The “wow” factor

Sarah Williamson is the creative director of Jack Morton Worldwide. She specialises in arranging events with a WOW factor and regularly aims at surpassing the expectations of her clients 

The WOW factor is perhaps the most frequently requested outcome campaign and subsequent event. Yet, it’s probably the most misunderstood part of any brief.

Achieving the right outcome
Naturally, our clients want events that look and feel amazing, but getting the WOW factor isn’t about having beautiful table centres and the right chairs. These details have to be perfect for the event to be a success, but to blow people away you have to know what the outcome is you’re trying to achieve. The WOW factor is something that event attendees will take away with them and perhaps move them into action. It may sound like a cliché, but achieving WOW is all about the planning of an event. As organisers, we have to be fearless and present our clients with big ideas that will achieve that. Equally, though, our clients have to be prepared to be challenged on what it is they want to achieve. 

Evaluating success
It’s important that the criteria for judging an event’s success are laid out in the initial brief. It can be as direct as increasing website traffic by 2,000 hits or as loose as pleasing the top-tier stakeholders. As long as there is a clear basis for success, then there is an objective to build the WOW around.

The importance of partnership
The WOW factor really comes out of a good partnership between the client and the creative team. If the relationship is viewed like a hired service, the same as the venue’s tables and chairs, the event will be flat. When it’s a vibrant exchange of ideas and honest outcomes, though, that’s when you get carefully crafted journeys that your guests will talk about for years to come.

Samuel Lee is an events professional who has worked on mega events including Luxperience and AIME

Great events are unique and will always include something that distinguishes them. It takes that 
extra “WOW” factor to create a lasting and impactful outcome, 
and the elements that create it should be sourced during the planning stage. 

W: This is the Why? Who? When? Where? What? 

Events are just one of the tools used to deliver a marketing message. It is important to use the “five Ws” to evaluate and justify the purpose of the event. Indeed, the Why, Who, When and Where are probably the first questions that should be answered at the beginning of the event planning process. Ultimately, though, it is the “What” that counts because it’s what you deliver that will bring everything together. The people, the place and the time are nothing without the event itself, and what that event is, is down to you. 

O: OMG factor

Thanks to the popular TV show, when describing a person we often refer to them as having the X factor. When it comes to events, we have to scale things up so that it’s all about the Oh-My-God Factor. The OMG moment, the OMG activity or even the OMG person will always be the key to keeping that buzz going for days, weeks, months or even years after your event.  

W: Wild!

The most important part of planning for the WOW factor in high-impact events is to go “Wild”. Any idea, no matter how improbable, outlandish or impractical should be considered. 

As the old adage goes, “two heads are better than one”. Nowhere is this more true than in creating WOW ideas because, the wild ideas generated during brainstorming sessions are often the best.

For me, it’s all about the participants’ happy faces and the radiant glow as they leave an event. That’s when I know that I have wowed them. 




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