If you live in Toronto, or even Canada, or have access to the Internet – you know that the Toronto Raptors took the city and the nation by storm. As a Raptors fan, it was a dream come true, but as an event planner – what happens if one of your events (one that has been scheduled and planned for months and even years in advance) is supposed to take place on a game day?
Throughout the NBA playoffs, thousands of people took to the streets of downtown (and let’s not forget the 20+ viewing areas that took place across the country) to watch and celebrate game wins, which was then followed by millions of fans flooding downtown to watch the first Raptors NBA Championship Parade in history. Not only were the streets rammed, subway stations were abruptly closed and the city was urging fans to stop coming downtown due to overcrowding. All the while, MPI’s signature education event, the World Education Congress (WEC) was taking place concurrently, blocks away at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. There were 2,000+ meeting professionals in attendance from around the globe and their keynote was scheduled at the same time as the celebrations scheduled to take place at Nathan Phillips Square. This left many delegates upset and conflicted about how to spend their time as they had paid to attend a keynote session while a historic event was going on down the street. Local events should embrace and leverage these moments to make delegates feel immersed in the city by offering a range of event-themed initiatives. Opportunities could have included jersey giveaways at the conference, hosting a themed event, or even TV screens live streaming the event. Other opportunities that WEC could have leveraged include adjusting the event schedule so that attendees could have attended the conference AND participate in the potential once-in-a-lifetime Raptors Parade. As this should have been on the planning committee’s radar, WEC organizers could have arranged for someone from the parade/NBA or MLSE to participate in the conference to leverage the exciting events taking place in the city and to embrace the relevance and timeliness of the NBA championship WIN.
There is a lot of excitement around world-class events and there are also opportunities to capitalize on, such as offering promotions and sales, creating a creative campaign, leveraging a trending hashtag or hosting a themed event. Here at Redstone, we took part in the festivities by hosting celebratory parties in the office following playoff wins and even allowed employees to have some fun outside of the office and attend the parade.
Don’t let the grandiose of a major event take away the spotlight from the events that you have going on. Instead, find a way to leverage the excitement and be a part of the action. Do you have any other ways to leverage a world-class event in your city? If so, leave us a comment below. Share them with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! On that note, #goraptorsgo!