Today’s planners are constantly on the hunt for innovative and “never seen before” entertainment ideas. Clients are digging deep to find the engagement in their programs and are looking for WOW performances that resonate with their audience. With advances in technology, the possibilities are endless but, no one wants to do what every other event has already done and everyone either wants to be first or believes that they thought of it first. For the entertainers, the pressure is on to bring a unique proposition to the table and they are working more closely with their planners and agencies to collaborate on creating one of a kind experiences for the end user clients.
Stacy Wyatt interviewed dozens of event managers across Canada, and asked for their input into the most innovative, most popular and most talked about entertainment concepts trending today and based on those conversations, we have curated this collection of entertaining ideas to consider for your next event.
Escape Rooms top the list as the most popular form of team building and group activities of this year. These challenging and mind boggling puzzle places give new meaning to the word bonding. It’s amazing how fast you can develop an attachment to a colleague when you must work together to save yourself from a serial killer.
Roundabout Canada in Toronto is one of the favourites. Its theme immersive in that it features movie quality props and authentic sets that will raise the hair on the back of your neck before you even start the game. Obsidem Games in Montreal offers unique and interactive live-action adventure games in which players become active participants in the stories and must work as a team to solve intriguing problems. Lockdown Escape, in Vancouver is one of the largest-scale escape rooms in Canada, Lockdown offers a real-life escape experience with ultra-realistic design and full-scale mechanical rooms. Challengers are set to the ultimate logic tests to try to escape as the clock counts down.
Moving from fear onto Food… catering is central to any great event and Canada has some of the most talented chefs and culinary designers in the world. Coming up with ways to use food and drink as an entertainment as activations is nothing new, but what is new are the unique ideas based on the concepts of disruption. it’s becoming ”chic” to do a 180 turn away from high end service for high end guests to environments where VIPS in Versace are donning aprons and eating out of soup cans.
Calgary based POP Kollaborative for example recently did an event in a warehouse/factory space where they played off the environment and used food to create the experience. Food service included guests grabbing cans of vegetables coming off the conveyor belts and using their own ice picks to carve out prawns from huge blocks of ice. This is the kind of creative that turns corporate gatherings upside down and develops them into immersive, mind blowing guest experiences.
Last year, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery’s Power Ball, known for its innovative artist installations featured an interactive food performance (work entitled “So Sorry”) by artist Jennifer Rubbel. Some of her work included a wall of meat from which guests could carve out their portion with scissors and an octopus hanging from the ceiling from which they used knives to cut off a piece to eat.
In terms of interactive food companies, desserts still reign supreme and Double Chocolate Fountain shows no signs of slowing down with the most extraordinary outpouring of creativity. It’s like they have Willy Wonka himself hiding somewhere in their shop. Nitro Popcorn, food mashups and cold (yet strangely hot) ice cream sandwiches guests make themselves are just some of their fabulous and delicious inventions and they just keep getting more inventive.
In addition to their unique décor and designs, local Toronto event innovator DT Floral and Decor is always coming up with interesting interactive products. One of which, is a food conveyor belt which can serve food and move it around the room on a long belt which allows guest to pick up a canape from virtually anywhere. Perfect for standing receptions and dessert after parties.
The Idea Hunter has a unique product which combines branding and beverages. Beverage Toppers™ are thin, edible disks, featuring your corporate logo or message. They can float on most beverages, hot or cold, iced or frozen, and are sold exclusively through The Idea Hunter in Canada. How refreshing!
Disruption hasn’t just made its way into event food, it has deeply impacted the corporate music entertainment scene as well. Mash Ups are all the rage with collaborations coming in of interesting forms. The Idea Hunter as an example is working with their talent to develop fresh new acts that juxtapose odd combinations like an opera singer and a beat boxer that turns out a brilliant performance. And it is not just the agencies that are pushing these collaborations. Singers and bands themselves are joining forces to change up their acts so that they can offer something new and modern. Singers like Calgary based Jenn Beaupre is working with some amazing local rappers to combine her deep soulful egdy voice with hip city vibes to create some of the most stunning vocal performances we have ever heard.
Entertainment and Technology have collided with events over the past year like never before with the arrival of VR (virtual reality). The advances in VR are happening so fast that even the agencies offering these products to the planners are racing to keep up.
MetaVRse, is a VR based event entertainment agency that is solely focused on using VR to thrill and engage guests by creating 360⁰ immersive and life like experiences. From social uses to brand activations VR is changing the landscape of event marketing by letting guests and consumers step outside the real world and into the brand’s world. Imagine driving the car of the future, swimming with sharks, skydiving in peru, running with lions in the Serengeti… What’s more, MetaVRse offers a 360⁰ Photo Booth so not only do guests get the experience, they get to memorialize it.
Tech is not just showing up in entertainment by way of goggles and screens, its making its way to the stage in cool ways. Mega show producers like Creativiva, that specialize in developing custom theatrical performances for events are finding ways to stay technologically current by using all the tools available to make their shows more thrilling for their audiences. Their latest advancements include the integration of Bose audio speakers into the performance costumes and the use of the world’s smallest fog machines to make their special effects more powerful and even more stunning.
Using companies like Creativiva to custom design your vision is also a trend. Planners felt they were seeing an increase in the request for bigger, custom shows for their larger events. With an in-house prop and costume shop and a team of trained choreographers and performers, these types of show designers make it easier than ever to develop and produce the event you imagine.
