Free Idea Fridays!

Award Winning Events...
Free Idea Friday is taking a break this week for the long weekend, but we still want to share some great news with you.

aNd Logistix had 2 reasons to celebrate during this year’s Star Awards at the Canadian Event Industry 15th Annual Gala with wins for Best Conference (for the Canadian Association of Accredited Mortgage Professionals annual Mortgage Forum 2011) and Best Trade Show (for OCE Discovery 11).

The Canadian Event Industry Awards is a national award program that recognizes outstanding achievements in Canadian special events, meeting management, conference planning and exhibition management. Celebrating its 15th anniversary is no small feat considering the ups and downs of our industry and economy - proving excellence does endure and prevail.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!
at 12:54PM
No Fooling Around
Here is one for all the theatre lovers out there. I am on the Mirvish Productions "e-offers" email list and they have an April Fools Tradition of offering 2 for 1 tickets on some of their most popular shows.

Rent for $21.50 and Kathleen Turner in High for $26.50, and watch Bring it on for as low as $19. Use Promo Code APRILFOOL

How to Order
Call TICKETKING at 416 872 1212 or 1 800 461 3333 or go online by clicking for the show of your choice, choose your performance, enter Promo Code APRILFOOL and select price type Web - 2FOR1.

(Offer valid until April 2, while supplies last)

Happy April Fools’ Day!
at 11:31AM
I find inspiration in Steven Tyler….
Ideas come to me all the time – watching TV, out for a morning walk, listening to music and reading movie reviews. One client even asked if I had an auto-switch in by brain that empties out old ideas to make room for new ones.

If you are looking for inspiration for themes ideas for an upcoming event, there are 2 movies out later on this year that might do the trick.

Great Gatsby
Though not out until next December, the remake of the Great Gatsby movie featuring Leonardo diCaprio is already stirring up buzz. For a party theme, think opulence and allure. Black and White glossy fixtures including vases and plates can add a shine and update that old 1920’s flapper theme. Serve champagne along with white and black iced cupcakes.

Adding an old style photo booth makes for a fun activity and a great keepsake of the festivities. If asking guests to participate in theme, give them plenty of choices for attire (i.e. black and white, pearls and bowties) or try to save some budget money to provide white boas or pashminas for the ladies and tweed or hounds tooth news caps for the gents.

(I love this photo of Carey Mulligan – the new movie will feature amazing costume designs with a flirty edge.)

Rock of Ages
This movie is pulling out all the stops and because it stars Tom Cruise, along with a slew of other celebs, the press coverage and far reaching appeal will automatically make it the main chatter around the water cooler (and the music is awesome too).

Reception Activities could include several tattoo bars, including Henna tattoos and body jewelry. The reception area could also include a glam prep area with glitter, colored spray for your hair and outrageous neon toned make-up to get wild with your look!

Here is where Steven Tyler comes in. I would like to see a Steven Tyler outfit come to life as table décor. His leopard skin sequin pants as a table linen, his flamboyant ruffled shirts as a chair covers and his glittering jewelry as table bling. I will let you know when I have all the elements in place for this idea – I will make it happen!

at 11:08AM
Making History - Again
I am a big fan of venues rich in history. This weekend (March 11) marks the 83rd anniversary of the Arcadian Court and poignantly, the Hudson Bay Company, in partnership with Oliver & Bonacini Events, is undergoing a dramatic transformation of this venue that is not only rich in history but rich in tradition.

I haven’t seen any photos yet (the website still only shows artist’s renderings) but I am anxious to see how this team has merged the original Art Deco style with modern day designs. The 8,000-square-foot space will be able to accommodate 1,200 when it reopens in April this year.

For now, fellow admirers of this spectacular venue on the 8th floor of the Simpson Tower will soon get a glimpse of the newest L-shaped room which seats 400 and features floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed brick and striking chandeliers - all overlooking Toronto’s Old City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square. Modern conveniences include built-in screens, projectors and dimmers.

So keep these venues in mind for future events:
  • March 2012 - Arcadian Loft - a new, modern conference and event facility overlooking Toronto Old City Hall.
  • Spring 2012 - Arcadian Court - a landmark event space, originally launched in 1929, now being revitalized to restore the elegance of its time.

Speaking of making history – check out this story that made it all the way to the pages of USA Today! Roy Clorey has been a bartender at the Westin Nova Scotian for 49 years, the hotel is 81. The hotel named their lobby lounge Roy’s in his honor. Nothing like a good martini to bring back memories!
at 10:04AM
Ever Get That Sinking Feeling?
We’re shaking it up this week with a contribution from one of our favourite bloggers – Denise Bradbury, Director of Sales with the Westin Nova Scotian in Halifax. Denise writes regularly for the Westin Nova Scotian Blog - In her most recent post, Denise explores the connection between her home city of Halifax and one of the deadliest disasters in North American Maritime history… that is right the sinking of the Titanic.

April 15, 2012 marks the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Halifax, Nova Scotia played a large role in the days following the disaster. We were the first port of call for many of the ships carrying survivors and wreckage. Halifax’s Fairview Cemetery became the final resting place for 150 of the Titanic’s victims, the largest number of victims anywhere in the world, and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has a permanent Titanic Exhibit.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary, Classic Dinner Theatre Productions and RCR Hospitality have joined forces to bring Titanic: The Fated Voyage to the Cunard Centre. The dinner theatre will run April 3 – 26, 2012. I attended the media launch of this event and from what I’ve seen, it will be a great show.

Set in the first class lounge of the Titanic, there will be many interesting characters, both real and fictional, to entertain the audience. The show completely sold-out runs in New Brunswick & Prince Edward Island last summer. If Halifax audiences are anything like those in NB & PEI, we could see the show return in June!

Denise’s post raises an interesting discussion about commemorative events. With Halifax as the final resting place for so many lost lives of the Titanic disaster, it’s fitting that the 100th Anniversary would inspire local event organizers and production companies to build their events around this historic theme.

But here is our question for YOU this week: In striking a balance between preserving the memory of an event this horrific while attracting and retaining an audience, can you stray from the morose?

at 10:05AM
Tech Savvy Trick...
Sometimes I wish I was more of a cool tech geek.

New devices, programs and apps are launched each day – how do you keep up? Becoming tech savvy won’t happen overnight and keeping on top of new products and breakthroughs is an on-going exercise. I’m hoping to share some tech tidbits with you every few weeks in an effort to stay current myself.

Here is one that will help with presentations when you just can’t meet face to face. You can create simple and straightforward video tutorials or an elaborate screencast demo on a new product you’re launching.

Check out -

This is not just for geeks – the demo is easy to follow which makes it so simple. Anyone can learn to use it in minutes.
at 02:50PM
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
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