On June 7 – 10, 2010 I did not attend Engage!10. In fact, they didn’t even have a virtual component to the conference. But I was still part of their virtual audience…a remote and passive group of viewers who witnessed the event through the blogs, tweets, Facebook status updates, pictures and videos of the live attendees.
For those of you who don’t know yet, Engage!10 is a luxury and exclusive wedding business summit that is held twice a year for an intimate group of 175 of the industry’s brightest. June’s event took place on the beautiful Cayman Islands and their upcoming October event will be held at The Breakers Palm Beach.
Now I’ve been involved in many a conference over the years both as a speaker and a delegate – most of which were targeted to the special events community. Two things struck me as remarkable about this event.
1. Emotion | As I read the communications from the attendees, I was moved by the passionate words they used to describe their experience: ‘it was the most amazing time of my life’, ‘I made relationships that will last a lifetime’, ‘I had business-changing conversations’, I felt reinvigorated & inspired…and the list goes on.
I asked Rebecca Grinnals of Engaging Concepts who is the brains and heart behind this event, why she thought people were so moved by Engage!10. She modestly ascribed it to something that happens organically when you get this group together. But it became clear as I listened to her speak that it was attributed to a clear and focused vision for her event.
Rebecca shared with me that for many years she felt frustration with the lack of education for professionals in her industry. If you wanted to attend a wedding conference, it was most likely an event that was marketed to brides. At one such event a speaker asked the audience to put up their hands if they were an event planner. Almost 75% of the audience raised their arms. Rebecca knew what she had to do next.
Her vision was to create the kind of event she would love to attend. One that takes the best thinkers in the luxury wedding industry and focuses on inspiring and motivating through high level content. More importantly, Rebecca wanted to create an atmosphere where over the course of the summit attendees could dance with, have drinks with and break bread with the speakers. After all, these one-on-one conversations stimulate some of the best ideas and partnerships…organically.
2. Visual Storytelling | Take one look at the images from this event and your jaw will drop. No matter who took the pictures, the story is the same…and that’s not easy to accomplish. Every single detail of this event was visually branded Engage!10. Why is this so important? In this new age of social media, the experience of your in-face attendees can influence the desire for your online audience to attend next time around. Photos and videos are very sharable. According to David Kirkpatrick, author of the Facebook Effect, for many years more than 50% of all pageviews on Facebook are of photos! We love to look at photos. I can attest that the many pictures I saw of the event made me want to attend.
Rebecca says that the keys to success in visually branding her event were to:
1. Start with a color palette . For this event, Rebecca choose a teal and yellow combination. This palette was chosen when she did a site visit at the Ritz Carleton. The colors were simple and unique and every single detail used this combination – from the website to the programs to the signage to the table tops.
2. Have a graphic designer as her right-hand man (errrr…woman) . Every detail was designed by their resident visual brand stakeholder. This ensured consistency and an aesthetic worthy of the Engage!10 name.
3. Think about every single detail . What color is Rebecca wearing at the podium? Why yellow, of course. She laughs when I point out that I noticed this and claims that she doesn’t own another piece of yellow in her wardrobe. But she bought it because it helps tell the story. Just look at the image below in combination with the other images in this post. It all fits.
Rebecca also sent me a piece from her summit that is amicably referred to as their Face Book. It’s gold for any attendee. Inside is the picture, name, company, location, website and twitter address for every single attendee!! Yes, before you ask, this is a logistical nightmare – ever try to ask 175 people for their head shots? But it provides so much value and reinforces the vision of Rebecca to create high value connections for everyone who attends. Fab!
Are you as taken as I am? Then sign up for the next summit being held October 3-6, 2010 at The Breakers Palm Beach.
Check out what some attendees have had to say about Engage!10:
Lara Casey, Jasmin Star, Donna von Bruening - Day 1, Day 2 & 3, Momental Designs - Part 1, Part 2, Rebecca Davidson - Part 1,Part 2, Part 3, David Wolfe Photography - Part 1, Part 2, Better Angle, Celebrations Cayman, Bridal Bar - Part 1, Part 2, Elizabeth Anne Designs, Jules Bianchi, Think Splendid, Mccallum Solutions, Sean Low