The stage was set for ASAE’s inaugural Xperience Design Project (XDP). Like many attending this event, we didn’t quite know what to expect. What we did know, was that it was the first time it was being held, took two years of rigorous planning (and over 250 people), and was supposed to change the way the events industry viewed planning in the 21st century. Amazingly, it delivered all that and more.
While the two-day event offered many insights, the most unique part of the event was the aptly named “Lab” experience. In “The Lab,” association members and partners were put into groups to solve real-life challenges, share ideas, and ultimately transform attendees into designers of memorable experiences. Attendees rotated through five different “Zones” including: Technology, Experience, Location, Marketing, and Learning. Each zone was facilitated by a faculty member or “zone expert” and had interactive exercises and discussions on key elements of event planning. The interesting part was that all five faculty members shared one stage and by way of individual mini radios, the audience tuned into their assigned channel. Just like that, a ballroom with more than 2,000 attendees was perfectly divided without having to move seats or switch rooms. And the sound worked perfectly.
While there was a lot of learning “by design” (get it?) and through pure observation of such a unique setup, there were three key learnings that really stood out:
1. Shake Up Your Live Event
Setting clear, bold, and ambitious goals will impact every detail of your event. XDP certainly ventured into unknown territory with their unique setup and this amplified every interaction, exercise, and group discussion. As a result, the attendees were fully immersed in the experience from day one. As I learned in the “Experience” Zone, this was done by design and worked incredibly well for engagement.
2. Location, Location, Location
Michael Domingues, Chief Sales Officer of MGM Resorts, and faculty member of the Location Zone, spoke about the importance of considering all the micro-sites that make up your event destination. From the airport, to transportation, the hotel lobby, bedroom and of course, the meeting room itself — everything should be very carefully considered to design a truly memorable experience.
3. Get More Out Of Your Mobile App
During the Business Xchange, EventMobi met with planners and association executives one-on-one. I quickly learned the days of replacing printed programs with an event app are long gone. Today, it’s all about amplifying engagement and event technology is more important than ever for helping associations engage members and exceed their event goals.
The Future is Bright for Live Events
XDP’s goal was to challenge the status quo of event planning as we know it and transform planning into designing memorable experiences. Through collaborative learning exercises and thought-provoking discussions orchestrated by zone experts, there was a ton of insights to take home. For myself, and as an event partner, I was happy to see where the future of events is headed and learn that event technology is crucial for amplifying engagement and designing memorable experiences. I can hardly wait to share the insights I gained from this event with all the planners we work with!
Big shout out to the entire ASAE/XDP team for putting on such a unique, immersive, and memorable event! Looking forward to attending next year and excited to see how these innovative concepts will be implemented in upcoming events.