Niche EventFest: A Case Study in Creating a Fun, Memorable Experience

November 29, 2015

If you’re wondering how to make your event more fun, engaging, memorable and valuable to all of the stakeholders involved, look no further for a great example than Niche Media’s Niche EventFest.

Niche EventFest, held Nov. 16-18 in New Orleans, took the typical event experience and infused it with unique experiences throughout, from an icebreaker that really worked at its opening party to a police escorted second line parade to another party and a “Shark Tank”-style event pitch on the final day.

The education, too, was right on the money, with sessions that ranged from perfecting negotiation skills to learning all of the ins and outs of launching a new event.

From the moment the event kicked off, the attendees, many of whom were there for the first time and were made up of niche media companies and sponsors, were a part of something that definitely was not designed by accident, but, instead, to take the ‘usual’ event ecosphere to another level.

Carl Landau, also known as ‘Grand Poobah’ and owner/producer of Niche EventFest, explains what the ‘fun factor’ is all about: “We know there is a strong link between better learning in a fun environment. We want our events - and what attendees learn at them, to be memorable.”

Here are a few steps Landau and his team took to ensure a ‘fun’ time at the event:

1.     First, we provide many fun, relaxed networking opportunities throughout the conference, such as roundtable sessions (vs only listening to speakers), so our attendees can make really meaningful connections. 

2.     We also have a "Wow Factor" at our events, such as a Second-line Parade in New Orleans.

3.     Our Niche Orientation Party had a fun, interactive name tag challenge to get people engaged.

“We are constantly looking for new ways to inspire event organizers, which explains why we have such a high percentage of new attendees each year,” Landau added.

Besides all of the networking fun, the content for the sessions is carefully thought out as well.

“We want to expose Event Organizers to as many "event ideas" as possible that can translate to ideas they can use at their own event,” Landau said.

He added, “We bring in dynamic speakers who engage and inspire our attendees with a strong focus on new event ideas and ways to improve and increase revenue generation.”

The opening keynote was given by Sean Guerre, principal at Stone Fort Group, who talked about “Wide World of Events: New, Cool & Profitable Event Models That Really Work”.

The Lunch Keynote was given by Greg Topalian, president of LeftField Media, who talked about bringing a consumer element to the more than 100-year-old toy trade show held annually in New York City and why other shows should consider doing the same.

Landau also said part of the strategy of the content provided at Niche Event Fest is to give attendees practical takeaways they can implement immediately.

“For example, this year we introduced our Niche Lightning Round: A series of 6-minute presentations by industry leaders who shared an innovation, lessons learned or an "outside the box" idea,” he added.

Along with the fun networking and innovative and informative content, it was also refreshing to see how sponsors were integrated seamlessly and in unique ways into the entire event.

There were a lot of destination sponsors and at the end of the education sessions the first day there was something called the “Site Selection Happy Hour”.

Attendees were challenged to go around to each destination’s table and collect a ‘stamp’ and everyone who filled their sheet was eligible for a drawing that included a free registration for next year’s event.

The room was packed with people not only checking out the sponsors, but also having cocktails and there was a table filled with every kind of bacon imaginable.

Next year’s Niche EventFest will be held Nov. 14-16 in Nashville, Tenn. 

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Overview: The award-winning Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) goes the extra mile to make every day extraordinary by offering customer service excellence and industry-leading partnerships. From their dedicated in-house Rigging team to their robust Exhibitor Services, The Center of Hospitality brings your imagination to life by helping you host unforgettable meetings and events. With more than 2 million square feet of exhibit space, world-class services and a dream destination, we are committed to making even the most ambitious conventions a reality. In October 2023, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners voted to approve allocating Tourist Development Tax funding for the $560 million Phase 5A completion of the OCCC. The Convention Way Grand Concourse project will include enhancements to the North-South Building, featuring an additional 60,000 square feet of meeting space, an 80,000- square-foot ballroom and new entry to the North-South Building along Convention Way. “We are thrilled to begin work on completing our North-South Building which will allow us to meet the growing needs of our clients,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “As an economic driver for the community, this project will provide the Center with connectivity and meeting space to host more events and continue to infuse the local economy with new money and expanding business opportunities.” Amenities: The Center of Hospitality goes above and beyond by offering world-class customer service and industry-leading partnerships. From the largest convention center Wi-Fi network to custom LAN/WAN design, the Center takes pride in enhancing exhibitor and customer experience.  The OCCC is the exclusive provider of electricity (24-hour power at no additional cost), aerial rigging and lighting, water, natural gas and propane, compressed air, and cable TV services. Convenience The Center is at the epicenter of the destination, with an abundance of hotels, restaurants, and attractions within walking distance. Pedestrian bridges connect both buildings to more than 5,200 rooms and is within a 15-minute drive from the Orlando International Airport. The convenience of the location goes hand-in-hand with top notch service to help meet an event’s every need. Gold Key Members The OCCC’s Gold Key Members represent the best of the best when it comes to exceptional service and exclusive benefits for clients, exhibitors and guests. The Center’s Gold Key memberships with Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Walt Disney World greatly enhance meeting planner and attendee experiences offering world-renowned venues, immersive experiences and creative resources for their events. OCCC Events: This fiscal year, the OCCC is projected to host 168 events, 1.7 million attendees, and $2.9 billion in economic impact.  The Center’s top five events during their 2022-2023 fiscal year included:  AAU Jr. National Volleyball Championships 2023 200,000 Attendees $257 Million in Economic Impact MEGACON 2023 160,000 Attendees $205 Million in Economic Impact Open Championship Series 2023 69,500 Attendees $89 Million in Economic Impact Sunshine Classic 2023 42,000 Attendees $54 Million in Economic Impact Premiere Orlando 2023 42,000 Attendees $108 Million in Economic Impact