NEXT’17 may be behind us, but we’re looking ahead. After all, this event’s reach and value only increases throughout the year. Brella believes in and supports what NEXT’17 stands for, and we had a great time ensuring that MPI-CAC’s educational conference went off without a hitch. We thought we’d use the NEXT’17 acronym (Networking/Education/eXperience/Technology) to describe why we were thrilled with the recent forum.
Networking is about developing, cultivating, and maintaining relationships, and forums such as this one encourage the relationship-building aspect that is essential to the events industry. MPI-CAC wanted its attendees to easily network with peers at NEXT’17. By working with the MPI-CAC leadership and production partner AV Chicago, we collaborated to support that initiative by designing creative elements that maximized the use of one floor space for multiple purposes, allowing for intermingling at expo booths and an intimate gathering for the closing session.
“AV Chicago was a great company to work with,” stated Associate Producer Joshua Stroud. “Figuring out from the ground up what we were going to accomplish together went a long way in guaranteeing that NEXT’17 was a success.”
The NEXT’17 forum isn’t just for meeting professionals to rub elbows and talk about their careers. It’s a knowledge sharing event designed to give MPI’s Chicago-area meeting professionals insights that will help them excel at their jobs.
Those educational breakout sessions we spoke of in our last blog? Each counted as three quarters of a credit for continuing education units (CEUs) for attendees. Meeting professionals are required to continually collect CEUs to maintain their Certified Meeting Planner certification (CMP). MPI creates events like NEXT’17 to enable meeting professionals in their network to get those credits.
Brella provided the breakout session presenters with a PowerPoint template to build their presentations. We also supplied the walk-in slide for each breakout, with room schedule information as well as an overall digital agenda to keep the day’s flow smooth and efficient. It was an honor to be part of a forum that strives to better working event-industry professionals through education.
Brella has run events for nearly twenty-five years, and we have encountered event venues of all shapes and sizes. NEXT’17’s venue presented three fun challenges that we found creative solutions for, based on our experience and overall chutzpah.
Challenge #1: Ceiling Height and Windows. The ceilings were rather low, so we used white drapes to create an optical illusion of greater space, while preserving the intimate atmosphere of the venue. Two full sides were all windows, which let in a lot of natural light that we wanted to take advantage of. We decided to place partially opaque white drapes in front of the windows to make sure the digital signage was clear and easy to read for attendees. It also let in light from the rest of the windows, to open up the space visually.
Challenge #2: Directing Attendees Between Two Floors of Activities. We used a combination of digital signage and helpers to direct traffic flow between the two floors of the venue. Strategically placed digital signs helped attendees always know where they were and where they needed to be, and were continually updated with relevant scheduling information.
Challenge #3: Using One Floor Space for Two Purposes. We had one large room that needed to host both an expo area and a closing session. We made these two distinct elements work together in the same room by setting up the expo booths on the perimeter—to maximize the number of booths—and placing the truss for the stage in the center of the room. During the day, the center area was used for refreshments and temporary exhibits. In the afternoon, a stage was dropped in, transforming this area into a 360-degree stage that created a dynamic and intimate closing session.
This event let us indulge in our love for gadgets, gizmos, and electronics. Brella and AV Chicago used LCD screens for bright, crisp digital signage mounted on walls, trusses, and stands. AV Chicago provided 22 monitors and 7 projectors. Brella designed for 15 of those monitors in the breakout sessions, seven digital signs, four breakout room projectors, and three logo projectors. Our design department also touched up 18 logos. The feedback we received regarding how easy it was to see the digital signage, no matter where a person stood, was great to hear.
Working for a trade association we are proud members of—and co-producing with a phenomenal AV solutions company such as AV Chicago—was a pleasure. We enjoyed helping our fellow MPI-CAC meeting professionals earn credits toward their certifications, network with one another, and have a fun, educational experience at the NEXT’17 forum.