If you take the time to attend a corporate reunion event, it stands to reason you still have some loyalty, passion and love for your past company, brand and team. But how do you design reunion events which connect with these feelings among attendees and leverage them to drive positive longer term business relationships?
We recently planned a 4-day reunion for a class of Harvard Business School Executive Education graduates hosted in San Francisco. The audience included fifty HBS graduates who flew in to renew old ties to their classmates and learn new insights from a diverse panel of impressive speakers and industry experts including Eric Ly, (Founder of Presdo and Co-Founder, LinkedIn), Andrew Sherman (Partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP), Michael Chertoff (Founder & Executive Chairman, The Chertoff Group and former Secretary of Homeland Security), Woodie Neiss (founder of the CCA Group), Maria Sipka (Founder of LINQIA), Dan Lionello (Founder of Painted Picture), Jeremiah Owyang (Founder of Crowd Companies), Joanna Bloor (Founder – The Amplify Lab “What Do You Want To Be Known For?”), and Randall Reeves from FIGURE 8 VOYAGE.
We knew that we needed an artfully crafted flow of engaging stimulation to keep this high-profile and high-powered audience tuned in. So how did we do it? 3 tips…
Tip #1: Get Current, Real Fast
DEMO of AUGMENTED REALITY FROM HELIOS INTERACTIVE
There are many advantages to being proximate to Silicon Valley! On the morning of Day Two, we brought in AI experts from Helios Interactive to give our group the latest insider news about augmented reality technologies and an opportunity to test out some of the devices themselves. They loved this! Conversation flowed. Ideas flowed. The group reconnected over a fun and entertaining but also educational activity.
Tip #2: Leverage Local Assets with A Creative Twist
A PROGRESSIVE DINNER: The Rising Culinary Stars of the Mission District
We hosted and toasted our group across a series of “up and coming” hot spots in San Francisco’s Mission District designed by Avital Tours, including Tacolicious, Mozzeria and SixthCourse Artisan Confections. By designing dinner to be an active and evolving event, in and of itself, we kept our guests guessing about where we were going next (and also subtly encouraged a new set of dinner companions to connect with each other at each stage as we switched restaurants). Our attendees left feeling they had both experienced the “inside track” of the SF restaurant scene and had a more active, unusual and creative, exploratory dinner experience.
Tip #3: Teach Them Something Totally New with A WOW Factor
OUTDOOR ACTIVITY: “AMERICA’S CUP” Racing Challenge on the Bay
Getting outdoors is key when you are planning a three or four-day executive VIP event. But just playing games is not going to motivate a group of very talented executives. You need to give them something they can learn and something that is memorable enough that they’ll be talking about it for a long time. It needs to be somewhat unique and special because after all, they are VIPs.
We found the perfect solution for HBS, ACSailingSF’s USA 76, an America’s Cup yacht now owned and chartered by Brad Webb, six-time America’s Cup sailor. USA 76 was used by the Oracle BMW Racing team in their preparations to challenge for the 2003 America’s Cup held in Auckland, New Zealand and is now berthed at Pier 39. Our group jumped on board and within minutes were learning to trim the main and jib, others trying their hand taking the helm. With two grinders working together at one winch, they had to work in teams and stay in sync. Teamwork at its best. The HBS group left feeling energized, enlightened and invigorated. The perfect activity to cap off four days of camaraderie and networking.
Are you planning a company reunion event for 2017? Let us know how we can assist!