Is bigger always better? Not necessarily and depending upon what you are trying to achieve with your meetings, it can be detrimental.
Case in point: I just finished organizing a 6 city technical workshop tour across Canada. In most cities, the rooms had 40-60 people, but in Toronto, the room had 160 people! In a debrief I had with the speakers, I remarked about how great it was to see so many faces in Toronto, and they agreed the numbers were great. Yet they both remarked on how the room was actually too big, and that they weren't able to address all of the questions that came up in a timely matter. They also remarked that with such a large crowd, the attendee knowledge ranged from very basic to advanced so finding a middle ground and pleasing the entire audience was difficult.
In hindsight a smaller more intimate setting might be a better fit and while fixed costs such as AV may be higher with a smaller group, sometimes the learning outcomes may justify the spend and make for better informed and happier attendees in the end.
Another year has come and gone and its' time to reflect on what we have seen, done and are excited to accomplish in the coming year.
2016 saw unprecendented growth for Strategic Events and our clients. We are thrilled that we have had the opportunity to help buildout the solutions and strategies needed in their live events and to be part of the growth of their business.
This year we had the opportunity to see some amazing venues across North America, including the just opened Guest House at Graceland and the Peabody in Memphis, we experienced some exciting venue and activity options in Annapolis including haunted Pub Crawls and with the Canadian Dollar being such a great value, we spent more time reviewing some of the great locations such as Niagara, Kelowna and Quebec City. For those from outside of Canada, it's time to look at what is going on inside Canada as we experience our 150 birthday in 2017. We offer unique experiences, culture and a friendly outlook that just can't be found anywhere else.
So for 2017 I offer the following advice: If your live event decisions are being driven by budget now is the time to think Canada! We offer top notch destinations, easy access from the US, Europe and beyond. As well as all of the event and marketing services and solutions needed to ensure a remarkable event.
All the best for a healthy and prosperous 2017 from everyone at Strategic Events!
With all of the wonderful places that I have been fortunate enough to plan events in over the years. I haven't had the chance to visit Memphis.
Memphis is the home of Graceland...Elvis's Mansion as well as the Civil Rights Museum, Rock n ROll and much more. I am working with the Memphis CVB and conducting a site visit in the next few weeks. I look forward to reporting back on all it has to offer and why Memphis could be a great destination for your next conference. Stay tuned....
As a meeting and conference company we like to think that we can do it all - and for our clients, we are always looking to go that extra mile to ensure that you look great at the end of the day. That being said we often rely on our partners to ensure that some elements that we may not be experts in are handled with you the end user in mind. As a planner it is our responsibility to ensure that the finished product is seamless and polished. That's why at Strategic Events we are always looking for vendors that share the same philosophy as us. Whether it be local entertainment, florists, staffing or decor, we will ensure that the local talent we hire meets our exacting standards. For our clients, we will settle for nothing but the best!
Last week, I sat in on a call with a great organization I belong to called Spin Events. Its' a network of Conference and Event Planners with 10+ years of experience in the industry, that want to network with like minded professionals.
The call last week was about using Third Parties to help with conferences and the value we can bring to the table. On the call was a corporate planner, whose company did +100 events a year by herself and she simply couldn't do it all and remain sane. She needed advise on what a 3rd party could bring to the table, that wouldn't ruin her budget or make her look expendable, which is often a fear in-house planners have.
My advise is to find someone you are comfortable with; a person that understands you aren't looking to give up control, you just need to fill in the gaps and compliment your own skills and expertise.
When you are trying to find a third party to work with, don't be afraid to ask for references. If you do client facing events, and the 3rd party will be in direct contact with them, make sure you are comfortable with their client service skills and that they are presentable: remember they are an extension of you and your company.
With regard to cost, unless you know the true scope of the project look at 2 options, a cost per hour or a cost per project. If the scope of work is large, consider working on a per project basis. If it is only a few days, then an hourly or daily rate is best.
And don't be afraid to ask questions, if you aren't sure, start with a small project and build up. A good partner is always willing to work with you.
Last week I attended a Gala in Winnipeg celebrating the 100th Anniversary of women having the right to vote in Canada. The event was MC'd by a very well known Canadian female celebrity. After the gala in speaking to some of the other attendees, I was stuck by how unappealing they found her as a choice. The Gala organizers had decided to choose someone well known and flashy instead of a local personality and it didn't go over particularly well. So it got me thinking about events I have put on and those I have attended and the importance of a good Master of Ceremonies.
The MC really does set the tone for the event and I have found that someone with knowledge of the subject or of the audience is a more suitable choice. Often clients will speak to me about wanting to hire a celebrity MC for their event, which usually comes with a hefty price tag. I will caution them on their choice: why hire someone who knows nothing about their business, their message or their audience? Would you hire a sales person like that? By working through what they want to achieve for their event, we can often find a more cost efficient and more suitable solution.
So what should you look for in your next Master of Ceremonies? A good personality is very important; someone that knows how to read the room, brings lightness when needed, or a joke to clear the air. They should be knowledgeable of your industry, including your company and brand. If they aren't asking lots of questions when you do your pre-interview, then they might not be the best fit.
It is important that you provide them with the tools to do their job in advance. If there are biographies involved, provide them as soon as possible, as well as the agenda. These may change of course however the better prepared you can make your MC, the more likely they are to succeed. Your MC should take the tools you provide and do their own research as well. Where appropriate have them talk directly to the speakers themselves to clarify any points or messaging. I would also recommend at least two pre-event meetings to make sure they understand what your expectations are.
Lastly, if it ain't broke don't fix it...if you have a great MC that the audience responds well to, don't feel obligated to change them simply because there could be someone flashier or a bigger celebrity. I believe that the best solution for most people comes from familiarity and a feeling of comfort, something that celebrities don't usually provide.
I always hope to find time to keep up my writing to share what's new the meetings and conference world, but as they say; times flies when you are having fun, and I been extremely busy doing what I love, working with you my clients on fabulous events.
Things will be difference in 2016 and I vow to share tips and ideas to make this year the best ever!
I am the new MPI 2012/13 Chair for the ECOS Project - If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity and you belong to MPI, come join me it will be a ton of fun.
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National Meetings Industry Day celebrates the business of meetings and their importance and impact to the Canadian economy and beyond. NMID will be celebrated in major cities across the country next Thursday April 19th and I encourage everyone who plans or influences meetings to come out and support the meetings and events community.
Canadian Special Events.com the leading voice in Canadian Special Events recognized Strategic Events with a Star Award nomination for 2011 Best Conference and for Best Event produced for a charity