The Fun Issue - The Art of Having Fun
TTG Should business events be fun?
DC Having fun is a critical component of all the programmes we deliver. We define fun as a build-up of emotional and intellectual engagements that allow people to let their guard down, allow humour through the chinks of their corporate armour, and ultimately allow genuine relationships and trust to be formed.
In fact, beyond the intellectual input of every successful event, what people remember most are the emotions engendered during that event.
MB Absolutely! By creating a dynamic atmosphere, you can automatically encourage creativity, collaboration and engagement. Bringing a sense of fun to an event is, I think, the perfect way to foster better networking, new ideas and great memories.
AD Yes. Mood, ambience and the ‘fun factor’ play important roles in setting the right tone, so that the event and its core messages become memorable.
MO It has to! With the world evolving so rapidly, the way business events are (executed) three, five, 10 years ago is obsolete. More events are starting to get innovative in their approach. Clients have come to realise that one of the key ways to drive idea generation is by approaching the same core business in a different manner.
TTG How can serious business content and fun co-exist?
DC Serious messages can be worked into fun activities. For instance, popping balloons with negative messages written on them help remind people that the power to dispel that negativity or overcome that challenge lies literally at their fingertips.
MB The key is to make sure the topic of discussion and/or event objective is firmly at the heart of all activities.
A great example of this is at AIPC’s 2014 International Conference of Convention Centres in Berlin, attended by the general managers and CEOs of over 180 convention centres globally.
After learning about the latest trends in convention centre designs, the speakers (a group of architects) encouraged us to put what we had learnt into practice, and took us through an activity which saw a wide mix of attendees grouped together to design their own convention centres.
It was a highly entertaining activity that helped cement key objectives and trends in our minds as we tried to incorporate them into our designs.
DT We’ve had very effective business events in partnership with SmallWorld, a Macau-based DMC which introduced us to Corporate Drumming from Human Rhythms. Corporate Drumming is fun and energising, and the perfect ice-breaker to open a conference with. Adding fun to a business event, particularly at the start, can get delegates to loosen up…and set the tone for the event.
AD The line drawn between business and play must be clear. To create fun in an event, you usually plan a teambuilding and a closing function or gala dinner with an after-party. These events are separate from the core meetings.
TTG What factors are driving this need for content at business events to be delivered in a more creative and fun manner?
MB The expectations of delegates are high and technology advancements mean clients are continually looking to improve their events and make an impact. Growing competition between meetings for attendees, changes in client demographics, availability of resources to create fresh and stimulating events, and new methodologies are all creating an environment of change and innovative thinking.
AD There is a greater demand for a more creative and fun event delivery even at traditionally solemn events. Most large conferences conduct surveys that rate a participant’s experience. Imagine running a high profile meeting or an influential incentive programme that garners only a mediocre rating. This may impact the company’s image negatively. No prominent company can afford this in our highly competitive world.
MO The mix of different generations of participants in a single meeting means mindset, expectations and experience (preferences) are all different. There is a need to adjust and engage every attendee in unique and creative ways.
TTG How do you think this growing demand for fun and creative events will impact event players?
MB It’s a great opportunity to increase diversification and collaboration between event agencies, planners and suppliers. By working more closely together with a shared goal, we can ensure we, as a host destination, provide a more efficient service for the client. This in turn will help foster loyalty and ongoing business from planners.
DT The more creative we are, the more business we will drive to our venues. The demand also encourages us to think differently and push our boundaries. It ensures we stay relevant in the marketplace and keep up with the trends.
AD The core services of a hotel will remain, but more services will be outsourced due to specific client requests. This means more coordination is required as more stakeholders are involved. However, working with many providers presents a variety of options for our clients (and that in turn creates) visual references for future, potential clients.
MO Event agencies and hotels must stay ahead of trends and realign their mindset with savvy clients.
TTG And how are you responding to this growing demand?
DC Aonia’s success in meeting client needs is derived from not having pre-conceived notions in solutioning, understanding the profile of our clients in customising the most suitable programmes, and then working with specialists worldwide to fulfil the activities and fantasies that ultimately lead to fun.
MB The unique integrated precinct and our service model at ICC Sydney means we can cater for all kinds of events, utilising world leading technical and production facilities that are all underpinned by a powerful 10Gbps optical fibre backbone.
The exceptional flexibility of the venue and its spaces also allow us to develop bespoke solutions, both big and small. From the set-up and branding to F&B, we can deliver a fully customised and immersive experience.
Alongside this, ICC Sydney has a great pool of original and inventive minds from diverse backgrounds, allowing us to collaboratively draw on different experiences…to enhance our clients’ experience. Our customer-focused team then brings these creative ideas to clients, working shoulder to shoulder with them every step of the way to ensure we cater to their specific needs.
DT Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel and The St. Regis Macao are constantly exploring new opportunities to design experiences that stand out. Macao may be small, but it is diverse. The heritage sites on the Macau peninsula set the perfect stage for events and for an entirely different experience.
One of our corporate groups recently split into teams and competed in an outdoor adventure quiz. After that, they enjoyed a Portuguese dinner by the beach.
On-site, we feel that technology plays a big part and we are constantly exploring ways to utilise our digital channels as well as mobile and wireless solutions to provide a differentiated experience for our guests.
AD We are developing a variety of options for teambuilding programmes that can be conducted indoors and out. We are also expanding our database of special service providers (for events).
MO We have incorporated (W Singapore’s) passion points – Fashion, Music, Design and Fuel (healthy living) – into events held here. For example, a meeting can start with a morning Strala Yoga class and end with a cocktail session at Woobar. We can arrange for a two-hour yacht cruise out to the Southern Islands, coupled with curated cocktails and canapés, for more intimate groups. It helps that we are the only hotel that offers a marina view and groups can brainstorm under a cosy ‘thinking tree’ (a tree-like table structure in Studio 1 and 2).
TTG Does hosting a creative, fun and effective business event always mean a pricey undertaking?
DC The wow factor can sometimes come with a price tag. However, there are certainly affordable means.
MB What’s enjoyable is not necessarily expensive. It’s about finding a solution given budget parameters. At ICC Sydney we appreciate that each client has different requirements, and we work hard to deliver creative options within all budgets.
DT No. One case in point is the Guinness World Records attempt by Nuskin in 2013 in the Kashgar Ballroom at Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel. The group broke the world record at that time for having 5,000 people sit on a single chair.
AD Budgets are definitely important but we can unleash our creativity to maximise our resources.
MO At times, creative events require set-up and equipment that are not common and these may need additional sourcing and procurement, driving up costs. Having said that, the team at W Singapore is adaptable and can adjust costs according to clients’ needs.
TTG What is your one top tip on bringing the right level of creativity and fun into a business event?
MB Establish ‘Clarity of Vision’ for every event by knowing what needs to be achieved from both the client side and the venue, and work collaboratively to create a different world – or at least, a concept that brings people together in an inspiring destination and helps them step away from their everyday environment. This is key to sparking that creativity and engagement factor that all business event planners are looking for.
DT Know your audience and tailor fun to the right age, gender and business topic. There are many ways to add a bright spark to meetings without losing sight of business objectives. You just have to keep an open mind and think out of the box!
AD Visualise the experience from a guest’s perspective from arrival to departure. If it looks and feels great, we are definitely on the right track.
MO Think from outside of the box instead of out of the box.
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