Our company took over the second floor of the Intercontinental Hotel Group’s headquarters and leveraged innovative design, creative branding, experiential elements, a high-tech custom- designed app, and created a company-wide game-show (The True Hospitality Tussle) to produce an exciting, immersive experience. The goal was to make IHG’s annual health expo, and 2019 benefits roll-out a “must-see & attend,” event that was a definite “perk” of employment at IHG. With several corporate-wide initiatives resulting in key areas of restructuring, we crafted an underlying theme of “Resiliency” as part of the event focus.
Historically, the annual benefits roll-out was a standard trade show with 6′ tables for employees to take a few minutes to learn about their benefit options. This year IHG implemented a highly innovative approach adding elements to engage, educate and inspire their attendees. This day was designed for employees to learn about the traditional benefits, but also to create an “experience” highlighting non-traditional benefits, as well as opportunities to team-build, have fun, and enjoy several other wellness services. Thus, the wellness “experience” was born. The event was an “Un-Expo” – all of the traditional information available in a new, expanded and exciting format undergirded by the support and immediacy of the custom event app.
The un-expo concept began with the large “hub” room design. First, we abandoned the traditional health fair atmosphere. We transformed a formal, conference room into a fresh, inviting, and comfortable space with lots of visual interest. White sofas and stools, custom signage and IHG’s signature colors added a modern flair. From there, the room was divided into distinct sections: a customized Main Stage, Interactive Kitchen, an Essential Oil Bar, Money Machine and Mirror Photo booth area, as well as the Provider Exhibit Space. White leather couches with IHG branded pillows, invited attendees to relax. The stage itself featured a sleek, modern design, fully branded platform and boasted two branded team podiums for the game show. The stage was flanked by two large presentation screens. A comprehensive AV sound package completed the dynamic event.
An interactive kitchen manned by one of Atlanta’s top health food chefs, provided food samples throughout the day. A colorful fruit table offered healthy snacks and a live fruit juggler interacted with attendees. The far side of the room featured the Benefits Provider Exhibit Space and the flow between the different elements of the event encouraged frequent interactions with the exhibitors. In fact, one exhibitor called his manager to tell her that if the event was offered next year they MUST attend! Outside the main hub, two additional conference rooms were dedicated to biometric screenings and flu shots. Ever-popular chair massages and yoga sessions were in the conference pre-function space. A spa water and healthy snack bar accentuated the hallway.. Healthy boxed lunches were placed near the elevators making the “grab and go” approach convenient. Placing these elements outside the hub provided for more attendee privacy and allowed us to maximize space in the main hub.
Crucial to bringing the experience to life was the strategic planning, pre-event marketing (print and digital) and deliberate choice of the keynote speaker, demonstrations, exhibitors and all additional activities scheduled throughout the day which truly made the event an experience rather than an expo. Creative balloon displays and signage in the IHG lobby proclaimed that it was event day. Keynote speaker Hala Moddelmog, the former CEO of Arby’s & Church’s Chicken, cancer survivor, and the first woman president and CEO of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, shared an empowering, personal talk on cultivating resiliency. We held two sessions of the True Hospitality Tussle game which featured teams from different departments and custom-written health questions. The contests were professionally produced and featured all of the elements of the “Family Feud” game show. Attendees also had the chance to enter the “IHG Cyclone” to try and grab as much “cash” as they could which gave them the opportunity to win prizes. A professional stage emcee kept the excitement and buzz going.
To fully round out the interactive experience, we created a customized, powerful event app complete with registration, schedules, reminders, appointment booking, push notifications and a pre-event contest and live polling. Another key feature of the app was the ability for employees to pre-schedule times for flu shots and biometric screenings. Wellness providers could upload contact information, and company profiles.. The app enabled social media feeds and push notifications, including one of the favorites of the day: mini “pop out” sessions in a customized conference room complete with sleek, communal tables where attendees could meet with the IHG Benefits’ Team and enjoy complimentary King of Pops samples! A gourmet coffee cart was strategically stationed outside the main hub and provided coffee drinks complete with an incredible event logo in the froth! The afternoon also featured a fashion show that highlighted outfits that fit IHG’s corporate initiative of “Dress for your Day,” easy ways to go from work to work-out.
Of course no wellness experience is complete without swag. Exhibitors were encouraged to bring giveaways and we designed a custom swag bag for the experience. Customized logo water bottles were a hit as were customized bags of “make your own” healthy snacks. Each attendee also had the opportunity to create their own “Essence of Resiliency.” Our Mirror Photo Booth helped to reinforce “reflecting” on health. The photos were branded with the event logo and could be directly uploaded to social media. A “living” mirror man was a hit for photo ops and to reinforce the “reflections” on resiliency & health.
All of the elements came together to create a truly dynamic, interactive experience for IHG employees. IHG has 1100 employees in Atlanta, and past expos traditionally brought out around 300 attendees. Last year we introduced the “experience” concept and grew attendance by more than 50%. This year we set a goal of increasing attendance yet again and were thrilled to see approximately 800 registered attendees come through the doors the day of the event!