Years ago I learned that, in the event industry, when David Adler talks, people listen.
And it's easy to understand why.
Adler is the CEO and founder of event industry media company, BizBash, which publishes magazines and e-newsletters, hosts Web sites, produces trade shows and award shows for event professionals and more.
His menagerie of interests, voracious appetite for learning new things and passion for events help him see a bigger picture many of us in the industry miss. Thus, he often forsees changes to which event professionals must eventually adapt.
I recently touched base with David to get his latest take on what is impacting our industry and how it is evolving as a result. The following is a Q&A taken from our email exchange.
What social, technological, and/or economic developments are having the greatest impact on events in 2013?
I believe that event professionals are more than just event organizers; they are “programmers of human interaction”. Technology is just one tool that enables human gatherings and has made them more effective and measurable.
As the economy gets back on track, the decimated event departments are morphing into marketing engines—the new generation of planners and organizers are more progressive than ever in using every tool in the kit to make events more effective. In fact, it’s not only the event that organizers are responsible for now, but the amplification of the event via social media and word of mouth.
'...it’s not only the event that organizers are responsible for now, but the amplification of the event'
Tools and sophisticated ticketing and registration platforms, like Eventbrite and etouches, include platoons of technologists who are working to be more efficient than ever.
New layers of automation are coming on board every day—including companies like Social Tables who personalized their seating and room diagraming programs.
Incubators are developing companies like 1Track that are creating Amazon-like predictability where your smart phone recommends products based on the photos you have taken at a specific tradeshow.
Event apps are spawning at the speed of sound and are going to be consolidating when leaders emerge, including companies like DoubleDutch that makes use of the data behind the apps, and Guidely that specializes in festival guides with an emphasis on covering costs with marketing campaigns.
Companies like Salesforce and marketing automation programs like Marketo and Eloqua are impacting the way attendees are nurtured for future sales. The new marketing approach is to use the combination of events and technology to build the “top of the sales funnel”.
'“Transformational Marketing” is trumping the age of experiential marketing with companies like Salesforce and Oracle “hugging” nearly 50,000 attendees at one time.'
Technology has had a generational impact with digital natives expecting much more from events, since they have seen it all. Event attendees either go in with low expectations or they expect to be transformed by an experience.
“Transformational Marketing” is trumping the age of experiential marketing with companies like Salesforce and Oracle “hugging” nearly 50,000 attendees at one time.
With help from Andrea Sullivan of Brainstrength Systems, we are seeing that events are being planned with brain chemistry and human behavior in mind. Everything from color palettes and seating, to first impressions and break foods impact every aspect of meetings and events, and are the difference between ineffectiveness and smart spending.
Self-interest by companies wanting to grow probably has the biggest impact on the event industry. Because media is so diffused today, owning the playing field becomes more important than ever.
Politicians have known about the secret of events for years. Events are the number one tactic in building trust between people and brands, as they create a medium for sales people to actually talk to customers.
What are the most important trends to watch as we move into 2014?
Decor is Social Media – Invest in ways to amplify your event over social media.
Authenticity Counts – Always know why you are doing an event and be true to the mission and culture of the organization. Make sure all elements of the event or meeting have a clear strategy and purpose.
Audience Curation is a Priority – Don’t think that just because you send out an invitation, attendees will come, or even get the invite. Find your sector curators and hire them to know who to invite.
Contact is King – Create ways to enhance the interaction after an event to make it easy for people to stay in touch with each other.
“Hug” and Train Your Customers (Stakeholders) – While it’s important to find new customers, keeping existing ones is more efficient than ever. Companies are turning training into mission critical meetings and events. Salesforce’s Dreamforce is a good example of a company using this strategy.
Go Mobile First and Foremost – All digital endeavors that touch events needs to have a digital strategy, including everything from responsive design to new ways of interacting. This means rethinking experiences, ticketing, presentations, post-event feedback, and more.
(To read the rest of David's insights about the event industry, look for my next post, Event Industry Challenges & Hope: A Chat with David Adler.)