Best International Festivals in 2013

With so many amazing and eccentric festivals being held all year round across the globe, you’d be mad not to include at least one in your travel itinerary if you’re planning a trip overseas in 2013.

Given the sheer volume of incredible events happening globally in 2013, it can become near impossible to choose which ones you want to be a part of. But worry not, we’ve put together a list of the best and most outstanding festivals to check out and immerse yourself in.

La Tomatina – Spain

Every summer in Spain, tourists and travellers from all over the globe swamp the town of Bunol in Valencia to take part in this curious event. Thousands of participants flood the streets for the world’s biggest tomato fight. Trucks haul loads of tomatoes in and punters pelt each other with them for anywhere between 1 – 2 hours. It’s messy, it smells, but what an amazing way to spend an afternoon. La Tomatina occurs on the last Wednesday of August each year.

La Tomatina - courtesy of lysurgis23 on flickr

Carnival – Brazil

Every year, Rio de Janeiro lights up with quite possibly the largest culmination of sparkles, feathers and lycra on the planet. There’s dancing, parades, music, parties, and the most elaborate costumes and parade floats in existence. All across the city, events are held in celebration of Carnival, including balls, dance workshops, performances, street parties, and much more. The next Carnival will begin on February 8th 2013 and the partying continues until February 12th.

Glastonbury – UK

The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts is one of the biggest and most well known music festivals on the planet. Each year, punters travel to Glastonbury to see some of the most renowned and influential bands and musicians perform live over four huge days. If you love live music, it’s not to be missed. This year the festival falls on the 26th – 30th of June. Keep a close eye out for the next ticket release in April.

Burning Man – USA

This is an event which almost defies description. Picture a flat, arid, dusty patch of desert, miles from nowhere. Now picture a temporary city of ten thousand, erected in this space with the sole purpose of partying, dancing, performing, and becoming part of an amazing temporary community. The desert fills with interesting characters, awe-inspiring sculptures, dazzling lights and eclectic music. There are no cars allowed, and there is nowhere to buy food and drinks – the event works on a system of sharing. Bring your most outrageous outfits! The next burning man will be held August 26th – Sept 2nd.

San Fermin – Spain

Of course you’ve heard of the running of the bulls, well San Fermin is the week long festival in spain that gave wind to this well known tradition. Punters travel to Pamplona to run through the streets avoiding the pointed horns of a group of not-so-friendly bulls while spectators look on in awe. During the San Fermin festival, there is a bull running event each day at 8am from July 7th to July 14th. The festival also hosts pyrotechnic displays, street parties, and other unique events.

These are just a handful of the amazing events on offer in 2013, but they are certainly the most unique and our top picks for prospective punters. Whether you’re off on holiday, looking for artistic inspiration, seeking thrills or maybe even looking for the best examples of large-scale events for an event planning company, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for. Whatever direction you choose to take, there’s no doubt than any one of these will create memories you’ll never let go of.

How Your Company Can Make More Money by Rewarding Staff

There’s a modern movement in the business world that is constantly pushing for happy workers, increased morale and rewards for staff. For some businesses and business owners, this idea may still sound novel, but it’s fast becoming widely accepted that creating a positive organisational culture and cultivating satisfaction amongst the ranks is not just about satisfying the Human Resources Manager.

Studies and surveys are constantly upturning proof that having happy employees has a direct and positive effect on productivity and, subsequently, profit. The practice of rewarding staff in the workplace with the aim of increasing your bottom line is mutually beneficial for workers and companies alike. This works in several ways:

Rewarding staff - courtesy of ohwhatachristy on flickr

Mutual Respect

When an organisation and its management show a genuine investment in the interests of an employee, the employee will, in turn, foster a genuine investment in the interests of the organisation. This means that, by feeling the company cares about him or her personally, that worker will care about what the outcome of the work they are producing means to the company, and will work toward fulfilling the company interests. If sales are the goal, the individual will work toward better sales. If production is the goal, the individual will work toward increasing production.

For this approach to be effective, management should demonstrate care for the individual’s personal and working life. This can be done in many ways, from granting time off when applied for, to sending flowers when sick, to rewarding workers with goal-driven incentives, or even a simple face-to-face chat with management.

