The Most Innovative Conferences Focus on Three Things: Sustainability, Seating and Social
Sep 13, 2013 by DeDe Mulligan

BizBash recently identified the most innovative conferences of 2012 and I have to say, for the most part, each approach was above the fold. Trying to get thousands of individuals to actively participate in convention initiatives can be a bit like herding cats. But in the top 3 conferences — McDonald's, TED and Cisco — their approach was well thought out. 

Below is a synopsis of what these organizations did and interactive technology tool rental tips to make the implementation of this process even easier. Here they are: 

McDonald's World Wide Convention

mcdonaldsAt their 2012 convention of approximately 17,000 attendees held in Orlando, McDonald's wanted to implement a sustainability program that involved giving their leftover food away to organizations that serve meals to disenfranchised individuals. However, Julie Larson a Project Manager at McDonald's quickly learned this was not possible. So they turned to another green measure: composting. The end result was they diverted 71% of their waste from a landfill to a composting site. 

Here are some other terrific sustainability practices they implemented at the conference:

  • Donated counter tops and cabinets from the trade show to Habitat for Humanity
  • Gave drapes to a local theater
  • Attendees were encouraged to recycle 
  • Participants were reminded to turn off their hotel lights and pull down the shades in their hotel room

Technology Tip: Post on digital signage, video wall rental units and attendee mobile devices frequent reminders to be green at your conference. For more ideas on reducing waste, check out this blog post:  Zero Waste to Landfills? Take a Lesson from the London Olympics

TED Conference

TEDWhile the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) Conference was being held in Long Beach, California earlier this year, the TEDActive program was going on with 700 attendees in Palm Springs which provided the live-hosted TED2013 program in a comfortable, customizable space.

The physical layout of TEDActive included traditional theater seating as well as armchairs, beanbags, and bed-style lounges with Plasma monitors overhead. Kelly Stoetzel, TED Content Director put it this way, " We are constantly thinking about how the seating impacts what happens the moment you sit down. A good thing to happen is for people to have conversations and we are always thinking about how to enable that." 

Technology Tip: Give attendees tactical and visual options at their fingertips. Rent iPads so attendees can view the live streaming individually or in small groups. Place a video wall rental unit on the stage for maximum viewing. Stream video to computer kiosks located in the exhibit hall. These are options to keep the attendee focused on the remote presentations by allowing them to feel like they are right there.   

Cisco Live

ciscoCisco dramatically increased their social media engagement strategy at their 5-day conference held in Orlando last year. 

They created a 7,200 square foot space manned with 12 individuals to track the social postings of conference attendees on the following platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. This team responded directly to the attendee and if it was a venue complaint, they simultaneously dispatched an event or venue staffer to meet with person face-to-face. 

"We use social as a listening tool, similar to what a lot of brands do when they are listening for customer sentiment or shout-outs about their products or services," said Staci Clark, Global Marketing Strategy Manager at Cisco Systems. 

Technology Tip: Rent iPads and preload social channels onto each device. Promote the hashtag on the digital signage, video wall rental and plasma displays. Encourage people to post and make certain you have a team monitoring all postings at all times. 

Are you event planning in California? Call on AV Event Solutions for all your technology needs! 

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