2018 Best in Show Awardees and Outstanding Nominees

Author: Convene Editors       

Convene presents its annual Best in Show list, this year highlighting top venues and innovations and celebrating excellence in the industry. The following list were selected from reader nominations:

Most Creative Destination Video

“Flock this way! This video was created to build attendance and excitement for an important citywide,” wrote Nicole Havers, marketing manager, meetings & conventions, Tourism Vancouver, in nominating the “One-Year Countdown to International Ornithological Congress 2018, Vancouver” video. “We supported our local ambassadors in bidding on and marketing the International Ornithological Congress happening this summer — the oldest and most prestigious of meetings for bird scientists. The video also supports the bird tourism strategy our DMO and the City of Vancouver have undertaken.” convn.org/you-tube-IOC

Most Original Off-Site Venue

An old jailhouse for an event space? Sure, we’d go Down Under to visit the Old Melbourne Gaol, a bluestone building and courtyard museum in Melbourne, Australia, on the National Trust of Australia’s heritage register. The Gaol can host 120 guests for a banquet dinner or hold 350 in prison for a cocktail reception. Participants at the AIME 2018 Hosted Buyer & Media Cocktail Party, organized by Showtime Event Group, wandered throughout the building to visit the cells where some of Australia’s most notorious criminals were held, including the infamous bush ranger Ned Kelly. He died in 1880, but can make a guest appearance for events. We’ll take nominator Melbourne Convention Bureau’s Fiona Hoppe’s word on that. Watch a video at convn.org/gaol.

Hottest Hotel Space

Espace C2 is a custom collaborative learning experience space at the top of Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in Montréal, Canada, created and operated in partnership with the creative business event company C2. “Whether a big corporation, a startup, or an event planner,” at Espace, nominator Maude Gendron, of C2, said, “the full power of the award-winning C2 content, experience design, show direction, and production team is at their disposal.” Up to 200 guests can be accommodated in all kinds of events, from team building to leadership retreats, in its high-tech and flexible space. By showcasing Espace, Convene is in good company: AHEAD, the awards for hospitality, experience, and design, awarded Espace the “Best Event Space” at its AHEAD Americas design award ceremony in Miami in June. espacec2.biz/en/

Mind-Blowing Set Design & Staging

Dynamic use of stage design and lighting bring events to life, GameStop’s Samantha Vogel pointed out in her nomination of the 2017 GameStop Conference and WB Injustice eSports Tournament for this category. For this particular event, that not only applied to those attending in person, but for the thousands of people logging into the eSports live stream. There was a “great event design collaboration between GameStop and Warner Brothers to ensure maximum ROI for the eSports tournament and annual GameStop Conference,” Vogel wrote. “Maximum visual engagement for both in-person and live-streaming audience included pyrotechnics, lasers, a confetti cannon, and dynamic LED lighting.” Throw in an innovative live-streaming announcers stage, and GameStop had all bases covered. meeting.gamestop.com/

Holding an event at Vancouver’s BC Place could make you feel small. After all, the stadium has the largest retractable roof in the world. But when the IBABC (Insurance Brokers Association of BC) held its Centennial Gala there in May, the creative use of sheer curtains and sharks tooth scrims made dinner on the field feel like an intimate affair — even though more than 1,000 were in attendance. “As the ambient light subsided,” nominator Terry Vinet of Showtime Display wrote, “a dramatic and wonderful transition took place, and the audience was transported to an elegant light-set design.” In addition, “clever use” of the stadium’s LED screen enhanced their experience. ibabc.org

Insanely Innovative Meeting Space

With the Lawn On D, the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center (BCEC) found an “innovative way to use an unused parking lot area in its convention center’s footprint and converted it into an outdoor lounge/lawn area to rent out to show organizers,” wrote Selvis Morales, from Devil’s in the Details LLC. “It helps organizers use a standard convention center in an unconventional way by offering outdoor breaks with neon swings, tents, and turf to give attendees a good mental break from back-to-back indoor sessions.” While Morales hasn’t personally planned an event at Lawn D, she does have firsthand experience. She participated in a summer series event there — in addition to private events, Lawn On D plays host to a variety of community events, from children’s festivals to movie screenings and a fitness series. signatureboston.com/lawn-on-d

Savviest Social Media Campaign

The Social Concierge program was designed to give back to both the meeting organizers by supporting their delegate-experience goals,” wrote nominator Nicole Havers of Tourism Vancouver, “and the delegates themselves for coming to Vancouver and sharing their experience with their own networks.”

For qualified groups that have a highly engaged attendee base on social media, Tourism Vancouver provides a dedicated team on-site to monitor the conference conversation in order to find opportunities to surprise and delight attendees with customized gifts and tickets to local attractions. Like a birthday card and treats to an Openstack 2018 attendee:

Or, this past January, an in-room amenity for a Trend Micro sales conference attendee who had the sniffles.

