Sunday, 29 November 2015

More HDR Event Photography

Some of my latest HDR event photos. Now I am not an accomplished event photographer by any means and mostly I just do it as a learning experience because photography is my hobby. However, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have an amazing catalogue of images of your events if you are a planner or manager. This is what defines you and your company. Never settle for just acceptable - hire the very best event photographer you can to document your events and put only the best in your online portfolio.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Hot Ideas for Experiential Entertainment

Over the last week or so, I have been moderating a LinkedIn discussion about the perceived decrease in live entertainment at corporate events. Let me first condense the discussion into its main points and then offer some ideas for experiential entertainment.

First, many contributors agreed with me that there is less live entertainment nowadays, with most blaming it on cost and the apparent lack of return on investment. Some were of the opinion that corporate executives automatically cut entertainment when faced with a budget crunch. Typical examples given were using a DJ instead of a live band. Some talked about still using basic interactive entertainment such as magicians, caricaturists, and graphologists as value for money as far as their interactivity capability went.

In this discussion, my contention was, and still is, that planners desperately need to be educated and to up the creativity ante in order to obtain and successfully use live entertainment. This means taking the time to scour the web but also to occasionally step away from their computers and phones and venture out to things like festivals, nightclubs, and industry conferences where the latest and greatest in live entertainment is exhibited. To be a good planner, you need to thoroughly understand what a specific act can do. You cannot be lazy or trust the same old four or five acts or bands to be the right ones for every client. Sometimes it takes guts to challenge a client who says there is no budget when you know that there is an act that fits the existing budget and can wow the guests. More than anything, you have to ask the right questions about the purpose of the event and the message that the client wants to get across to guests. Armed with that information, you should be able to recommend several live entertainment options within the allowable budget. If you cannot, then you need to do more research if you want to rise above the competition. Having said that. what follows are some specific ideas that may help you start on the road to giving your clients an amazing experience using live, interactive entertainment (all suggestions have active links).

  1. Kung Fu demo team - I have personally used this before with success. I dressed up a kung fu group to look like guests. They started an argument in the buffet line and then got into a fight. Everyone was  totally surprised until they revealed themselves and gave a real martial arts demo.
  2. Tai Chi demo and participation - great for group participation and health
  3. Bedlam Slinkies - human slinky toys 
  4. Energetic Engineering - lasso and knife throwing 
  5. Crazy giant balloon show - performer inside a giant balloon
  6. The Belles - spandex-covered roving entertainers
  7. Wild costumed characters - these costumes are amazing
  8. Walkabout wearable projection - have fun with projections on guests
  9. The Living Garden - a beautiful garden comes alive
  10. Pickpockets - watch out!
  11. Beauty Boutique - an extreme glitter experience
  12. Firewall - combines sight, sound, and touch in a magical experience
These are only a tiny fraction of the unbelievably creative offerings out there if you search. In my experience, most performers, especially ones who do walkabout, roving, or table/reception entertainment, are usually more than happy to customize their performances to incorporate something unique about the event or the sponsoring organization. That, of course, makes it much more relevant.

More to come in another post about how to create stage shows with a truly experiential component.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Sponsor a Refugee Family NOW

This post is a departure from my regular ramblings about special events. This one is about the refugee crisis in the Middle East, an urgent, worldwide problem.

After headlines broke a couple of months ago finally recognizing the problem, people everywhere started clamouring to help with sponsoring refugees. Unfortunately, few knew where to go or what to do. The fact is, the majority of refugees, at least those coming to Canada, must be sponsored by community organizations or groups of five or more permanent residents. Applications to sponsor are also accepted from so-called Sponsorship Agreement Holders, usually churches or charitable groups. At present, there is no central web site or location where people can go to donate to any of these individual sponsoring groups.

The process to support a refugee or refugee family is not a simple one. It requires the sponsoring organization to provide funding and real assistance for the family for a period of one year. This includes: finding rental accommodation; finding work; providing food, clothing, and furniture; assisting with a major cultural transition; helping to learn English; and registering for schools. It requires commitment. The typical cost is in the order of $25,000 or more per year that each sponsor must raise to do this. For this reason, the organizations that do sponsor must be very committed to seeing the project through to its completion. 

It is with this in mind that I am writing to appeal to my blog readers to help with the real sponsorship of two refugee families that my parish is undertaking. One such family is from Iraq and includes a husband and wife, and three small children, ages 8, 6, and 2. We are expecting them to arrive in Canada before the end of 2015. We have also made application for a similar Syrian family and expect them to arrive around the middle of 2016. 

Our fundraising goal is $50,000 for both families and to date we have raised just over $30,000. If you would like to help us reach our goal, you can read more about the project at There you will find a link to donate directly online. For donors from Canada, we are a registered charitable organization, so you will receive a tax receipt at the end of the year.

Our new Prime Minster, Justin Trudeau, has promised to immediately increase Canada's quota of refugees to 25,000 from 10,000. This greater number will still need to be settled here in a similar fashion and the task will be no less onerous for sponsoring organizations. Indeed, even more organizations will have to step forward. Now is the time to really become involved.