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This is a collective effort of the Linkedin community to figure out what makes an event outstanding. We have a 1000+ Event Planning & Management Group there which I invite you to join.
If you'd like to answer to the next question and be featured on a post like this check out this link.
Here is the question:
What was the most outstanding event you attended? What did you enjoyed? What worked particularly well? What did the management do that you perceived as remarkable?
What's in it for you, reader? The chance to get insights for your next event. I suggest you go through all the answers as they entail great feedback and inspiration.
The best answer (the first you'll see below) was selected, as always, according to my own preference. You can use comments to vote yours.
A few considerations:
- Incredible to notice how plenty of people indicated events of more than 10 years ago. What is going on with current events? I guess it is becoming harder and harder to impress and exceed expectations. Looks like we all need to deal with this.
- A lot of people talked about their marriage of children birth. I didn't leave that out as I think there is a lesson there. Those are the events where you are the protagonist. It would be difficult to get more involved than this. The lesson is: the more you involve and release control, the better the satisfaction.
And now the answers:
Two really good events I participated in took place in Toronto and both involved social media.
One was Podcamp Toronto which was a two day conference on podcasting, blogging and everything social media. The other was a hastily planned Geek dinner in Toronto.
The experiences I took away from these two events had less to do with social media (though I learned a ton and developed wonderful contacts) as it did with how important it is to set expectations and goals for attendees at an event before it starts.
At both events, the networking (more exchange of ideas and best practices than business development though there was some of that too) was at the core of the event. Everybody knew it. Everybody came prepared to share, to talk to listen. There was very little arm crossing (that internationally recognized non verbal cue of stand-offishness)
That openness led to tremendous communication opportunities which built great relationships which in my opinion are at the core of every great event.
- Colleen Norris - Owner Loving Connections LLC says:
Last night I attending an amazing event.
It was the first night of a workshop entitled "Empowerment Dialogue & Gestalt Dreamwork" I learned so much in 4 hours, but what I really enjoyed was feeling welcomed by a bunch of strangers.
What worked so well was even though everyone was on different levels of understanding it was perfect for everyone. The facilitator was friendly and a joy to be around.
- Julia Marrocco - Executive Performance Coach says:
The most outstanding event was during a corporate awards trip to Bangkok for a week or so. There was the most amazing feast, outdoors, in gorgeous tropical weather, we accessed the venue by boat, and authentic Thai folkloric dancing kept us amazed and steeped us in the history and culture of the land. I will never forget it. Everything from start to finish was smooth and it seemed like the event happened by magic. I can only imagine what a tremendous amount of work it must have been but I never witnesses one frown, one hurried person, and everyone facilitating or helping at the event looked as if they had taken a happy smiley pill!
Outside of corporate events, (I have attended zillions...good and bad both)
I would have to say anything with Cirque du Soleil will always be a smashing hit. No one performs like them. If you had a bad event in every other way, and you ended by taking everyone to any Cirque performance (excluding Zumanity) you will have good reviews of the event. That is because when they see Cirque, everything else will leave their mind and they will so amazed that's all they will think about for weeks to come. So end on a positive note.
- Glenn Curry - Partner, Efficient Technologies LLC says:
SIGGRAPH convention, Orlando '94. Disney closed their water park one night to guests only. Free food, wine, beer and bands. The whole park all night lots of happy drunk graphics people sliding down water slides all night!
OK, then there was the national sales meeting for Superscope/ Marantz '75. In LA, including a private party with live entertainment at the Playboy Mansion. Hugh was good friends with Joe Tushinski.
Almost forgot the Kenwood Electronics sales meeting '77, Stayed at the Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans, a grand hotel in the heart of the French Quarter on Bourbon Street.
In review, I have to apologize and wish to state without reservation that I attended a similar event 4 times in my life and each was tied for 1st place event.
I have four children and I was present at the event of each's birth. No other event comes close.
- Joseph Bachana - President, DPCI says:
2 years ago i heard Jack Trout speak at the Microsoft annual Partner event. Nobody seemed to know this marketing legend, but his talk was so insightful. He pulled some concepts out of his book "Differentiate or Die".
