Looking to make a big impression on guests at your next corporate outing? Try adding a little technology to the mix:
Apps—There are several apps available today that can assist with team collaboration when it comes to brainstorming, planning and organizing an event. Others can help with scheduling to make sure vendors are in the loop and on-target with deliveries. There are even event apps (or you can develop one specifically for the event) and chat bots you can utilize to provide immediate feedback to attendees who may have questions about the event itself.
Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)—RFID uses electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and track tags, such as wristbands, attached to individuals. This can be helpful for streamlining registration lines for very large events. For events that last more than just an evening, RFID bracelets can be used to provide attendees with access to other venues or food purchases, etc.
Dedicated Photo Booths—For increased attendee interaction, dedicated photo booths encourage people to have their photo taken in front of a dedicated backdrop or green screen that promotes your event. These photos can be used for various social media purposes that can draw more attention to your company and promote greater employee satisfaction. These can also be used to create what are called “Social Media Walls” that can post photos to video screens at the event in real time.
Step and Repeat Banners—Create a Hollywood red carpet scene with step and repeat banners. You can customize them for your event and have a photographer capture individuals, couples or groups as they enter your event. These can also be used for simulated “press conferences” where a reporter asks incoming people questions about the event, how much fun it is, anything they’d like to see differently in the future, etc. This can be captured on video for future marketing purposes, teambuilding or to post on social media.
Hashtags—These are certainly not a new technology, but Hashtags are also a great way to encourage attendee participation and spread your message via social media. Simply create a specific hashtag and post it in various places around the event to prompt your employees to share their photos on social media. Although only about half of users on social media use hashtags, this is a great way to increase the company’s social media awareness.
Facial Recognition—A somewhat controversial technology, Facebook has created a way to identify people posted to user pages using facial recognition and notify them of the photos they appear in, even if they have not been tagged. This is a great way for attendees to share those photos on their own pages that they might not have known about otherwise, which is also good for a company’s social media efforts.
Drones—Professionally operated drones are literally taking photography and video to new heights. They can fly above and around your event to take shots that other photographers can’t get. These photos and videos can be used for social media, advertising and marketing purposes or just for internal use at future meetings or events.
Live Streaming—Live Streaming of your event allows you to transmit live video and audio coverage of your event over the Internet. This is especially nice for people who cannot attend the event and want to be part of the action virtually. It’s also useful if your event utilizes multiple rooms so that attendees in other rooms can see what’s going on in the main area.
Virtual and Augmented Reality—For entertainment purposes, virtual and augmented reality can be used to entertain guests by creating unique and exciting experiences for them. It can also be used to demonstrate new product launches or as feature for attendees looking up automated information via virtual intelligence booths.
“One of the top tech trends we’ve been seeing lately are customized Snapchat filters for events,” says Bethany Seiley, event coordinator with Premier Events, Inc. in Virginia Beach, a multi-faceted design and production company that specializes in creating specialized events. “They are very affordable at around $5 per day, and they are attached with the specific location of the event. Attendees can access them with a geo-filter on their smartphones, and they can be totally customizable to match event décor, themes, etc. It’s a fun way for guests to engage, and you get metrics after your timeframe ends.”
Snapchat filers are available directly through Snapchat (Create.Snapchat.com). You can use one of their templates or create your own. Twenty-four hours after your event is over, you will receive a report on how many times the filter was used and viewed by others.
According to Seiley, virtual reality gaming and interaction is also a very popular way to engage your guests at an event or to showcase a new product. “We also get some requests for live streaming of events, often using Facebook or in-house A/V to stream to other rooms at the venue.”
As to where to use that technology, here are some great local options that provide privacy and incredible food and drink options, along with any audio/visual and broadband Internet needs you may want for a successful and fun event:
Sweetwater Cuisine, Virginia Beach
“Because you want your outing to be memorable and successful, pay attention to details,” says Jodi Newland, owner/executive chef. “I prefer to host meetings at intimate locations instead of a hotel or conference center. Choose a place where custom menus can be created or where your event can be catered by an outside company. Sweet Magnolias by Sweetwater Cuisine is the best of both worlds—a centrally located, intimate venue with award-winning catering provided in-house.”
Sweetwater’s Southern Eatery may be rented for special events, both small and large. Their private dining room accommodates up to 35 guests, their main dining area can seat up to 55 guests, and the entire restaurant may be used for parties up to 100 guests. Spaces are available at all times of the day and evening. Contact their event design team for additional details.
Fin Seafood, Newport News
Fin Seafood in Newport News has everything diners could possibly want. In addition to fantastic, farm-to-table-fresh cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients and an equally impressive wine selection, the restaurant offers outdoor seating for those warm summer evenings, a dedicated dining room with a view of the kitchen, a full bar area with an ever-changing martini menu and The Portside Room—the perfect setting for business meetings, private parties and special events.
The Portside Room can cater to groups of 20 to 40 and offers its own bar, restroom and a state-of-the art, retractable screen for presentations. To make your event even more memorable, Executive Chef and Owner Kenny Sloane will work with you personally to develop the perfect menu for your event.
Opus 9 Steakhouse, Williamsburg
Schlesinger’s at Port Warwick, Newport News
Craft 31, Williamsburg
Consistently touted as two of the finest steakhouses on the Peninsula—and in all of Coastal Virginia, for that matter—Opus 9 Steakhouse and Schlesinger’s at Port Warwick are both excellent places to hold a corporate outing if your goal is to eat well, enjoy superior service and make a lasting impression on your employees. Both locations have private rooms that can accommodate 10–40 people.
Craft 31, which is owned and operated by the same people, offers up a more casual dining experience featuring a raw bar, specialty hamburgers (cooked in cast iron skillets to hold in all the juicy goodness) and signature pizzas, as well as a variety of other dishes. Craft 31 has a private room that seats up to 24, and the outside patio is also available for private events.
Riverwalk Restaurant, Yorktown
York River Oyster Company, Gloucester Point
Located on the banks of the York River within walking distance to Yorktown’s historic main street, the battlefields, Yorktown Victory Center and Yorktown Beach, Riverwalk Restaurant provide breathtaking views matched only by an exquisite dining experience. The restaurant has the capacity for a sit-down dinner for 72–81 people or a stand-up social reception for 100 people. There is also an outside covered patio attached to the room.
Located on the other side of the York River is the York River Oyster Company, offering up “A Shell of a Good Time.” Fresh oysters are locally harvested, hand-picked and shucked and served raw, steamed or fried. There is outside seating available for groups and well as inside dining areas.