We imported Karaoke into France, but don’t hold that against us….

Superyacht parties and events can provide the ultimate in luxury and extravagance, but what exactly is involved in planning and delivering a superyacht party and what can it entail?  Yachting Pages spoke to Caroline Mackley at Riviera Organisation, a leading entertainment provider and event management company worldwide, to find out more about the event industry for superyachts.

When was your business founded and how has it developed?

Riviera Organisation was set up way back in 1992. Our founder, Peter Mackley, was a popular radio presenter at the time, and he created the company to promote DJ & MC services. We were also the first to import Karaoke into France, but don’t hold that against us!

The company has grown organically over the years, developing first as a full entertainment service, then as a complete event production company. These days, we are a growing team of skilled event organisers, production managers, sound & light designers, live performers, DJs and technicians.

What makes you different from your competitors?

Frankly, there is no other company quite like us. We have a totally international approach to business, yet an extensive knowledge of the French Riviera and all it has to offer, and we harness every ounce of our creativity to best meet the needs of each client.

Having started out as an entertainment agency, capable of putting together unique entertainment programmes for events, we have gradually extended our scope to offer a comprehensive range of expertise, covering event design, sound and light and complex production projects. But we have never lost sight of our heart and soul: entertainment. We are in touch with the best in the region … and the best in the world! No other company can provide such a complete range of services, in English too.

What’s new with your business?

Over the last 12 months, there have been lots of developments on the entertainment front on a worldwide scale. We are able to supply high quality artists from many countries to any port in the world … and for most Mediterranean ports, we can back this up with high-quality sound and light material and stylish event decor including furniture, candles, carpets and countless accessories.

We now have partnerships set-up so we can book almost any international artist you can think of! From legendary icons like Elton John and Roger Daltrey, to fun party bands like Kool & the Gang or The Gipsy Kings, to today’s biggest artists like Bruno Mars and Shakira. What’s more, we guarantee total transparency and the best prices. We are 100% sure that you will not find the same artist cheaper elsewhere.

What are the biggest challenges that you face in the superyacht industry at the moment?

Apart from the challenge of loading tons of bulky material on tenders, the biggest challenge for us is communication. We know that we provide an unrivalled service, but it’s important to get this across to the captains, pursers and yacht support companies. That’s where the Yachting Pages comes in. Fortunately, we also work a lot through word of mouth and good recommendations spread quickly.

Have you been affected by the recession?

Of course, the corporate side of our business took a big hit during the recession, but things have picked up considerably in the last couple of years. However, I would say that a lot of yacht owners and charterers still have enough funds to party whenever they feel like it.

What are some of the most bizarre client requests you’ve received?

During the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix, we held a party on a yacht in honour of a dead person, "Porn Eric” who died while … OK you guessed it! The whole event was centred around a coffin and it was one of the wildest parties I’ve ever seen.

One summer, we created a Moulin Rouge party on a superyacht in Ibiza, with over 40 dancers, singers, musicians, visual artists and technicians. The whole party was for just two guests, the yacht owner and his wife, but it was a huge success.

Can you tell us about some of your favourite projects you have worked on and why?

Personally, I love the projects that take us abroad, especially when there is an opportunity to discover new places. We have a good client in the Maldives and I remember one New Year’s Eve party in a luxury resort with everyone dancing in the sand. It was amazing. 

Last year, one highlight was a party we organised on a superyacht in Sardinia. We were 70 artists and technicians in total for just eight guests. The lasting memory was travelling back on a tender with two tenor singers brought over from London. They were still in fine form singing away and the yacht was superbly lit next to us, with incredible Sardinian scenery as a backdrop. It’s moments like that that make the hard work worthwhile.

What superyachts/big clients have you worked with that you can share?

I know that yacht owners insist on discretion, so I don’t think it’s appropriate to name clients or yachts, but we have been fortunate to work on dozens of amazing superyachts in stunning locations. 

On land, the French Riviera is home to many stars, and we have been privileged to work in the homes of Elton John, Bono and Michael Schumacher. Every year, we organise events for Prince Albert, and one year, he had so much fun, he was up on the tables singing “Highway to Hell”. I think that sums up the type of event we want to create; intimate parties where guests have a chance to let their hair down in private.

Which is your busiest time of the year and why?

The summer is a very intensive time for us – particularly between June and September. That’s the time when the weather’s good and there’s the most amount of parties.

How quickly can you create an event from the initial request?

It really depends. Last year, we had a phone call at 1am to put together a party the very same day in Palma. It’s the first time we’ve put together an event in another country at less than 24 hours’ notice, although last-minute requests in the yachting world are very common. Usually, we can place a band or a DJ at short-notice, but for larger events, we need at least a week to put together all the details and logistics.

Are there certain types of events/entertainment that are more popular for superyachts?

We have a number of excellent acoustic party bands that are just perfect for yachts. They don’t need any bulky sound material, just a few instruments and they are loads of fun. They can start quite discreetly setting the mood, and then later they take requests, encouraging everyone to take part, creating an incredible party vibe.  In the past, bands like this have performed for events along the French Riviera, and then the clients choose to fly them over to the Bahamas and St Barts for future events.

Did you attend any of the boat shows in September?

We were present at the Monaco Yacht Show, as we had several events on boats. It’s always good to wander around the stands and to catch up with so many familiar faces.

Who would be your dream client?

We would like to be the “in-house” entertainment contact for any large superyacht that would organise several events each year (big or small). The client would insist on original concepts and would be happy to pay for premium entertainment sourced from around the world. Our dream client would therefore either be the captain, the purser or chief stewardess who would deal with this, or the locally-based yacht support company that could put us in touch with them. 

For more information, visit Riviera Organisation.

To learn about entertainment and event management companies, click here.

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