Kristi Cline, creative director at Destination Nashville
, a Global DMC Partner, first moved to Music City nearly three decades ago. Originally from a small town in Arkansas, she landed a gig at Opryland USA (a now-defunct theme park) before launching a recording career with her husband. “You can’t sing anything else but country when you talk like I do,” she says in her thick Southern drawl.
As the town began to change and her music career slowed down, Cline found a new love in event production. She partnered with Destination Nashville on events for seven years as a freelancer before joining the DMC full time in 2005. She’s been churning out hit after hit for them ever since, taking on everything from simple transportation logistics for small groups to massive events for 25,000 people. She talked with Connect about what makes the DMC stand out, a recent award-winning corporate event and Nashville’s renaissance.
Destination Nashville won an ADMEI Achievement Award earlier this year for an event themed “From Edison to LED.” Can you tell us about the concept?
Our client wanted to be able to encompass Nashville flavor with the theme [their company] had brought forth in their entire conference: “Power Your Performance.” She wanted to incorporate two very different ideas: “Power Your Performance,” which is completely technological, and a “Junk Gypsy
” aesthetic, which is very detailed with lots of little bitty pieces.
What exactly is Junk Gypsy?
It's a show created by two women out of Texas. It’s their design vision for decorating a home, etc., that involves taking random items and turning them into something great. It came to the forefront at the wedding of Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton.
See more photos from this event in our gallery here.
What else was involved with the event?
We did a dinner for 1,500 people in a gigantic ballroom that was lit with Edison bulbs. Then we moved everyone out of the hotel to a music venue downtown, Wildhorse Saloon
, where Kelly Clarkson performed. That venue represents what Nashville is now—all neon and LED lights—hence the “From Edison to LED” theme.
Did you encounter any challenges?
We had to turn the ballroom in just a few hours. They had a general session in there that morning, so we didn't get access until noon and had to be ready to go by 5 p.m.
Your team must work well under pressure.
Our operations department is stellar. Once everything is conceptualized and signed off on by the client, they are amazing at putting together what we call a schedule of services. We do an immense amount of preplanning with vendors, who are extreme professionals. But we are in Nashville—live entertainment is what we do.
How does your team keep up on the latest trends in audiovisual, F&B, decor, etc.?
We do a lot of continuing education, follow different blogs, and attend a lot of art events and live events. Our vendors also bring us the new toys. I just met a vendor who said they have a new technology where they can do large-scale events completely wireless.
[inlinead align="left"]"[Nashville is] not all hay bales and cowboy hats anymore."[/inlinead]
How has Nashville changed since you moved there?
I’ve gotten to watch a complete transformation of the city. When I came in 1988, it was just a tourist town for country music. Downtown Broadway—which is the hotbed now—was not something you even visited. You didn't go down there without a trash can lid and a knife. Now, Nashville is a culinary and music hotbed for all genres, yet it still feels like a small town. We’re not all hay bales and cowboy hats anymore.
Do you draw on any of your musical roots in your job now?
We do create custom theme songs for events—that makes us very different. On any given day, I could be writing anything from a custom tune to verbiage for someone’s event flier.