At the Calgary Stampede, we are in the business of creating exceptional experiences – we believe they can make people’s lives better and our community stronger (lofty, but true). And it’s more than our July festival – our Sales & Event Management team produces more than 700 events every year.

I was honoured to join the Global Event Summit. In just a few days, I had dinner on the Queen’s Yacht, whisky and champagne, saw crown jewels, walked alongside bagpipers and had the chance to meet with the leaders in event industry. I’m excited to share what was the experience of a lifetime – and some insight on the thinking that goes on behind creating memorable events and experiences for people.

Our group at the Gleneagles Resort

We started off attending the IMEX Frankfurt tradeshow for two days. IMEX is the tradeshow and global industry event run by meetings professionals for meetings professionals. In attendance were  industry leaders from companies such as the Superbowl, Cvent, Viacom and Giants Enterprises, to name a few.

We then headed to Edinburgh, Scotland. At the Gleneagles Resort and Golf Club, we talk about human behaviour and the future of technology in events. Technology, obviously, is everywhere. We asked ourselves:

Does technology weaken the human experience at events–or does it engage them? If we are watching a concert through our cell phone camera, do we experience it differently—and is that good or bad?

Our night cap? A private whiskey tasting in the Blue Bar.

The next day we talked about the sharing economy and safety at events, which is a major topic right now in the industry.

Cyber terrorism, insurance, lack of staff training, poor planning and global warming are all safety issues facing the event industry. Solutions? We agreed that education is number 1. Collaboration with key stakeholders, such the municipal government and local law enforcement.

Our tour of the Edinburgh Castle included a bagpiper-led walk around the grounds, a peek at the crown jewels, dinner overlooking the city and a tongue-in-cheek Scottish musical.

Edinburg Castle

The next day, at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre—which features computer-controlled rooms that spin, turn and raise—we talked about the value and legacy of the event industry.

People can perceive events as frivolous. However, events and experiences have a lasting impact on people and communities. People still talk and use the facilities created for the 1988 Olympics in Calgary nearly 30 years later. That event changed our city. The Calgary Stampede is part of our city’s identity.

On our last evening in Edinburgh, we had the royal treatment: Literally. The men were fashioned with kilts, the women with tartan sashes and broaches. We were transported to the Royal Yacht Britannia – the Queen’s yacht for dinner.

Royal Yacht Britannia

Greeted with champagne, we were all given a tour of the yacht and saw where the royal family used to vacation. We then had dinner in the dinning room where Queen Elizabeth used to host dignitaries from around the world. Seated at a table with Dr. Joe Goldblatt (who founded the International Special Events Society) and the head of Travel Scotland, I felt like I was in a dream as I experienced white glove military service, a six course meal which included my first taste of haggis (Yes, I tried it). Dinner ended with a digestif and an amazing performance featuring a marching band, bag pipers and highland dancers. It was truly a magical experience that our entire group will never forget.

This experience has left a huge impression on me and I am forever grateful (and bashful) to have been included on this trip with the caliber of event professionals that I met. A couple of final takeaways I can share:

  • Collaboration is essential for growth and improvement. When our industry comes together, we can accomplish great things.
  • Including people from different sectors of the industry and different lengths of time in the industry can bring different perspective—allowing us to learn more.

What events shaped or changed your life?

If you are event professional, what issues do you find yourself facing and what solutions have you found?