The panel included Bonny Shapira, director of Cisco Live; Jackie Mulligan, director of enterprise at Leeds Beckett University; James Morgan, founder of event tech lab; Sofia Godinho, UK head of events at Societe Generale; Jon Coventry, director production department at Banks Sadler; and Ines Lebaek, sales manager at Visit Denmark.
1. Be innovative - even in formal settings
"Cisco Live is a traditional event and we need to represent it in a certain way. However, we still want to be innovative," explained Shapira. "At our last event we got around this by having a very small area to do some crazy stuff. For example, we had a small area of balloons, where people could write down and attach their thoughts, creating a cloud of ideas and thoughts. We also introduced music on site in certain areas, where people could tweet the DJ to hear their favourite song."
2. Learn to measure intangibles
According to Mulligan, creativity is at the core of everything that’s done at events. "We are great at measuring the obvious stuff: number of tweets, how many people attended, etc. But we need to focus on measuring the intangibles, how certain aspects of events make people feel." Though more difficult to measure, she says it’s possible by breaking down objectives.
3. Staying in budget
Jon Coventry of Banks Sadler said it was an agency’s job to look at every aspect of creativity, despite procurement squeezes. "It’s not just the cost, either – there’s a danger that if we try something really creative or 'out there', clients will shy away because it might look flashy or over the top. "It’s the classic ‘Daily Mail red face’ test - would the public think it was too much? Sofia Godhino, UK head of events at Societe Generale, said creativity was perfectly possible, whatever the budget. "Just look at the charity sector - they often do some amazing things within budget and really show what is possible."
4. Consider practicalities and comfort
"Environment is really important to people’s needs," said Mulligan. "For example, a unique venue can work really well for networking. But I do think that there’s such a thing as overfacing your audience though and going too far in the quest for creativity. You need to ensure your audience is comfortable and has time to reflect on sessions. Can they really do this if they’re busy trying to balance on a beanbag at a conference?"
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