Sharon Bonner, president and CEO of Vancouver, B.C.-based Bright Ideas Events, has been producing events for three decades, so when it comes to design and themes, she’s seen fads come and go and knows how a theme can transform an event.

Bonner published The Bright Ideas Adventure–25 Years of Event Excellence on her website, which chronicles her event planning career. As the company turns 30 this year, a new division specializing in Event Consulting will launch in July 2018.

Meetings Today: What are some of your most popular and most-used themes for events?
Sharon Bonner: Believe it or not my most popular theme is Viva Las Vegas. People really seem to love the glitz and glam of Vegas, and we go all out with the giant dice, ostrich feathers, flashing dice necklaces and customized play money.

My second most popular theme is Around the World. With the technology nowadays, the world is a global network and I’m getting multiple requests to design events that showcases a certain theme globally.

MT: What new trends are you seeing with themes and design? And what has changed in the past five years?
SB: Metals and natural products such as wood are making a comeback. For the longest time the more bling the better, but I have been seeing a real softening in event decor to include more subtle tones and colors.

I would have to say that social media has really changed the way I produce events. When we structure our event plan in the initial phases, we now address the social media aspect into the activity and decor. Guests want to share their experience, so we need to give them an opportunity to do so. Plus, it offers the client a tremendous branding opportunity.

MT: How can groups put a new spin on themes that have been used over time?
SB: A client of mine wanted a tropical theme and mentioned a Hawaiian theme. I suggested we explore a tropical exotic destination in Africa or India. This way we could bring the same tropical elements but we could layer that with unique theme decor, cuisine and entertainment.