Trends for 2016 are making business events in Toronto better (and tastier) than ever. From tech to food, it’s anything but business as usual!
Planners are always looking to create a fuller, more immersive experience for attendees, at everything from speaking engagements to pop-up shops.
Gordon Browning from FMAV, a Toronto-based events planning firm, says screen-blending technology is doing just that. It can merge multiple projectors into one seamless image, wrapping an entire room in the visuals of a planner’s choosing, for a completely immersive experience.
At the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto this past February, Adidas upped the ante with a pop-up shop cum art installation. The Adidas VIP Gifting Suite launched new products with an exclusive mix of players, media and NBA elite at its private gifting lounge, housed inside their product vault. Working alongside Toronto photographer Horace Ng, Adidas transformed a space on Queen Street West into brand activation that doubled as a photo and art installation.
From cooking to catching the bus, apps make our lives a little easier. And the same is true when it comes to business events. So, it’s no surprise that custom apps will become more popular than ever this year.
Courtney Stanley, from Toronto’s Event Mobi, says cost, analytics, engagement and networking are just a few of the advantages of custom apps.
Apps can help save money (and the environment!), with no printing costs, especially if changes are needed at the last minute. “What if a speaker cancels at the last minute? No problem. You can make edits to the agenda and send out an alert to attendees to inform them of the change,” says Stanley.
Apps also allow you to track attendees' behaviour, including clicks, preferences and habits, without having to rely on attendees answering surveys. And apps with built-in chat allow for easier networking at events, especially for those too shy to just walk up to someone.
BACK TO REALITY
After a few false starts in the 90’s, Virtual Reality technology and costs are finally making it a realistic prospect for event planners. Browning says they’ve been using it to help in the planning stages of an event. “Virtual reality has been used to help event planners visualize and experience space ahead of an event,” he explains.
Using goggles similar to the popular Oculus Rift, meeting planners can get a virtual walk-through of how a space will look and function, from front to back. It’s been such a hit, FMAV has had to triple their initial order of the goggles.
And this is only the beginning! “Down the road, we could stream live from the event to people in other cities. It will feel like they’re sitting right there in the audience,” adds Browning, promising FMAV will be the first in Canada to use it live at an event.
And everyone’s favourite part of any event ─ food and drinks! According to Julia Gilmoure, from the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, “the days of sad conference food are hopefully drawing to a close!” Restaurants have been touting local ingredients for years now, and business events are catching up!
“It doesn't matter where you travel in the province. Each region has so many unique stories and tastes on offer, Toronto in particular,” adds Gilmoure.
Some local treats include Maple-tree filtered water, paneer cheese, world crops such as Chinese long beans and okra, hops, haskap berries and sea buckthorn.
The Ontario's beverage industry has also really taken off. According to the Ontario Beverage Network, there are over 300 brewers in Ontario (26 in Toronto alone.) The Ontario Craft Cider Alliance has 27 cider producers and The Ontario Distillers' Association has 16 producers. And VQA Wines use 100% Ontario-grown grapes. Cheers to that!
Check out the Feast On program, a designation for food service operators committed to using Ontario food and drink on their menus.