When faced with planning a meeting or event, get out – look for creative ideas and solutions everywhere. I actually found Jim Carrey in a Toronto comedy club and hired him for a corporate event for a few thousand dollars. I often wonder if the participants remember who entertained them after dinner!
Do not necessarily take no for an answer. My client was a sponsor at a convention and she needed a great evening hospitality event for two nights. It was very competitive and she really had to top all the other sponsors. Unfortunately, all the great meeting space in the hotel was taken and she only had two adjoining hospitality suites. The space was long and rectangular with a low ceiling – definitely not ideal for a fabulous program!
She came to me to provide some creative solutions to make this event shine.
- The theme had to be mostly for men, interactive and Canadian.
- At the time, popular themes were Canada Coast to Coast, Streets of Toronto, the changing seasons of Canada – none of these were the right answer.
I struggled for days to come up with the perfect program and, once again, turned to word association.
- Well, Toronto is a sports town. What about renting the Stanley Cup?! As luck had it, the original Hockey Hall of Fame at Exhibition Place was closed and the new Hockey Hall of Fame was not open so the cup was in storage. I called and naturally they thought I had lost my mind! Bottom line, I kept at it and finally got an okay. They agreed to let me rent the cup for one night and I responded with thanks but I need it for two nights. The actual cost was minimal because it is priceless. All I had to pay for was the security person to deliver the cup.
- The room was decorated with ‘snow’ on trees and other winter décor, plus hockey table games.
- Being from Toronto and a huge hockey fan, I had to hire Johnny Bowers and Ron Ellis, who stood on either side of the cup.
- A photographer took individual photos of guests by the cup (just on a stand) and the two hockey players. The photos were printed on site and given to the guests as a keepsake.
- It was like a religious experience for those who actually kissed and touched the Stanley Cup!
- The suite was the busiest of all the suites and my client’s boss was so thrilled my client got a promotion!
By the way, do not bother the Hockey Hall of Fame as this can no longer be done. Timing is everything – keep that in mind for your own events!