ASAE’s XDP, or Xperience Design Project, welcomed 1,600+ meeting planners and industry professionals to the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center last week. Now in its third year, the two-day event is focused on creativity and exploration of new ideas for set-ups, learning formats, engagement opportunities and more. Experience is what a person feels once he/she has left the event, and XDP aims to help planners create more powerful experiences for their groups. For those who couldn’t make it, our team put together the top takeaways we thought would be most helpful.  

Disrupt or Die

Disruption is change you don’t have a choice in, or a change that you have no time to resist. Since most people dislike not having choices, disruption can be seen as a bad thing. It’s often said in reference to millennials who join organizations and want to infuse new ideas and ways of thinking, which can be resisted by their more tenured colleagues. But as keynote speaker Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing, shared: disruption doesn’t care what you think and doesn’t care how old you are; innovation happens through insubordination.

Stratten also cautioned that tech, while a hot topic in the events industry these days, is only part of disruption. You can disrupt with women and people of color on stage. Consider overflow rooms for keynotes or a quiet room that offers a place to recharge your phone and your brain. Take a page from XDP’s playbook and disrupt the entire notion of breakout space by having all sessions in one room and allowing the audience to tune in to speakers as they please via a radio earpiece.

If nothing else, before you start planning for your next event, ask yourself, “How will I do things worth talking about?”

Capitalize on Chaos

There will be a glitch at some point during your event. No matter how carefully you plan and how many times you follow-up and confirm things, something is going to happen. So, the chaos caused by something going on can either derail everything or take things to the next level. Keynote Alton White first touched on this topic by encouraging attendees to stay flexible and be open to things that can happen. Later, Strategy Zone speaker Corinne Hancock dug deeper and offered some tips for thriving in chaos because, as she said, right on the other side of chaos are your biggest accomplishments and the things you’re most proud of.

In order to capitalize on the chaos, the most important thing to do is first stay focused on the mission. It’s easy to focus on ourselves and get bogged down in the blame game in an effort not to look bad. However, focusing on the mission allows you to evaluate what you have and what you truly need to accomplish that mission. This is the problem to solve in that moment. The next thing to know is that you’ll never get agreement from your team in chaos, everyone will have a different idea about what should be done, so focus on getting alignment. Work toward getting your team to agree that in this moment, the best solution for your mission is X. With this mindset, the next time you find yourself in chaos you can use it to your advantage.

To help brainstorm ideas on how to surprise and delight attendees of your next meeting with new experiences, contact us today.