AMEA Leaders' Learning Event 2016CAN A CONFERENCE BE A LEARNING EVENT? THE CHALLENGE What could loosely be described as a ‘mega-brief’. An intelligent and well travelled 236 strong audience who run large and high-profile businesses under the Intercontinental Hotel Groups banner. Whilst they love a meeting our insight was that the ‘General Managers Conferences’ tended to traditional ‘death by PowerPoint’ presentations over several days with fewer defined outputs than the expenditure on them should generate. The 2016 Sydney conference needed to focus on 4 key priority areas with actionable learnings, delivering real measurable results back in the hotels. THE SOLUTION We were fortunate to have a client who wanted change. We also know this ‘type of ‘ audience extremely well, having worked with IHG all over the world since 2003. We focused on storytelling, delivering content that engaged and motivated the audience, adding value to them as individuals – and relying on their knowledge too. We created a ‘Virtual Hotel’, to serve as the vehicle throughout the learning journey, with a full cast of realistic and well researched characters to bring to life the very real financial and operational challenges General Managers face day-to-day. This enabled GMs to work on specific skills, develop new approaches and share best practice, and also meant they could avoid needing to divulge information about the challenges facing their own hotels. WE DELIVERED A lot. With the backing of the client we insisted on the GMs doing some pre-work during which we gave them key information, activities and engaging animations to prep them for what was to come. The virtual ‘Opportunity Hotel’, a fictional, but entirely realistic, IHG property was housed on a microsite and used prior to, and throughout the conference. Each session was then supported by beautifully designed slide decks, banners and workbook activities, alongside a mobile-based voting tool, all linking back to the wider story within the Opportunity Hotel. Success was not only reported in survey data post the event (97% of attendees reported ‘best learning event ever’ (we know who the 3% are)) but can be seen in the fact that the Opportunity Hotel is currently on what can only be described as a ‘world-tour’ of other IHG regions and will be further developed into 2018.