Case Study: Best Motivational Event at the 2018 ICE Awards
Eight years ago, Equinix made a strategic investment in its sales force, by hosting its first-ever global sales meeting. The Vice President of Corporate Marketing worked to convince leadership to invest in an updated meeting experience that would achieve two important goals: impart critical information about the Company and inspire the sales team to overachieve against their targets. Since that time, the Equinix Events Team has continually challenged itself to raise the global sales meeting bar, with 2018 standing out as a particularly exceptional year.
best motivational award
Objectives Equinix's annual global sales meeting is known as Connect. In 2018, the Connect Events Team’s goals were to inspire, educate and motivate. Under each of these goals, the team mapped specific objectives to achieve continued innovation by introducing new learning concepts and ways of approaching the attendee experience. These included reframing the curriculum, expanding learning opportunities, experimenting with an alternative venue and making this a “green” event.
The Event Each year, the Equinix Events Team inspires attendees by creating immersive, sensory experiences. In 2018, the event kicked off with attendees standing together in a darkened ballroom, while the sound of a heartbeat vibrated through the air. Music swelled, as wind machines treated the audience to a surprising breeze. A video flickered onto the huge screen showing imagery of extreme athletes, anticipating the moment before they jump, ski, catch a wave—mimicking the adrenaline rush felt by these extreme performers. The experience introduced the theme of that year's conference—which was "GO!" At that moment, attendees immediately understood that it was "Ready. Set. GO!" for Connect 2018.
The message was clear. Equinix is strong. Equinix is fierce. Equinix is leading. Equinix is ready to GO!
Another major cool factor was still waiting in the wings. All 1,200 Connect ‘18 attendees were surprised and thrilled later that day when they ‘ were unexpectedly transported—with a police escort—to AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, for an afternoon of education and inspiration.
During Connect attendees were inspired by executive and customer presentations, entertained by comedic emcees and wowed by the use of the world’s largest screen.
Afterwards, attendees were invited down to the football field for a networking event, where they kicked field goals and danced to the sounds of one of Dallas’ famed DJs. The venue perfectly underscored a core message of the day: what it takes to truly be epic. Attendees reflected on what it meant to be epic performers in their work while celebrating the epic goals Equinix had achieved in 2017 and would pursue in 2018—all at an epic venue.
Connect ‘18 featured thought-provoking external speakers, including Magic Johnson, who not only inspired attendees through his legacy, but brought the crowd—and himself—to tears as he traveled through the audience and connected personally with members of the Equinix sales team. Gartner’s Bob Gill shared unique insights and perspective on the state of the industry. Geopolitics expert Peter Zeihan helped illuminate the world’s future state. Journalist Amanda Lindhout—who was kidnapped and held captive in Somalia for 460 days— inspired attendees through her story of courage and compassion. These external perspectives were balanced with inspirational, educational and motivational presentations by Equinix executives on the vision and direction of the company.
Throughout the event, Connect ’18 implemented a cascading educational strategy that reinforced regional go-to-market sales strategies and priorities, technical training and education. Formats for sessions were highly varied, from large-scale plenary keynotes to ten-person boot camp sessions, so attendees could choose the content and formats they felt would help them learn best. The programming agenda included “Meet the Experts,” product training and “Better Together” partner enablement sessions.
The Equinix Events Team wove the theme of Equinix’s Corporate Giving Program— “Be Well. Do Good. Stay Connected”—throughout Connect ’18. This program empowers employees to care for their wellbeing and the environment, while engaging in activities to give back to their communities. A new initiative for Connect ’18—the Connect Wellness Program—debuted s.a heartfelt challenge that rallied the sales team to pack meals for a charitable group called Rise Against Hunger. Connect ’18 also featured morning workouts and meditation; a wellness room where attendees could just relax; as well as environmental initiatives, such as offering refillable water bottles, recycling options and the option to decline housekeeping services at the hotel; and more.
Challenges Given all of the first-time magical moments the Equinix Events Team was working to create, Connect ’18 came with logistical challenges:
Transporting 1,200 people (including executives and the Events Team) to AT&T Stadium in Dallas, while keeping the destination a secret from attendees
Replacing the typical ballroom chairs with more comfortable executive seating in the General Session ballroom
Coordinating excess food packing and pickup with the conference venue and the nonprofit organisation receiving the packaged food from the team building event
Connecting more than 1,000 employees from around the world in a real and meaningful way
The AT&T Stadium surprise posed perhaps the biggest challenge as the arrival time for all attendees at the stadium was delayed after the venue postponed the load-in time for the production team. Connect ’18 attendees waited with anticipation as the event crew handled the logistics of delaying the motor coaches and negotiating with the Dallas Police Department to hold the police escort. The Equinix Events Team adjusted the timing and F&B at the stadium, all while keeping attendees entertained and relaxed at the hotel and keeping the final destination a mystery!
The Results Implementing green initiatives helped attendees reduce their carbon footprint. The Events Team worked with a management company to eliminate all beverages served in plastic; distributed reusable water bottles; replaced paper agendas with an app; and donated more than 1,000 pounds of leftover food to a local organisation that feeds the hungry.
The Equinix Events Team enlisted the help of external consultants to check the engagement of the Connect attendees during the event and also conducted an extensive post-event survey. Post-event surveys were sent to all 1,078 event attendees, with a 68% response rate.
Of the 731 respondents, 78% rated the event an 8 or above and 93% rated the event a 7 or above. Satisfaction ratings were in the 90s across all key measures.
Survey respondents noted their key highlights of the event: Magic Johnson connecting with colleagues, the high quality of the overall content, a strong level of interaction during workshops and boot camps, inspiration felt by employees—especially during the AT&T Stadium experience—and the Rise Against Hunger team challenge.
Survey results and valuable open-ended questions demonstrated that attendees felt honoured and privileged to be a part of Connect ’18. Attendees felt the event provided a premium experience, motivating the entire sales force to obtain its 2018 goals.
Throughout Connect, the entire Equinix leadership team was present and accessible. Connect demonstrates dedication to employees with a clear message—we value you—and that message was felt throughout the entire programme.
The Equinix Events Team delivered on its promise to inspire, educate and motivate.
Judges’ Comments Given that this was the first time the Equinix Events Team held the annual global sales kickoff in two different venues, the pressure was on the team to deliver. This event was so clear in its intent to inspire, educate and motivate, and the award submission excellently set forth how the execution delivered against every strategic goal. Right from the opening keynote, this event wowed its audience, delivering exciting and imaginative content interlaced with powerful 4D moments.
This event gives further proof that experiences and events can bring about tangible cultural change within an organisation, and the Equinix Events Team has proven this with Connect ’18.