Meeting MPI Toronto - July/August 2016 - (Page 20)

BUILDING CUSTOM EXPERIENCES Alison Owers-Graham, CMP Tourism Toronto E vent planners: We are the masters behind the magic. Creative, detail-oriented, resourceful and brilliant multitaskers. Our job is to make miracles happen and make it look easy. It is our responsibility to know about the newest venues, best caterers, and to be well versed in food and beverage trends. Planners are also tasked with sourcing the most creative décor and trend-setting event entertainment to provide guests with something they haven't experienced before. As an event planner, my goal is always to create an experience that will be filed in the attendee's memory bank for future reference. It's stored there, so that when they are looking for the perfect venue, beautiful décor or just the right DJ, they will remember the experience of my event. My role at Tourism Toronto includes designing experiences for prospects and clients visiting our city, creating a Toronto experience while exhibiting at trade shows, and even adding a Toronto experience while hosting an event in-market. I personally define an experience as something that is made up of a series of moments. I then break each of those moments into a task on my event plan. To create an event plan, you need to have clearly defined objectives, understand the needs of the attendees, have a realistic budget, identify a measurable return on investment and brainstorm amazing ideas. When building a custom experience, it's imperative that you put yourself in the position of the attendee. Ask yourself, what is going to leave a lasting impression with them? What is important to them? How would you best absorb the "message" as an attendee? What would WOW you? It's no longer good enough to have a pretty venue, good food and nice décor - been there, done that! We can't use budget as an excuse either, there is always a work around. Get creative and look at non-traditional locations and venues such as parking lots, galleries, warehouses and film studios. We call those "unique" venues, and there's a better chance your attendees have never experienced the venue. Also, these spaces often are located in the city close to public transit, and free parking. I love the experiential opportunities an event presents. Due to logistics, sometimes experiences have to be quite simple. For example, a photo booth, a make-up touch-up, a sampling or anything your unique mark on it. Look for ways to execute your ideas in different ways, whether it's having name badges in a picture frame, food on a conveyor belt, a step and repeat made of flowers, 20 * MEETING | JULY/AUGUST 2016 | LINKEDIN: MPI TORONTO CHAPTER or bartenders on stilts pouring champagne. Let your imagination run wild. Give "new" suppliers an opportunity to work with you as opposed to working for you. Create partnerships with your suppliers by providing them with pictures and samples of things that you like and have done successfully before - ask them to give you their take on it. The attention span of our delegates is getting smaller and smaller. I recommend providing activities that are interactive, take only a few minutes, and give attendees a takeaway. Activations can be used to educate your guests about a product with information or samples. Examples of activations include gift kiosks, flipbook stations, and Twitteror Instagram-activated vending machines that provide samples and gifts when the attendee posts to social media. As always, time is an attendee's most valuable commodity. Never make an attendee feel like they have wasted their time attending your event. They should always have a takeaway, be it an item, an idea or a moment to put in their memory bank. ● Alison Owers-Graham, CMP, is a Client Experience Architect at Tourism Toronto and can be reached at

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meeting MPI Toronto - July/August 2016

President’s Message
Editor’s Word
Welcome, New Members!
Upcoming Events
Boutique Experiences & Emerging Incentive Destinations
How You Can Benefit from the MPI Foundation
Cruising to Event Success
Destination: Toronto
Chapter Speaks: What Are You Reading or Listening to This Summer?
Community Volunteerism: How to Incorporate a Hands-On Charity Component at Your Event
Taming the Beast: Planning Outdoor Events
Building Custom Experiences
Maximizing Your Downtime: Reflect, Revise, Plan
Activate Your Event with Experiential Marketing
Beyond the Annual Barbecue – Incorporating Family at Events
iSpy MPI
Advertiser Index

Meeting MPI Toronto - July/August 2016