THE POWER OF FACILITATION WHEN REIMAGINING EVENTS

BY MEGAN PETERS, EVENT DIRECTOR

Business events are about what you learn, what you experience and who you meet. But all too often the content is delivered via PowerPoint, and the experience passive and somewhat repetitive.

After a recent experience, I wonder if the real power of events lies in the conversations and discussions among peers, facilitated by topic experts?

A show globally renowned for reimaging events as a concept is C2 Montréal. Considered one of the world’s most innovative, immersive and out of the box business events, it brings together over 6,500 thought leaders and creative minds, to shape, experience and challenge the future of business – delivering a truly original business event.

Recently I had the privilege to attend Melbourne Edge, an education forum for Hosted Buyers of AIME 2018, which focused on exploring the future of the global business events industry. Martin Enault, Chief Operating Officer at C2 International, Melissa Kaplan, Chief Digital Advisor at Microsoft and Carolyn Miller, Founder/Director of The Honeycomb Effect, led an engaging, interactive workshop to facilitate discussion on the current issues and trends facing our industry.

The purpose of the workshops was to encourage Hosted Buyers to think laterally about events within their portfolio, before embarking on two jam-packed days of inspiration and connection at AIME.

It was not so much what the topics of the discussion were, but instead how the workshops were facilitated that has had me thinking about the ensuing ideas and realisations in the weeks since AIME.

Following the morning’s plenary session, delegates were split up into groups to experience two workshops where the objectives were to facilitate free thinking, valuable conversation and peer-led learning on the current issues facing events and the trends influencing the industry moving forward.

In the first experience, Colourful Conversations, technology played a simple yet pivotal role. We were asked a series of questions, starting with ‘what sector of the events industry do you represent?’ – while six answers appeared on a screen – each correlating to a colour. Spotlights projected the same colours on to the ground, with each delegate flocking to the colour which represented their answer.

Melbourne Edge. Photo credit: SDP Media & Arctic Studio

Sounds simple, right? Simple, but highly effective in facilitating conversation.

Conversation with like-minded peers, as once we arrived at our coloured spotlight, we discussed the issues that faced us in our role and when planning events. By using the novelty of colour to identify delegates on the same wavelength – the ice was broken, and immediate connections were made allowing the heart of the conversation to flourish.

With the questions becoming progressively more challenging – from ‘what technology will have the biggest impact on the future of events?’ to ‘what keeps you up at night?’ – the insights shared became increasingly more valuable.

The experience culminated with a final question – we were given 15 minutes to sit with a group of aligned and engaged individuals to discuss all the challenges and opportunities that had been highlighted along our journey. The discussion was enlightening, thought-provoking and relevant.

The second experience, In the Dark, was similarly revealing, despite the lights being off.

Split into smaller groups, we were walked into a dark room and sat in a circle – where again we were asked a series of questions.

Without the light, without the faces, without the inhibitions, many answers were shared that I truly believe would not have been divulged if the lights were on – myself included. The questions focused on ‘when have you been hit from a blind spot in your business?’ and ‘what would you have done differently with the benefit of hindsight?’

The simple act of turning the lights off, encouraged me to focus on my thoughts, my answers, my learnings and share my truthful responses, under the relative safety of darkness.

We could have sat in a conference session and been told all the answers, but instead, by facilitating engaging and relevant conversation between peers – the lessons, the ideas, the shared experiences and the solutions, resonated so much more and have subsequently stayed with me in the weeks after the event.

SDP Media & Arctic Studio

With the workshop takeaways still bouncing around my mind, I have had time to reflect on and grow my personal and professional opinions; and shape an action plan for my clients to take advantage of the opportunities and overcome the challenges of business events.

Business events are still about what you learn, what you experience and who you meet, however, instead of feeding our delegates all the answers via PowerPoint, what Melbourne Edge excelled at, and taught me, was the power of facilitation. To facilitate breaking down barriers, asking poignant questions and fostering the collaboration of ideas to be put into action.


