Meeting planner Kim Corcoran was full of clever ideas for shaking things up at a two-day event she planned and facilitated in Bay Harbor.
In a post-pandemic world, planners need to imbue events with new energy and creativity. We wanted to put on an event for senior meeting professionals that challenged them to think differently
about every aspect of the meetings they produce. Our Think Outside the Box event was held at the Inn at Bay Harbor on March 9-10, 2022.
We sought to highlight using all five senses throughout the event. In each guest room there was an amenity box along with a handwritten note. Inside the box was a collection of items designed to stimulate the senses, including “thinking putty” to touch, fresh lavender to smell, and lemon lavender cookies and a lavender drink to taste.
Instead of using name badges for the opening reception, we had everyone create their own button. With a variety of markers, crayons, and other craft items, attendees were encouraged to write their name and organization, then draw a small symbol, picture, or saying on their button that meant something to them. This was an effortless way to spur conversation.
Surprises Along the Way
To keep attendees on their toes, we did not give the exact locations of our evening events. We told them to wear comfortable walking shoes, and we would have dinner and tie in some educational topics along the way. For our first surprise, we walked a few blocks from the Inn at Bay Harbor to Mammoth Distillery. There were unique craft cocktails to taste as we walked in the door. Later, attendees were given creative freedom to make their own cocktails.
A restaurant in Bay Harbor that was rebranding invited us to do a menu tasting. Attendees were given scorecards, and they were asked to rate everything from design and décor boards to appetizers, main courses, and desserts. The restaurant, now known as NOMAD, will be using our scorecards to create their new menu.
It’s All in the Set
How do you reimagine breakfast? Sometimes it isn’t the food but the way you set things up. We had one long, family-style table for 40 attendees, and every two or three seats had a different place setting. Some were extravagant China patterns, some were Midwest-themed, some colorful, fun, and vibrant. This was probably the most photographed element of our program.
We wanted everyone to be comfortable, so we invited them ahead of the meeting to bring their favorite flannel or “up North” attire to wear. Prizes were awarded for the most creative outfits. For seating, we made comfortable seating groups, including poolside lounge furniture, Adirondack rocking chairs, a campfire circle (with a faux campfire), and inflatable comfy chairs. Everyone loved being able to choose a seating group that best fit their style.
On a Roll
Judy Booth, vice president of sales for BOYNE Resorts, started our learning session showcasing different types of music and how they can affect how we feel and learn. Next, Oncore AV did a remote presentation on immersive audio visual. We also wanted to showcase how a presenter could present in a unique way. I was hidden behind a door, and when Judy and Oncore had completed their presentations, Judy said, “Speaking of creativity, where’s Kim?” The music started again, and here I come rollerblading in and around the room! I facilitated the rest of the creative brainstorming on rollerblades.
Floral Design Talk
Kalin Sheick with Sweetwater Floral in Petoskey walked us through how to design our floral centerpiece and how each element related to our life, career, and work. The experience gave everyone a chance to let their guard down and really connect with others at their table.
To close out our event, we had lunches brought out on three-tiered tea trays. By this time, everyone was buzzing with excitement and ready to take their new ideas back to their offices to create spectacular meetings.