Events are everything in the digital age. Face to face is more valuable than ever before because it’s almost a novelty. In many ways it’s almost like everything’s the wrong way round…A friend of mine recently saw me texting in a meeting and said “You know, I’ve got this amazing new idea for an app! You go into the app, type in a special code, your handheld device makes a ringing noise and the person you want to email or text is suddenly right there on the other end of the phone and you can actually speak to them directly, without having to spend ages explaining things in writing! We could call it the Phone app!” Genius!
We are so transfixed by tapping that talking is becoming a delicacy and so, the event is a bloody great excuse to get people together, face to face and, what’s more, share an awesome often unforgettable experience which itself, creates a memorable common bond.
Of course, a spectacular venue, great food and interesting people are the three essential, killer apps - but everyone does that these days (if they don’t then their events will be pretty unpopular!). So it’s no longer those core values alone which drive a successful event – that’s just not enough any more.
So, what is it that makes an event stand out and demand to be attended whilst surprising and delighting your guests once they’re there? Well, perhaps surprisingly (and delightfully!), it’s all the small things – like these:
1. The Sourcing team. These guys are a great place to start, not just in our top 10 list but also in life. As their name suggests, they can source anything. Back in my British Fashion Awards days The Sourcing Team sourced everything – from the branded bags to the Award ‘Gongs’ themselves and a hundred other things in between. They’re a PR person’s dream and will come up with things that you’ve never even thought of…Maybe drop them a line and ask them to surprise you? Chances are, they will!
2. All bagged up. Talking of goodies, there is no better and more memorable goody bag company than these guys! Make no mistake - providing the perfect goody bag is more of an art form than an after-thought as a carefully sourced and compiled parting gift can be incredibly powerful. Highlights include their legendary ‘hangover recovery kit’ incorporating a mini virgin Mary and wrapped in a World War Two ration pack, occasionally administered by models clad in various adaptations of medical garb! A real show stopper and a lasting legacy for any style of event.
3. Click the Cookie. There’s something collectively fascinating about fortune cookies. Even if you’re not remotely superstitious and you’re sane enough to realize that random predictions are almost as ridiculous as astrology, we all love to read into those ambiguous little proverbs and turn them into something inspiring and positive. So imagine if you could manipulate the messages and tailor them to your audience with a personalized missive! The fact that they’re concealed inside a cookie makes it almost magic too. And potentially very funny! Click the cookie is a simple and affordable way to add some fantastic, shared and on-brand engagement to your event! Get cracking…
4. Champion Speakers. Inspiration is everything and a great Keynote can elevate a brand to new levels of engagement. The best keynote speakers all have one thing in common – they’re master raconteurs. In short, nothing beats a great story because it animates a notion and, delivered effectively, can stir emotion and associate your brand with human greatness. That’s very powerful. Personal highlights from around the world include a Space Shuttle Commander, an unlikely Olympic Gold Medalist, someone who summited Everest against all odds and an incredible lady who rowed the Atlantic on her own when her professional rower husband got scared and had to be rescued (they’re now divorced)!! Make no mistake, a great speaker will be remembered forever. And so will your event and brand.
5. At your service. I think we’ll always agree that great service with a genuine smile is everything. In fact, last year I wrote a whole article about the importance of service, which you can read here. It’s one of those things that is sometimes treated as an afterthought whereas it very definitely has to be right up there with the venue and the catering because the human aspect of a face to face event is crucial. Your event staff are your front line ambassadors and whereas you may be forgiven for a boring venue (by the skin of your teeth!), your guests will never forget less than impeccable service. At Your Service are, without doubt, the benchmark.
6. Neil Monahgan. We discovered this guy via Facebook and he’s amazing! He’d put together what has to be the most spectacular conference video I’ve ever seen, seamlessly integrating personalities from a corporation into classic Bond movies from the 60’s. It really was magical because it was as if these people were actually in the movie. It was slick, cool, informative, fun and, above all else, very, very funny. So I contacted him and commissioned a hard-hitting and potentially controversial ‘Conference Kick-Off’ video for a recent Crowdfinders ‘Alternative Finance’ event I was hosting. Needless to say, it was awesome and a smash hit! Click here to have a look for yourself.
7. The Ice box. Ice is fascinating because it’s a beautiful, natural living thing and can, it turns out, be sculpted into anything. And then, after a few hours, it’s gone forever. Some would argue it’s the ultimate art form and all about the moment. Perfect for events then! The Ice Box are world-renowned for being brilliant and their work ranges from the gigantic (entire cars sculpted in ice) to the intricate (plates and shot glasses) with a whole lot in between. They can basically do anything in ice and it’s often breathtaking. Ice art is always a talking point and that’s a guarantee.
8. Cirque Le Soir Entertainment. When your guests think they’ve seen everything – from hi-tech holograms to astounding close-up magic, you’re going to have to do rather more than roll out some jugglers and stilt walkers to really inspire and engage your audience. However, just like magic, everything is a variation of a classic theme so stilt walkers, for example, become giant, scantily clad, make-up laden, fire eating acrobats on stilts! And that’s what Cirque Le Soir do best – twisting what you’re expecting into something spellbinding, occasionally shocking and often quite disturbing – in a good way! An event with these guys will never be forgotten.
9. The Admirable Crichton. Ok, so I was kind of skipping past catering as a bit of a pre-requisite because it’s a pretty big thing really, but The AC are worth a mention because they are famous for their meticulous attention to detail. In fact, the Founders took Lady Elizabeth Anson’s high-end style of professional Party Planning to a whole new level with their wide-reaching ‘Party Design’ concept which the whole world has now copied. You can spot an AC party by the world-class food, meticulous design and their beautiful staff. With the AC all the little things come together to make one great big fantastic thing!
10. On Air Dining. I experienced the most fascinating tasting (which just pipped one I did with Rhubarb years ago!) with these guys. Seven delicious courses in an aircraft hangar with food sourced from all over the world which had been flown in from all over the place, that morning – along with other things, I presume – before I’m accused of being responsible for the carbon footprint all on my own – anyway, I’m not responsible for any carbon footprint because I drive everywhere! ;-) On Air offer something completely unique – the highest quality Executive Jet fine dining experience, delivered to your event as if you were Roman Abramovitch. Their specialist, freshly prepared, instantly freeze-dried and delivered approach means that you can re-create the world’s finest cuisine without any of the hassle or on-site preparation which would usually be required. Ideal for intimate event catering or ‘at home’ private party catering, On Air Dining will amaze your guests, even those with sky high expectations!
11. Kabbee. At the end of the day, people just want to get home! Some later than others but the party people need more help getting home on weekdays because of the lack of a late night tube service, not to mention their (sometimes) disorientated disposition. In the age of app-based solutions for pretty much anything (and Uber, of course) we have a favourite cab app for events and that’s Kabbee. That’s because you can pre-book with Kabbee and therefore coordinate an event exodus in advance without causing an Uber-rush and an inevitable ‘Uber-jacking’ …Oh, and there’s £10 off your first ride with Londonlaunch! Plus, my school friend co-founded it!