Megan Peters, Event Director at International Productions and has been recognised as MEA National Event Manager of the Year.
megan.peters@internationalproductions.com

AIME_Melbourne Edge

WANT TO KNOW WHAT’S TRENDY? TRENDS ARE OF COURSE!

BY REBECCA LODDEN, EVENT MANAGER

Trends define the era we live in – fast moving and constantly evolving. Australia’s event industry observes trends across every sector, balancing on an axis of changing food, interior design and technology inspirations. From local micro-fads to global influences, it is important as Event Managers we keep a finger on the pulse of cultural changes to deliver engaging and profitable events.

Recently, I attended the Meetings and Events Australia’s (MEA) professional development session focused on Event Trends and was lucky enough to sit with the leading movers and shakers in the industry. Sharing their insights were Craig Durston, General Manager of Pearl Catering with what’s hot in the kitchen; Andrew Briggs, Senior Creative Stylist at Harry the Hirer with the latest trends in styling and design; and Haycom’s National Sales Manager, Lizzi Lovegrove delivered the tech insights.

So, what are the trends defining events across the next 12 months?

TRENDS COME AND GO BUT FOOD IS FOREVER

No longer are guests happy with the same tried and tested canapes. Catering in 2017 is all about blurring the line between restaurant cuisine and traditional event catering. Today’s leading chefs are focused on creating a culinary experience that brings fine dining to events.

To complement this, the aesthetics of each dish are becoming more extravagant and interactive. Event Managers are trialling new ways to immerse guests in the culinary experience, adding intriguing elements to create unforgettable events. Desserts served as the waitstaff simultaneously pour melted chocolate on the dish to reveal hidden ice-cream, and cocktail mixing theatrics to dazzle and impress are just two ways food and beverage continues to transform the event experience.

Caterers are aware that today’s delegates are nutritionally savvy and interested in where the produce was sourced, the ethics of its supply chain, and what cooking techniques are used. Locally sourced produce continues to give rise to seasonal menus, as chefs return to the basics and feature fresh and in season produce.

Gluten free and vegetarian meals are no longer alternatives, they’re standard!

MIX AND MATCH FOR BOLD STYLE

Event styling is integral to creating the ‘wow’ factor that captures the eyes and imaginations of guests as they enter a venue. It’s all about creating an inviting space and utilising furniture, colours and accessories to create an experience to match your event brief.

Andrew Briggs, Senior Creative Stylist at Harry the Hirer has worked on some of the most iconic styling gigs in Australia, including the much-loved Myer Animated Christmas Windows and multiple marquees in the famous Birdcage for the Melbourne Cup Carnival. His advice: Think bold velvet lounges, striking marble look tables and parquetry wood work – it’s all about patterns and textures. The different elements work together to create a dramatic effect, or to add a luxurious feel to a space. Alternatively, juxtapose stark black and white to create a vivid look in any room – mix and match matte black furniture in a white room, or vice versa.

AV TO LIGHT UP YOUR EVENT

Huge developments in LED light and projection mapping make up two of the greatest components disrupting event AV at the moment, according to Lizzi Lovegrove from Haycom.

LED lighting is the trend that just keeps…trending. Event managers and AV companies continue to find new and interesting ways to use LED to transform venues across the country. The energy efficient lights offer a cosmic array of colours that can match any theme, venue or purpose.

Recently at the Meetings 2017 Conference in New Zealand, hexagon LED screens were featured to integrate design elements of the conference brand and define stage space at front of the room.

One of the most innovative ways in which I’ve seen the event industry utilise lighting for years, is using it to define and create space. The image below by Haycom, demonstrates how simple lights can create an intimate setting within a larger, and slightly more unorthodox, venue.

Table projection mapping has tested the boundaries of event creativity and found a new way to truly transform the guest experience. Projection mapping allows storytelling to go beyond the event theme, speakers and entertainment – with specially designed graphics projected on the table around the plates and glassware. Check out this table projection mapping video by Belgian company, Skullmapping: Le Petit Chef – Dessert.

