The 2016 edition of the Canadian Special Events (CSE) Live! Conference and Tradeshow featured more than 60 suppliers offering the latest in “wow” elements for events as well as a full slate of education and networking opportunities.
Held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from March 29th to 31st, the conference’s speakers shared how to make good events great, and great events even better.
The four CES Live! keynote presentations were delivered by Rob Gray, chief creative officer of Creative Club and Everblock Systems; Milena Santoro, CMM, CMP, PIDP, CWP, from MS Productions; Janice Cardinale, The Idea Hunter; and Lenny Talarico, CSEP, MGM Resorts Event Productions, Las Vegas. These speakers covered the building blocks to event success (Gray), leadership (Santoro), big ideas for 2016 (Cardinale) and how to create an event story (Talarico).
The keynotes were augmented by a slate of sessions on relevant topics such as planning multicultural events, catering foods and trends, inspiration, cultivating creativity, and what events will look like in 2020. A panel discussion on design dilemmas rounded out the educational offerings.
CSE Live! Takeaways
Here are five takeaways from the sessions I attended at the tradeshow and conference.
- Mark Stewart, managing director, wonderMakr, said that it was important to extend the experiences you create. “It’s all about amplification,” he explained. “Companies want [customers] to have a great experience and then go tell all their friends about it.”
- Lenny Talarico, executive director, Events, MGM Resorts, said he’d learned that events have to tell a story. “Every great story has sequence, suspense and [takes people on a] roller coaster,” he said. His key ingredients for creating a story are emotion (whatever you do has to generate feeling); drama; familiarity (attendees have to be able to relate to it); a hero (the organization, brand, product, etc.); enemy (SWOT analysis); and a lesson (there must be a takeaway).
- Walter Galvao, creative director, Walter Galvao Inc., shared 10 ways to stretch an event budget. He said it was important to be realistic with your expectations when a budget is minimal and to be honest with vendors. My favourite tip? Asking venue what’s happening in a room the day before an event. “There may be opportunities to share element or labour costs,” he said.
- Cary Silber, president, Encore Catering, revealed the top ten catering and food trends for 2016. He noted increased demand for late-night savoury food stations at events and weddings. Sweets are still being served but so are poutine, mac n’ cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. In contrast, he said there’s increased demand for colourful, healthy meals with interesting vegetables and colour combinations. There’s also a lot of “fusion” dishes being requested, a reflection of our multicultural society.
- Aaron Kaufman, CSEP, president, Fifth Element Group, said that there are too many fulfillment people in the industry. His company is a partner to clients. “We don’t take instruction from our clients,” he explained. “If they wanted to do things the same way they’ve always done them, they wouldn’t come to us. People hire us to disrupt.”