- Everyone Loves a Walk and Repeat. Everyone loves the glamour of a red carpet. The event had a open red carpet with sponsors in the back that was available for anyone that wanted to shoot photos. However, the real eye-catcher was LA Times’ red carpet that came with a professional photographer, a huge spot light, and tons of costume wear. Guests were welcome to grab a hat, a crazy pair of glasses, or any costume items and have the photographer snap their fun photo against a full LA Times red carpet back drop. You can be sure LA Times got some great PR out of it and free material for their blog and social media platforms.
- Build the Team. Set them Free. I’ve never seen an event as perfectly covered by professional photographers as this. Normally it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to get this many professionals here in the span of two weeks and getting such spectacular shots. The Newport Beach Film Festival did it all for free by turning it over to volunteers. They had a handful of trusted lead photographers to designate the rest of the team. For the team, they gained valuable networking opps, free access to all events and the valuable chance to snap photos that are otherwise challenging to get. The festival created a well of life for photographers, so much so that few could resist. In some cases, photographers also got the chance to be on screen personalities, serving as hosts and interviewers for red carpet talent. In the end, everyone was happy and the budget was maintained.
- The Masses Love a Show. A party without adequate entertainment isn’t a party at all. Tapping into the full flavor of Central and South America, the Latino Showcase brought on professional groups to perform. Guests were entertained with mesmerizing Mexican folk dancers, flamboyant Carnivàle dancers, Mariachis, and more. Those of us who wanted to leave earlier were tempted to stay on when we spotted upcoming performers rounding up just around the corner. There’s a two fold lesson here. First, keep guests teased with what’s ahead, and secondly draw on a theme to really flesh out an event.
In the second example, the Latino Showcase was simply a nice little after party to wrap up Latin films featured at the film festival. Instead, the after party became a main event and also left honored guests more than impressed and feeling like their VIP. Conferences and conventions for one can take a cue here. They all have after parties that feel like an Ivy League reunion for the class of 52…1852. Turn your after party into another opportunity for sponsors to shine, for attendees to social share the event, for real networking to happen in a social setting, and for creating someone memorable people want to come back to if for no other reason that for it’s fun value.
Yet, for everything the Latino Showcase got right, there were a couple areas that could have used some more attention.
- Don’t forget to highlight key areas. The event could have used a bit more spotlighting in key spots, including those designated for smaller food and drink vendors. Sponsors like Absolute Vodka had their name in lights projects against a tall brick wall behind the open bar, but smaller vendors were left almost forgotten. In the midst of foot traffic, it was hard to spot who was giving away food and what they were giving away.
- Don’t man your station with zombies. Carrying on with the above, food vendors really need to turn their destinations into mini sources for entertainment. First, you want people to know you’re there, but second you want people to be excited about you and stick around for the convo. A drink or a bite gets consumed, but a conversation stays with you. That said, man your station with animated folks who can engage attendees in lively conversation…and maybe even make them laugh.
- Create more lounge spots. Women are wearing insanely high heels and their feet hurt. Mine included. It would have been great to have smaller pocket lounge areas. There were a few but they were uninviting, lacking accent lighting), and were disconnected from the main flow of traffic. The goal is to create back to back open seating that flows with the natural traffic and gets people mingling more.