In 2009, Kansas City hosted Experient's annual meeting. Below is a case study on how the KCCVA, local host venues and Experient staff delivered what at the time was described as "the best annual meeting" Experient ever held.
There’s probably not a more discerning group of meeting attendees than the employees of a full-service event-management company. So whenExperient decided to hold its annual meeting in Kansas City, the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association (KCCVA) and the host venues faced a seriously tough test.
But according to Karen Watson, Experient’s director of strategic events, the Association and the city’s hospitality industry provided an experience that “many attendees said was the BEST ANNUAL MEETING they’ve ever attended.”
The annual conference, known as “Envision,”hosted 205 of Experient’s sales and service professionals over four days, as well as 350 hotel, CVA and supplier partners for the final day and a half. The company chose Kansas City primarily because “as event professionals, we look at destinations that have a lot of new things going on so that we can see them and have fresh ideas to offer our own clients,” says Watson. “There’ s so much that’s come on line in Kansas City lately, like the Power & Light District, that we wanted to see firsthand all the options groups can use to hold memorable events.”
This year, Experient’s executive team wanted the meeting to focus on the firm’s products and services, so it chose a back-to-school theme and dubbed the conference “Envision High, Class of 2009.” While Watson knew that the KCCVA would assist her in making the meeting run smoothly, she certainly didn’t expect that the Association “would go so far above and beyond in reinforcing our theme among attendees.”
For instance, the KCCVA sent staffers—dressed in cheerleader outfits—to the airport to greet attendees as they came off their flights. What’s more, Association staff donned school uniforms and letterman’s sweaters and acted as concierges during the meeting itself, guiding attendees and answering questions as they moved from one session to another in the Crown Center Exhibit Hall, Westin Crown Center, and Hyatt Regency Crown Center—all of which are connected by enclosed walkways.
The opening reception at the Kansas City Convention Center’s new Grand Ballroom featured a homecoming-dance theme. The KCCVA provided homecoming floats, football goalposts, and artificial turf to complete the décor. Homecoming was followed the next day by a teambuilding event at the College Basketball Experience, located downtown, which Watson says was “outstanding, just so much fun.” Experient then hosted an awards dinner at the Marriott that also featured a talent show among the firm’s staff—and even included a few of the KCCVA’s staff, who sang while in full costume.
And to cap off the week, Experient held “prom night” at the refurbished Midland Theatre, a theater which Watson says “didn’t need any customizing because it is so ornate and beautiful.” By this point in the meeting, attendees had become so absorbed in the theme that most rented retro-style tuxedos, dresses, shoes and wigs to make the most of their “prom” experience.
On the final day, as attendees moved through the Hyatt to the motorcoaches taking them to the airport, KCCVA staffers formed a line to cheer them as they departed, waving poms-poms (see pictures below) and company signs all the way. Attendees also received eco-friendly backpacks from the Association as a gift.
“I was so impressed with the way the Association tied into our theme and bonded with us—it all worked so well,” Watson says.“Kansas City provided one of the best CVB experiences I’ve ever had.”