Once upon a time in a small coastal Spanish city of Malaga, three meeting and event professionals began to chat at an opening reception. Each pro had a penchant for technology and social media and the conversation over tappas soon led to how at the next major event they could take away some of the mystery from technology and social media. And an idea was born.
The opening reception was at EMEC 2010 and the three pros were Theresa Davis (@MPITheresa), Samuel Smith (@samueljsmith) and Miguel Neves (@miguelseven). The exciting thing is, that the initial idea of offering tutorials on how to use an even mobile app at a "genius bar" has now evolved.
When I arrived back at MPI HQ from EMEC 2010 we were diving right into our preparations for WEC10 in Vancouver. As any conference planner knows, it takes a while to develop a comprehensive idea that actually fits into meeting design. I as an enthusiastic PR chick wanted to jump right in last year with this idea. But, no, I was schooled in the ways of patience, concept development and event design.
So in collaboration with not only my team in communications and social media, but also creative services, publications, event management, content and (oh yeah don't forget) our leadership - MPI will launch "The Hive" at WEC 2011 in Orlando, FL. The Hive became our working name as a tounge-in-cheek idea answer to the question, "Where will the 'buzz' at WEC be?" Then, as things tend to do when you let them organically develop, we realized that The Hive really works. And if it works, don't try and fix it.
Now I will say, that we did come up with some outlandish ideas in brainstorming. The two-story lounge with diving board and trained bees didn't make it into the final design, but in all honesty we had a hard time justifying the ROI on the diving board and PETA probably would have had issues with trained bees serving cocktails (even if they were tiny, tiny cocktails). What has made the final cut is a unique blend of areas where the tech-savvy and the tech-curious can meet, learn and share.
We've evolved far beyond a standard bank of desktop PCs at the cyber-cafe and wrapped that feature around an area encompassing a tech concierge station, a demonstration/education stage, a rear projection screen that can run the #WEC11 twitter fountain or other presentations, and then there's One+ unplugged. In the One+ unplugged area WEC participants will get to see bloggers, writers, and designers in action during interviews or production on the WEC Dailies. The Hive will also house lounge areas with charging stations and provide areas to meet with speakers and facilitators.
So we're at a cool place now from concept through development and now seeing The Hive begin to come to life. I hear from Meg and her team in Marketplace that savvy sponsors are looking at how they can interact with WEC guests in The Hive and that just makes me want to do a happy dance too.
So while we're not at a wrap, and won't be for many months - I wanted to thank both Sam & Miguel for a stimulating conversation a year ago that has led to one of the coolest projects I've ever had a chance to be a part of, and to Team MPI for sticking with this wacky idea. When we meet, we change the world.