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Back in Our Element: ARDA

American Resort Development Association

Bouncing back from a full year of virtual, LAI Live was ready to jump into a large, in-person event and we did that in Orlando, FL with ARDA’s Spring Conference! While the onsite experience was very much the same as before the pandemic, the pre-production process had some unique elements, as CDC and travel restrictions were still in place during much of the process and the rules were changing daily.

Planning the Event

The beginning phases of the event planning were both familiar and new. The process began the same way - with the graphic compilation design. Our Artistic Director created multiple design options for both the general session and the ever-important award ceremony, as well as custom graphics for scenic. Following the design process, he developed 400 show graphics to support the event.

Programming Development

While graphics were underway, the initial programming development, scenic design, and room layouts began. Because social distancing was mandatory, we worked diligently to find ways to adjust the programming while still maintaining the desired feel of the event. To avoid award handoffs, we added satellite stages with 4’x8’ trophy photo ops. During general sessions, panels became one-on-one interviews, allowing us to rotate out furniture for one time use while still providing the same content.

Socially Distanced Stage Set

The stage set was designed to the ballroom’s low ceilings and with social distancing in mind. The focus was programming and content, so LAI designed minimalistic scenic utilizing oversized lightboxes to create different environments through color changing LEDs and graphic. When creating diagrams, we offered four different options for each room set, breakouts included, with various amounts of distancing.

Back in Our Element

Once onsite, we were surprised and pleased at how comfortable everything felt. The conference was attended by more than double the expected registrants and attendees were thrilled to be there, not nervous. The act of loading in and producing six general sessions, an award ceremony, and breakouts felt second nature. There were some new elements such as robotic cameras in the breakouts for virtual viewers and more than the usual amount of room flips but seeing the large turnout, packed sessions, and attendee engagement leads us to believe live events are coming back!