Phoenix ‘UnConference’ May 2023
Ross was delighted to be back out on his first major event since coming back to the business in February. He chose an absolute cracker to get started with and spent three days in Birmingham delivering an UnConference for the Phoenix Group.
Set up on Monday 22 May 2023 with the event running for two days on the Tuesday and Wednesday.
The event was held in the Ballroom, Grand Hotel, Birmingham. 140 bedrooms and all other breakout rooms were used throughout the two day event.
The delegates were invited to arrive from 10:30am on Tuesday and departed at 3.30pm on Wednesday. The event comprised of speaker sessions in the Ballroom, 56 breakout sessions, evening entertainment and teambuilding.
This conference was for the Phoenix Leadership Team which is made up of approx. 110 leaders from across the business.
What They Wanted:
The team at Maximillion Events worked closely with Phoenix Group to establish their main aims and objectives which were quickly identified. Based on feedback from previous events, the team at Phoenix wanted to do something a little bit different to allow the conference to be more delegate-centric opposed to a traditional conference.
The term ‘UnConference’ was banded around and agreed on. If you are not familiar with the format of an unconference, in its simplest terms, it is ‘…a participant driven meeting / conference where the delegates create the agenda’. We were asked to assist with the following elements of the event;
– AV and Production to include production management
– A central main stage
– Assistance with conference asset design
– Management of printing all assets required
– Theming & furnishings
– Design and build of structures used within the room
– External speaker booking and management
– Evening Entertainment to include physical activities and a band / DJ
What We Did:
We were excited to get stuck in to the design of this conference and even more so when we heard that there was going to be a LEGO© theme running throughout!
AV & Production
The Ballroom in the Grand Hotel, Birmingham is a beautiful space which does not lend itself well to a central stage, however, this was the brief so we made it happen. A 4m x 4m stage was installed with an on brand, aubergine, carpet and bespoke stage valance to create the illusion that the stage was being held up using LEGO bricks.
The stage was encapsulated by a 6m x 6m x 5m truss cube which created a striking image when delegates walked through the main doors. The sight line of the delegates and making sure they could see all presentations and speakers at the same time was extremely important to the client so four 85” screens were installed on the truss along with an additional two 82” screens. A lighting package and sound package was also installed to create both stage wash and thematic lighting around the room.
Maximillion also created bespoke UnConference Breakout spaces which included 65” plasma screens which were ‘built in’ to LEGO walls. We also printed bespoke and on brand whiteboards for each breakout space as well as unique seating for delegates. Beanbags, exercise balls and cubes were all used.
External Speaker Booking & Management
Using external speakers to gain knowledge from out-with the organisation is something that is important to Phoenix Group. Maximillion put forward a number of speakers that were known for their expertise in each of the three areas that the conference focused on: Strategy, Culture and Structure. The planning team within Phoenix Group managed to narrow the list of 11 speakers down to 3 and then selected their favourite speaker – Flavilla Fongang. Flavilla’s CV and credentials list are huge and definitely something to brag about. She is a natural storyteller, knows how to give actionable insights, industry-specific case studies and personal anecdotes.
Theming a conference, or UnConference, is the best part, right!?
From bespoke LEGO namebadges to ‘Build your Own Figurine’ stations and LEGO Flower Table Centres we had so much bringing the LEGO theme to life.
Teambuilding was a key area that the planning team wanted to make sure they nailed! We engaged with a company who specialise in a teambuilding product known as ‘Serious Play’. This is a LEGO based product which takes delegates and teams on an experiential journey used to prompt dialogue and encourage reflection as well as develop problem solving skills and use their imagination. All using LEGO – how cool!? There were certainly some sceptical faces in the audience, however, after 10 minutes, the atmosphere in the room was amazing, the creativity was through the roof and most importantly, the conversations were flowing.
A relaxed evening with the opportunity for guests to have fun, chat, mingle and get to know each other was a the brief and we certainly delivered. Five food stalls were created and branded which served street food from around the world. The Grand Hotel catering team did a wonderful job here. The food was outstanding.
We installed arcade games for delegates to challenge each other on which included a dance machine, table football, table tennis amongst others. The car racing simulators were certainly the most popular activity though with guests competing on these all night.
Whilst the brief was to allow delegates to catch up and chat, it was also important to have a band performing. A main stage act wouldn’t have worked as they would have created to much noise so we opted for a wandering band (complete with real LEGO bowties). The three piece band, made up of a guitarist & vocalist, saxophonist and guitarist, wandered around the room performing acoustically to small groups of delegates. A really striking but subtle way to entertain your guests.
What they Said
“Ross and the team at Maximillion were an absolute pleasure to work with and played a HUGE part in the success of the Phoenix Leadership UnConference 2023! From the very beginning Maximillion embraced the relaxed feel of this year’s conference and helped bring our vision to life! From a bespoke centre stage to Lego figurines, beanbag seating to branded sticky notes – everything was planned and executed to the highest of standards and myself and the wider team could not be happier! Maximillion have delivered many events for Phoenix Group, they are an extended part of the team and we honestly couldn’t deliver the events like we do without them! A huge thank you from me and the Internal Communications team, can’t wait to see what’s in store next…!”
Trishna Daji, Phoenix Group
Conference Design & Production
We can cover every aspect of your conference from design and planning through production and delivery to follow-up and audience feedback.