SNAICC National Conference, Voices @ the Top, October 2023
5 – 7 September 2023
Darwin Convention Centre, Larrakia Country
Scope of Works
Venue & Accommodation Management
Social Program Management
Case Study: Summary of Event Services Provided
Agentur orchestrated a visionary event, transforming the client’s concept into a captivating experience. The event’s creative vision revolved around depicting the journey from dawn to dusk, mirroring Larrakia land’s natural beauty through a digital waterfall display, symbolizing the convergence of three waterways. We transformed this vision into reality, to enhance the initial concept and meticulously validate the feasibility with art suppliers, ensuring the client’s vision was faithfully and practically realized.
Venue selection posed significant challenges, especially when the expected attendance at the SNAICC conference surged from 500 to nearly 1800. The Darwin Convention Centre became the epicenter for this large-scale event, demanding a fluid transformation from a day conference to an evening dinner setting. Our adaptability and close collaboration with the conference team were instrumental in overcoming spatial constraints and creating a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere for the predominantly Aboriginal attendees. The strategic layout, lighting, and attention to detail made the venue a space where attendees felt at ease and appreciated the thoughtful touches.
Our unique approach to event design was evident in the incorporation of Larrakia totems, a touch that stood out distinctly. Rather than placing them on stage, Marijana recommended to project them on the back wall using lights, adding depth and engagement to the event space. This attention to lighting, ambience, and meticulous detail in every aspect, from seating arrangements to technological integration, like the customized app and upgraded internet services, exemplified the entire team’s commitment to creating a harmonious and immersive experience, resonating with the attendees and leaving a lasting impression.
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Diving Deeper into the Event Management Details
Vision and Concept:
How did you approach the creative vision for the event?
The client presented a clear vision, aiming to create a waterfall inspired by Larrakia land. She conducted extensive research on the land, its significance, and its traditions. The concept involved three waterways converging into one waterhole. The idea was to simulate the progression from morning to night on screens since the event was indoors. The client envisioned a sunrise on the screens in the morning, gradually transitioning to a waterfall under the night sky. She shared a simple drawing serving as our starting point. After spending some time contemplating, I created my drawings, relying on my freehand skills. The process of drawing is crucial for me because it helps me visualize how things can be executed. Instead of merely handing over the drawing to the client, I took the time to understand the feasibility. I consulted various art suppliers, discussing the practicality of implementing the vision and ensuring it aligns with the client’s expectations. – Marijana
What challenges did you face, and how did you overcome them?
Venue selection, especially in Darwin, proves to be challenging. Some venues can accommodate around 350 to a maximum of 400 people, specifically for dinners. However, when faced with events like the SNAICC conference, where attendance exceeded expectations, planning for 500 attendees turned into almost 1800. This unexpected surge posed a significant challenge. Given the size of the event the Darwin Convention Centre was the primary option. Embracing adaptability was crucial. Our focus extended beyond conference planning to encompass an evening dinner, both held in the same space. Setting up the room to seamlessly transition from a conference during the day to a dinner at night became a necessity due to the lack of alternative venues to accommodate the large number of people. Collaborating closely with the conference centre team, we successfully addressed the challenges associated with such a large-scale event, ensuring an enjoyable experience for all our guests. – Marijana
If we watched a before and after timelapse of the venue, what would we see?
You would witness three previously empty, grey boxes transform into an inviting space where attendees would enter and express amazement. The transformation made people, especially the majority of Aboriginal attendees, feel genuinely comfortable and at home. The lighting was carefully curated—neither too bright nor harsh—creating a cozy ambience where individuals could sit without feeling exposed. Walking into the venue, many were accustomed to avoiding the front row, but the setup allowed for secluded corners.
From the start, half of the venue was arranged with tables and chairs in a cabaret style, while the outer halls featured chairs arranged in a theatre style, accommodating a large number of attendees. Throughout this process, constant communication with the client was crucial. Without her insights into specific needs and accommodations, the success of the event would have been challenging. As the client shared essential information, the event planning evolved accordingly.
