Free Idea Fridays!

January's Best of...
With several major conferences and trade shows taking place this month, January is definitely about learning for the meeting and event industry. We thought we would report on some of the best new things we saw.

FROM PCMA in San Diego

Shawna’s top picks

Favorite Speaker - Dr. John Medina is a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant. He is an affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He is also the Director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning Research at Seattle Pacific University

Favorite Session - Menus to Maximize Learning and Engagement Brain foods include acai berries, blueberries, romaine, strawberries, tomatoes, raspberries, flax seed oil, cheese, collard greens, eggplant, pumpkin seeds, green tea, dark chocolate and wheat germ.

Try these at your next meeting:
  • carrot ginger shots for an afternoon break
  • poppadum + hummus, or veg in shot glass with hummus for a reception

Jimmy’s top pick

The highlight of PCMA for me was the Networking Reception in Gaslamp Quarter: Urban Convergence

A section of the Gaslamp Quarter was closed off to PCMA attendees for a block party which featured creative elements of dining, music, art and entertainment. Spanning over several blocks were 20 diverse restaurants where attendees could sample global cuisines, and browse the shops and galleries open exclusively for PCMA It was great opportunity to mix and mingle with your fellow attendees while being entertained by the unique sound of Kool & the Gang.


Rachel’s top picks

Augmented Reality Digital Signage
My favourite pick from TSE was the Forever 21 billboard from Times Square with live video footage and real-time Polaroid snaps of the street below. Expand the concept of real time and add this interactive feature within an event space or tradeshow floor.

(I saw this live in NYC in December and it truly does capture and engage the audience)

Color of the Year

Pantone17-1463 - tangerine tango (mix it with shades of grey or deep browns) You can set the colors on your computer for fonts and images by changing your RGB setting as follows (R=226, G=73, B=47) I am using it throughout the blog today!
at 11:58AM
Let it Snow Let it Snow Let it Snow...
We may not be having a flurry of snow this winter, but there is certainly a flurry of winter festivals to enjoy during the season.

One of the top events on the season’s calendar is the Quebec Winter Carnival, which as it turns out, won the event of the year for the 2011 Canadian Tourism Awards.

Celebrating its 58th anniversary, this year’s event features international snow sculptures, fireworks, dog sleds, parades and percussion bands. One of the focal points of the Carnival - the Bonhomme Ice Palace built with 9,000 tons of snow.

Not the outdoorsy type? Don’t forget about Toronto's favourite winter foodie celebration – "Winterlicious". Restaurants offer affordable prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner at a substantially reduced rate. There are 175 different restaurants to choose from this winter. My top picks to try out – Scarpetta, Stone Grill and Factory Girl
at 10:27AM
I’m a Belieber...
Though I have no formal training in marketing, I have always had a great love for branding. I use "love" because "love" has become such a key ingredient in brand loyalty.

Over the years I have paid close attention to many hot brands - especially to what those brands do to warrant consumer attention.

On a recent trip through Argentina I was pleasantly surprised to see a few Canadian brands whose power reached as far as South America. MAC Cosmetics had kiosks in 3 major upscale shopping malls and we saw a McCain Truck (the Canadian potato family) on delivery in a small town outside Buenos Aires.

Those were nice to see but what surprised me most was the power of a young Canadian boy that transcends into something supernatural.

While sightseeing, we came across a group of Beliebers, clad in purple t-shirts that professed their love for the Bieb! The frenzy began when one of the young girls noticed I had a Canadian flag pin on my knapsack. The crowd increased around us. More and more tweens decked out in purple gathered closer to us with questions about Canada (Did we know Justin? Did we listen to his music? Did we know where Ontario was?) They told us how Justin Bieber had recently played 2 sold-out concerts with 160,000 plus fans. Some were wearing the Canadian flag as a mini-skirt around each of their tiny frames. Soon the cell phones and digital cameras were snapping photos of us and chants of "VIVA LA CANADA" echoed around us.

We finally escaped the gaggle of giggling girls with this odd feeling – we had been made Beliebers and we were extra proud to be Canadian that day.

So listen up all you Canadian tourism offices – better start building a museum or a theatre or a gallery or maybe even a shrine. The Beliebers are coming to Canada – no expense will be spared, no travel too long, no climate too cold – nothing can stop them in their quest to be one step closer to this Canadian Heartthrob.
at 03:05PM
Begin with the End in Mind...
I believe that all good events start at the end. It's important to start thinking of how to evaluate your event right from the planning stage. There is always room for improvements and more planning – and that's where the post-event evaluation comes in.

Here are some tips to go beyond just the "survey" results:
  • Don’t wait too long to conduct an event debrief. If possible, hold the meeting the week after the event so you can have your analysis and action plan completed within the month following your event.
  • Don’t shy away from the hard questions – review the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • Don’t forget to survey your support team, on-site staff and volunteers (whoever helped you execute the event). The responses you get from them will clue you in to the amount of staff you need for next year and how programming was received – remember they were your eyes and ears throughout the event.
  • Don’t forget about one-on-one interviews with key stakeholders. Talking to lead sponsors, major exhibitors, your speakers, your committee or board members, your venue contacts and your suppliers. These interviews will generally allow you to probe more deeply and ask more “open” questions. This technique is time consuming but worthwhile.
Finally, solutions are the key to your success. The whole evaluation process is useless if it simply remains a stagnate document. Start taking the steps necessary to improving next year’s event immediately. For every major stumbling block, brainstorm with the team and delegate someone to use the team’s input to generate a list of possible solutions. Ask that person to research the issue, review the brainstorming ideas, and develop a plan of action for the next event. Hold a follow-up meeting with the same invitees, asking each participant to present their strategies so they can be refined by the group if necessary.

The list of stumbling blocks along with their possible solutions will be a valuable resource for next year’s event.
at 10:14AM