The full version of this article was originally published in the Maritz Global Events Blog.
When we ask clients about their event challenges, we frequently hear: “Every year it becomes harder and harder to top last year’s event.”
At Maritz Global Events, we face the same challenge. Particularly for e4, our annual invite-only educational event for clients and prospective clients.
Each year we raise the bar for industry education through interactive learning and collaboration.
By engaging with our peers, we discussed how to reinvent the event experience for our organizations, our guests and the industry.
We encountered new ideas, enjoyed thoughtful conversations and made some new friends along the way.
While there are four “e” descriptors in e4 (experience, escape, engage, encounter) there is also an unofficial 5th “e” we like to incorporate every year, experimenting.
Science is in our DNA as a company, and this year we experimented with new learning environments by taking all 500+ guests to nine different off-site venues for educational sessions on Monday afternoon.
Supported by our industry partners, and enabled by our clients’ willingness to experiment and contribute in peer-to-peer content, we were able to learn from each other and experience everything the “Charm City” has to offer.
Here’s a quick list of what we learned this year:
1. Understand Your Event Objectives and Design For Them
Maritz Global Events launched our first-ever Event Impact Report at e4, which highlights the latest trends in creating more impactful events.
We analyzed data from 400+ client business objectives to understand what companies really need their events to do.
In our session with Maritz Global Events’ Chief Experience Architect, Greg Bogue, we uncovered that most organizations are primarily focused on the business impact of their events.
While the desire to prove ROI is important, some organizations are measuring attendee impact such as loyalty, retention, engagement, professional development, etc.)
You can download a copy of the report, which details the six major event objectives and ideas to achieve them here.
2. Incorporate the Aesthetics of Joy
Happiness and joy aren’t the same thing.
Our first keynote speaker, Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness, explained that joy happens instantly in small moments, while happiness is a more broad equation that evaluates many factors.
There are many ways to spark more joy at your events including designing with curve-shaped furniture, creating bigger peak moments, tall ceilings and more.
3. Beyond “Wellness” – Think About Guests’ “Well-Being”
We had amazing fitness classes at e4, but we explored the idea of “wellness” beyond fitness and into the idea of “well-being.”
Well being expands into the realms of intellectual (creativity), social (corporate social responsibility), environmental (sustainability) wellness and more.
More and more events are weaving new wellness principles into the fabric of their events, offering guests new opportunities to explore “well-being.”
4. Consider Space Design
Offering your guests spaces to charge their devices or catch up on email helps keep them immersed in your event and not retreating back to their rooms, where the call of the bed and TV may keep them there.
We also learned about creating different zones in the same space, offering guests a variety of opportunities without making them leave the meeting area.
These zones can be used collaboration and networking, demos and product launches, or just a place to kick back and relax.
5. Human Connection and “Surprise & Delight”
His keynote covered topics from building brand loyalty to creating memorable experiences.
Two of the biggest highlights of Johnny’s presentation weren’t actually bullet points he made — they were the connections he made with his audience and his use of novelty.
Johnny surprised each person in our general session with a small gift under their chairs, an unexpected treat that took our brains off autopilot.
He also told the audience that if they wrote a personal note on their business card and gave it to him after his speech, he would follow up personally with each individual.
It sounded like a lofty aspiration, but less than a week after e4, those guests received a Johnny Cupcakes t-shirt set in custom packaging signed by Johnny himself!
Looking Ahead to 2020
Next year, we are taking e4 to Portland, Oregon.
The destination and our event team have some pretty big shoes to fill.
Luckily we are always up for a challenge.
We even hear there’s a shoe company there that is also pretty creative.
Read the full version of this article in the Maritz Global Events Blog.