The Gathering brand-marketing event in Banff, Canada kicked off on Feb. 3 at the Fairmont Banff Springs. Our group of journalists and meeting planners attended to see the property’s event venue in action and picked up some brand-marketing tips in the process—a relevant topic for meeting planners looking to expand their company’s brand or even brand their event better.
Highlights from Day 1 included presentations by Eric Petersen, senior VP of global brand for Lululemon, and Jonathan Mildenhall, CMO for Airbnb. Petersen spoke about building a brand through community and relationships. Simply educating your peers about the values of your company and giving them reason to “buy in” to the brand can help your brand grow. He encourages his employees to be 100 percent authentic in their approach to customer service. And when finances are down at a certain retail outlet, “doing more yoga” is the answer.
Mildenhall followed, sharing the challenges that Airbnb has overcome in order to make customers more comfortable with their product. The idea of having a strange person in your house is something that a lot of people have trouble understanding, which is why the brand launched its #OneLessStranger initiative last year. The company encouraged the public to perform an act of hospitality for a stranger and share it via a photo or video on social media outlets. People shared everything from free hugs to dance offs with strangers. The results: the advancement of the idea that our community is global, bridging that gap between stranger and friend.
While all the event speakers have had innovative messages about branding, they’ve also credited the destination with a lot of the high energy at the event. “I 100 percent believe that the destination is a selling point [for our event]. We take credit for the mountains and the hotel, but really it’s the setting of where we’re at,” says Sheldon Lachambre, managing director for The Gathering. “It’s not easy for people to get here, about 40 percent of our attendees are from the States and out East, but once you’re here, there’s this relaxed feeling because you’re at a resort and having a good time.
“This environment is spectacular,” adds Mildenhall. “I genuinely feel that this place is an inspiration and spectacular space to have your imagination stimulated. There’s something about looking at the view and walking around these grounds that gave me such a positive energy before getting on stage.”