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Case Study: Canadian Event Industry Awards

Canadian Event Industry Awards
by Laura Bickle

While the pandemic forced the postponement of the Canadian Special Events Live in June, the organizers were determined that its signature event, The Canadian Event Industry Awards, would go on. Partnering with a number of suppliers and working with a 3-week turnaround, the event went virtual.

The backstory: When the pandemic forced the postponement of the Canadian Special Events (CSE) Live Conference in June, the organizers were determined that its signature event, The Canadian Event Industry Awards, would go on. Partnering with a number of suppliers and working with a 3-week turnaround, the event went virtual. “CSE was not about to take the hard work of so many event profs and do nothing to award them for their innovative and creative productions. It took a professional village of event profs to pull it off,” says Janice Cardinale of The Idea Hunter.


Tech details: The event turned out to be a showcase for TK Events’ new software platform that has robust live-streaming capabilities as well as being able to host lounges, photo booths, live chat groups and other interactive content.

AV company bb Blanc staged the live elements in its brand-new studio and was the control centre for the event.

Slidepusher Media, along with Live Media Virtual Conference Specialists were enlisted to create and support the visuals.


Entertainment: The Idea Hunter sponsored the entertainment, with newscaster Mike Arsenault acting as emcee. The show was opened by a spoken-word poet and a teen contestant from America’s Got Talent performing “You Raise Me Up”. In the lounge, guests enjoyed a virtual photo booth and Bacardi cocktail mixing lesson. The show closed with an a cappella group performing a custom song.


The experience: Since the live event was originally scheduled at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex in Toronto, TK Events imported 3-D rendered graphics of the space into their platform. “It’s designed to have the same experience as a live event. It looks familiar and is a visually rich experience,” says Trish Knox, owner of TK Events. Attendees began the event in the courtyard and encouraged to explore various rooms within the venue. One special feature was the gallery, which profiled the nominees. “At the live event, you don’t normally get a chance to learn a lot about the nominees,” says Knox. “The gallery provided the opportunity to showcase each nominee and the details of their accomplishment that landed them the nomination.”


Fun factor: Event professionals in Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria hosted in-person watch parties (in compliance with social distancing procedures); the emcee cut to them several times through the event. “They enabled us to take the show ‘live’ across the country,” says Knox.


Tech trick: All nominees were asked to pre-record their acceptance speeches to avoid glitches.


Social distancing protocols: “Since some elements were filmed, strict guidelines were in place,” says Melissa Deslauriers, director of marketing with bb Blanc in Toronto. “Talent would walk in one door, present, and then walk out another door and all staff wore PPE.”

Lessons learned: “Work within everyone’s comfort level and get pre-recorded elements as early as possible,” says Deslauriers.

“It was a unique moment in time,” says Knox. “Everyone was so excited to be together. There’s nothing more anxiety-inducing than doing something for your peers. We took a lot of risks, but everything went better than we could have imagined.”

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