Trends come and go, however the continual evolution of creative and technological innovations within the event industry make me believe many of the trends are becoming classics – they’re here to stay, grow and be explored for many events to come.


Rebecca Lodden is an Event Manager at International Productions. No matter how big or small your event or budget, or how tight your deadlines are, International Productions delivers world-class event management and content production services that will meet your event objectives and communicate key messages every time.

www.internationalproductions.com

Image sources: Thank you Pearl Catering, Harry the Hirer, CINZ and Haycom.

EXPERIENCING THE LATEST AND GREATEST
OF NEW ZEALAND FOR MEETINGS 2017

BY ADRYAN DAYNES, MANAGING DIRECTOR

Recently, I attended the Meetings 2017 hosted by Conference & Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) in Auckland. I was lucky enough to meet with the industry’s best and learn about the latest and greatest in events that our neighbours across the pond are offering.

I set myself a conference challenge while there to learn about the best conference spaces, food and beverage offerings, adrenaline-filled team building activities, entertainment and picturesque locations – all to be answered over a jam-packed two days where I squeezed in 34 appointments, and a couple of families exploring all NZ has to offer.

Here are my favourite *secret* finds:

VENUES

Located on Auckland’s picturesque harbourfront, The ANZ Viaduct Events Centre is central for all business events in New Zealand. The conference centre is a premium and stylish venue with seven versatile event spaces across three levels with capacity to have up to 1,200 guests.

Through its sophisticated architectural design it achieves a five-star environmental rating. It’s use of intelligent technology enables minimal energy, and water consumption and solar lighting. Stylish, functional and environmentally friendly – it’s an all-round win.

One of the most outstanding historical buildings showing the legacy and culture of the Maori people is the Auckland National Museum. I was equally impressed by the neo-Baroque styled Auckland Town Hall (right) which imposes its prominent heritage facade on Queen Street, with beautiful stain-glass windows and spectacular chandeliers.

Only a three-hour flight from Sydney, the New Zealand International Conference Centre is set to open in two to three years! When complete this impressive 32,500m² conference, exhibition and entertainment space, with inspiring views across the Waitakere Ranges, will be New Zealand’s biggest and most impressive event space. Spread over four levels it will accommodate large-scale events, conferences, meetings and gala dinners, catering up to 4,000 delegates.

LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

One thing is for certain; you won’t be disappointed by Auckland. It really is keeping up with the times, offering a plethora of trendy cafes and restaurants that definitely exude a Melbourne vibe. We were taken to a hidden gem, the “French Kitchen”, which offers a unique and intimate private dining experience. In an open kitchen environment, the restaurant’s highly-touted team Simon Wright, Executive Chef or Gideon Landman, Head Chef, prepare the entire mouth-watering meal in front of your eyes. The food was exquisite and the service second-to-none. It’s ranked the fourth best restaurant in the world, no surprises there.

Auckland has the perfect mix of amazing food, scenic views and action-packed adventure activities. One of the most iconic islands, only a short ferry ride across the harbour, is Rangitoto Island – home to the areas largest volcanic cone and the world’s largest Pakhtunkhwa lush rainforest. There’s also plenty of adrenaline pumping activities for the risk takers including bungee jumping off Auckland Bridge and Sky Jump  – a 192 metre jump off Sky Tower.

THE WHISPERS OF QUEENSTOWN

I’m yet to visit Queenstown, where I hear whispers of a new conference centre being built within the next three to four years. As the adventure capital of the Southern-Hemisphere, if not the world, the Queenstown Conference Centre will offer the perfect mixture of exceptional views and action-packed activities at your fingertips. There’s jet boating, trekking, skiing (if it’s the right time of the year), a cruise along the TSS Earnslaw steamship, zip lining with stunning views, and you can even hold a conference in an old gold miners’ shed.

Overall, Meetings 2017 was an exceptional and valuable experience. I look forward to flying over a plane-load of delegates to relish in all our Kiwi business event mates have to offer once the New Zealand International Conference Centre is complete.


