Hand holding an ice lolly against a yellow background

I grew up as an only child and as such developed a very active imagination. To compliment this, I loved to read and watch movies and became very good at telling stories. Now that I’m a Dad to two boys this is a really useful gift and my stories are often followed by, ‘Mom he’s making stuff up again!’

So, what does that have to do with events? Well, everything really! An event is ultimately a good story told through a series of actions and experiences that if done properly should ensure you remember it and feel like you have been part of something memorable. The question at the moment is, are we losing the art of storytelling? In my opinion yes. Not just with our children but as a society in general? We have defaulted to the instant gratification and the quick wins – we don’t take the time anymore to create truly unique narratives that immerse and elevate the potentially ‘everyday’ events we engage in. Think of your wedding, the birth of your child or your first job – you remember those right? Memorable moments with defined highs that will forever be remembered. However, for most people an event is just an event. They don’t really remember the conference they went to a few years ago in a faceless airport hotel and if they do, they remember the location and some of the people but not the detail. However, these events are significant in their lives and their careers, so why should the experience not be as memorable? And that’s our job and those of our amazing colleagues. The art of storytelling – an art we cannot let die.

As the world slowly steps outside of its respective bedrooms (again) and we slowly all start to become re-energised from our virtual worlds, the art of storytelling and its ability to create unique moments in our lives is even more important than ever and vital to the success of the events industry – both online for virtual events and in person.

Audiences have been craving experiences and storytelling and that’s not limited to amazing concerts, festivals, and sporting events but even more so to work, where we spend the majority of our lives. We, the creators, have the ability to elevate the often-ordinary experience into something refreshing and memorable, making it more than just a good event but a memorable event.

And as with any story it’s often the simple ones (with a twist) that people remember and react to. Having recently read, The Power of Moments by Chip & Dan Heath, a perfect example of this sprang to mind. A small hotel in Los Angeles, a motel possibly by some people’s standards, yet for a couple of years it was in the top 3 Ranked Trip Advisor Hotel in Los Angeles. How? Why? How is it possible that a small motel’esque hotel, with a tiny pool and not a lot going on from the outside, could possibly be ranked higher than the mighty 4 Seasons or The Ritz Carlton? Easy – they told a brilliant story to their guests and the guests loved it and remembered it and told everyone about it.

So how did they do it. Well, they enhanced the story (experience), by taking the often obvious and making it memorable – drawing you into the story – for example, free ice creams at the pool. ‘So, what?’ you say, lots of hotels give people free ice creams. Yes, they do, but its how they do it that makes the difference. Our little hotel decided to put in the “popsicle hotline” at the pool. A bright red phone with a simple sign: “Popsicle Hotline – Free Ice cream”. Now everyone at the pool was intrigued. What was this? How did it work? What would happen if you picked up the phone? And one day the first guest picked up the phone and was greeted with a simple “Hello, popsicle hotline, what would you like?”. Once the order was placed the story continued. A waiter would appear from the hotel with white gloves carrying a silver tray and delivering your ice cream to your sun lounger. Free of charge. Soon the hotline was a hit – everyone was referencing it in their reviews and social posts – a bit a theatre and a lot of fun. But that’s not all – what else do you always need in a hotel but often don’t bother with due to the cost – yep laundry. So, what did our hotel do, they did your laundry for free – unlimited, no questions asked – and returned it to you wrapped in butchers’ paper with a sprig of rosemary tied to it. Now the reviews were really taking off, so they threw in free snack menu and magicians performing at breakfast for the kids.
The hotel ultimately isn’t worried about changing the awful yellow colour of the building or upgrading the bathrooms. Its simply thinking about doing a couple of things during a stay that will really stand out in a guests’ mind during a week or two-week vacation. They are tweaking the story to their advantage because then you don’t have to excel at everything, they only have to excel at a few things that are going to be remembered. Those defining moments become powerful signature moments in their story.

The challenge to us all is to continuously try to add ‘those signature moments’ to every story we tell and every event we deliver to ensure that they remain memorable for years to come.