Having shuddered at witnessing a spot of tube rage on my way into London, I was welcomed with open arms to Building Six at The O2 by the friendly Event360 crew. Event360 is fuelled by the collective power of C&IT and Event Magazine.
Event communications for the 100+ companies attending were impressive with an informative show brochure, good quality badge and two copies of my personalised itinerary. Much needed coffee and Danish pastries were provided within the nightclub ambience of Building Six before we took our seats for the opening session by Joanna Sinnott, a TV presenter and producer.
Following that, the clear message from Ryan Pinnick (CEO of the Natural Success Academy) was that emotions evoke actions, so it you tap into your creative genius in order to execute the ultimate live event you will achieve maximum impact and exceed business expectations.
The first BrandSLAM! featuring Fentimans, NFL International and Vodafone took a fascinating look at how to build awareness of an event, thinking outside the box to broaden the audience, getting maximum engagement and maintaining excitement during the event. The powerful message was that we should take more risks as people have high expectations when it comes to live events.
Tim Sutter from Cvent delved deep into technology and how it affects the attendee experience as well as the changing landscape of event technology and how it is making events even more engaging. He referenced the present day ‘spoilt idiot’ generation who complain at the slightest glitch in technology. Expectation is greater than ever with concepts like smart airports, driverless cars, hotel mobile check-in, keyless entry, self-service registration kiosks which allow the opportunity to get the delegate through the door quicker and offer more engagement. On discussing newer technology, he explored the massively evolving world of live events, looking at motion capture, facial recognition, remote presence presenters (in the form of an iPad on a Segway stick) or holograms.
A series of campfire huddles ran throughout the afternoon. These allowed us to get intimate with industry experts to stimulate discussion on key topics such as the power of immersive experiences, engaging event backdrops and the use of innovative technology.
Our focus group looked at the future of incentives. We debated selecting the ultimate location with discussion focused around a planned trip to Zimbabwe, public perception and how to influence this and robust crisis management planning (which featured a discussion around events during the recent terrorist attacks in Paris).
Dave Rose, a colleague from our SPARK THINKING creative team, attended an equally engaging session with Barclays on the subject of using brand partenrships to inject creativity into corporate events, with a specific focus on the difficulties faced by the banking industry. You can read Dave’s blog here.
The only disappointing factor about the focus groups was that you could only attend one of the sessions. They were limited to ten pre-selected attendees for each session in order to facilitate and stimulate interaction and were run in conjunction with the face-to-face meetings with the plethora of suppliers, so not enough time in the day.
Street food catering was kindly provided by Kerb and what a delight it was with special compliments on the burgers and multi-flavored chocolate brownies.
Having refueled, we reconnected and kicked off again with an awe-inspiring talk from BJ Cunningham which looked at brands as a promise, rather than a logo. An inspiring entrepreneur who admits to never having a proper job, he talked through his fascinating journey and how he had everything (the Knightsbridge home, beautiful girlfriend and beloved dog) before making mistakes that led to an £876K overdraft and losing everything (but the dog). BJ talked about how he learnt from his downfall and through his love of problem solving and sheer determination has become the success he is today. Possibly most famous for his brand – Death Cigarettes – he talked about the foundations of that dream, the barriers he overcame, how he cheekily used journalism and developed the business model to evoke reaction from the public and ultimately steal market share away from his competitors. In closing he stood by his philosophy that the answer is in your brand, not the product, and that people are loyal to promises and not products. It isn’t often that a speaker can rouse an audience to goosebumps, but he accomplished it with his thought-provoking speech.
The technology and futurology panel discussion was an absorbing session on how fickle consumers have developed a ‘been there, done that’ mindset and how with the use of event apps, live feeds and gamification we can keep up the pace of an event and continue to challenge these people and offer new and inventive ways to shine. The dominant message coming from all the panelists was that personalisation is the key to successful events.
Our afternoon BrandSLAM! was hosted by Telegraph Media Group and Airbnb. It was a compelling insight into how to challenge the mindsets of people, pushing boundaries and offering the unthinkable.
It was a jam-packed day and we left feeling invigorated and ready to put everything into practice.