Training

Training staff and increasing their skill sets goes a long way to increasing job satisfaction and is personally rewarding. Workers are happier within an organisation when they feel they have opportunities to progress. Not only does this increase morale and retention rates, but this works in favour of the business too because workers are more skilled, more efficient, more capable and more productive.

Providing training for staff also opens up opportunities to recruit from within, saving time and money on external recruitment and training.

Compassion and Attention

Compassion for staff members is important for efficiency and efficacy too, not just morale. When management talk to employees and really listen to suggestions and complaints, they are able to find out what is important to workers, what they need in order to carry out their job better or more effectively. If your staff are producing results more efficiently, then your company will be saving time and money.

When these suggestions are heard and actions are taken, this also provides workers with a sense that they have the ability to change factors in the workplace, to improve practices or procedures, and to be heard on a personal level, thus increasing morale and providing a sense of ownership.

Give a Little, Gain a Lot

Small incentives and rewards programs for your workers may have a little impact on the bottom line but they can also have an exponential effect on loyalty and productivity. Loyalty will mean you save money on external recruiting and retaining with better retention rates within the organisation. Losing a staff member can make a big dent in productivity when schedules are tight and replacing them is costly and time consuming.

By the same token, when you increase productivity as a result of goal-based incentives and by generally increasing worker morale and job satisfaction with rewards programs, this means you’re producing more for less and winning out overall.

Rewarding staff will mean that your business, management and staff will all feel the benefits and the workplace will become a positive environment, not just on a personal level, but also in productivity and profit.

If you haven’t got anything in place yet, a great idea is to work with an incentive company who can help you structure incentive and rewards programs that suit your organisation and budget. With benefits so widespread, you’d be crazy not to get started right away, and your staff will love it.

Top 7 Must Haves for a Successful Conference

Every year, conferences are held all around the globe for all sorts of audiences from all walks of life, hungry for new training, knowledge and networking opportunities.

But what makes for a successful conference? What must you do, as a host, to ensure your event is enjoyable, educational and memorable? As a guide, we’ve assembled the top 7 “must haves” for a successful conference. Follow these conference planning tips to the fast track toward an unforgettable event.

"Business conference" courtesy of SupportBiz on flickr

First Impressions Are Everything

If you’re a part of the business world, then you’ll know the old saying that “first impressions are everything.” When planning your event, this certainly rings true. Consider all the tiny details that will play a part in making or breaking the conference experience for attendees before they’ve started the first presentation.

Marketing, invites and promo videos are the first medium to interact with potential punters. Think about how these portray the upcoming event. Consider things like venue, music selection, catering – all these elements need to work together to “wow” your attendees.

Choose Your Venue Wisely

Aside from the aesthetic value of a venue, make sure that it’s perfectly suited to your event and ties in with the corporate values of those who you’re catering to. In particular, make sure you book a suitable sized venue – you don’t want guests to feel crowded, nor do you want guests to feel like the place is half-empty.

Research Your Speakers

When choosing your speakers, make sure you are well informed and know exactly what you want and what to expect from a speaker. Find out who is generating a lot of interest, popular speakers bring an audience in. Find out what the hot topics are so you can choose speakers who specialise in these areas. When choosing your speakers, check out any audio recordings or video footage of their presentations. Ultimately, if you do plenty of research to find the best possible fit, you’ll set yourself up for success with no disappointing surprises.

Plan Your Tech to a Tee

You’ll need to have all your audio, video and other technical equipment configured properly for the venue. Make sure your sound is high-quality and reaches everybody in the room, make sure any screens or monitors are visible everybody, and have some tech support staff in attendance to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Present Your Presenters

Don’t underestimate the importance of a good MC for the duration of the conference. Somebody with skill in public speaking and confidence in capturing a crowd’s attention will go a great length toward creating a positive and entertaining flow between presentations and workshops.

Diversify the Content

Keep in mind that everybody is different. Each guest will have different perspectives, different interests and different learning styles. If your talks and workshops throughout the conference are not varied in their style, presentation and content, then it may be very difficult to include and interest a wide range of personalities. Make sure you keep it fresh, with lots of different speakers and subjects on offer.

Encourage Involvement on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool in marketing and networking. It will benefit you greatly to put it to use by encouraging lots of activity on social media throughout the conference. Encourage guests to network online with each other as new business contacts and encourage sharing of notes and information via mediums like Twitter and YouTube. All this online activity will generate wider interest in your event by taking advantage of each guest’s personal online network.