Adryan Daynes is the Managing Director of International Productions. No matter how big or small your event or budget, or how tight your deadlines are, International Productions delivers world-class event management and content production services that will meet your event objectives and communicate key messages every time.

www.internationalproductions.com

THE SECRET TO CREATING
A VISUALLY IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCE AT YOUR NEXT EVENT

The event industry is continually looking to reinvent immersive experiences that increase guest engagement, brand connection and absorption. So, what is the secret to creating the high-end visually immersive experience you see at the Oscars or a high-production live music concert?

Firstly, we need to understand how to utilise the latest technology to enhance your event experience and deliver the next-level production.

Unlocking the hidden value of event content, is blend screen projection and vision mapping. The flexibility of blend screen projection and vision mapping removes the borders of visual creativity, with the ability to create the illusion of different shape screens, maximise the use of venue space with additional screens, and allows you to display different streams of content simultaneously.

Multiple projectors can seamlessly deliver different pieces of content simultaneously to showcase both the presentation and the speaker on screen at the same time utilising Picture-in-Picture (PIP) and live-to-screen (IMAG) imagery. Whilst this may sound simple, the multi-element content applications are endless. Content can be displayed across wide screens, wrap screens, oval and diamond shaped canvas, and the only limitation is your imagination.

Blend screen projection allows us to increase our screen real estate to showcase more content. Whether you are looking for an 80m long wrap screen that creates 180-degrees of active screen space, or an extended 12m x 4m screen with a dual projection blend – your communication possibilities are expanded to truly add a new dimension to your event.

Visual immersion is a growing trend in event production, and finding the right expertise to shape the experience you are after can be the challenge. This is where the International Production team of experts are here to help. Expertise to create content that simplifies the process, takes the headache out of your event management and even works with you to make content development enjoyable. We take blend screen content out of the too hard basket, and work with you to bring your imagination to life and add value to your event.

International Productions believes in the power of compelling event content, contact our team to take your event to the next level, and deliver a Hollywood-standard production that creates a lasting impression on guests.

THE FOUR STEPS TO A FABULOUS FRANCHISEE CONFERENCE

by Adryan Daynes

Organising a conference can be one of the most difficult jobs in a franchisor’s head office. At first glance, it can seem like a daunting, overwhelming and perhaps even unachievable feat. It comes with significant responsibility and it’s important to get it right.

Luckily, the expertise and creativity of the International Productions events team takes the stress out of delivering events of any size. With over 20 years of experience in the events industry, here are my insights into delivering the most engaging Franchisee Conference your company has ever seen.

So why have a conference in the first place?

When done well, a franchisee conference can align staff with business objectives, boost network sales and strengthen the franchisee/franchisor relationship.

It is important franchisees remain connected with the overarching brand objective, providing them with a moment to step out of their business and touch base with the company’s strategic direction. A conference provides opportunities for networking between franchise owners and managers, allowing them to share insights into wins and challenges they have faced. It is also a chance to connect franchisees and staff with key suppliers to promote and demonstrate new products to the market.

Conferences are a prime opportunity to activate your company culture and values and to motivate and engage franchise owners and staff with the company goals and expectations. It can also be a chance to reward all levels of the franchise for their dedication and hard work. Happy workers = happy customers.

So how do you achieve this?

1. RECOGNISE YOUR DIFFERENT AUDIENCES

Firstly, it’s important that you are targeting the right people with the right message business owners and staff serve two different business functions, and event messaging should reflect this. By doing this, you are able to distil the key messages and objectives for different target markets.

At a recent Franchisee Conference for Harvey Norman, International Productions created two, three day mini-conferences; targeting retail staff across the first three days to embrace key brand messages and the second three days engaged franchisee owners with the overarching business strategy.

