Recent industry shows IMEX America and Business Events Australia’s signature incentive showcase, Dreamtime, demonstrated a few cool ideas you may want to try.
Event and meeting planners go to industry shows such as IMEX America and Business Events Australia’s signature incentive showcase, Dreamtime, to learn and network, but also to see new ideas implemented that they may want to try for their own events. Here are five that caught our eye:
- Demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. IMEX has been dedicated to reducing its carbon footprint at both its IMEX America and IMEX Frankfurt shows for a while now, and it is paying off. According to IMEX America’s Sustainable Event report, 6,147 kg of service ware was composted locally, 92 percent of all waste was diverted from landfills, and 81% of the event carpet used was returned to inventory. As part of the group’s commitment to deliver net-zero events by 2030, they also held sessions on sustainability for events at the IMEX/EIC People and Planet theater, eliminated single-use plastics, reduced CO2 emissions, gave back to the local community, and continue to track and measure the impact of its events on the environment.
While Dreamtime was on a much smaller scale — around 100 total participants, compared to IMEX America’s 12,000 or so — the commitment to sustainability was no less top of mind. First, organizers chose a venue, the Adelaide Convention Centre, that has achieved EarthCheck’s Master status for its commitment to best practice in business and environmental sustainability. The event itself, held for the first time in four years after being put on pause by COVID, was slated to be certified carbon neutral for the first time by Climate Active. This certification recognizes Tourism Australia’s efforts to reduce emissions where possible and compensate for the rest via carbon offset projects.
The show’s organizers ensured that these programs were both greenwash-free and of benefit to the local community by investing in the Tallering Station Human Induced Regeneration Project, which is regenerating the native shrubland and forest habitat needed for endangered native species and restoring some of Australia’s at-risk areas. They also invested in the Karlantijpa North Savanna Burning Project, which supports Traditional Owners in their work on sustainable fire management that reduces greenhouse gas emissions while meeting safety, cultural and environmental needs. They also provided, and encouraged the use of, reusable water bottles.
The chocolate smash — putting the break into break time. One of the most fun activations during the business networking piece of this year’s Dreamtime event, held at in November, was at the morning tea break. Yes, there was tea and specialty coffees of all varieties, but what really caught our attention was a table set with giant sheets of all sorts of chocolates from local chocolatier extraordinaire Haigh’s Chocolates. Scattered among these chocolate mountains and plains were a variety of tools, from modified mallets to little hammers like the ones a doctor uses to check your reflexes.
People began to gather around the table, salivating just a tad but hesitant to take up an implement of destruction and smash all that chocolate goodness into bite-able bits. But once one person broke the confectionary ice by smashing a pinata-like box that exploded with popcorn and candy, the melee was on! Great fun was had by all before they headed back for their next round of appointments.
- Up the gifting fun factor with a vending machine. Another fun idea that had attendees lining up during breaks at Dreamtime was a gift vending machine, where attendees could push a numbered button and open the corresponding locker to receive a surprise gift, ranging from kangaroo cufflinks to cute stuffed koalas.
- Work with vendors to coordinate activations that reinforce your show’s message. Production behemoth Encore’s activation area was a continual hot spot at this year’s IMEX America, held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas this fall. One of the biggest draws was “Break Free,” a walk-through immersive theater activation that showed, rather than told, a story about creating events that are inclusive to all. It was a win-win, with Encore getting to show how it used technology to transform a multisensory vision into reality — with that vision of creating an event environment that is designed for belonging being a priority also for the show’s organizer, The IMEX Group.
- Acknowledging the original owners/custodians of the land on which the event takes place. One thing that was noticeable throughout Dreamtime was the Acknowledgement of Country that was at the forefront of every speech. The opening session was kicked off with a Welcome to Country by Traditional Owners, provided by Kuma Karru, an organization that provides cultural services and workshops for events. In addition, every presentation at the business sessions and evening extravaganzas began with an acknowledgement of the Traditional Custodians of the land on which the meeting was held, and a payment of respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
Members of the media also had an opportunity to meet and learn from Jack Buckskin, a
Kaurna and Narungga who is the Founder and Director of Kuma Karru, who conducted a Smoking and Cleaning ceremony for media members as they arrived at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens for a tour and luncheon.
While this emphasis in Dreamtime’s case may be due to a specifically Australian protocol, it would be a respectful and educational practice that would more fully immerse attendees in the local indigenous culture of wherever the meeting or event takes place.
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