Enjoy Yourself!

First and foremost, don’t forget to enjoy your event. When you’re relaxed, positive and showing a genuine enjoyment in being there, your attitude will radiate throughout the rest of your event, staff and guests.

Just remember to always do your research and, when in doubt, why not call a professional? There are so many event planning organisations out there with a wealth of experience to help your create an amazing event with confidence and ease.

These seven basic steps are all you need to kick-start the most successful conference of your career. So what are you waiting for? Get started!

Best Australian Events for Summer 2012/13

It’s that time of year again, when punters come out to play, businesses showcase their best and event management companies are run off their feet. Yes, it’s summer, it’s festival season, and it’s time for all the biggest and brightest events of 2012.

Here are just a few of the best Aussie events left to see this Summer.

Australian summer events. Image courtesy of natalie_v on flickr

Tasmania Taste Festival, Hobart

Tasmania’s Taste Festival is an annual seven day event running from 28th Dec 2012 – 3rd Jan 2013. This waterfront spectacle brings a showcase of the best Tasmanian produce to the banks of the beautiful River Derwent. Everything from fruits, cheeses, beer, wine; it’s a seven day smorgasbord that’s not to be missed.

Party on the Park, Sydney

On the 7th December 2012, David Park becomes host to Sydney’s Korean Cultural event, Party on the Park, held at the Korean Cultural Office. From 6pm it’s a Korean showcase, with exhibitions, live entertainment, free food and drink, and even prizes up for grabs. It’s a free event, but be sure to book a place now and get some Korean culture into your silly season.

Lights of Lobethal, Adelaide Hills

From 9th – 31st December the town of Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills lights up the night sky with the largest community display of Christmas lights and decorations in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s an historical tradition that’s been continuing for over 60 years, and is a spectacular sight to behold.

Lighting of the Brisbane City Christmas Tree, Brisbane

At 6.45pm on the 30th November 2012, Brisbane City light their Christmas tree in King George Square for the first night of the year. What sets this tree apart is that it’s the largest solar powered Christmas tree in Australia. The Lord Mayor of Brisbane will host the event, joined by special guests who will entertain and dazzle – including a guest appearance by Santa.

Red Bull Lighthouse to Leighton, Fremantle

Starting at Phillip Point on Rottnest Island on the 15th December, the Red Bull Lighthouse to Leighton kite surfing race is the longest kite surfing race in the world. Kite surfers race through 19km of the Indian Ocean and finish at Leighton Beach in Fremantle. With masses of kites parading along the ocean against the beautiful coastal backdrops, it’s a spectacular event.

Twilight Christmas Markets, Melbourne

What better way to get your Christmas shopping done than by spending an evening in Melbourne’s Docklands, enjoying the finest local produce and goods that Melbourne has to offer for the Christmas season. There’s a huge array of gifts, foods and even entertainment, carols and Santa, to get you into the Christmas spirit. The markets will be held on the 7th, 14th and 21st December, on Harbour Esplanade.

Emma and Tom’s Christmas Run, Melbourne

If you’re looking for something a little more physical, get your friends and family along to Emma and Tom’s Christmas Run in Albert Park on the 5th December. Fundraising for Emma and Tom’s Christmas Run is a great way to give a Christmas gift to the community, with all money raised going to Australia’s only public cancer hospital, Peter Mac.

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

The iconic Sydney to Hobart yacht race is a 67 year old Australian sporting tradition. The race will be held from the 26th Dec – 1st Jan. Whether you’re there to see the event kick off, or to welcome the weathered sailors to the finish line, it’s an event that you should see at least once in your lifetime, and join in the celebrations of this nautical tradition.

New Year’s Eve at Sydney Harbour

New Year ’s Eve is marked by celebrations and spectacle almost everywhere around Australia, but no city puts on a display quite so spectacular as Sydney. With fireworks launched from the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and celebrations lighting up the whole harbour, parties, music and festivities flood the city all night long. Be there on the 31st of December for a night you’ll never forget.

With so many events scheduled for Summer 2012, and even more to come in 2012, it’s almost impossible to choose, but remember – there’s always next year!