Event Design

Four Snapshots From Collision

Ideas and innovations during a guided tour of the conference for technology startups, including but not limited to absolutely gorgeous signage.

When I attended the Collision conference in New Orleans last month, Sinead Murphy, director of live events for the conference’s producer, Dublin-based Web Summit, led a tour of Collision’s dynamic show floor at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.

There was a lot to take in on the 150,000-square-foot floor — so much that I’m just going to share a few highlights in the hope that they capture something of the seemingly spontaneous, thoughtfully curated happening that was Collision 2016.  For more about the  strategy and innovation behind the rapidly growing event — attendance has grown from 1,500 to 10,000 attendees in just three years — read our interview with Murphy here

Collision_wifi help
STOP RIGHT THERE Collision 2016’s event flow reflected the priorities of its community. Right at the entrance to the open-environment show floor sat information desks for Wi-Fi access and startups — key areas for a conference dedicated to Internet-dependent startup technology companies. As Sinead Murphy understated as we walked past these desks: “We’re a very demanding audience in terms of Wi-Fi.”

EVERYWHERE THERE’S SIGNS Throughout the show — standing tall on the floor, draped from the ceiling, adorning pillars — were handsomely illustrated signs that highlighted and explained various aspects of the program, from its font choices to its use of graph theory to (pictured here) its lanyard. “We usually put them in areas where people are quite stationary,” Murphy said, “so obviously at registration, when you’re standing in a queue. We’re trying to make that wait time good.”

BIG EASY STYLE “This is another way we’re incorporating New Orleanean culture,” Murphy said. “We don’t usually have a bar.”

PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE Powered by a belief in the importance of bringing together the exact right individuals — startup and investor, startup and fellow startup, startup and mentor — Collision offered a variety of spaces for them to sit down face-to-face. Like most of these spaces, Mentor Hours was bordered by a picket fence that helped establish a dedicated area for one-on-one time while not completely removing participants from the energy of the show floor.


Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.