I remember a few things about the presentation. First, he used Powerpoint, which surprised me since I usually hate Powerpoint presentations but he aced his. Second, he was going over some of the real clunker brand strategies out there and he had the audience dying of laughter. To this day when I'm in a marketing brainstorming meeting and one of us comes up with a nutty position statement, I remember Jack's presentation.
The third thing i remember, which I'll never forget ever probably, is that Jack was talking about projects that he himself took on to help worldwide brands with their positioning statements. I was just so in awe that this man has helped great brands with their messaging, all with very clear positioning statements as opposed to all the frilly technology-gyrating marketing tricks we all use today.
- Kenneth von Hopf - Tech Paramedics, a full service IT provider
Call to Action Live with Michael Bernoff and the Human Communications Institute.
- Lisa Stephen - Receptionist/Admin Asst/CSR/Event Planner says:
Back in 1986, I attended the Guterman Bar mitzvah party on the Queen Elizabeth II. It was amazing and left a solid, positive impression on me, even though I was only 14 at the time and only got invited because my mother worked for them, but I considered them family and I felt like I truly belonged. Little did I know that the event would plant the seed in the subconscious of my brain to one day start an event-planning business.
- Chris Catoggio - Independent Event Services Professional says:
The Rotary International Convention at the McCormick Center in Chicago in 2005. It is an incredible experience to participate with Rotarians from all over the world. It enlightens you to the global impact one organization has by providing humanitarian service and helping build goodwill and peace throughout the world.
From an event standpoint, it is remarkable how thousands of people are transported, seemingly effortlessly, throughout the city to attend the many events. The quality and scope of events made this an unforgettable experience.
- Carol White Llewellyn - Tourism Activist & Association Publisher, TravelHost of Rochester & the Finger Lakes says:
I attend events often and also used to do event planning for a trade association. The most remarkable events I've attended/planned were those that were a collaborative effort between two or more organizations, focused on a particular topic, and held outside of either organization's home base. They also had exceptional programming or break-out work sessions, were planned collaboratively among the organizing parties involved so all partners were equal stakeholders, representing their members' likes, dislikes and interests. They also offered great food and fun entertainment.
These events attracted a calibre of attendee interested in both networking and benefitting from the program. They also came to have a good time. When you attract a large group of attendees with these common goals and put them in an educational, yet fun atmosphere, you have the recipe for an outstanding event.
- June Mattiza - E Imagineer at The Media Collective says:
The best event, how about my top 3 events,
1. I traveled with a client i(as press management) who was playing at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, backstage and got to meet some of the greats in blues and contemporary music with the same client got to attend the Grammy awards when he received one for his latest release.
2. The first Webmaster World Conference that I ever attended in Las Vegas, I learned a lot but the big benefit was the friendships that began at that conference.
3. Luxury Travel Expo - Traveled with a client to industry trade show to attend industry round tables, marketing tracks and networking. Not only did this help with in market intel but that year while I was there, I got to meet a great in the Resort Hotel Development world unbeknown to me, I had coffee in the morning with Steve Winn shared a conversation about family, kids general banter, then we both had a meeting to go to,,, it was the same one and he was the keynote speaker.. Wow.
4. I2 Planet Conventions - Awesome event in which I helped with the media presentation, It was the best mix of education, variety of industries and after long days conference style they really did it right with their networking/party events.
- Walter Giacovelli - Knowledge Strategist says:
Best event i followed, according to me is always the next i have to follow, because i project on it my dreams, my ideas, my wish of making best reality around me, and make me feel like a child waiting for a long time best toy for present.
- Ron Coble - Owner, ImportExportHelp says:
They were about 30 years ago when I was somewhat naive but thankfully impressionable - Amway motivational meetings (no I left them about 28 years ago).
They had some very good motivational speakers and I have said many times that although I do not believe there are many people who ever succeed in that business model, the spark(s) that these motivational weekends provided me was what helped me to move forward into various other business ventures in the ensuing almost 30 years.
I really believe that had I not gone to those weekends I would have never gotten into these various business ventures and probably would still be working in a job for someone else rather than in my own business.
