How This Influencer Conference Brought the Five Senses to Life
At Social Media on the Sand, mom influencers experienced one sensory activation after another—and captured it all for their followers.
Photo: Catharine Morris PhotographyPROVIDENCIALES, TURKS & CAICOS—If there's one truism in influencer marketing, it's that creators crave content. So at the Social Media on the Sand, a conference from Beaches Resorts, organizers programmed inspiring speakers along with Instagram-worthy activations and meeting environments, letting the content do double duty to promote the Beaches Turks & Caicos resort.
For its fifth edition, the invite-only conference welcomed 100 mom influencers to the family-friendly Caribbean resort from October 16 to 20. The "Beaches Moms," as the community is called, pay a small conference fee plus extra for family members if they choose to make it a family vacation.
"The biggest rule for us is we always put ourselves in the attendee's seat and how will they best enjoy the experience?" said Rachael Salzer, senior brand specialist at Sandals Resorts and Beaches Resorts.
Returning as a conference partner was Gifts for the Good Life, which developed the event's branding and visual elements as well as gift experiences. They brought in Isabella Sikaffy of Florabella Studios to collaborate on the event design and bring it to life.
"We're always thinking about, how do we showcase the property? How do we help [attendees] to create content?" said Gifts for the Good Life co-owner Susan Turnock.
The idea was to celebrate the five senses. Every aspect of the conference was designed to be tactile, scented, tasty, and visually distinctive. For the sense of sound, attendees heard from the keynote speakers—It Cosmetics co-founder and C.E.O. Jamie Kern Lima, fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, and businessman and Shark Tank star Daymond John—and went to a concert from country singer Hunter Hayes.
Examples included the Five Senses on the Sand event, an Instagram playground that featured sponsored activations with larger-than-life immersive photo opportunities like fabricated snorkeling masks that attendees could pose with. The final-night Willy Wonka’s Splendiferous Fun Factory Party was a culmination of all the senses with activations like a scratch-and-sniff wall, oversize lollipop props, glowing gumdrops in the pool, and dancing oompa loompa entertainers.
The events also sought to be sensitive to guests with different sensory needs (Beaches properties are designated as Advanced Certified Autism Centers and welcome neurologically diverse children.) One night featured a "Silent Disglow" in which kids and parents donned headphones and tuned them to one of three DJs.
Finding the right pacing for the events—chronologically and visually—was one of the challenges.
"You can't just design the space, you have to design the energy around the space," said Gifts for the Good Life co-owner Heather Arak. "We did not want to reach a crescendo on the first day. It's a long event. How do we build and keep them excited and deliver the value, and feature the property in new ways that they didn't see last time?"
Another dimension to the event was the inclusivity of the branding, which extended to all collateral materials and wayfinding signage. "There is every type of body, every color person. It's a super diverse event," Arak noted, so it felt authentic to reflect that in the graphics—while still situating the women in a chic, beach setting.Salzer said the Beaches team worked to deftly integrate sponsors into the conference's programming. At Matchups and Mimosas beachside networking event, guests met with brands and sponsors and took part in activities like getting their hair styled by DryBar, creating custom tropical mimosa perfumes with scent sommelier Kelly Jones, or building headbands with Swarovski. The Beauty and the Beach Health & Wellness Village had hair and makeup appointments and mini spa treatments. The Sea the Future welcome party highlighted the 10-year anniversary of the Sandals Foundation, which supports areas including environmental conservation.