It’s a Bird! It’s a…Drone?


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Drones “flew” off the shelves during the 2014 holidays as more and more technology enthusiasts opened their wallets to purchase some of the most talked-about models.

It won’t be long until we start to see more and more of these flying drones with integrated video camera technology in the B2B events space to capture a different point of view of the audience experience. Using a birds-eye view, drones deliver a valuable perspective for marketers to see where their attendees are and what they are doing. It’s certainly a different kind of data gathering, but undoubtedly a priceless one because you can capture attendee emotions and reactions to your tradeshow floor or general session, as well as note which areas or booths have the most traffic.

Not a fan of insect-looking creatures flying around your venue? What if it looked and flew just like an actual bird? The SmartBird (an autonomous ornithopter utilizing bionic technology, if you want to impress your friends) was first introduced in 2011 and caused quite a stir in its beauty and agility. How incredible will your walk-in be with these beautiful herring gull-inspired birds flying around your ballroom ceilings?

Flying drones are not only attractive to watch but can get your attendees involved with some added fun. At CES 2015, Nixie was introduced as a wearable bracelet drone that flew away from your wrist to snap a picture of you from a further and higher distance. Essentially, it’s a huge upgrade from your selfie stick. Instead of capturing your face and maybe a little bit of background, Nixie provides a wider view of you and the surrounding environment.

These drones are approaching fast. I, for one, am excited to see where they land.


Five Little Things

Here are five things we did a little differently in 2012 to help our clients deliver engaging events with efficient and measurable results:

1. Created an event app that allowed members of corporate leadership to instantly and publicly display their commitment to a corporate-wide initiative. This inspired increased participation in the initiative by the general company population and achieved the client objectives ahead of schedule.

2. “Crowd-sourced” event content by soliciting ideas and topics from the audience prior to the event. We even let them pick the music. Knowing they had a hand in the agenda increased audience members’ participation and engagement.

3. Shortened the General Session and instead created topic-specific “engagement zones.” This audience segmentation gave the presenters focused attendees who were highly interested in their topics.

4. Produced an opening video featuring members of the audience. Seeing the faces of their friends and colleagues up on the screen created an enthusiastic buzz and spontaneous peer recognition.

5. Staged a private hospitality event infused with “stealth” messaging in the body of a custom live musical theater production. The audience was not just entertained they were also informed and inspired.

Each of these ideas came from our clients’ desires to engage and immerse event participants. Some of the ideas are high tech, some are decidedly low tech. By working collaboratively with event stakeholders, we found just the right combination of ingredients to make each event more relevant, targeted, engaging and impactful.

Andy Flanagan, Account Manager, InVision Communications, Chicago

Going ‘Old School’ for a Creative Solution

We recently wrapped up a very different corporate program.  It was a customer hospitality experience—a private event held in association with an industry convention taking place in Las Vegas. When the client said “I want a cocktail party on steroids,” we knew we had to give their dealers a VIP quality event—drinks, dinner and an entertaining show—in a tent the size of a football field.

There were numerous interesting aspects to developing this show—lots of creativity, lots of logistics and many, many challenges along the way. A particular challenge we haven’t encountered in a long time was the issue of how much weight the tent could support. Our lighting designer had big plans for this environment, but the design he handed over to the riggers was too heavy for the tent to support.

Big problem. We had promised to deliver a beautiful lighting experience and we needed a creative solution. The solution came from our head rigger, “Go old school. Take out the super truss and chain motors, hang the lights on old-fashioned pipes, and raise them up by hand using pulleys and ropes!”

Taking the truss and motors out of the equation reduced the weight by almost half, and with a bit of a revision by our lighting designer, we had a workable solution that answered all the requirements: a beautifully lit environment, a safe and secure lighting design, and—while it required more labor to install, it saved money on equipment—it came in on budget.

Incidentally the client loved it!

Andy Flanagan, Account Manager, InVision Communications

Discovered! IVC Chicago Favorite Foods, Part 1

Hello! It’s Andy from Chicago. One of the unique features of Chicago is that once you get out of downtown, the city is made up of dozens of neighborhoods. The neighborhoods are where the people live, shop, dine and stroll. On a human level. Street level.

The IVC Chicago office is in just such a neighborhood—Northcenter. Far from downtown, our neighborhood is comprised of a few main thoroughfares along side streets lined with single family homes of all shapes and sizes. Along the main streets are a dizzying array of restaurants, coffee shops, taverns, diners, sushi, Thai, Vietnamese, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Cuban, Colombian, Irish, German, pizza and encased meats (hot dogs-no ketchup).

So as a public service, the colleagues at IVC Chicago have taken it upon ourselves to do a careful analysis of the variety, quality, value and overall customer experience. Consider this a first salvo in the continuing search for the best lunches available in the North Center / Lincoln Square neighborhood of IVC Chicago.

Nhu Lahn Bakery
A tiny, almost invisible, little Vietnamese bakery close by was listed by the Chicago Tribune as having one of “the top 25 sandwiches in Chicago”: Lemongrass marinated tofu Banh Mi. The bread is a huge factor, fresh baked Vietnamese baguettes stuffed with this marinated tofu that could get past a pork lover if you didn’t tip him off. Crisp cucumbers, jalapenos carrot and cilantro combine and surprise. Rod Mickels, IVC CEO said, “This is a great sandwich.” Check it out on Yelp

Sultan’s Market
This is a favorite delivery option for the Chicago office. This is what we usually are eating during the monthly staff meetings: falafel and lamb shawarma sandwiches, hummus and pita. Spicy for me, medium for everyone else. We like to think it’s a healthy choice, because it’s vegetarian-but we pig out on it so it isn’t exactly like diet food. Check it out on Yelp

Hot Doug’s
Chicago’s finest ‘sausage superstore and encased meats emporium’: gourmet fois gras dogs, the Elvis polish: (smoked and savory, just like the king), the Brigitte Bardot (Andouille sausage and mighty hot!). Cognac and Bacon Pheasant Sausage with Chevre Cream, Wild Boar Pate and Truffle-Balsamic Drizzle. And be sure to get at least 1 order of the fresh cut fries cooked in duck fat. Serious indulgence. The line goes out the door and on a nice day, you might wait half an hour or more, but you make friends, and by the time you order and your food comes up, there’s a table ready. We have to jump in a car to go to Hot Doug’s but we still consider him part of our neighborhood. Check it out on Yelp

In the next food blog from IVC Chicago, we’ll do a tavern crawl for lunch: Bad Dog Tavern, The Bad Apple and the Globe Pub. Two of them have good food. Stay tuned to find out which…

Andy Flanagan, Account Director, InVision