Our meeting and event industry is a living, breathing organism constantly evolving and changing to respond to the needs of our audience. I find myself browsing the internet in an effort to keep up with the creativity of my colleagues across the country and the world. In this blog I’ve decided to let these creative meeting and event planners speak for themselves. I think you will find their innovations thought provoking.
“Our goal is to always challenge ourselves and to challenge our attendees to keep them from doing the same thing over and over again and to give them new ideas and insights they can apply to their business,” said Martin Enault, chief operating officer of C2 Montreal.
“We work with behavioral analysts and psychologists to understand the basis of human interaction…when you play with people’s senses you actually disrupt their sense of normalcy…for example, when you lock people in a room without light, it removes the titles, it removes the job descriptions, the nationality, the skin color, and everyone connects as humans, and they connect in a way that is different than when you put people in a ballroom and a traditional environment.”
Another simple, but effective innovation from C2 Montreal was designing the main keynote venue was a “big-top” style tent with 360-degree projection mapping on the ceiling. Despite being large, the space offered intimacy, with the farthest seating just 13 rows from the speaker on a central stage.
“That big top enabled us to change the format of traditional talks. Through every speaker and transition we were creating a feeling of immersiveness to bring the speakers and people watching closer together to the point that they felt like they were in a living room and not in a major keynote,” said Enault.
Airbnb worked with Civic Entertainment Group to design an event that spanned four blocks of downtown Los Angeles for three days of programming in 17 venues. Keynotes, panel discussions and “fireside chats” involving 150 thought leaders like Frank Geary and Brian Grazer took place in five historic theaters lining Broadway. Local restaurants, coffee shops, and retail sites housed smaller workshops, and parking lots became networking and partner marketing spaces. “We wanted the event to reflect the wonder and awe and exploration of the soul of a city,” said Sarah Goodnow, global head of alternative marketing for Airbnb.05
In 2017, planners took a city-planning approach anchored by a “Main Street” that ran through the middle of an amphitheater’s parking lot, with four color-coded zones extending from it. They were creating an “home-town festival” environment.
“All the breakout sessions and sandboxes had their doors faced into Main Street,” Amanda Matuk, executive producer of Google I/O said. “It was the main drag, a shaded space we used not just for walking, but we had pop-up carts with food, picnic tables for people to relax, and we had Legos and games.”
ORACLE OPEN WORLD
At a 60,000-person event like Oracle’s Open World, how speakers deliver content was a crucial question. So, the tech giant tapped Harvard University’s Project Zero, which explores how people learn, along with its partner agency Mosaic to redesign its educational program.
“We’re creating this concept we call ‘collective learning’, which is taking the idea of the standard passive learning and making it active,” Paul Salinger, VP of Marketing at Oracle said.
New formats at Open World ranged from:
• Wayfinding sessions dubbed “homerooms” to “brain snacks,” sessions that have a format akin to speed-dating in which a facilitator guides two to three-minute dialogues between attendees.
• Instead of typical case studies that are delivered via lecture, participants are presented with the problem and have to work in teams to find a solution themselves.
“Where we’re going with this is a real interest in educating our audience in a different way to allow for deeper learning and networking,” Salinger said.
Food for Thought
It is amazing how creative our industry has become. It is vital that we all keep up and feel free to innovate.