Joelle Talbot on creating a digital dining room experience

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14 June 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Fortis Events managing director Joelle Talbot says she has been looking inward at ways to get out and about and has come up with some brilliant bespoke events for Tāmaki Makaurau.

“I don’t like the word pivot, but I suppose that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

Joelle Talbot is reflecting on a fraught two years for anyone who works in a business like she does – premised around taking Kiwi travellers on unique trips so they can have awe-inspiring adventures and make amazing memories.

As challenging as it’s been, Joelle, managing director at Fortis Events, says being unable to travel internationally saw the company look to Aotearoa to create bespoke events unlike any others already on offer: Underground Sounds, which featured opera in the Waitomo Caves; a Roaring ’20s midwinter party at the Chateau Tongariro Hotel, and an evening of opera and fine dining at Auckland’s Park Hyatt Hotel.

“I’ve seen more of the country than I might have done, and I’ve been able to look at things through new eyes and work in partnership with others to create something a bit different,” she says. “I’ve also seen, during this time, how much people want and value experiences and connection. While international travel may be starting up again, we will keep doing things in New Zealand as well as overseas.”

And what she’s got planned next, in partnership with Total Events and ESP Ventures, could well be a first for Tāmaki Makaurau. As part of Elemental AKL 2022, the Digital Dining Room pops up in Ponsonby, offering the chance to take off around the world without leaving home.

Playing on the idea of mystery weekend trips, like those offered by Air New Zealand, guests will head to a mystery venue – one of Ponsonby’s many notable restaurants – where they’ll feast from a destination degustation menu and, thanks to a series of projections, imagery, sound and lighting that complements the carefully curated dishes, travel round the world without leaving the comfort of their table.

Effects are created using 3D projection mapping, something Joelle saw at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan where, she says, the technology is well-advanced and often used at events to create multi-sensory experiences.

“I haven’t seen it done here before, so it could well be a first for Auckland and a unique showcase for the technology.”

She says working in partnership with other companies was a way to stay engaged, have fun devising new experiences for local travellers and help other tourism and hospitality businesses.

Along with the Digital Dining Room, Fortis is also working on three Mystery Wine Mystery Dine events at Ponsonby Road eateries.

Each one has a different theme – a dinner, long lunch and happy hour-style afternoon – and aims to be a fun way to dine with friends and family, meet others and support local businesses.

Find out more about Elemental here.

This content was made in partnership with Auckland Unlimited.

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