Best Venue for Small Meetings

The Lytle House in the Chicago neighborhood of Edgewater opened recently, offering a small outdoor/indoor combo event space accommodating up to 80 guests. The “funky venue,” nominated by Devil’s in the Details LLC’s Selvis Morales, is something you won’t find in downtown, she said, owing to the fact that it’s “a local, neighborhood space that combines a small AstroTurf ‘yard’ with street-art murals and indoor conference or workshop-rustic loft space.” Morales finds it the perfect alternative to standard hotel meeting rooms for gatherings where organizers want attendees to feel relaxed — like the private luau office party she nominated the historic venue for hosting. “The outdoor lot even has a spot for local Chicago food trucks to park and offer guests F&B for breaks,” she added. thelytlehouse.com

Best Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative

When more than 1,000 employees of cybersecurity solutions provider Trend Micro — whose corporate vision is to make the world safe for exchanging digital information — met in Vancouver Jan. 8–10 for the company’s annual sales meeting, they capped off their conference experience by volunteering at two schools. In addition to making a $65K cash donation to the schools, as nominator Tourism Vancouver’s Nicole Havers shared, Trend Micro organized several programs for staff to give back. In the Internet Safety for Kids Program, employees taught students safe use of the web, founded on four principles: Be You, Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Smart. The kids were taken through scenarios to practice making smart choices online. A world fair initiative gave students a taste of the culture from 13 countries — Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, Canada, U.S, Ireland, France, Germany, U.K., India, and Egypt — with each nation represented by employees who are citizens. trendmicro.com

At its 2017 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) launched its first community outreach event — the AADE Community Diabetes Education Fair. Working with Eskenazi Health, Lilly, and Roche, AADE provided free diabetes screenings and educational opportunities with follow-up access to primary care to the underserved populations in downtown Indianapolis. The event was held over two days prior to the start of the Annual Meeting at the Eskenazi Health common grounds. Amy Calvert of Visit Baltimore (host of AADE’s 2018 Annual Meeting this month) nominated this initiative because it highlighted the value of diabetes educators as part of the health-care team within the local community. Forty local diabetes educators volunteered from the state’s AADE chapter; more than 300 members of the public attended; and 56 new people entered the patient navigation system of Eskenazi as a result of the fair, which was promoted through local TV and radio spots, print ads, help from Visit Indy, and via social media. A recap video that captured the event’s impact was shown during the Opening General Session of AADE17. diabeteseducator.org/

Innovative Event Technology

Michael Doane, CadmiumCD LLC, worked closely with the WVC 2018 Annual Conference organizers to launch eventScribe Boost — which allows planners to manage all their content, data, and stakeholders in real time, right from the eventScribe conference app — for its 15,000 veterinary professionals. The tool enabled WVC to transition from using walkie-talkies and event binders into using the mobile app; manage its data from one platform that integrated with all content delivery systems (apps, websites, signage); and provide attendees and speakers with an easy-to-use, seamless user experience.

WVC was able to use the app to make schedule changes, communicate instantly with attendees through mobile push notifications, and access real-time app stats. Speakers also had special features that included a seamless speaker ready room log-in experience and a personalized schedule based on their assigned sessions. When WVC needed to make a change to the schedule or a speaker uploaded a new version of their presentation, those changes were reflected across the board on the WVC website, app, signage, audience response, and AV systems. eventscribe.com

Doane also nominated CadmiumCD’s Conference Harvester Logistics Module, which was used by the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting for 10,000 librarian attendees, and Annual Conference for 20,000. Alicia “Alee” Navarro, content and technology coordinator, is responsible for scheduling and managing more than 3,000 events, sessions, and presentations between the two conferences. By using the Conference Harvester Logistics Module, Navarro had an easy way to search for open rooms with the exact capacity, AV equipment, and available resources needed for a particular session and easily search for people and room conflicts so that the same speaker was not scheduled for different sessions at the same time in different rooms. The eventScribe App Boost Module also enabled her team to access this information onsite using their mobile devices. cadmiumcd.com

Most Awe-Inspiring Outdoor Space

Would we like to attend an event on the biggest green rooftop in Paris? Oui, absolument! The 35,000-square-meter rooftop of the Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, in Paris’ 15th arrondissement — called the Jardin Suspendu (suspended garden) — just opened in June and can be privatized for brands from Monday to Wednesday, and open to the general public from Thursday to Sunday. Along with sweeping panoramic views of the City of Light, the Jardin Suspendu offers a food area, several bars, yoga classes, an open-air cinema, and DJ sets, according to nominator Laure Filloux of Viparis. lejardinsuspendu.paris/

Fab F&B

Draper — a not-for-profit, multidisciplinary engineering research and development company — held its event in Boston, but participants were instantly transported to Las Vegas. The theme of the event, according to nominator Mai Miller of DPI Events, was a high-end casino floor. As part of that, in “homage to pop-up restaurants in modern-day Vegas casinos,” BG Events & Catering created three pop-up restaurants, “strategically designed and enhanced by accompanying decor and theme,” she wrote. Bento Box offered Asian fusion where the servers served from a custom-made Bento box; LV Steakhouse gave off a “luxe, sexy vibe”; and Southern Comfort, with a custom mahogany bar and barn-board back bar, served up fried chicken and biscuits. Our quandary wouldn’t have been confusion over where we actually were (in New England or the Nevada desert?), but which cuisine was really calling our name. bgeventsandcatering.com

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