August 27, 2019

In July at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, event marketing executives converged for an insight-rich and action-packed CEMA Summit. Organizing an event for an audience of event organizers is no easy feat, yet those who spearhead the effort at the Corporate Event Marketing Association continue to impress year after year.

Aside from the impactful programming (and plain old fun) that CEMA Summits are known for, something special was added to the mix this year, which for many (myself included) was the highlight of the Summit. That something: “An Evening of Experiences.”

After registering for the Summit, attendees were asked to select from a list of exclusive experiences around Las Vegas, including a pasta-making class at the Venetian, a behind-the-scenes tour at the Wynn, a helicopter tour hosted by Mandalay Bay, or a “dinner in the dark” experience at Aria, among others.

A Linq Promenade pub crawl stop at Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club CREDIT: Joe Buglewicz/Las Vegas News Bureau An on-stage dinner at the “O” Theater in the Bellagio CREDIT: Joe Buglewicz/Las Vegas News Bureau A pasta-making demonstration followed by dinner at Factory Kitchen at The Venetian CREDIT: Joe Buglewicz/Las Vegas News Bureau

At the start of the Evening of Experiences, buses collected each group of about 40 attendees from the MGM and whisked them off to their respective destinations. Each experience offered the opportunity for attendees to bond over a shared adventure and get a one of a kind Las Vegas experience.

I attended the Wynn experience and was blown away by, among other things, the back-of-house tour. I have a new appreciation for what’s involved with operating such an expansive operation and maintaining such an impeccable level of quality and detail. Warehouses, kitchens, store rooms, and facilities were tucked neatly underground beneath the Wynn, and all were spotless and flawlessly operated.

A group dinner on the Sunset Terrace at the Wynn CREDIT: Joe Buglewicz/Las Vegas News Bureau

More than any singular detail of the Evening of Experiences, the overall concept was a key benefit of CEMA Summit itself. It catalyzed networking in a meaningful way. It allowed for fast friendships, both during the experiences themselves and the following day, as few could contain their excitement. It created memories attendees won’t soon forget and allowed for bonds that would be unlikely in more traditional networking formats.

By getting attendees offsite in smaller groups, and providing them with unexpected, exciting, relevant experiences, CEMA made a lasting impact. And taught a lesson that event professionals everywhere can certainly apply.