and have a friend take a picture of you in front of that scene.” Do things that are low-tech, high- impact, and that are shareable. Shareable is the key, because then I’m sending it off to my husband, or to somebody else back at the office. You want to multiply these positive moments where pos- sible — have three multisensory cues happening simultaneously. For example, stepping on a cushy red carpet, while a smiling volunteer hands you a scented card with speakers’ tips.
Get Personal DS One of the things that we do for all of our VIPs and presenters — something technology-based but personalized — is that when they arrive there will be a welcome-card QR code. You scan the QR code and it pops a brief video that personally welcomes you to the event and is totally customized. We will look at your bio and your Twitter stream and your blog — say that you are a runner or you’re a foodie or you enjoy wine. Our event was in El Paso [last] year — we’ll say, “Hey, hope you have some time to enjoy the warm weather. If you have some time, we know you would like to probably get out and get a run in. We recommend this little route, and if you get a chance, you might want to try such-and- such Texas wine.” People are flattered. They really enjoy it. I think it is something that we have really hit a home run on.
Change the Scenery GF When you put people in a standard hotel ballroom, you’re triggering the memories of every meeting they’ve ever attended, and they’ll behave according to script. But getting them into a unique, unconventional setting — like a theater, concert hall, or museum — cues a completely different response. It preps them for something new. If a hotel or conference center works best for your event, look for ones that have great outdoor and interstitial spaces — especially gardens — and use them. Nature stimulates creativity, so make it a feature of your program.
Help Them Find Each Other KA I believe one of the most important reasons to have a meeting is for people to be together in meaningful ways. But as you walk down the hall [at a conference], sometimes you are with people, but more often than not, you’re not walking with any- body or you’re walking with a person you already
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know. So it’s actually more like you’re alone together. The more ways a meeting is designed so I find relevant people who are going to be helpful to me in my work, who I enjoy, [the better].
‘The scene that’s most important in shaping how I feel about the meeting is the one that’s usually most neglected, and that is the closing scene.’
Court Diversity GF One of our beliefs very early on was that we weren’t going to accomplish a whole lot [at The Vine] if what we had was a room full of real-estate developers talking to themselves. This needed to be a discussion about community in the sense of physical community, which is what they build, but also the social community, which is kind of the human fabric underneath it. So we went out and we had to actively recruit
people to come in and participate who were teachers, artists, activists, anthropologists, and scientists. We really went out of our way to recruit the first blend of people there in the room. A lot of that was through the speakers that we brought in, but we also had to go out and, through our own connections and network of speakers that we were working with, reach out to a lot of these people and to come up with their [comped] registration in the interest of having them there. So there was this social element of, you’re going to walk into a room and be surrounded by a very different cast of characters than you’re used to.
Let Them ‘Drive the Bus’ DS Part of driving social media is a lot about driv- ing the bus. Our attendees get there and they want to be part of the event and they want to drive the bus as much as ride on it. So part of driving the bus for attendees is doing live tweeting, blogging, and doing posts on Facebook. They are sharing information with people who are not at the event through Instagram or other applications. Through a hashtag at the event in El Paso, we
had 702 photos tagged on Instagram. The coolest thing about that was there were a lot of photos of things that were happening at the event, but there were also photos that were taken throughout the entire city. The great benefit for El Paso was they had an incredible photo library to draw from, but it also gave them, the city, a perspective of what the attendees do when they are not in the meeting room. Where are the restaurants they go to? What they eat. What they are drinking. Cowboy boots were a big deal. I think there were more than 30 people who bought a pair of cowboy boots while they were there.