsor images on the walls of the Great Hall, and referencing them by name from the podium and in the PowerPoint presentation. We believe we were successful, because 81 percent of our survey respondents said they interacted with a sponsor and 24 respondents included text answers.

Our sponsors' logos were prominently displayed throughout the event

Sponsors logos were prominently displayed throughout the TOBY/Gold Circle Awards Gala.

Two other very important statistics from the 2013 event leads to the conclusion that guests enjoyed themselves: 99 percent of respondents  indicated they were “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with the event, and 86 percent said they are “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to attend the 2014 event.

So, I trust we’re doing most things right; but we’re always willing to learn ways to improve. Do you have thoughts about the 2013 TOBY/Gold Circle Awards Gala?  Or can you offer ways we can improve our special events?

About Edward Bury

Director of Marketing & Communications at BOMA/Chicago
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2 Responses to What We Learned From the 2013 BOMA/Chicago TOBY/Gold Circle Awards Gala: Our Night to Recognize the Best in the CRE Business

  1. Lorna Luebbers says:

    I was interested to see the video of the TOBY awards as described below, but the link does not seem to work. We’ve been looking for a company to make videos for our firm, and it would be very helpful to see what they created for you. If possible, could you please re-send the video link?

    Thank you,

    Lorna Luebbers, Principal, Marketing & Business Development
    Schuler Shook
    750 North Orleans, Suite 400 | Chicago, IL 60654
    T 312 944 8230 x111 | C 773 414 3105
    lluebbers@schulershook.com | http://www.schulershook.com
    This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed. If you have received this email in error please notify the sender.

    • BOMA/Chicago says:

      Hello Lorna.

      Sorry the video didn’t work for you. I just checked and it’s working fine. You might have some setting that’s preventing the video from playing.

      You can reach it on YouTube by pasting this link into your browser.– http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAaDIUTR3B8&feature=youtu.be

      I’ll also send this to you via email. Thanks very much and please reply with further questions. We sincerely appreciate your interest in BOMA/Chicago and The Elevator Speech.


      Edward M. Bury

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