Though most of Washington is still in vacation mode, plans for fall fundraisers, Halloween promotions and yes, even Christmas parties, are already in full swing. You see a “save the date” and think, “Free drinks!” To your hosts — political campaigns, think tanks, corporations, charities, trade associations, NGOs — the Evite is the first step in a carefully calculated strategy to grab your time and attention.
The very important people of Washington are short on time and easily bored. Which is why, during the dog days of summer, almost 400 people gathered last week at the Ronald Reagan Building for Elevate, a conference for Washington event organizers. Their goal: learning how to make their events more memorable, attract the right guests and do it all on a politically correct budget.
It’s not enough to throw free booze at people anymore, although that never hurts. The old formula of cocktails, dinner and endless speeches is giving way to artisanal menus, designer mixologists and charging stations. Plus hashtags, live Instagram feeds and anything else that will transform another boring evening into a talker.
But remember, think tank events come with a cost. The Post notes that a basic, two-hour reception is roughly $75 to $125 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Seated dinners, they point out, can range from $150 to $375 per guest. The paper also notes that renting a location is an extra cost. They note that the Library of Congress is $35,000 for a corporate host, but only $17,500 for a non-profit such as a think tank. Fortunately, many think tanks have ample space to hold a decent-sized party, thus leaving more room for their food budget.