This week, as part of Canada MeetWeek, Toronto's 3rd Annual Ignite Business Event Expo took place. The show, which integrated the arts, kicked off with a dance performance by A2D2 and Mime to Mime.
During their opening remarks, Ignite Magazine Co-founders and Co-publishers Richard Elliot and Debbie van der Beek shared their vision for Ignite Business Event Expo, highlighting the fact that, just like a magazine with wall-to-wall advertising would lose its impact, a trade show floor consisting of nothing but exhibitors would ineffective. Educational content and "no-pitch Ignite Zones" which brought the creativity and boutique style editorial content of Ignite Magazine to life were interspersed throughout the trade show floor.
Diva on a Dime, the Hi-Lo Challenge and Return on You were back.
New this year were the Ignite Welcome Zone with greeters, show information and tasty morning treats.
At Be Pampered, attendees could re-charge their batteries with chair massages and mini-manicures. Stations for re-charging mobile device batteries were provided by D. E. Systems.
There was also a Selfie Stop where attendees could Ham it Up and then watch their images appear on the giant screen in Spark Cafe and on Twitter. Out and About, a photo gallery, mirrored Ignite's feature that captures event planners at recent events.
Each morning, hosted buyers, exhibitors and other attendees found inspiration through engaging keynotes in the Marquee Theatre which was then transformed into the Spark Cafe by removing the backdrop, maximizing the use of space. (The DJ continued to spin relaxing tunes throughout the day.)
In a refreshing departure from traditional trade show formats, the booths were closed temporarily after a few hours and attendees could take in the keynotes.
Content was also presented throughout the day in 6 half hour presentations in the Good to Know Theatre.
Topics included Gamification Strategies for Events, Meetings, and Incentives, Follow Me, Twitter Events, and The Evolution of Travel Wellness. The 30 minute format made it possible to cover the topics in-depth and also gave attendees the opportunity to ask questions.
Allergy Alert, an important panel, was presented by Shawn Whalen, Executive Chef at Intercontinental hotel, Toronto Centre. Many guests don't complete the pre-event surveys and turn up at events with special dietary needs that are not easy to accommodate.
Shawn alerted attendees to the fact that allergens are not always obvious in common dishes. For example, eggs are often used as a binding agent when hamburgers are prepared. Egg wash gives bread a glazed appearance and, for burgers and sliders, egg is sometimes mixed with cheeses like goat cheese to create a smoother consistency. For these reasons, during pre-con meetings, it is essential to let the banquet team know about allergies. It is also important to let guests know that it is essential to let event organizers know about dietary needs in advance.
Despite the fact allergy tips for event planners is an area on which I have focused, there were several new tips. For example, in addition to asking attendees to identify dietary requirements and allergies, it is important to also inquire about the severity of the allergic reactions, and if the guest are taking medication. Attendees need to be reminded to bring the medication with them at all times and not to leave it in their hotel rooms.
Finally, in Ontario, event planners and venues are allowed to stock Epi-pens and Benadryl. In the case of allergic reactions, 911 is to be called immediately as sometimes attendees resist treatment as they don't want to be singled out. Also, some reactions may be more severe than they initially appear.