After a week and a half of catch up, rest and reflection from an exhaustive but ultra rewarding week at The Special Event Conference and Tradeshow, the experience fueled us with great ideas, inspiration and motivation. As evolving event professionals, the Special Event industry is all about the next- the next in creativity, education, new products along with new applications. As we caught up with colleague and shared our experiences, these encounters allowed us to bounce ideas off each other, lend support as well as create new relationships with other professionals that share our same passion for this business.
This year, unlike year’s prior, Special Event Magazine hosted their annual conference in our neighboring backyard of Tampa, Florida and the Exhilarate team was “all in” literally! We participated in 4 education classes, produced a spotlight event and even took lead in providing marketing support for the closing night – Gala Awards and Celebration event.
From the week long conference, we discovered many unique ideas, whether appearing on the tradeshow floor, during the after hour parties, through the educational content, execution, and down to the closing night award celebration- our feelers and eyes were wide open.
We invite you to take an inside look as to what we uncovered via 12 Terrific Trends from #TSE2012 “TTFT“. Big thanks to Christie’s Photographic Studios for providing some of these fabulous images!
(12) Branding and hash tagging education sessions
I cannot emphasis enough the importance of creating hashtags, not just for your overall conference, but even for your individual education sessions. This allows speakers as well as conference managers to gauge the success / feedback of their session and engage attendees post-meeting. We did just that in our Marketing All-Stars session. We provided attendees with a Marketing All-Stars lineup that included baseball trading cards graphics on a 11×17 poster handout, it included not only background info on the session’s speakers, but our twitter handle and the session’s hashtag of #MktgAllStars. From the start of the session we encourage attendees to engage afterwards and that did just that!
(11) Integrating conference theme and messaging in opening entertainment
If you are going to kick off your conference, kick it off with some subliminal messaging, and what better way than incorporating it into your opening entertainment act. The producers of the opening general session did a fabulous job of really combining the overall message of the industry and underlying themes of the conference via creative scripting, glee-style singing and high-energy dance numbers!
(10) Session interaction & attendee engagement
What do attendees love most? Involvement. Most sessions are 60 – 90 minutes tops, for that length of time, who really wants to be lectured to? Don’t you love as an attendee when a speaker asks the question- how many of you are – event planners, managers, business owners- etc.? And you enthusiastically raise your hand, feels good huh? Yes we all want to interact, be engaged, we all have limited attention spans, so how do we keep audience members engaged? By interaction!
Taking it back to our session Marketing All-Stars, we created round tables, which created an intimate environment and put the focus back on the guests- they were in charge and they asked the questions, it was one-on-one consulting, and we even rotated the guests every 20 minutes to meet and interact with the other speakers. The response was phenomenal!
We also took the same audience interaction practice and applied it to another session our team produced called WOW Moms. We inserted breaks after every 3 panelists, this created a pause and brought it back to the audience, we even called the break- a “WOW Mom moment”. We intentionally wanted a segment where the audience would get the chance to express how they can relate to any of the panelists’ stories that were shared. This allowed for a direct connection and comfort level. This is a great tactic if you have a session with lots of panelists and a great way to break up the monotony! Big thanks to Kismis Ink Photography for capturing the above foursome photo grouping from WOW Moms!
(9) Intimate stage sets with design elements
Step it up with staging. Getting creative on a budget is possible. With a couch, a chair some decorative draping to replace your humdrum pipe and navy drape, and some battery operated up lighting a dull stage set can be created into a camera ready stage dressed like it was supposed to be on TV.
Oprah double take at the Spotlight event on Fundraising produced by the Exhilarate team!
(8) Exploding balloon drops
We all love balloons and we especially LOVE balloon drops! The next generation of WOW in balloon drops are exploding balloon drops- within each balloon, are a myriad of colorful ribbons and confetti that immediately burst on cue! What a new and creative way to make your event pop!
(7) CaterLight- Wireless decorative catering lighting
Catering professionals prepared to be AMAZED! The latest catering craze is decorative wire-free lighting for buffets. Buffets are the way to go at events, and now you never have to compromise your design based on where the electrical outlets are!
(6) Creative exhibit hall entrances
At large convention centers what better way then to create an impactful entrance to your shows exhibit hall! Show your attendees where to go with these attention grabbing arch structures!
(5) Backdrop walls creating dual attendee lounges
Any theme, any design, a dual sided attendee lounge crafted with a floor to ceiling backdrop is a unique approach for an attendee rest area! The design possibilities are also endless! Either fit a backdrop design to meet your conference objectives or get crazy and creative with a exotic location. What a great way to set the mood for attendees to sit back and relax with a view!
(4) Entertainment that blends into event decor
Go Grand or go home! At the conference’s wedding event, the talented Sean De Freitas created a wonderland that every event designer in the world would admire – an absolutely blissful and magical environment! One trend that caught our eye from this floral /event design mastermind was a single opera singing model, who stood on top of a stairwell, and was literally framed to perfection! The model featured within an oversize picture frame was outfitted with a ballroom gown that sprawled the entire ballroom. Guests completely had to do a double take as the blending of this entertainer into the décor landscape was completely flawless!
(3) LED lit furniture for after parties
Soft lighting for lounge areas that also double as a great decorative look is uniquely cool and especially for a rocking after party!
(2) LED wands
Now you would think these fun glow sticks would just be great at kids parties and raves- but definitely not the case! These LED glow wands were a perfect addition and most certainly got the party started!
(1) Tented events
If you want to keep your conference’s premiere event on property, but space is an issue, why not take it to the backyard and tent it! With the right event expert, they can guide you through the red tape, permitting, and all the production involved! Yes it is a huge undertaking, but the endless design options with tents are more than the average person realizes! For the closing night Gala- the producers went with not just any ordinary tent, but a 2-story floor tent at that! Now tell me, does this interior look like a tent?
If you missed TSE2012, we hope our perspective allowed you to feel like you were there in spirit! We look forward to getting your notes on these trends!
And for those of you who were there- what were your favorite trends?
Till next year, where we take it to the windy city, Chicago!