The Meeting Professional’s New Title: Chief Creator of Awesome
Millennials, technology, experiential, visual, relationships, ROI… these are all words that are directly impacting the role of the meeting and event professionals.
Today, meetings and events are about creating unexpected moments of surprise, surpassing expectations, and creating emotional loyalty between attendees and your organization. The challenge? Today’s innovations quickly become the norm or expectation for the next event. It is, as they say, a tough act to follow.
So, just as many CEOs now have the added role of Chief Creative Officer, I propose a new title for meeting and event professionals… Chief Creator of Awesome!
How do you start to create an awesome meeting? To quote Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, it is a tale as old as time – it starts with a story. Great stories engage our minds, touch our emotions, and expand our imaginations. Great stories guide the design and execution of your event.
The good news? Great storytelling today is easily enhanced by present and emerging technology. So let’s look at some guideposts and technology available to you – the ”Chief Creator of Awesome.”
Design is more important today than at any other time. Clean and simple is better. Design should enhance your message – not clutter it.
Impactful meeting and event designs start with a deep understanding of our attendees’ and key stakeholders’ expectations and how they will interact with every aspect of your meeting. That’s why, when the Fusion team talks about design, we talk about creating a holistic experience from theme, to pre-event communications, to session room design and networking opportunities.
How do you start to develop a plan to outdo your last meeting? You start by reviewing each component of your event and ask how it fits into your story. How do you deliver value, and what stops do you have to pull out to make your event awesome from an experiential and engagement perspective.
In the space of ten years, we went from snail mail to email marketing. But let’s face it. With average open and click rates falling each day, email marketing is not the most efficient avenue to pursue when spreading your message to prospective attendees, especially if you are courting millennials. They won’t sift through their inboxes to find your information.
Let social media create the buzz, become the trusted source of marketing, and help you engage attendees and prospects via Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat. As you start to plan your social media communication strategy, consider these ideas:
Create a unique Twitter hashtag for each of your events. Engage your key speakers, sponsors, and attendees. "Friend" every person that registers and start a chat with them that includes your hashtag.
Add images from your photo stream to every Facebook post for enhanced engagement.
Build a year-long community through LinkedIn groups and continually post articles and daily updates.
Hold contests on instagram that encourage your followers to post photos or videos that promote your event starting from the moment they leave their house!
Augmented Reality brings your pre-conference communications to life and helps you tell your story in an engaging way. Today’s AR is cost effective and allows you to use video, graphics, animations, and audio to bring your print mailings to life. Some recent examples of how Fusion has used AR in events:
Pre-meeting brochures can be tagged and brought to life with videos from keynotes or leadership promoting the meeting, their sessions, or what to expect.
Award winners’ posters are tagged video clips so attendees can learn more about why they received the award, what their background was, and their thoughts on the future.
Menus of the day are brought to life by a video from the chef on what is being served, why, and how it was prepared.
Gamification was used by tagging every trade booth sign with a personal message or clue as well as video on the booth sponsor.
3D Modeling & Virtual Reality
3-D modeling and virtual reality brings your story to life and helps “sell the idea” to senior stakeholders. Not only can you bring them into the “venue” but you can also create a virtual look at your meeting space, stage design, and lighting and even preview event videos and supporting media. You will not only be able to engage key event executives and sponsors, but you will also minimize surprises and look like the Chief Creator of Awesome that you are.
Make learning fun: Gamification enhanced by AR engages the attendees in learning while photo stream games with prizes feed the social media engine and provide lots of quality images.
Capture attendees’ imaginations and make learning real by having attendees experience customized virtual reality simulations that recreate the most demanding interpersonal challenges that professionals confront on the job every day.
Increase sponsor recognition, trade show traffic, real-time communication, ROI and engagement by using beacons, AR, and push notifications.
Connect and engage in the virtual world. Today you can live steam your sessions, hold webinars, integrate learning platforms, connect with peer groups, poll, archive content, and incorporate AI chat bots though new user-friendly platforms.
Get faster and more efficient by using facial registration and biometrics for registration and trade show engagement.
Reduce staff time and answer attendees’ questions consistently and quickly with chatbots.
Extend your production beyond the General Session with:
Streaming via social media
3D, VR, and holographic experiences
Use gesturing technology to energize activities and build comradery
Employ animated scenics and video mapping to create unexpected environments
Memorable take homes
Archiving your streaming video presentations and content
Continuing content and community through AI smart newsletters, LinkedIn groups, virtual world archives, meet ups and webinars
Technology has opened up a new world of possibilities for the meeting professional to extend the value of meetings, deliver engaging experiences, and allow us to move from site selection and F&B to Chief Creator of Awesome .
Hugh K. Lee
President Fusion Productions