“What’s your super power?” was the theme of the digitalNow 2017 conference held at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort within Universal Orlando Resort.
The 18-year annual event brought together about 250 C-suite executives from leading associations across the country. The goal? “Mobilizing courage” by harnessing hidden superpowers and facing the technology learning curve head on.
Hugh Lee, president of Fusion Productions, the company that organizes the event, chose Universal Orlando Resort because it offers three engaging theme parks, five hotels and CityWalk, with additional restaurants and entertainment. The group took advantage of the entire Universal experience, especially the superhero-inspired Marvel Island inside the Islands of Adventure theme park.
“[Having so much in one place] encourages conversation, which speaks to our goal of community,” says Lee. “We make sure that our group has access to everything they need all within walking distance so they stay together.”
Navigating the Digital Age
The superpower theme played off the event’s education, which focused on helping association leadership lead in a digital age. “What our success is based around is giving attendees the content in the form and substance that they can use to lead in this fast-changing environment, building a community of like-minded CEOs and leaderships that require an environment that encourages meaningful dialogues and engaging their minds and imaginations in experiential learning formats,” says Lee. “Staying true to those three principles is what gets us to 18 years of success.”
Universal’s meeting enhancement package only added to the event’s three principles, making the event theme that much more memorable. The general session opened with an appearance from “Transformers” characters Optimist Prime and Bumblebee, followed by a visit from several Minions characters at a break. Then, the closing general session brought in Doc Brown and his famous DeLorean time machine from “Back to the Future.”
“When you add in these types of photo ops, it creates quite the buzz from attendees and makes for a memorable, impactful meeting,” says Lee. “Everyone was sending photos back to friends and coworkers, which showed loyalty for the event.”
A Royal Experience
Even though the group primarily stayed on-site at Royal Pacific, the Universal team tried to showcase everything the resort has to offer. One event for the board of 25 attendees was held at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, while other meals throughout the event brought the F&B experience from other hotels to the Royal Pacific. A “Breakfast in the Kitchen” event recreated the experience at Hard Rock Hotel’s Kitchen restaurant in the Royal Pacific’s Pacifica Ballroom. The Universal team also created a “farmers market,” displaying local vendor items such as hydroponic baby greens in a market format.
“The service was amazing, and everyone was so attentive,” says Lee. “When our CEOs and C-suite attendees say that, it’s unique because they’re used to being spoiled.”
The entire meeting culminated with a red carpet walk into the Islands of Adventure theme park on the final night. Rides, food and interactive character photo ops awaited attendees. The evening encouraged attendees to move throughout the park, starting with a dinner in Jurassic Park before moving to Marvel Island, where dessert and beverage stations, including a whiskey bar, lined the streets. Three attractions—The Incredible Hulk Rollercoaster, The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman and Doctor Doom’s Fear Fall—even allowed attendees to let loose…and to possibly find their inner superpower.