We’ve been sharing some of the “wow” moments that happened during the UNTETHERED: Portland Studio Tour here at Seamless Events as we don’t want our event planning partners to miss out!
For those who don’t know, organizers of UNTETHERED Fall 2021 chose to change their 3-day hybrid event to multiple 1-day virtual Studio Tours when the COVID-19 Delta variant hit.
Because it must be said: they reprogrammed in just two weeks!
We’re so pleased we could be part of this “show must go on” revamp, as UNTETHERED is a unique series of events that brings event professionals together.
Below, we’ve pulled together our favorite insights from the senior event strategists and industry leaders who participated in the day’s “The Future of Events: All-Star Panel.”
Before we jump in, though, we’d like to acknowledge Naomi Clare (Founder & CEO, Storycraft Lab) for her deft moderation skills and Jenn Artura (VP, Global Events and Experiential Marketing, Workhuman) for her metaphor of the day:
“Contingency planning is like a giant layer cake now — another layer of frosting, another layer of cake — it just gets bigger and bigger!”
Key themes during the panel
- Adapting an industry that hasn’t seen much change in 50 years
- Embracing leadership
- Understanding shifts in event professionals’ roles
- Creating opportunities for new voices
- Being transparent about not having the answers during uncertain times
- Personalizing the attendee experience
“The future of events is all about faces in two places. The questions to ask now are: How do we make it different, how do we make it better, how do we make it more engaging — and how do we make engagement last more than the two or three days that a program normally happens?”
“We now have more tools in our toolbox. Part of this was an accelerator for an industry that kind of got into a ‘rinse and repeat’ in some ways. This has forced us to take a look at why we’re doing things and align decisions back to an event’s goals and business strategies. It’s not about having an event for the purpose of having an event. The strategy leads the decision around tools for hybrid or in-person.”
“Dell is known for really immersive experiences. We’re taking a very deliberate stance to say — if we’re building a hybrid event, let’s build content that’s focused and created just for that online experience with 15–20 minutes of real solid content.
We’ve seen a level of talent that’s risen to the challenge and taken on a lot of trainings and really become digital marketers [during the pandemic].”
“The pandemic has prepared us to be incredibly creative and flexible in how we solve problems. We’re being very intentional and purposeful about how we create events tailored to this new audience we have. Now, we’re all very selective about when we’re going to get on a plane, when we want to consume at home, and what kind of content we want to consume.
We have an opportunity to step back and figure out the roles we need in order to become successful over the next two years.”
“We’ve been able to ask across the country, ‘Who wants to lead this particular project?’ Those individuals would never have had that opportunity and it’s been very exciting and rewarding to see.
There’s also been an opportunity to look at internal processes. We’re creating a community of practice within our organization; we’re seeing what new voices in our community are able to bring to the table.”
“Make sure you have a place in the process for ideation and divergence with the design thinking.”
Having been the keynote speaker for the event, panelist Will Curran (Chief Event Einstein, Endless Events) moved into more of a listening mode for this session! However, he noted that the similarity in thoughts expressed by other panelists made him feel less alone. As a leader, he advocates for layering feedback tools; these include surveys, town halls, and peer evaluations. He also suggests applying the same feedback logic to event attendees.
While there’s no shortage of great advice above, we’d like to close with a timely reminder from Lynn Edwards:
“We’re in a field where we all strive for perfection. Now we’re trying new things, and there’s going to be failure. That’s what innovation is about. Embrace it, extract the learnings, and keep moving.”
Thanks to Lynn and the other panelists for inspiring and empowering us all!