Updated: Jan 11, 2021
“I remember when rock was young”
... the opening line of an iconic song and the moment that Riviera Organisation was conceived if not yet born.
It was January 1990 in a packed New Orleans karaoke bar in the French quarter. I was a young late-night radio presenter on holiday, and I was having a blast. The crowd went crazy (or so I thought) and, to quote another famous lyric by Elton John, “I’d finally found where my future lay”.
As I soaked up the mock applause at the end of my first ever karaoke experience, I challenged myself to create the same excitement, the same thrill, the same emotions in my adopted home of the French Riviera where karaoke was still a relatively new and unknown concept.
Of course, it was never going to be easy and we did our fair share of empty bars and late-night basement clubs. Our best clients were paying us with meal vouchers, which was great for making friends but not much help paying the bills.
Despite humble facilities, we went within a whisker of going bust, which at times seemed a slightly more attractive proposition than listening to another tuneless rendition of "Let It Be" with a heavy French accent.
The key was remembering what attracted me to the French Riviera and the world of events in the first place. Our solution was to embrace the multi-national cosmopolitan community that shares the beautiful landscape and wonderful experiences that this region has to offer.
By remembering the thrill of that first karaoke experience, we chose to offer a much wider range of quality international entertainment, which focuses on the joy and excitement that only live events can bring.
As well as high profile radio shows, soon we were hosting hidden talent parties at legendary Monaco nightspots, quiz nights for the prince, gala dinners for global business leaders, fashion shows in St Tropez, themed events in the Cannes Film Festival, product launches for the world’s biggest brands, cabaret shows for the top tennis players, private parties in the homes of celebrities and auctions for charities that make a real difference to people’s lives.
The entertainment became the cornerstone of the growth of Riviera Organisation - not just
booking the entertainment but integrating it into the event, personalising it according to the occasion and always putting the guest experience first. Later this developed further to include technical production, decorative elements and a wide range of services covering the whole spectrum of events on the French Riviera.
Now 25 years on, we measure our success not by the number and size of events we have been involved in, but by how much joy and excitement we have spread over the years. We take great satisfaction in knowing that the thrills I experienced firsthand in New Orleans have reached thousands of people across hundreds of events, not just on the French Riviera, but across the world.