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By Lynne Wellish

When starting out in the industry and learning to source and procure, I made the mistake of always asking how much things were—often overlooking other factors. I played a tug of war with all my suppliers, forgetting we had the same goal, a happy client and repeat business. Then one day it hit me, I had a budget and its purpose was to craft the event and communicate a message to the participants.

Those tools are used to reach the goals and objective and to show an ROI. Sitting down with your AV team and other suppliers not only expands your options and creativity, but creates great synergy.

Case Study: The Event Canada

In April 2018, I had the good fortune to speak at The Event Canada. The Event, is a collaboration of the Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal chapters of Meeting Professionals International (MPI).

The conference was held in conjunction with GMID (Global Meetings Industry Day) and included other meetings industry associations: CSAE, PCMA and CANSPEP. It was held at the Brookstreet Hotel.

From my vantage point, every stakeholder had goals and objectives that were met. The theme was: Collaborate with Industry Peers, Cultivate New Ideas and Elevate Your Expertise.

Suppliers Can Help You Liven Things Up

Creativity and imagination flipped the table on the scope and sequence at The Event, the breakout sessions were creative, engaging and included interactive experiences branded by different destinations.

Nestled among highboys, picnic tables and ghost chairs, I spoke in the Niagara Falls Business Events room, not the Celtic room. The seating was nontraditional with Niagara Falls enhancements: ice wine, chocolates and champagne with ice wine cocktails. Did I mention the picnic tables?

Quebec City featured yoga mats and large exercise balls for the room seating. Participants were encouraged to get up and move around at various times in the education sessions. All meeting rooms were referred to as the destination that sponsored them. Winnipeg anyone?

Working Together With Event Canvas

Our collaboration was on the main stage. Working with FMAVBanff and Lake Louise Tourism, the committee from three MPI chapters and other sponsors and stakeholders, FMAV used EventCanvas, a strategic management template for developing new events and conference models.

The template can also be used to document existing events models.

LoriAnn K. Harnish, CMP, CMM, CED explains the process:Using EventCanvas allows the Event Professional to facilitate (with participants) a high level strategic mapping session; revealing the true vision of all stakeholders. It is a proven intuitive method showing how an event will change behavior.

“The data (the event story) is presented in a video format as well as a written document. This information is the foundation for making the event measurable (meeting goals and objectives). An additional creative step may be taken by drawing the event story on a blank EventCanvas template. This entire mapping process from start to finish requires a time commitment from the participants.

“Every minute spent on this process … ensures the ultimate event promise will be delivered.”

Going Beyond the Basic AV Experience

With the heart of an AV chick, I attended the “backstage tour” of the set and production elements used at The Event, guided by Brent Beatty, FMAV Director of Sales, Capital and Atlantic Region. Brent described the process utilized in development of the stage, set and computer graphics.

Sponsored by, Banff and Lake Louise Tourism, the general session was an interactive experience each participant was to engage in as they entered the room. Falling snow in a cabin with a roaring fire and antlers over the mantle was the placeholder.

Brent asked each audio-visual technician with FMAV to describe the collaborative process they used to provide an ROI for all stakeholders. The AV techs had such pride as they described which pieces of the puzzle they supplied. Encouraged to use their own experience, education and skillset to craft the feel of Banff and Lake Louise, the AV techs end creation delivered an Avatar-like effect.

I felt like I was sitting in Banff, in a cabin in front of a fire watching the snow fall.

Imagine that, what if we as meeting and event professionals, took the time to make certain the sponsor is getting the interaction and facetime, as well as human points of touch, to give a higher ROI on their investment. What if your participants actually felt a chill from the incredible visual, I can still see the virtual tour and crackling fireplace vividly in my mind. Imagine sitting down with your clients, sponsors and suppliers. Imagine the event from the participants’ point of view. The synergy would provide a template focused on ROI, client goals and objectives and sponsorship fulfillment.

Collaboration Is Key to Wow Attendees

Eager to learn more, I attended a breakout session highlighting the EventCanvas method, facilitated by FMAV VP, Marketing Alissa Hurley in the Caesar’s room. On the wall was a blank EventCanvas and we were broken into groups. With the help of little sticky notes, each group took on a role of a stakeholder and conveyed the goals, objective and ROI to integrate with the other stakeholders.

The end client, The Event, had managed to meet the goals and objectives of the conference committee.  The sponsors had many touchpoint opportunities to reach the participants and create an impression.

The participants loved the mixing and mingling that organically evolved through the different room settings and the immersion within the destination that FMAV and the sponsors helped to create.

I wish I would have known how important the collaboration process with suppliers is when co-creating an event when I first started out in the industry. Please share in the comments below some thoughts and processes you have used, while working in tandem with your team to really WOW your client.


Any products or services noted are for reference and do not constitute an endorsement.

About Lynne Wellish

Lynne Wellish, CMP, CHSE, CHO is an award-winning hospitality industry trainer and speaker.

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