Some clients might feel anxious about not finalizing every detail months in advance. However, I believe that flexibility is key, as events can change significantly. For instance, transitioning from planning for 500 to accommodating 1800 attendees is a substantial shift, almost like organizing three separate 500-person events. The client had to trust my judgment and adaptability until the very end. The true testament to success came during the execution when attendees walked in and exclaimed, “Nailed it.” – Marijana
Unique Touches and Themes:
What was your favourite distinctive touch or theme from this event?
We incorporated the three Larrakia totems, which had received approval from the Larrakia Nation in Darwin after discussions with the client. Originally, the client envisioned placing them at the end of the river-like entrance, where three different spots converged in front of the stage. Her idea was for people to engage with the totems, answering questions and creating an interactive experience.
However, considering the stage’s busy setup, we suggested an alternative approach. Instead of placing them on the stage, we decided to use lights to project them onto the back wall, which was conventionally plain and unattractive. This adjustment turned out to be a highlight of the event for me. When entering the room, the front stage looked stunning, but as you stood up from your chair, the three totems on the back wall stood out prominently. It added another dimension to the event space, and I believe attendees appreciated this unique touch. I found it to be a standout feature as well. – Marijana
How did the lighting design result align with the vision?
A significant aspect of bringing the vision to life involves orchestrating the atmosphere in the venue through the careful integration of sounds, lights, and visuals. I had a specific and detailed approach to the placement of screens, focusing on their positioning and the overall heart of the screen. Even though it might seem like a straightforward task to some, there’s an immense amount of detail that goes into it. Every element, from the arrangement of tables and chairs to maintaining balance and symmetry in the room, contributes to the overall experience. Many may not realize that even the slightest imbalance in the placement of just three chairs can significantly affect the perception of the event. Achieving visual harmony, where everything appears square and even, is crucial. It’s these details that clients might not be consciously aware of, but they can undoubtedly feel when they walk into the venue. Sometimes, clients may not fully grasp how these meticulous details came together to create the overall impression. – Marijana
Lighting and Atmosphere:
Talk about the role lighting played at this event. What were some considerations that influenced lighting design?
I work closely with the audio-visual team, providing them with a precise vision of the event and outlining how we plan to achieve it using lights. While I seek their input, my role is to guide them through the process, ensuring everything is ready before the client arrives. In this specific event, lighting played a crucial role in creating the desired ambience. Depending on the time of day, we utilized different lighting schemes. In the morning, we employed a light that reflected the early hours, gradually transitioning as the afternoon progressed into the evening, becoming progressively darker to align with the changing atmosphere. This careful use of lighting added an extra layer of detail to enhance the overall experience. – Marijana
Catering and Culinary Experience:
How did you curate catering options to align with the theme and atmosphere?
We opted for the Seven Seasons meal, a specially designed menu reflecting the seasons of the Larrakia. Managing dietary requirements and ensuring everyone was content with their meals required meticulous attention to detail.
The challenge extended beyond a single event as we had a welcome reception, dinner, and catering throughout the conference. Determining the demographic attending the conference and addressing varying dietary needs proved to be a crucial aspect that needed thoughtful consideration. – Marijana
How did technology improve the event experience for attendees?
For this event, implementing an efficient technological infrastructure was key. Recognizing the prevalence of smartphones, we insisted on upgrading the internet to higher standards at the convention centre. Although a free internet service was available, we chose to upgrade it due to the large influx of people. The focal point of our technological approach was the development of an app derived from our in-house event system, responsible for registration, program management, and various other aspects.
The app served as a versatile tool for attendees, aiding in navigation throughout the conference venue. Additionally, we streamlined the process for speakers by setting up a speakers’ prep area. This centralized point facilitated a smooth presentation submission process, eliminating the need for speakers to hunt for technicians across different rooms. While these technological elements were significant, no major groundbreaking technologies were introduced for this event. – Marijana