Event Concept Design That Makes You Go Wow

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stimulate your event concept design process

Here is a roundup of cool concepts happening right now around the world to inspire your event concept design.

Innovative event concept design

What drives me to write posts with event concept examples is one simple image. A lone event professional thinking about how to surprise guests at the next event.

We’ve all been there.

Guaranteeing freshness consistently over time is a common hurdle we face in our event career.

Yes, we may nail a concept and understand what works well over time. Nonetheless it comes a time when we are forced to refresh our concept.

This is when inspiration is needed. Looking at what others are doing around the world may help to think differently and create something unique.

Why Is It Important?

One of my new year resolutions is to share advice only backed up by data or research.

In this case the matter of discussion is the design of a service.

Research has shown that innovative concepts lead to competitive advantage, increased market share and revenue streams.

Therefore it is proven that ignoring innovation is a risky strategy.

This post will by looking at scarcity, secrecy, off-peak planning, collaboration, collectiveness and technology as content. These are recurrent items in concept design, the following events nailed how to use them correctly.

Some Notes Before We Start

Inspiration can be dangerous. Be smart and recognize the temptation to imitate. While I like to think that event concepts spread like viruses (hence popular themes or trends), to imitate is a completely different story.

Discerning innovation from imitation is a skill that I am sure you, my dear reader, fully embrace.

Last note is to bear in mind we are not discussing the content of the event but its mechanics. Not the What, rather the How.

Enough said. Let’s have a look at some cool concepts happening around the world.

What’s on the Menu

– Amsterdam Hotel Night
– Make-a-thon
– Play Me, I’m Yours
– Dîner en Blanc
– Toyota Auris Launch

Innovative Concepts for Event Designers

Amsterdam Hotel Night


No secret I love the Dutch and they love this blog (to the extent they nominated me to be one of the most influential Event Professionals in the Netherlands, without being Dutch or in the Netherlands).

One of the reasons (other than the amazing apple pie) why I am a fan of these guys is because they always bring freshness to the industry.

We talked in the past about Repair Cafes, today I want to introduce you to Amsterdamse Hotelnacht or Amsterdam Hotel Night.

The basic idea is to involve locals into a city event for one night. This is quite a common concept around the world. We have a similar concept in Italy called the “Notte Bianca” (White Night) when for a night all major cultural venues are open to host special events.

What made me love this concept is the smart use of hotels. In fact you can book a Hotel in the city for one night. This is quite unusual for locals unless it is a weekend for couples.

The organizers collected 45 Hotels ranging from $60 to $160 dollars to host locals for one night. These are a super special rates. The Hilton also made a competition to win a night in room 902, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono spent their whole honeymoon together with international press.

This is an awesome way to mobilize the hotel market in low season and a fantastic way to make cities become event playgrounds. How can you involve local suppliers to create a unique experience?

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Photo by Ideo

The idea of events for a purpose remains one of my favorite. I am not fond of lazy environments where talking and eating are the only highlights.

I have been quite close for work reasons with the makers movement. These craftspeople of our times make things come to life.

Make-a-thons are becoming a quite popular concept in this subculture. Makers get together to build or design for social good purposes.

The guys behind ProjectSociety created an interesting application of this concept by asking makers to unite and create toys for the charity Toys for Tots. They successfully created 50 toys. Here are the coolest ones.

They also collected a list of tutorials to make your own. The make-a-thon is becoming a popular concept with brands such as IDEO, who are using it to foster innovation and do social good.

Besides the charity purpose bringing an even greater value to the event, there is a feeling that something else too is going on with such events.

Events for a purpose are not for all attendees. The average conference goer will be shocked by demands to actually do something. Therefore use with caution and only with very motivated attendees.

What can you add to your event to align everyone towards a purpose?

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Photo by Ideo Postcards


Play Me, I’m Yours

Play Me I am Yours

This incredible initiative has been touring around the world since 2008. Despite being more of an artwork than an event, the dynamics involved are quite interesting for event professionals.

The artist Luke Jerram installs pianos around a city for members of the community to play. The objective is to stimulate locals to take back ownership of their city.

How this works is what captivated me. The players and community decide how long the pianos stay in the city for.

Everybody is invited to perform. Videos, pictures and stories are shared for each city on a dedicated website.

As they mention on their page the only instructions are “Play me, I’m yours”.

The powerful call to action and collective purpose are concepts easily portable to your event experience. For large events happening all over the world there are substantial learnings to stimulate attendees to feel globally linked. In a social world, this is increasingly becoming a requirement.

What can you do to make your attendees feel members of a community?

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Photo by Alex Guibord


Dîner en Blanc


If you are a hardcore socialite you know this event. Started by François Pasquier over 20 years ago, the Dîner en Blanc (literally “Dinner in White”) is a gathering of thousands of like minded folks willing to have a picnic dressed in white.

Around 15,000 participated to each dinner in Paris. Venues included the Tour Eiffel and Louvre Pyramid.

Attendance is granted via a strict registration process that entails being referred by someone who attended and signing up to a waiting list. If you manage to get in, you commit to attend regardless of the weather conditions and rigorously dressed in white.

The venue is secret until few hours before the event. The atmosphere is quirky and chic. The event now happens in over 15 cities around the World.

Their FAQs are themselves a course in event concept design. A short excerpt:

Q.Why are men generally seated on one side and women on the other?
A. Le Dîner en Blanc is a highly photogenic event. Colour, style, but also the symmetry of men and women are important components of this aesthetics. This has also always been the tradition of Diner en Blanc Paris. Moreover, regardless of the site, there is always a guest perspective which is more pleasing to the eye than the other. This first perspective is always given to women. Same sex couples are not requested to follow this guideline.

Secrecy and scarcity are two big attractors for the otherwise bored attendees. The Dîner en Blanc took these tactics to a whole new level by managing to keep incredible experiences and accepting growing masses to their events. The rules are an amazing lesson for those willing to keep exclusivity in a social media infused era.

What can you do to foster anticipation and exclusivity, while not restricting your event to a small group of attendees?

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Photo by luc legay/a>


Toyota Auris Launch

The agency Glue Isobar (hat tip Digital Buzz Blog) created the concept for the launch of Toyota’s new hybrid car in Europe.

A selected audience was invited to attend an event in cool London Shoreditch. They were just presented with the car that all of a sudden, thanks to 3D projector mapping came to life.

Watch it yourself:

Sometimes technology can indeed become the protagonist of your event. Making sure that what we see is really innovative determines the success.

How can you use technology to convey the main message of your event?

In Conclusion

Coming up with an original yet popular concept is not an easy task. This post has given an overview of how smart event concept designer use scarcity, secrecy, off-peak planning, collaboration, collectiveness and technology to create compelling event experiences.

Better event concepts could mean selling more tickets and making your guest happy. In these times we can’t afford not to innovate.