My Best Meeting Moment By Fabrice Balmelle, Tysons Corner Marriott

Move Beyond Your Comfort Zone and Into a 360-Degree Experience

Goal: Develop a Design Plan

We wanted to create a really unusual atmosphere for this client, a cosmetics company that we have worked with several times. This time we wanted to wow them with something new and unusual. They were game because the unique room design and other themed elements helped meet the goal of their product launch strategy.

Create a Central Activity Hub

We set up a learning lab for the customer to train employees before the launch of a product. We had four big screens and a couple dozen people at four tables. But we set up the room differently—with the presenter in the middle, not at the front, of the room.

For the presentation, we had rolling monitors for each table. The effect is intimate—it’s so close, you feel like you’re having your own private presentation, and that sparks more discussion and interaction.

This presentation format takes a little practice, but it’s worth it. I’ve tried it, and you have to keep moving because your back is always turning to someone. Guests were very surprised at first, but then they realized the benefits of being both close to one another and facing one another.

Between the music, the food, the colors and the celebration, all five senses were activated.

Color Me a New Product

We held the reception in about 900 square feet of the ballroom. We had couches and lounge chairs, and we created the food and the table designs based on the colors for the product launch; they had a red line, a purple line and a green line. There were items on the menu like red cabbage, purple grapes and purple cauliflower.

While the meeting had its serious business purpose, the use of the themed colors and other party elements also emphasized the celebration aspect of a product launch.

Activate All Five Senses

At first, the company had wanted to follow the reception with a bowling outing. We offered a Wii gaming system and encouraged them to stay at the hotel. They used the Wii for bowling on one of the large screens, and then—after a few drinks—they used it for karaoke.

Between the music, the food, the colors and the celebration, all five senses were activated. These elements prompted the participants to chat and discuss the new product and take pride in their part in the launch.

Once you create the furniture setup for one event, it’s easy to do it again and evolve it for others. Already an attendee at this event has asked about how to stage something similar for another meeting. Sometimes taking what seems like a risk and moving out of your established meeting style “comfort zone” isn’t really risky at all. Today, technology allows us to work anywhere, in any setup.