November December 2019

A fresh resource for people who plan and manage meetings, events, business travel, promotions and incentive programs. Providing you with inspiration, guidance and great ideas.

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Bright ideas, notable news, cool trends Good To Know Exit Strategies Six ways to give your conference a strong finish by Connie Jeske Crane Long-time event planner Sharon Bonner, CEO of Vancouver-based Bright Ideas Events, hates it when conference organizers let the final day of an event just dribble away. "I've been to so many conferences where I think, 'Wow, what a fail!' They forgot about us on the third day and everybody was just catching flights and it never felt closed." And a lacklustre finale doesn't merely mean disappointed speakers and wasted food— it could dampen an event's future too. When attendees leave a conference raving, Bonner says, "I think the rebooking percentage is higher." The good news? With a bit of planning, savvy planners can entice attendees to stay put: Where budget allows, a celebrity speaker or entertainer is a surefire draw. At the 2019 Energy Disruptors conference in Calgary, Dwayne Maurer, event producer at e=mc2 events, says, "Our highest profile speaker, Malcolm Gladwell, was one of the final sessions…. The venue was packed when people would normally be heading for the exits." Goldstein says continuity throughout further magnifies the final impact. A past Big HQ event, he says, saw Canadian singer Serena Ryder open, astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield speak midway, then featured both guests at the close strum- ming guitars and singing Sweet Caroline. "Everybody was waving their arms in the air, a Kumbaya kind of thing. A really great way to end off." Hinting at a mystery guest or surprise can work, says Bram Goldstein, of Big HQ in Toronto, who's successfully staged a "Splash Mob" dance number at a poolside reception in Vegas and sprung US rapper Flo Rida on excited attendees. But he stresses customizing thoughtfully for the client. "Don't just take this off the shelf." In Waterloo, Ont., Meaghan Kay, senior programs mar- keting manager for software maker Axonify, says the company's 2019 annual three-day customer commu- nity conference will conclude with a segment where company data scientists unveil exciting lab research. → Shoot for the stars Surprise 'em Watch the Splash Mob video. Scan the QR code or visit ignitemag.ca Spread the news 12 | Ignitemag.ca | November | December 2019

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