- Richard Tabor Greene - Professor of Knowledge and Creativity Management at Kwansei Gakuin University says:
Siemens' Invent Events, 15 years ago--a series of 200 person 4 day mass workshop events wherein 200 people from a dozen companies/functions invented 100 things and patented them. Included every 3 hour wandering comedy and minstrel groups that punctuated everyone's sitting and meeting mindsets, and morning breakfasts of all 200 reporting prior day results and present day needs to everyone else (using comic formats), and mid-day "fill in questionnaires or answer questions from other workshop groups" lunch sessions deliberately helping other workshop groups. 100 patents were reliably written up and submitted by end of each 4 day session.
- Silvia Malesardi - Events management Assistant at Trentino Tourist Board says:
Within the last Years Vienna has become one of the most wanted travel locations in Europe to celebrate the New Year.
New Year Eve in Vienna 2006 (Silvesterpfad)was an amazing experience full of spirit of Vienna between history and innovation. The celebration for the international Mozart Year 2006 were the main theme.
The entire city was an extraordinary open-air party inclusive last minute waltz course all over Vienna’s first district, escape three-four time at various clubs (i.e. WUK, Passage, Flex,…) or celebrate in one of the many pubs at the ‘Gürtel’ (B72, rhiz, Chelsea,…) or at Bermuda triangle (i.e. krah krah, Bermudabräu, Brennerei,…).
Before midnight we can watch the official fireworks, illuminate the city!
There was also start the year’s ball season with a banger, famous ‘Kaiserball’. At the magnificent halls of the ‘Hofburg’ you first enjoy a splendid dinner and then mark the beginning of the new year in three-four time.
At midnight we hear the famous Pummerin (St. Stephen’s Cathedral) strike.
It mustn’t miss famous ‘Neujahrskonzert’ the day after which is performed by the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra.
The management of all the events was building by a perfect network of the City government, the Stadt Wien marketing und prater service (the events agency of the city) and the Vienna Tourist Board.
All of this celebration including the really spirit of Mozart genius!
- Anuroopa Banerjee Gupta - Marketing Communications expert says:
The best event ever attended by me was this GRAND Wedding in Rajasthan, Jaipur. The venue was a palace decorated with jasmine and orchids. ornate silver furniture. Beautiful drapes and lights all around; glorifying the venue even more.
Then came the Groom with a Royal Procession seated in an elephant- with well decorated horses 15 in nos, 10 camels, 10 vintage carriages and many vinatge cars and of couse men with torches and over 500 guests following the procession. The groom and guests were all given the most Royal welcome possible.
The bride followed in an exotic palanquin amidst folk performers singing and beating drums. The Groom and Bride exchanged garlands on top of a crane and were then brought to the ground and drove around the palace on a vintage carriage.
All guests were served food on silverware and the fireworks and folk performances throughout the evening were enchanting. What an event!! Well, it cost a fortune- more than 7 millions; so I overheard!!! Truly A BIG FAT INDIAN WEDDING.
- Dan Pepper - Sales & Marketing Executive for Tech Startups says:
Easily Fall Internet World in 1996 at the Javits. Alan Meckler had just moved the event from Boston to NYC to meet overflow demand. The companies and ideas that sprang forth from that show generated billions of dollars in wealth creation before the bubble burst in 2000. The excitement on the show floor and sessions was palpable.
*Sometimes an idea is all you need for a great event!* This was tech's answer to the "Thrilla in Manila."
- Shawn Carter - Senior Financial Analyst at Blackhawk Network says:
As far as business, an all-hands at a company I worked at. They had coreographed with many famous football players how they did that year and what our new brand would be about. It was over the top in cool, fun and on target. The CEO did a very slick presentation with the slides answering his questions. All in all very fun.
- Frank Feather - Webpreneur, Author says:
The most seminal event in my professional life was "The 1st Global Conference on the Future" (Toronto, 1980) under the theme "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally."
What was remarkable was the sheer size of the event: 6,400 delegates from 60 countries, with 1,000+ speakers over 5 days, in some 26 main topic themes or tracks. The vast smorgasbord of ideas spawned excited conversation well into each night, and resulted in numerous global/local initiatives, as well as thousands of personal network connections and friendships.
