What is a Launch Party?
A launch party is thrown by a company to celebrate the release of a new product or service. It has become associated with software and the technology industry due to the lavish and costly launches thrown by companies in the Silicon Valley. A company will throw a this type of party to draw in potential new customers and to increase public exposure for their brand name, using a open bar, catered food, and a variety of entertainers. Most of these events represent a substantial investment for the company, with some parties costing as much as $250,000 US Dollars (USD).
The dot-com launch party which has come to symbolize the elaborate launch industry emerged in the early 1990s, when software companies held small internal parties to celebrate the acquisition of a domain name, an initial public offering, or the successful release of new software. These parties expanded to include other companies in the computer industry, and became an excellent way to network, exchanging ideas and sometimes staff as well.
In the late 1990s, the launch party took off, with some cities such as San Francisco hosting upwards of 20 such parties a week in spaces ranging from exclusive venues to rented convention centers. As more companies started to have these events, the pressure to have a catchy gimmick or draw increased, with most companies consulting with party planning firms for their expensive soirees. Many firms also hoped to use the launch party for new employee recruitment, projecting a forceful, trendy image of the company to prospective new employees.
At a minimum, an event like this has freebies for guests such as branded clothing or bags, while some upscale ones have gift bags filled with expensive branded items. The launch party also includes high quality catered food and drink, and entertainment. Circus performers, famous musicians, and everything in between can be found at these parties, as companies struggle to differentiate themselves from the competition.
With the increase in popularity came an increase in size, and most launch parties do not serve as a networking venue anymore. Critics of this practice have suggested that it is an expensive and outdated ritual, with many guests simply crashing the party in search of food and drink. The goal of brand promotion is not often accomplished, with some companies being famous for their launches, rather than their brand.
@browncoat - I figure the best way to get invited to launch parties is to become a journalist and focus on a particular field. If I was going to do it, I'd totally focus on gaming, because they get really awesome launch parties for the new systems and games.
I think it would also be kind of cool to be friends with a bunch of artists, because gallery openings tend to be like launch parties as well. I guess I just like the idea of the free food and interesting company, as well as the chance to see something before anyone else gets to.
I really love book and journal launch parties. I've been lucky enough to go to a few, some of which I was actually involved in (not yet a book launch, but I've been a contributor to some journal launches).
Generally they are much lower key than is described here, but a similar idea and people involved in the local writing community get together and network and mingle.
I would love to become enough of a name to be able to go to the big book launches in New York. Those would be amazing for so many reasons and I know a lot of famous authors go to them.
A quick tip about launch party invitations -- you should make it sound interesting, but it should match the image that you're trying to create for your company too.
For instance, a serious wine cellar might not want to choose invitations with party hats and cartoon people.
Also, you should make it clear as to whether invitees can bring a friend -- a lot of times people just assume they can, and then you end up with double the guests you expected!
@zenmaster -- Why don't you try making it kind of like a buffet luncheon?
That way you can have a lot of people come through, but you don't have to go broke on food.
If you're masseur is up for it, you could have her do free five minute massages, or something like that.
You could also use free samples to stuff goody bags. That way everybody feels special because they got a gift, but you don't have to break the bank buying stuff.
What are some good launch party ideas for a spa?
I want to get the business' name out there without going broke handing out freebies!
We do facials, massages and mani/pedi, if that helps.
Any ideas, anyone?
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