Synergizing TED and Vancouver: A Win-Win Connection

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Skift Take

TED, focused on ideas worth spreading, transformed the way content is delivered at conferences. Event Strategist Nicola Kastner traveled to Vancouver to experience TED in April and is ready to share what she learned. 

IMEX, CEMA — odds are you will find Nicola Kastner, founder of The Event Strategist, at many of these industry gatherings. So, what would make Kastner dig deep into her pockets to attend the TED Conference this April in Vancouver? 

“To learn from the best,” she said. 

TED has based its annual event in Vancouver since 2014. About 1,700 TED delegates take over the Vancouver Convention Center with satellite events around the city. Speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, and Elon Musk.

TED’s stage is created in the heart of the Vancouver Convention Centre. Outside the theater, the focus is on beautiful spaces for connections, conversations, and diving deeper into ideas.

TED did not disappoint, she said. “As a matter of fact, I am still suffering from TED-ache, a withdrawal of sorts,” she said. This year’s TED Talks theme was “possibility”, a fitting theme encompassing AI’s impact.

Personalization From the Start

TED impressed from the moment Kastner entered the convention center to pick up her badge. She was immediately greeted by someone holding an iPad who handled the check-in. By the time Kastner walked up a few stairs, another person was waiting to greet her and present her with her name badge and swag. “All made possible by the profile image I uploaded. A definite surprise and delight moment versus waiting in line like you typically would at a conference,” said Kastner. 

There is no other conference that builds community before, during, and after the gathering like TED does. Plus, the content was mind-boggling, said Kastner. “The speakers were able to build such connection with the audience that was truly aspirational,” she said. 

“The curated community builds this instantaneous trust with each other to be a little bit more open, a little bit more vulnerable. Even if you’re an introvert, you find yourself participating in conversations and being open to conversations in ways you never thought you would be,” said Monique Ruff-Bell, head of events for TED.

A Connective Experience

Ruff-Bell equated the TED Conference journey to more of a retreat than a standard conference. It’s not a transactional experience but a connective experience. For example, controlling the delegate experience is not a goal of TED. “There is no herding into a general session or luncheon,” said Ruff-Bell. “We allow people to experience the event in the way that works best for them.” 

Claire Smith, vice president of sales and marketing for the Vancouver Convention Centre, said the venue and TED are true partners. For her, this partnership that started almost ten years ago is really about an alignment of values. Smith is clear that the venue and the city have benefited greatly from this ongoing relationship.

To learn more about how TED continues to be a conference to aspire to and how Vancouver supports its mission, be sure to register for Skift Meetings Destination Experience Summit on August 16 at 11 a.m. Kastner, Ruff-Bell, and Smith will be in conversation about this iconic event and how it has become a powerful representation of Vancouver.

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