As a professional emcee, I share quite a few best practices for industry events and successful conferences on my blog. Today, I’m here with a real-world example of an event that did absolutely everything right across the board—the EO XCentric 2021 Showcase in New Orleans presented by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Total event goals!
You might be wondering what exactly sets this event apart from the rest. Was it the location? The speakers? The answer, my friends, is that what was left out of this event was just as important as what was included. The EO XCentric 2021 Showcase omitted the unnecessary bells and whistles and instead focused on the basics that make an event truly amazing.
- Professional emcee
- Agenda and social events
All too often, producers try to sensationalize an event by focusing on the wrong things, like cutesy scavenger hunts or icebreakers. While creative social events have their place, you don’t need icebreakers to ignite connectivity. Instead, you need quality content delivered professionally. Coterie Spark event producers Hannah Laser and Kelly Gordon get it.
Take a look at how Coterie Spark, GDA Speakers and Entrepreneurs’ Organization completely nailed the assignment all around.
1. Fantastic City as a Backdrop
First things first, an awesome event starts in an amazing city. Certain places just have inherent magic to them, like New York City or Las Vegas (not that I’m biased or anything). EO XCentric 2021 was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, a city whose rich culture is only rivaled by its delicious food. It goes without saying that having NOLA as a backdrop immediately set the scene for a fantastic event.
Not to mention, it felt great to be able to support New Orleans following recent Hurricane Ida. After floodwaters and winds swept through the area, response and recovery efforts have continued to revive the city. As a Vegas guy myself, I understand how a reduction in tourism can impact the local economy. This conference happily brought hundreds of people to NOLA to support local businesses.
2. Accommodations that Make Everyone Feel Like a Star
If I asked you to name the first five-star hotel that came to mind, chances are, it would be the Ritz-Carlton. Situated in the heart of the historic French Quarter, the Ritz in New Orleans was the perfect place to experience the city. While not every conference will have the budget for such luxury digs, it’s truly the effort behind the accommodations that make attendees feel like a star.
For one, the staff at the hotel was incredible—and during a time when nearly all businesses are short-staffed, their attentiveness was unbelievable. The Ritz was sure to follow Covid protocols as well, requiring masks to be worn indoors. Since the majority of agenda events were outside in the gorgeous Louisiana fall weather, the entire showcase felt not only safe but also super comfortable.
Something else I found commendable as a professional emcee was the additional Security Consultant who was on-hand at the hotel. Personnel was on call 24/7 and was available for contact through the conference app. At the start of the event, security briefed event guests on basic safety measures for free-time activities, which I’m sure those unfamiliar with a big city appreciated.
3. Speakers Who Light Up a Room
All of the speakers at EO XCentric 2021 were phenomenal examples of what a successful event needs. I have to give a special shout-out to Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) New Orleans member, Jude Olinger, who curated the best speaker lineup. And of course, I have to shout out Gail Davis, EO Dallas member since 2017 and owner of GDA Speakers for sourcing the speakers!
Here’s a brief breakdown of the speakers who totally lit up the room throughout the event.
- Sandra Joseph, a record-breaking Broadway star, best-selling author, and keynote speaker.
- Robert Ballard, an ocean explorer and underwater archaeologist who discovered ground-breaking marine wrecks like the Titanic.
- Andrew Fastow, the former chief financial officer of Enron Corporation turned felon turned inspirational speaker.
- Peter Ricchiuti, a business professor and economic speaker with a great sense of humor.
- Liz Murray, an unbelievable speaker who was accepted to Harvard as a teen despite being homeless.
- Ben Nemtin, a New York Times best-selling author and co-founder of The Buried Life movement.
- Nando Parrado, the epic survivor of a horrific plane crash in the Andes mountains in 1972, respected businessman, and a successful television producer.
From Sunday to Tuesday, these seven individuals completely captured the attention of the audience with riveting personal recollections and moving keynote speeches. I was particularly floored by Liz Murray, whose “Homeless to Harvard” was absolutely mind-blowing. She was so authentic, real, and inspiring, that myself and all those in attendance walked away touched.
4. Professional Emcee Who Electrifies the Crowd
Though I’m not one to toot my own horn (most of the time!), I do have to toast the team at the EO XCentric 2021 Showcase for selecting a qualified professional emcee. I’ve frequently spoken about the crucial role an emcee plays in live events, and I could not feel more at home than with the EO audience in New Orleans. What a fantastic crowd!
The audience was packed with fun, outgoing individuals who had a shared appreciation for their passion-based association. As an entrepreneur myself, who has produced an entire Vegas show and founded a nonprofit organization, it felt great to be in such good company and also learn from the conference material. I was so inspired, I even committed to join the EO Las Vegas chapter on stage!
5. Agenda and Social Events that Put an Emphasis on Networking
Last but not least, we all know the true success of an event lies in the agenda and social events. Not to worry here, folks, because the team at EO XCentric absolutely crushed it! To start, the run of show was just right. The event featured morning sessions followed by long blocks of free time so guests could focus on the early content and still explore the city and network throughout the afternoon.
The signature social events that were included at the showcase were spectacular. The conference kicked off at the Orpheum Theater for a red carpet affair, which was followed by a keynote and killer set by local New Orleans DJ Mannie Fresh. The next night, we watched in awe as a traditional second line parade marched us to the Bourbon House for dinner.
It was the most New Orleans experience we all could have asked for! We ended the night at Central City BBQ, where we were able to unwind and laugh together. The parade even lent me my very own bullhorn to rile up the crowd! We threw beads onto the streets below, listened to awesome music, and had a completely authentic night on the town.
A Perfect Checklist of Event Essentials
To recap the EO XCentric 2021 Showcase in New Orleans, the team hit every single nail on the head. The location and accommodations were perfect. The agenda and signature events were unforgettable. Even more, the showcase encouraged time for attendees to network and connect with one another. It had been so long since we all got together, that time was beyond necessary!
At the end of the day, it wasn’t the cutesy icebreakers that brought this crowd together. It was the thought and detail that went into creating an event ideal for safe social gatherings. The set-up of the room was intimate, packed for great energy with ample amounts of food and drink stations. Really, the event let entrepreneurs do what we do best—mingle! All event producers should take note.
Striving for #EventGoals? I Can Help!
If you’re looking to check off every box for a perfect event, I’m here to help. I know firsthand that it can be difficult to plan an event that drives connection and engagement, especially after the past eighteen months. Fortunately, I have more than a decade of experience in corporate entertainment and event hosting to make your event #GOALS.
Contact me today to learn more about how we can create the ultimate event experience, together.