In turn, that event launched my career as a futurist, and also took me to China where I met my Chinese wife.
Needless to say, there has never been a second such conference. I also am somewhat biased, because I led the team which planned the event, and I was honored to serve as its Chairman. But it was truly remarkable, as any attendee will attest even today.
On a personal level, the two most remarkable events were when my wife and I went to China to adopt our two daughters. Every moment of those two meetings is forever etched in my mind and my heart
- Mary Lascelles - CONCIERGE RELOCATION SERVICES says:
Three years ago our company put on the "Paddywack" for our agents. It's up there with the best of events in all of my years working anywhere.
This was an intimate black tie event held at the beautiful Cascade Theatre in Redding, CA...a recently renovated 1930's theatre that was impressively done. Drinks to start out and then awards were given to the top agents in our office for the previous year. We had a magician who was incredible and John Bearden, President of our franchise, joined in. There was so much to feast the senses that night. The venue was perfect.
The next day we brought in motivational speakers...starting with John Bearden who is always so engaging and interesting.
The concept was to say thanks for a good year and celebrate the success while spurring everyone for another good year.
Our company has always been "out of the box" which makes it a somewhat unique place to work. The event is still remembered!!
- Amy Vercruysse - Owner, Combo Platter: Event Marketing & Management says:
The events I attend are more consumer vs. business-oriented such as trade shows, and then to narrow it further they are more entertainment related.
For sheer sensory overload and an overabundance of things to do, I have to say South by Southwest wins hands down. The Natural Products Trade Show West in Anaheim did a nice job the 2 times I attended for a trade show that also had some consumer element to it (a nice mix of b-to-b and b-to-c).
For pure musical pleasure, the Ponderosa Stomp in NOLA (next week) is my favorite music event simply because there's nothing else like it anywhere for true music purists and connoisseurs.
- Muhammad Ali - Marketing Consultant says:
I live in Dubai...No Outstanding events take place here...I play music and I have never seen any concert organized properly in Dubai...Even the events I have played at are not managed properly by the events management team.
- Illona Cowen - Information Technology and Services Professional, Technical Writer, Business Analyst says:
Two events come to mind. One hosted by Microsoft. They thought of everything!
The other event was hosted by Verisign. They had live music, live entertainment (Blues Bros.) and had pictures taken immediately with them, fireworks, great location. Excellent food.
- Melissa Deputy - Conference Planner, Public Speaker says:
The most outstanding event I attended was Tupperware's 50th "Gold" Anniversary with approximately 7,000 in attendance in Orlando in August 1996. The awards and education and free product give aways were unrivaled by any other events prior. Of course, it was special to me because I was recognized as 29 in the nation of those in attendance.
- Allen Stevens - Event Manager at Legacy Marketing Partners says:
1999 Camel Bartenders Ball, NYC. Annual "thank-you" event for all the bar staff in the area whose venues participated in the Camel Club Program. We had 4000 people at the Hammerstein Ballroom, with Grandmaster Flash DJing and Lenny Kravitz as the headliner. Free admission (though our free tickets were getting scalped on eBay for hundreds of dollars) with open bar and hors d'ourves for all.
It was a grueling 22-hour day, but it was an epic party.
- Brenda Christensen - Sr. Account Supervisor at The David James Agency says:
The Nintendo party at CES 1989. It was spectacular in every sense of the word...not a dime was spared. Live Hollywood Squares style game show, luminaries, celebrity impersonators, live Kenny Loggins concert...it was over the top over the top.
- Ravi Kikan - Sales and Marketing professional says:
My Marriage !!!
- Michael Hamblett - Investment Management Professional says:
The 1999 Ryder Cup Event at The Country Club in Massachusetts, when the U.S. took back the cup from the Europeans with a victory late Sunday afternoon, when Justin Leonard sank a long putt.
- James Hayes - Independent Online Media Professional says:
generously help Bob the saint run the world for one day, and I still have the badge to prove it.
