INVNT and Xero rocked the corporate conferencing world with this year’s edition of Xerocon, held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre from September 5-6. From its fresh take on breakout sessions to an Elvis-run wedding chapel at the wrap party, this event used customised tools and ideas to take conferencing to the next level.
Laura Roberts, managing director of global ‘live brand storytelling’ agency INVNT in APAC, said: “Hailed ‘the Coachella for accountants’, Xerocon has achieved an almost cult-like following amongst the best in the business, so it was essential for INVNT to take Xerocon Brisbane to unrivalled heights of engagement and emotion.”
Xerocon was launched by leading accounting software brand Xero back in 2010 and today is the largest accounting technology conference in Australasia, bringing together more than 3,000 accountants, bookkeepers and financial professionals from Australia, New Zealand and Asia.
“This event is Xero’s opportunity to show its accounting partners and app partners “Xero love”, foster the Xero community and empower partners to grow their practice,” she adds. “The three key objectives for Xerocon Brisbane were to create an event that was inspirational, educational and that would encourage networking.”
INVNT used its experience delivering Xerocon Atlanta in the US earlier this year and the recent TEDxSydney as well as its proprietary INVNTion creative process and design methodology to produce a highly customised event and content.
“We partnered with the head curator of TEDxSydney, Fenella Kernebone, to assist with curating a bespoke and intelligent guest performance and speaker program to complement the various Xero-sessions,” says Roberts.
“This included working with the speakers to ensure their presentations were custom and relevant to the unique messaging of the event, and the Xero brand. Onsite, INVNT managed the speaker rehearsals.”
Speakers and performers included YouTube ‘beat-box sensation’ Tom Thum, followed by London bombing survivor, Gill Hicks, who gave a powerful speech on peace. Mark Manson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F&*k’, was flown in from New York to challenge the audience’s perceptions of self-help, while Andy Dexterity finished off the first day with his rendition of Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love’, which received a standing ovation.
“For the main stage keynote we created a custom-built stage that was ‘in the round’, which meant the audience was surrounding the stage in a 360-degree design that was shaped like the Xerocon ‘pin logo’,” says Roberts. “When it came time for the Xero-specific breakout sessions, we lowered in an X-shaped lighting installation that created a visual division and quadrant-like design.
“As the audience began to enter into the space, we washed each section in different colours, so they could navigate the stages. Using a Silent PA Technology System each audience member received their own headset, which allowed them to tune-in to the breakout presentation on their chosen stage. When it came for our external guests to perform or keynote speakers to present, the X-shaped installation was then lifted so the entire 3,000+ ‘live’ audience could enjoy as one unified group.”
Keeping the group together instead of separating for breakout was important to maintain a unified atmosphere, says Roberts.
“Typically, conference formats will have the audience divide and wander the venue searching for their breakout areas, which can often create a disjointed atmosphere and a disengaged audience."
We re-purposed the main stage so we could keep the entire group together and hold the various breakout sessions simultaneously.
The screens custom-produced for the event and made from FabFrame. All other AV was managed by INVNT’s AV partner, Technical Direction Company (TDC). “We also must credit the incredible lighting show, supplied by Resolution X and directed by the talented Paul Whitby,” says Roberts.
Drawing inspiration from the sunshine state location, INVNT threaded a Miami theme throughout the entire two-day production. This included a 24-metre custom-built pink pool filled with 250,000 balls, Xerocon Basketball Court, Putt Putt Golf and ping-pong networking activities.
INVNT also collaborated with BCEC’s head chef to continue the Miami theme through the catering, which included everything from breakfast taco cups, fresh juices and smoothies, to “dude-food” donuts, croquettes and pretzel bars.
“Wherever anyone roamed within the 20,000 sqm BCEC space, there was a unique ‘live brand experience’ that absolutely rocked any preconceptions of the traditional conference experience,” says Roberts.
For the networking drinks concluding the program on day one, INVNT flew in Lionel Cole from Los Angeles to perform with Song Division, the global pioneer in music team-building.
“We built a Perspex stage over the ‘pink pool’ where the band performed,” says Roberts. “I have to say, it was very entertaining watching the AV crew set up the tech and stage whilst wading through 250,000 balls!”
The two-day production ended with a ‘Brisvegas’ wrap party held at Cloudland, where over 2,000 attendees experienced the glitz and glamour of Vegas, which included 'social moments' created for engagement and to encourage posting and sharing globally.