Prevue September-October 2016 - 26

Previous: International Balloon Fiesta (credit: Ron Behrmann); Right (clockwise from top): Stockholm art exhibit (photo credit: Tove Freij / visitstockholm.com); Santa Fe dancers outside of Guadalupe Church; Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort in St. Lucia T The unexpected. This single phrase propels creative meeting and event planning and creative thinking among attendees. And it's one of the main ingredients needed to pull off memorable and engaging events. Whether kaleidoscopes in the desert or a noble meal, the following destinations and hotels know how to put on a show. ALBUQUERQUE Every year, the world's largest hot air balloon festival transforms Albuquerque's blue skies into a colorfully speckled canvas. Fittingly, the theme of this year's International Balloon Fiesta is "Desert Kaleidoscope," and the fun isn't reserved solely for the skies. The adventurers in the group can take to the skies for a balloon ride with Rainbow Ryders hot air balloon company. Rides carrying more than 900 self-described "balunatics" lift off from on and around Balloon Fiesta Park-so whether you're seeking a VIP ride for the top performers in your group (which includes escorts to the morning ascension at the park, breakfast from local bakers and chefs, and a Q&A with the balloon pilot) or just looking to add a bit of "wow" to your program, Rainbow Ryders has you covered. Groups can also watch the balloons take flight, food and drink in hand, from the glass gallery of the Anderson-Abruzzo International Balloon Museum. The creative balloon-filled venue, which has Skybox rental space available during Fiesta and is available for buyouts at other times, also has an outdoor balcony for capturing the perfect selfie or group photo. Admission to the museum during Fiesta time can also be combined with breakfast or a "Dine & Glow" dinner. As presenter and the main sponsor of Fiesta, Canon has its own agenda leading up to Fiesta that includes a number of photography tips from Ken Sklute, one of digital imaging giant's designated "Explorers of Light." Rated a top photographer worldwide, Sklute is offering a number of how-to articles for professionals and amateurs-from capturing the glow and fireworks to using time-lapse to create moving images. Separately, Canon also offers a number of "Live Learning" workshop and programs where groups can perfect their craft alongside explorers in various locations throughout the world. Groups visiting Albuquerque will have no shortage of meetings hotels to hang their hats. The 295-room Sheraton Albuquerque Uptown Hotel, which received a $25 million revamp in recent years, hosts anywhere from five to 900 attendees and is in close proximity to the balloon festival, or the Crowne Plaza Albuquerque, also in proximity to the Fiesta and a multitude of other cultural draws, and whose largest meeting space hosts up to 1,000 attendees. Smaller groups should check out the Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, a working organic farm set among 25 acres of vibrant lavender fields. Here, they can experience workshops on cultivating lavender and aromatherapy, as well as a variety of classes, demos and tours. And aside from top-notch organic dining, seasonal lavender dining events are also the pièce de résistance. Last year's International Balloon Fiesta drew nearly 1 million visitors to the city over the nine-day event held early October, with an economic impact of over $177 million. Q&A From "The Board" Prevue's Advisory Board weighs in on how they have harnessed the unexpected to create memorable meetings and events. " The most creative event I have ever produced was... " An amazing race-themed conference for sales people. Doing obstacle courses, team buildings and educational sessions and workshops. Our demographic was 20-40 year olds, so incorporating active activities that challenged mind and body were essential for learning retention." -Johanna Belsuzarri, Global Marketing, PR & Events Consultant 26 | prevuemeetings.com " A final night gala in a property outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The hotel ballroon was beautiful with unique table settings-a combination of round tables, square tables and some elevated to provide site lines. The entertainment during dinner was a simple guitarist for background music. Once dessert was placed, a Kabuki drop revealed the Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra featuring Ottmar Liebert, a German guitarist with Spanishinfluence. While not known to all, he was familiar to many so it had that 'celebrity' element to it as well. After a set of songs, we pulled the air wall in the ballroom to reveal a completely new experience with a high-energy dance band. It was an incredible night that people still talk about."-Michael S. Burke, CMP, director of conference & travel services, The Hanover Insurance Group An opening welcome event in Salt Lake City. The hotel had an outdoor ice rink and we brought in former Olympic champion ice skaters to skate with our attendees...under the moonlight, on top of a mountain with hot chocolate. There was great music and good food- it was lots of fun." -John C. Touchette, VP of global meetings, events and trade shows, Raytheon Need a Creative Spark? For more ideas on adding creative flair to your meetings and events, check out our Spark professional development blog at prevuemeetings.com/blog http://www.visitstockholm.com http://www.prevuemeetings.com/blog http://www.prevuemeetings.com

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