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How To Choose Event Themes That Wow

Written by: Mark Cooper - Monday, July 01, 2019

With events often being held in unique locations, with state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge technology, how can you stand out from the crowd and offer something different?

Could theming your next event or conference prove key to its success? 

Themed Events - Why the Hype?

Effective event theming has many benefits and allows you to:

  • Attract and excite delegates

  • Create pre-event buzz 

  • Promote social sharing

  • Heighten engagement

We’ve consulted industry experts to bring you 6 key things to consider to ensure your event theme leaves a positive and lasting impression.

1. Design Concept

How do you ensure your event theme is stylish and engaging yet still has mass appeal? How will it best reflect your company and brand values? Just some of the questions to consider when planning your next theme.


design for meeting themes
Image courtesy of Unsplash.

A themed event can be costly, so carefully determine your meeting objectives and ensure your theme doesn’t distract from your goals.

To work to best effect, it’s key your theme is reflected throughout the agenda (including during seminars, breakout sessions and refreshment breaks). During the early planning stage, consider:

  • Using the expertise of skilled meeting ‘experience’ designers or venues with in-house planning and production support. 
  • Producing a creatively designed microsite or event app to help set the tone and generate excitement ahead of your event.
  • Enlisting speakers that reflect your theme.
  • Using cutting-edge technology, such as virtual or augmented reality to further leverage the theme.

“The Seasoned Planner identifies with words like theme, design, messaging and flow — all in the spirit of achieving corporate objectives and goals.”

- Dianne Devitt, Event Strategist and author of “What Color is your Event?”

2. Design Inspiration

Your choice of event theme will depend on many variables — including your strategy, budget, location and target audience. 

Here’s a few ideas to consider:

• Be in tune with the seasons

Use the seasons to your advantage. Why not champion the festive cheer of winter or the energy of spring? For a unique approach, bid winter farewell by injecting a summer vibe into your event.

• Create a sense of adventure

Do away with the norm and add a sense of sporting adventure to your theme. Outdoor activities, such as scavenger or treasure hunts encourage teamwork and aid engagement.

• Stimulate nostalgia

Use the power of nostalgia to enrich your event. Are there parallels between your brand values and times of historical importance? 

 
Chateauform

Châteauform’ linked the past and present with a roaring 20' Gatsby gala dinner at La Villa (above). Chosen for its elegant dining room with marble effect walls and golden decor, the theme was enhanced by complementary finishing touches.

• Be unconventional

For 150 years, FÆNGSLET was one of Denmark’s toughest prisons and has a highly chequered history. Now a unique museum and conference venue, the historic building recently hosted a unique conference for 800 business leaders termed "VirksomhedsLedere Day.”

Featuring “a new start” theme — the event referenced the synergy between prison terminology and a completely new guest experience.


Image courtesy of FÆNGSLET.

Three networking sessions involved guests taking a different route through the buildings (including via the cells, church and workshops) to engage in small groups with new people. Known as “cells-sharing," the intimate sessions involved keynote speakers and proved highly memorable. 

• Add a touch of magic

Inject a sense of magic into proceedings with an elegant wintry event theme designed to banish the winter blues and draw upon festive cheer. 

Châteauform’ Mello venue hosted an event involving a sumptuous gala dinner. Its theme was intended to evoke a magical Narnia feel and the ambience was created using very simple décor (featuring trees and moss). Candles and tinted light boxes helped set the tone.


Mello venue

Image courtesy of Châteauform.

3. Location

“We believe that if you can recall where your conference took place, you can remember the agenda!”

- Yvonne Hoé, FÆNGSLET.

Regardless of whether your event is simple or extravagant, held in the city or the countryside, your theme and venue location must align. Even the simplest of meeting spaces can be completely transformed through a creative and well-designed theme.

Carefully consider how the decor will help bring your theme to life and how lighting can be used to enhance the desired ambience. Check the extent to which you can decorate the meeting space (as listed buildings often impose limitations here). 

Châteauform’ hosted a drinks reception with a Spanish Plaza designed theme at La Mola. Guests then enjoyed an al-fresco gala dinner. Soft lighting on low-hanging branches helped create the atmosphere.

chateau form meeting themes Iccc
Image courtesy of Châteauform’.
 

Image courtesy of Châteauform’.

Inspirational themes benefit from stimulating environments as offered by Cheyenne Mountain Colorado Springs.

4. Accommodation



Image courtesy of Unsplash.

The quality and comfort of guest accommodation can be equally as important as the meeting venue. 

If your event involves an overnight stay, consider how your theme will align. Will you seek unusual or unique accommodation? For an easier approach, could a simple finishing touch be added to guests’ rooms?

At SleepIn FÆNGSLET guests can guests can experience “a night behind bars” in the venue’s 22 authentic prison cells. Each cell is unique with the original (working) cellular radios and prisoners’ graffiti on the walls. There’s a large guest kitchen and Gangmandens cell, which doubles as a meeting room and living room in the evening. 



FÆNGSLET.
Imagery courtesy of FÆNGSLET.

5. Activities

  • How will your theme enhance and complement team building and networking activities? Try engaging activities, such as murder mysteries and challenging team pursuits to increase guests’ interaction.

  • Evening entertainment. Can your creativity extend to the evening? Continue your theme long into the night with black tie dinners, dances and outdoor cinemas.


olympic medal
Image courtesy of Unsplash

“All challenges were themed around teamwork to help competitors improve their collective skills in a fun-packed and motivational environment.”  

 - Heni Fourie, Director of Sales & Marketing at Lane End.

6. Food & Beverage 

To help achieve the wow factor, refreshments should complement your event theme both in the menu choices and serving style.

Work with your venue to devise creative and appealing menus whilst ensuring guests’ special dietary requirements are catered for. 

A countryside chic themed event at Châteauform’ Guermantes saw a generous buffet served in a candlelit setting. Countryside themes are perfect for picnic serving styles - think freshly baked crusty bread, jam and cream scones and orchard apple juice. 


countryside inn
Image courtesy of Châteauform’.

A Valentine’s themed event at Châteauform' St Dominique featured tastefully designed chocolate and delicacies. 

  
valentines day themevalentine day theme
Image courtesy of Chateauform’ 

So, the question remains... to theme or not to theme? Themed events require careful planning and execution, so as to reflect your brand in the most meaningful manner. However, if implemented effectively, their ability to deliver unforgettable guest experiences often equates to meeting success. 

Find the perfect location for your next event with IACC’s Venue Finder.

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