- Javier Irastorza - Strategy & Global Industrial Development at EADS-CASA says:
In March 2005 I attended the "International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security" organised by Clud de Madrid in commemoration of the terrorist attacks on the city of Madrid the year before.
The Club of Madrid is an independent organization dedicated to strengthening democracy around the world by drawing on the unique experience and resources of its Members – 70 democratic former heads of state and government.
More than 1.200 people participated in that gathering, amongst them 200 experts, 17 Heads of State and Government, the Secretary General of the United Nations and many other leaders from international organizations and delegations from more than 70 countries.
I could attend this event thanks to a parallel event organised by the students association AEGEE.
The venue, tuition and logistics worked just perfectly. The conference itself was terrific. The power of this organisation (Club de Madrid) to bring top speakers and experts was impressive.
Several conferences and plenaries very interesting. Just a pity to have missed many since some were running in parallel.
Seeing dozens of world decision-makers was a shocking experience (e.g. noticing in the escalator that the lady before me was... Madeleine Albright).
- Suzanne Levison - Owner, SLS Creative and Staffing and Recruiting Consultant says:
One that I was involved with production. A major sports gathering including headline entertainment, high profile sponsors, political personalities such as Jesse Jackson..The fact that 24 hours prior to the event we were notified that, in addition, another political figure would arrive, we would be meeting with the secret service agents prior to redesign the room and general areas for security reasons. What I enjoyed was the challenge. What worked well was our team, who sprung into action with no sleep, and rose to the challenge so that the entire evening flowed perfectly.
- Joseph Templin - Head Geek, Unique Minds Consulting Group, LLC says:
The birth of my children.
- Machelle Lovin - Successful leader, partner and follower says:
I was young....I'm guessing about 8 years old. My parents worked for the first multi-level international cosmetic company. (look up Glenn Turner and read all about it) It was at a convention in Orlando. After a day of various events full of experts in cosmetics and the fashion industry, seminars, and incredible motivational moments, they packed a hotel suite full of select people that were attending the convention. Most of these people were from small towns and had big dreams.
The President of the company spoke and introduced a few other people who also spoke. Each with more vigor and excitement. Then the main guy (salesman) spoke to the attendees. In very powerful and elegant words he told them they had what it took to be successful. That their company was the one for them and the product they offered was all they needed. He pumped them up...spiritually, emotionally, physically, cheering....E.O.G.O.....E.O.G.O......some people were jumping up and down as others clapped and chanted...E.O.G.O....Every One Get One.
Now, I don't know if it was the product that everyone was getting one of or if it was every one get one person under you (pyramid marketing). But what I do know is that at such a young age, I learned how people need to belong and be accepted. I learned how they need to feel empowered and just need some attention. I learned that one person can have such a presence that the whole world will follow them. (the world as it was as an 8 year old girl in that hotel room) But wow, how that lesson has proven true as I've gotten older and experienced life.
- Tamara Dunst - Senior Manager, Events at Nobel Biocare
I’d have to say that with all the events I have managed and attended throughout my career, by far the best are the Disney events I have attended as a consumer. Disney often holds “merchandising” events at their parks where attendees actually pay to come and buy stuff. Only Disney can do this. However, you hardly realize that you are dropping a couple of hundred dollars on artwork and memorabilia when you are surrounded by such amazing “theme-ing.” Most of these events are held in one of their hotel’s large ballrooms and usually center around a park ride or Disney movie.
It seems that they spare no expense in awing their customers with dramatic lighting, realistic props, and interactive activities. You get favors that seem like they cost a fortune and the food is quite excellent. Music, performances and speakers round out these memorable evenings, which, remember, are just there for you to buy merchandise. Disney really knows how to create a complete experience – tantalizing all the senses, tying in to them seamlessly and giving customers the craving for more.
- Dave Weinberg - Manager, Marketing & Client Relations says:
A few years ago, while working at Sony Pictures, I attended a Movie Premiere for "Big Fish". After the red carpet and movie the whole lot moved to the after party at Hammerstein in Manhattan. The crew was able to recreate the town form the movie and the circus inside the theater. Food was served by old time dinner staff on red picknick tables while acrobats performed high above. It was incredible.