Live Streaming continues to be a player in in the world of tech entertainment, and while not new, it has had a huge facelift over the past 18 months with the introduction of products Meerkat, Periscope and Blab. This technology is most effective for events when the host organization is looking to gain brand recognition by engaging off site viewers or to fuel FOMO, with the hopes it will increase attendance at future events.
Gesture Control Technology continues to evolve with new platforms that allow guests to interact with what’s happening on surfaces such as screens, tables, walls or even the floor. Guests can communicate with the environment with their hands, feet, facial expressions or entire body movements. Companies like GestureTek are leading the charge with products like the Cube Floor Projection system. Imagine the walls coming to life and talking back as guests enter or an art theme event where guests can interact with famous works like the Mona Lisa?
To see Gesture Control Technology in action, click here.
Robots are a mega trend in event technology. As AI continues to develop, we will not only continue to see the use of robotics for entertainment grow, but that will evolve into fully automated services. Robots will serve as bartenders, concierge and coat check and even servers. One person I spoke to said he has been consulting on concepts for the worlds first fully automated event venue which could be open in less than eight years…. The possibilities are endless.
Not just for utility, there are some really cool things happening in robotic performances like TI Bots. They provide 10 Foot LED Robot performers for special events. The LED Robot has over a 1,000 LED lights that can be programmed as different colors and displays and is equipped with special entertaining features to wow audiences like lasers gloves for a cool laser show effect, C02 Cryo guns, confetti cannons and even fireworks for the ultimate experience.
As robots and artificial intelligence continues to gain… well intelligence, we are excited to see what comes next.
Technology continues to dominate the developments in stage performances. From Projection to silhouette dance and illusion shows like those seen on America’s Got Talent, the world of modern dance is now turning to tech. Idea Hunter represents a performance called Kaleidoscope; a high impact show, using awe inspiring LED props and customized graphics. Choreographed to music, it brings your brand to life in a way your guests have never seen before.
Performance Art and living decor continue to be popular for corporate events. From custom characters to live painting, live sand art to live fruit carving, it is a solid entertainment choice and unlike comedy or a magic show, there is little chance it will not be well received. Agencies like Creative Twist, add unique elements to events by layering in what they call living décor. Be it a living portrait or whimsical living vines on stilts, they bring the magic of theatre to your event. They provide a full range of custom characters and cast only professional actors as decor, emcees or hosts. They include scenarios and even scripts to complete the vision.
Whether it is called Live Art, Living Art, VR Art, it is all part of an emerging wave taking a big bite out of the corporate entertainment apple. This was one of the most requested performance types this year, according to our sources.
Artists Olga Pankova is a pioneer in Virtual Reality (VR) Art as well as in other unique and innovative art performances. Her other exciting performances comprise of her rare Light Art and Clear Art shows. In addition to her astonishing traditional painting performances, that include Speed-Painting, Paint-With-ME and Paint-Dual, she is up builds customized art performances designed specifically for your event and your brand.
Not Canadian but a must mention is award-winning painter Katherine Gressel who travels worldwide to events, and captures the action in a live painting. Each painting serves as both entertainment for guests and a lasting memento of the special day.
Halifax based Najma Sharif is what we call a luxury item because she is so rare. Namja is a water colour artist who does live impressionist style paintings of live events. Mostly weddings, but she can do any kind of event. She is a one of a kind talent, worth flying in for your event. Deeply spiritual and immensely talented, she arrives at the venue half an hour before, quietly, sets up her corner and then just starts painting what she sees. She captures the essence of the event through her eyes and her work is breathtaking every time.
Gifting and creative stations have seen their own trends evolve. As technology advances it is allowing for more customizations to happen live on site. Things like custom photo booths that put the photo on your cell phone case are popular. Case Escape, make personalized cases with anything on them in 10 minutes or less. What’s cool about this is that a guest can snap a picture at the event on their phone, email to the phone case booth and in ten minutes, walk over to the booth and pick up the case. Imagine taking a snapshot of the bride and groom as they turn around and walk back down the aisle and at the reception giving them matching phone cases with this image on it? Watch this one minute video on how it’s done. QR Code Shirts, offered by Makelab are kitchsy and guests love them. They can create any message and it will be printed on the shirt, on the spot so they can take it home, the best part is that it can be scanned and read by any smart phone.
Giant Digital Graffiti Colouring Books, also by Makelab are huge right now! Bring that creativity and colour to your event with a giant 10’x6’ digital spray paint colouring book. Guests use digital spray cans or light markers to colour in pages, which can then be shared on social media or polaroid printed as a personal takeaway. Pages can be custom-drawn in advance of the event to suit your brand, or theme.
Another great party accessory by Makelab is the 3D Printing Pop-Up Studio and it is something most of your guests will not have seen before. Guests are guided by designers through five-minute individual design experiences, and watch as their creation is printed in front of their eyes. 3D printers, designer and operators come along to make sure everything prints.
So, that’s a lot of trending for one article and this only begins to scratch the surface of what is new and innovative on the market today. Although not anywhere near comprehensive, it showcases some of the more unique trends dominating the event scene. We know there are dozens more ideas to be sourced so if you have a great one, please email us so we can share it our readers.