2. PREPARE EVERYONE TO BRING THEIR A-GAME

It is important all speakers and exhibitors bring their A-Game to the conference to ensure an exceptional event is delivered. It is usually their only opportunity each year to participate with their peers, and rightly or wrongly, event managers need to help them get the most out of the experience. External speakers will always be prepared with their presentation and messaging, however many internal conferences also include presentation from internal managers and product representatives – at International Productions we connect with internal presenters prior to the event and, if necessary, provide them with mentoring to ensure high level, engaging presentations.

3. GET CREATIVE!

You have the space confirmed, now use it. Work with exhibitors prior to the event to get the best results, invest in attractive stands and really think about the best ways to set out products for live demonstrations. At the recent Harvey Norman conference, International Productions introduced new look Denver stands to the exhibition space. Working with the exhibitors in the months leading up to the event, our team liaised directly with the exhibitors encouraging them to utilise the innovate stands to think outside the box. The simple action of communicating resulted in happy exhibitors creating stands that effectively sold their business, and reaping the rewards with increased sales at the event.

4. EDUCATION V. ENTERTAINMENT

The primary purpose of many franchise conferences is to provide an engaging educational experience that aligns your franchise owners and staff members with the core business direction. However, it’s important the overall conference is a motivating and uplifting experience so, fun and entertainment should be well balanced throughout.

The event is also a chance to reward and thank everyone for their dedication and hard work over the past 12 months. Evening social events provide the perfect platform for everyone to let their hair down and experience something out of the norm – explore nearby locations and venues and provide entertainment that connects with the audience.

At the Harvey Norman conference, International Productions aligned the social evening with the needs of their audience. With the conference based at Sydney Showgrounds, retail staff were treated to an all access tour of the ANZ stadium with evening entertainment provided by comedian Joel Creasey. While during the franchise owner component, guests spent an evening at the Westella Renaissance, enjoying an Arabian Night’s themed dinner and entertainment from comedian Akmal Saleh. Their event concluded with an award evening recognising the high achievers across the company in a relaxed and entertaining environment.

No matter how big your company, International Productions Event Management produces world-class events for any budget or deadline, that will meet your event objectives and communicate key messages.

IP Event Management believes in the power of compelling events with a single purpose, to make the success of the event, your success. A dedicated team are on hand to guide the journey from concept to live event.

TO APP OR NOT TO APP, THAT IS THE QUESTION..

Mobile apps are destined to become one of the most popular pieces of technology for the event industry as they are fuelled by the astounding growth in smartphones’ adoption.

While there are immediate tangible benefits such as reduced environmental impact and new marketing channels activation, other advertised benefits such as higher engagement and improved event perception are still to be supported by evidence. (more…)

PRESENTATIONS THAT POP

A slickly designed presentation template is not only important in maintaining continuity throughout an event, but can constantly reinforce key messaging and event themes. (more…)

INSPIRED BY VIVID

Helen Wong (MD) from Helen Wong’s Tours as well as the Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) are raising the benchmark in the travel industry when it comes to inspiring Events.

International Productions assisted the MGTO during the 2014 Vivid Festival in doing just that. A custom built 23 metre city skyline was assembled in the Crystal Ballroom at Luna Park Sydney, displaying stunning images and a spectacular light show of Macau’s attractions.

The two complimenting themes immersed those who attended in beautiful imagery not only inside but out and allowed the creation of an event that would not soon be forgotten. (more…)

DOLTONE HOUSE HYDE PARK

Directly adjacent to the 5 star Sheraton on The Park Hotel, this new meeting and events venue, boasts 5 metre high ceilings with an abundance of natural light via spectacular floor to ceiling windows and uninterrupted views of Sydney’s Hyde Park. It is superbly located within a prestigious sector of Sydney’s CBD precinct and exclusive retail outlets.

This venue has unique qualities in its décor, which means that theme budgets for your event can be reduced. International Productions have produced a number of events at this venue recently and we have found the “in-house” catering to be of five star quality. (more…)

ROLE PLAY, RECORD REVIEW SUCCEED

As most professional sales people would agree; “practice” is the golden rule in perfecting your sales skills. Read on to find out why you should be embracing role play to improve your team’s sales techniques… (more…)