Event planners and organizers are always considering how to push the envelope of event design. But with progress comes risk, the risk of failure. C2 Montreal is an event known for pushing the boundaries of events and inspiring industry-wide progress. #EventIcons has invited Anick Beaulieu of C2 International to chat with us.
Anick is an accomplished event professional. She is a board member for Zú, the VP of Growth Partnerships, and the VP of Business Development for C2 International. With a knack for understanding the business goals of her C2 partners, she builds meaningful, long-lasting partnerships. Today, she talks about all things C2 and event innovation. Let’s jump in!
How Anick Beaulieu Came to the Events Industry
Before jumping into all things C2, Will wants to know how Anick came to the events industry. Here’s her story:
Anick’s story is what she considers “nonlinear.” She began in a family-run real estate business as a developer. “We were doing leisure properties. The parallels are numerous,” she says. “It’s project based. Then, there’s the notion of commercializing creativity.”
She continues: “C2 was actually a client of ours, and at that time my family was done doing that and I was asked by a friend to work for C2 for 3days. When I gave my report, my boss said, ‘I want to rebuild the sales team. Do you want to lead it?’ And I said, ‘Of course, yeah!’”
“It was right at the time they were starting to expand into the white label and space services. I thought it was a great product that had tremendous potential and fantastic clients,” explains Anick. “I also thought that my skills, everything that had to do with creativity and selling a vision or concept, were really being put to use. So I jumped in! And, here I am.”
How did the Pandemic Affect C2 Montreal?
Having had people from C2 on before, Will wants to look forward. He asks Anick about the future. “I think people will be most curious about where things are going in the future and how things are changing,” he says. “The last two years have been a crazy wild ride for all of us. What has the last 2 years been like for you? And, how are you continuing to move forward?”
Reflecting on the last two years, Anick believes C2 will learn from their experience. “I think we’ll be stronger for it. At the core, we’re an experienced company. When you start stripping away some of the tools or levers you have to create those experiences, you start being more creative about the experiences you can design,” she says. “We got to a smaller core of people that are extremely driven and asking, ‘What’s next? How do we keep evolving?’”
“When I think now, we looked at the upside of the situation,” continues Anick. “People were looking for new ways to elevate the experience. I feel that the industry is usually risk averse, but now people were stuck not knowing what to do. So I feel like they were more willing to try new things and take risks. Obviously, staff was up and down with lots of new people joining. This new blood is what you need to keep being innovative and different. That was the last 2 years,” she concludes.
What’s New with C2?
Location: Local Excellence, Global Relevance
As always, C2 is trying new things and pushing the envelope with its annual event. This year, they’ll be hosting the event in a new location using a variety of venues.
“We’re going to do a kick-ass event this year,” says Anick. “We have a bunch of new partners and a new venue. Lots is new at C2 Montreal. There’s a portion of the event that is going to be open to the public, which is a first because we usually have very remote venues. We always say that content is the center of an event. We’re bringing content to the center of the city.”
Will notes the new emphasis on Montreal for the 2022 event. “What’s really interesting is you have Montreal in the name. I will say, I didn’t feel integrated into the city,” he says. “It seems like your big goal now is, ‘We’ve shown the C2 side of things. Now let’s show the Montreal side of things.’ Is that why there’s this purposeful decision to bring the culture of the city in and make it more publicly accessible?”
“Absolutely! The way we do business in Montreal has a special magic. We’ve always embedded that in our event. I think what we want to do now is be there for our city in a more meaningful way,” explains Anick. “We like to say, ‘Local excellence, global relevance.’ So nothing is subpar at C2 Montreal. We love to do things with a flair, promote our own, stimulate business, and orchestrate it in a way that’s thoughtful.”
Pushing the Events Envelope: Progress Doesn’t Have to be Perfect
A key component of successful events is innovation. Both Will and Anick find this to be true. There is a balance between innovation and perfection, and C2 tries to walk that line.
Anick, “For C2, a lot of the focus is to ‘bring back’ a lot of what people are expecting that delivers a great experience. We have great design, stages, and a speaker lineup. The stage will be about 140 feet wide. This year the event will be hosted in the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. This is the HQ, and then we’ll use other offices as well. We’re really bringing in this city vibe this year,” says Anick. “One of the things we’re doing is taking over a floor of hotel rooms and turning it into an immersive experience. How can we take something that would be more traditional and funk it up? How do we show people that creativity has no bounds?”
“I remember when you did your digital event, it was early on, you did an excellent job,” says Will. “I would even accept something that went poorly or was executed poorly if it was pushing the envelope. I think that’s one of the great things about your brand, it’s so push-the-envelope that you forgive it, but I don’t think you have any mistakes!”
Anick wants to emphasize this point. “I’m so glad you brought this up! There’s something new we’re doing this year and the team was scared at first. I think there’s this healthy tension at C2 between being innovative and wanting to push the envelope and needing everything to be perfect,” she says. “When we deal with clients, the perfect angle wins. But under the C2 brand, people expect new. There’s almost more risk, in my opinion, to not do something new. We still need to execute with excellent, I’m not saying, do something new and don’t care about it, but being part of new stuff is always something we strive for.”
Will wraps up today’s episode with one final question for Anick. “Where do you go for inspiration and to stay on top of things?” he asks.
It turns out Anick consults a variety of sources for inspiration and knowledge. “I think one of things that’s really exciting about C2 is that we’re so diverse in our talent pool and our sources of inspiration are diverse too,” she says. “I read a lot. I read Wired Magazine and the Economist, so I have my go-to’s. Inspiration comes from so many places, anywhere. It’s about being curious and creating time to freely talk about stuff. Take time to engage, listen, and share.”
For Anick and Will, recent in-person, hybrid, and remote working changes have made intentional efforts to engage and communicate more critical than ever.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s iconic guest! Tune in next time for more #Eventicons!