In a first new column for micenet AUSTRALIA magazine, Belle Laide Events’ Mark Taylor explains why creativity is a must at events.

The subject of “creativity in events” is a great topic, tough to measure, sometimes hard to find and often difficult to define. For something that’s not a tangible object, it certainly is immensely powerful considering that in this industry we are often judged by it, feel limited by it, and quite honestly become lost without it.
This is personally my favourite definition – “Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing. Innovation is the production or implementation of an idea. If you have ideas, but don’t act on them, you are imaginative but not creative.” — Linda Naiman, Founder of Creativity at Work

Where does creativity come from?

This is quite easy to say in this day and age; it literally comes from everywhere. It’s obviously online, but at every turn we walk amongst it. We see it on the streets and in every shop front. The presentation of food, a menu item or customer service element in restaurants is a chance for you to grasp something for your next event; it’s on offer in galleries and even conversations will spark a creative idea. It’s up to you to acknowledge it and capture it. We can often simply re-work, re-vamp, re-define ideas or visual concepts to become something unique, specific and tailored for our events.

Why is it important in events?

Straight up, anyone can throw an event together (good or bad). However, creativity is what will make you stand out from the crowd.
Those experiences you are offered in general day-to-day transactions with others in restaurants, bars, and in any form of entertainment are so incredibly niche and enjoyable. When you attend a large scale corporate event your guests are essentially accustomed to experiencing quality and are not looking for something just as good, but better! The importance of creativity in a world where budgets are often contracting is still vital.

Creativity is not just associated with design and décor. We need to be looking at ways that we can apply creativity to extending budgets i.e. partnering client events together to share costs and maximise experiences or conveying a message to create awareness about a product, service or company. We need to be more creative in our thinking and how we apply this to all aspects of event management. We need to apply creativity to the event as a whole.
Social media plays a huge part in consumer’s lives and we need to think of creative ways of engaging guests and audiences online to extend the life of the events that we work on. An event may only run for two hours, so the question is how do you then use social media to extend the life of the event and create “talkability” for two weeks, two months or two years?

How do we use it in event management?

Creativity flows through every event management professional – from complex problems through to design, event concepts, client pitches, ideas for content delivery, presentation formats, deciding who’s the best speaker for the role, and possible use of a selected venue space. You’re all doing it to some degree. Regardless of the scale of creativity – big or small, we always have room for more.
About 10 years ago I was at a presentation where event production legend David Grant offered up the best possible practical advice about creativity that sticks with me today. He spoke so fast I couldn’t write it down, but it went along these lines:
Each event is essentially a 360 degree experience for your guests. What will they hear, see, taste, touch and smell? At EVERY placement and part of the event it is important to address them from a creative stand point. From the invitation to the ending – creative injections are imperative to get the most ROI from your event. You need to treat all areas of the event as opportunities and offer up experiences and creative touches in each– the chill out areas, the tables, the bar, every area is important for memorable experiences.
If you want people to remember your brand, your event, a creative approach and creative delivery is key.

How do we improve or embrace it?

You need a little courage and “gusto” to tackle your creativity. What I’ve learnt is not to confine creativity to anything in particular in the event. For our company we often step back and break down each event into sections – the overall message, look and feel, invitation delivery, the experience on guest arrival, the welcome from service staff, through to the service, food, presentation, AV content, décor, entertainment and so on. We focus on each specific area and simply see how we could vastly improve it, make it more memorable. Essentially this takes creativity. We think, “what could we do differently to create a little ‘tall poppy’ syndrome for our client’s events?” We throw as many layers of this creativity to the experience to ensure we make a memorable walk away for each guests.

No creativity, no innovation… no point.

It’s important to dig deeper on a request or a discussion, push boundaries, open up possibilities, entice conversation, add some colour to something that is otherwise a little static. That’s what dipping your toes in the creative pool is about. If you’re working as part of a team, once you press yourselves into a creative space and start just throwing ideas down, you’ll see how infectious and quickly it comes about, even within yourself. If you have an idea, and you bring it to life, it will give you growth. That is the benefit of creativity, and it is important.
But I’m not creative you say? Rubbish, you’re surrounded by catalysts to sparking creativity inside you if you make the time and the effort. Blogs, magazines, art, interiors, your peers, pound the pavement, muster the troops and you’ll be surprised as to what you will uncover.

TOP: A recent event installation with Tourism Australia for the Australian Tourism Exchange 2013 farewell event. Large scale ‘destination zones’ were created however the client wanted more than just the obvious large free-standing static signs. Belle-Laide Events’ fairly cost-effective projection mapping solution allowed these installs to literally come to life and become moving artworks. Creative investment – A three minute creative team brainstorm.