Super Bowl LI Offers Insights on Winning Events

This year’s Super Bowl was one of the most thrilling events in recent years—both on and off the field. On the field, there’s no doubt that the New England Patriots’ comeback will go down in history. Off the field, a fabulous glitter- and drone-powered halftime show and controversial commercials had social media buzzing. Take a few ideas from the Super Bowl, and you will have attendees buzzing about your event as well.

Choose a great destination and venue

After a very successful Super Bowl, Houston received praise from both NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Not only did the city host a week of citywide festivities for an estimated 140,000 visitors and a sporting event for 72,220 attendees, it also made major changes in anticipation of the big day. With outdoor dining and entertainment space Avenida Houston, major convention center renovations and hotel openings, Houston did its best to prepare to handle the influx of travelers.

Planner’s takeaway:

Of course, we can’t all have a host city that undergoes billion-dollar renovations and construction projects to coincide with the date of our event. Instead, planners should make sure that they carefully and thoroughly research any city on their shortlist.

Sometimes it’s hard to fit a site visit into your schedule, but our site selection experts at Smart Meetings 360 always emphasize that site visits should not be skipped. Marketing materials and CVB websites can never show the whole picture—you need to see it for yourself.

It’s also beneficial to meet CVB and hotel representatives to see how you get along with them, as well as evaluate how willing they are to work with you and accommodate your group’s needs.

Select entertainment wisely

Lady Gaga, one of the world’s biggest pop stars, was selected to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show. In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, media and fans began speculating about whether Lady Gaga, who openly supported Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, would include a political message in her performance. In a press conference prior to the game, she fueled even more chatter by stating that she wanted her performance to promote inclusion and equality.

In the end, it was much ado about nothing, as Lady Gaga kept things fairly neutral. She impressed millions with a light show that made use of coordinated drones, outlandish outfits and amazing costume and makeup changes. Though some continue to speculate, most were impressed and entertained by the halftime show.

Planner’s takeaway:

When selecting entertainment and keynote speakers for your next event, do what Lady Gaga did: make the audience a priority. If your goal is to entertain more than 100 million Americans from all walks of life, choose an entertainer that will work for the widest range of tastes. If your medical meeting features an elite group of doctors and healthcare professionals, pick a speaker who is familiar with the industry and can address their specific pain points.

It’s not over until it’s over

The Atlanta Falcons almost had the game in the bag. During the third quarter, ESPN reported that the Falcons had a 98.9 percent chance of winning the game. With the odds heavily in their favor, they may have gotten complacent and overconfident—and they paid the price for it.

Planner’s takeaway:

It’s natural to want to pat yourself on the back for a job well done. But don’t celebrate too early, because an event is not really over when attendees go home. Even if you just completed a fabulously successful event, there is still a lot that a corporate meeting planner can do after an event ends. Review attendee evaluation forms. Check quantifiable ROI benchmarks for attendee engagement, such as event app usage, time spent at the event, etc. Analyze mistakes and successes to plan a better event next time.

The key is to not rest on your laurels. Attendees’ preferences, meetings industry trends and company expectations are always changing, so you’ll need to change with them to achieve success.