Yes, We Have a Magic Conference and It Lives Up To Its Name

Magicians, mind readers, comedians and magician/comedians gathered at the Miami Airport Convention Center last week to wow attendees of the Fourth Annual Greater Miami Festivals & Events Association Conference & Exhibition.

The day’s theme was “Event Magic – Creating the Experience” and it kicked off with a trade show featuring representatives from various industries. Haagen Dazs reps were handing out samples of chocolate/peanut butter ice cream while TouchPoll South Florida showcased samples of polls they’ve completed for several cities around Miami.

It was also a good opportunity for event planners and industry professionals to meet a variety of vendors to help them create the ultimate special event for their company or organization.

“The success of this year’s event solidifies the importance on providing a forum to bring together all the professionals in the event-production business in South Florida,” said Roberta DiPietro, executive director of GMFEA. “We look forward to expanding all the components next year to keep the festival and event industry vibrant and provide our visitors and residents memorable experiences.”

The trade show floor featured:

  • NuPress Printing
  • National Event ATMs
  • National Event Services, a temporary site service providing rental of fence panels and barricades
  • SnapHappy Photos and VMA Studios, event photography
  • Sidram Power Inc., power distribution and staging
  • Wizard Creations, makers of brand merchandise
  • Sunshine Jazz Organization
  • OAI visual branding solutions
  • Rum Renaissance Festival LLC
  • Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co.
  • MiamiDMT Inc.
  • Tidy Coast Event Services, Inc.
  • TiltedGlobe.com an eCommerce marketplace
  • Willy-Tech Services, A/V gear rentals

Magician Remy Connor opened up the workshop portion wowing the audience with his fire eating skills and nail-up-the-nostril trick, which made some attendees squeamish (totally the intention).

This was followed by presentations by veteran event planners Pat Armstrong, president and CEO of the Kentucky Derby Museum and former senior vice president of marketing and development for the Kentucky Derby Festival; and Monty Trainer, president of the Coconut Grove Arts & Historical Association, Inc., joined by his staff from the Coconut Grove Arts Festival for a panel presentation.

Representing two of the country’s top yearly events, Armstrong spoke first, outlining the social media, marketing and public relations strategies that have made the Kentucky Derby Festival such a success over the years.

“Interns are invaluable for social media during events,” said Armstrong, singling out the “Where’s Papa?” campaign centered around Papa John’s Pizza that was inspired by the “Where’s Waldo?’ game, which garnered the creators — a group of interns from the University of Louisville — a national advertising award.

Armstrong and his team struck gold and gained 13,900 Facebook likes simply by posting a photo of two horses at the Kentucky Derby Museum eating watermelon in a stable on the first day of summer. They reached even more, gaining 70,000 likes when they posted their Gates Are Open image on the first day of the festival.

He also suggested reaching out to local companies as they did to Maker’s Mark, who sponsored their Blue Angels VIP reception during the festival.

Monty Trainer and his team from the Coconut Grove Arts Festival followed, taking questions from attendees and sharing their tips and insights into creating a top-notch event.

Front row L-R Lilia Garcia, Thomas G. Mitchell and Melissa Nobles; back L-R Amanda McMaster, GMFEA president; Roberta DiPietro, GMFEA executive director; Monty Trainer, George Neary, Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and event emcee and Matthew Fillioe.

The panel included Lilia Garcia, chairperson of the Gallery Committee; Matthew Fillioe, director of operations; Melissa Nobles, account supervisor with the Grove Festival’s Public Relations Agency Kiskinis Communications; Thomas G. Mitchell, production designer and live event producer.

“We attract great artists by making them VIPs,” said Garcia, by rolling out the red carpet with specified VIP areas tailored to them.

Nobles, who handles publicity and social media for the festival, said that they work with sponsors on creative social media campaigns prior to the festival. “We used the Blue Moon ‘cheers’ for one of our campaigns and it was very well received,” she said.

When dealing with logistics, Fillioe said to the audience: “Make your layout a destination, don’t cause a bottleneck; have your destination in the far reaches of the room and spread your crowd out.”

And echoing Nobles regarding social media, Trainer urged that “when approaching sponsors, for us it has to relate to the art. We have a pre-Festival Sponsor Summit so they can come in and let us know their expectations.”

Performers provided lunchtime entertainment with a line-up including musical group Brothers of Others; magician/comedian of AviMagic Frier; illusionist Guy Bavil – Master of the Mind; comedian William “Rock the House” Lewis; and Viktor and Kostantin known as Duo Juggling.

The afternoon ended on a high note with attendees hitting the dance floor for swing dance lessons with South Florida Lindy Collective.

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