Creativity in the meetings and events industry


From where does creativity come?

Let me just say, I dislike the phrase ‘thinking outside of the box.’ It means nothing. The sky is the limit. After having produced events with budgets ranging from small to large, I feel qualified to say that your creativity is only limited by your imagination.

So, where do you start?

  1. Ask the right questions to discover your client’s vision, if they have one.
  2. Move on to the objectives, format for the program and demographics
  3. If the program has been produced in the past:
  • What has been done previously?
  • What has worked and not worked and why or why not?
  • What does your client want the participants to come away with by the experience?

You have one tool: information. Ask the right questions and the vision will begin to appear. Do not paralyse yourself by thinking it cannot be done. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times.

Here, I have laid out an example of a creative problem that I faced and how I overcame it.

The problem

I received a call one morning from someone who was directed to me for help with his large island booth at an interactive trade show. He had not come up with a concept yet and I needed to rescue him, but I only had five minutes to come up with the concept!

Since I attend the trade show each year, I knew the details of the show. The attendees were involved with the meetings and incentive business. Once he gave the details of the booth’s footprint, I began to ask questions: What was his corporate message? What did he want the attendees to come away with? He didn’t know the answers to these questions, and when I cannot get the right answers, I turn to word association.

The creative process

Since the client was with a hotel chain that recently merged with another hotel chain, I started by writing down ‘new team.’

Where were the hotels located? I wrote down ‘around the globe.’ The theme had come to me: Meeting Planners Are Globetrotters.

The solution

We were going to have a large cartographer’s map of the world under a large sign reading ‘Meeting Planners Are Globetrotters’ with all the hotels marked on the map. Since the merger created a new team, the booth staff would be dressed in referee shirts with whistles around their necks. I would hire one of the Harlem Globetrotters to do a one-on-one with the attendees, who could have a photo taken.

I was the first to create interactive booths for this particular trade show, and the theme was created in the five minutes given to me! The program was a huge success. The booth was constantly busy and while the attendees waited for their chance to take a photo with the Harlem Globetrotters player, the booth staff could discuss their products with the attendees. As a follow up, attendees were sent their photo.

Next time, we’ll discuss how to find creative ideas anywhere and everywhere.

About the author:

Roni Feldman has been involved in the meeting and special event industry since 1979. She is President of Roni Feldman & Associates Inc. which provides a wide variety of services to the hospitality industry including conference and special event management, marketing, training and education programs. Roni Feldman holds the Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designation, the Destination Management Certified Professions (DMCP) designation and the Certified Incentive Specialist (CIS) designation. These certification programs are only available to senior industry professionals who qualify and they were developed to define a high standard of proficiency in meeting management. In addition, Roni Feldman is the only planner in Canada who holds these certifications as well as a professional degree and experience in the areas of theatre and film production. This knowledge and experience provides a unique perspective on all aspects of meeting and event management. Roni continues to be in demand nationally and internationally as an instructor and workshop leader. She has been involved in the CMP study groups and has been a guest speaker at two of Meeting Professionals International (MPI) Professional Education Conferences, MPI’s first Canadian Educational Institute I & II as well as several of the Toronto Chapter monthly MPI and Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) meetings; the Canadian Society of Association Executives; and the Life Insurance Management Research Association's Annual Conference. Roni spoke at the 16th International Meetings & Incentives Conference in Greece on Partnerships and was asked to address a group of DMC’s in Lisbon on selling and servicing the North American Market. Roni was asked in 1994 to serve as a member of the task force set up by the Ontario Tourism Education Council to establish and validate Standards for the Special Events Industry across Canada. Roni was also chosen to be included in the Nationwide Register’s Who’s Who in Executives and Business in recognition of achieving a level of recognizable success in their respective field. In 2012, Roni was inducted into the M+IT (Meetings and Incentive Travel) Hall of Fame with the Industry Veteran Award. THE INDUSTRY VETERAN AWARD recognizes a planner or supplier who has, during a long career, distinguished themselves by demonstrating leadership and innovation in all facets of their own job and the industry as a whole.

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