Maple Ridge Events

DMC movers and shakers in corporate events in Music City
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Sean Barr

Despite being a newcomer on the event scene, Nashville-based Maple Ridge Events (Maple Ridge) has quickly excelled as Music City’s match for complete destination management and corporate event planning. From a Great Gatsby-themed awards gala to a good old Nashville-style honky-tonk, Maple Ridge’s professional team brings local insight and resources to plan and produce exciting events.

“We’re going on our third year in business and our sales have doubled every year,” shares Robyn Bass, cofounder and president of Maple Ridge. “Nashville is fast becoming the ‘it’ city. People are drawn to Music City and every year, more and more corporate groups want to come here. It’s a great time to be in this industry in Nashville, because the need is definitely here.”

Maple Ridge Events

Roots in the event industry

Founded in August 2012 by Bass and her then fiancé now husband, Randy Bass, Maple Ridge is a relatively young firm, but the experience of the executive team runs deep. “I’ve personally been in the industry for 23 years,” tells Bass. “I started as a cocktail waitress and moved into doing restaurant events, then onto training and managing others and eventually landed a job for a local well-known destination management company.”

Dedicating herself to the destination management world for seven years, Bass reached a turning point in her career and life as a single mom trying to support her family. “In May 2010, Nashville was hit by a major flood,” she recounts. “The rain just kept falling and completely devastated the city, including the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. When the hotel shut down, so did a great deal of work for the destination management company I worked for, because they were the in-house DMC. It was a very hard time for me financially and I knew I had to take another job.”

Bass started working for a transportation company, which was in the midst of trying to start an events arm. “Transportation or events – to me it didn’t really matter, I just needed the extra income,” she says. “I took a position with Grand Avenue and we conceptualized Grand Avenue Global Events [GAGE], which gave me the opportunity to try my hand at an owner-type position. Unfortunately, after 18 months and reasons beyond my control, the company was dissolved. Two of my core clients I had formed relationships with told me to start my own business, so I did –that’s really the basis of how Maple Ridge was born.”

A fresh take on Nashville

Maple Ridge launched in August 2012 and Bass says the company has achieved huge success in its infancy. “With eight full-time employees we plan and produce 75 to 100 corporate events annually,” she shares.

With so much going on now in Music City, Maple Ridge has found a sweet spot in the corporate convention sector. “We cater to the corporate market because we know what we do well and it’s this niche,” says Bass. “The cool thing about us is we’re a fresh take on Nashville. We come in with a customized approach and our experienced team makes each event different to meet the expectations and goals of every client. We are not a cookie-cutter company in the least.”

Local know-how

From annual destination meetings or conventions, to product launches, to fun incentive trips and team building activities, Maple Ridge helps corporate clients create memorable, immersive experiences with the best Nashville has to offer. As a destination management company (DMC), Maple Ridge has extensive local knowledge needed to plan, produce, design and implement event objectives with no detail too small and no idea too grand.

“If you don’t have the local expertise, it’s difficult to choose the right vendors and pull it all off,” explains Bass. “With so many new people coming to Nashville, we blend an imperative logistics side with creative event planning and destination management.”

From a NashVegas casino night, to a 1920s speakeasy or a red carpet reception, Maple Ridge’s creative team has the gusto to pull off any event in the corporate sphere. “One of our largest events we created was a Great Gatsby-themed gala in October 2013,” tells Bass. “We had a nice budget for this so we could really optimize the opulence and elegance of the 1920s for 850 guests. We booked a troupe of world-famous tap dancers and a big band from New York City called Postmodern Jukebox; they take songs of today and play them with an older flair. There were just so many details and nuances of an era gone by and it was exciting to bring guests back to this time period. The client requested an immersive experience and we delivered.”

At another 850-person event in Memphis, Maple Ridge created a 1950s style ballroom gala. “We produced this event keeping the Ed Sullivan show in mind with characteristic turquoise blue and pink throughout and oversized, customized jukeboxes,” details Bass. “The décor was a nod to the 1950s with vinyl records as plate chargers and guitar pick napkin rings – anything and everything that was Memphis circa 1950.”

Maple Ridge Events

The business of people

But Bass says it would be impossible to pull off such grand events without a trusted team and business partnerships with venues, vendors, transportation and rental companies. “To succeed in this business you really need partnerships in every realm,” she measures. “The people you work with are most important—they make your event shine.”

Bass says the event business is unique because it’s more than selling a specific product. “We’re not selling widgets –we’re selling a highly specialized service and it’s all about people,” she suggests. “We’re now the Hosts Global Alliance partner in Nashville, a worldwide consortium of select DMC companies, serving more than 190 destinations globally. This is super helpful because it allows my team and I to communicate with other DMC’s all over the world and ask pertinent questions related to our industry, share best practices and stay “in the know”. Another important factor regarding our partnership with Host Global Alliance is our client’s ability to utilize the services of various DMC’s all over the world.”

Now in its third year, Maple Ridge continues on a record growth trajectory with sales multiplying annually. “The spotlight is really on Nashville right now –it’s a great time to be doing what we’re doing here,” assures Bass. “We’re adding employees, outgrowing our space and although it’s a challenge to keep this infrastructure intact, I think it’s a good problem to have.”

With eyes on Music City, Maple Ridge Events is fast becoming a recognized name as a mover and shaker in the event industry, combining local insight with a fresh take on all Nashville has to offer. 

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