Category: entertainment.

How To Plan An Event for Millennials

As an event professional it is very important to understand how to plan an event for millennials. Millennials are the generation of people born between 1982 and 2002. “They are currently between the ages of 15 to 24 and by 2020, they will represent one-third of the global population” Talk Desk.  It is safe to say that by millennials being nearly ⅓ of the world’s population they have a lot of buying power and as an event professional you need to know how the plan an event for millennials in order to be successful. With some millennials not even adults yet, they will be your clients for a long time.

When planning an event for millennials there are three main points you need to understand; they are tech savvy, they are budget conscious, it is harder to keep their attention. We will address the above points below in our article to give you a more in-depth understanding of how to plan an event for millennials. If you understand these key points below about millennials you will be better equipped to understand how to plan an event for millennials successfully.

Millennials are Tech Savvy

Millennials are the first generation of people to grow up with computers, cell phones, and the internet as a regular part of their lives. When planning an event for millennials you need to involve technology. It is important to include many elements of technology into everything from your event marketing all the way till the actual event.

Be sure to have a great website that is device friendly for your event. More than likely your website will be the main portal for attendees to find information and make the decision whether your event is worth the investment or not.

You will also want to have a mobile app at events like conferences to allow attendees to have immediate accessible information and the ability to connect with other attendees right at their fingertips.

This generation also grew up with social media. It is in your best interest to incorporate social media into your event. If you have no idea where to start with social media check out our article How to Use Social Media to Create an Immersive Event Experience.

Millennials are Budget Conscious

According to PNC Financial Services the average millennial carries $45,000 in debt. They are very careful with the money they do have because of the weight of the debt they carry. Millennials tend to spend their money on investments with a great deal of value instead of flashy luxury items. An event or conference with strong educational value that has promise to solve their actual real world problems and issues are what millennials are seeking. Make sure your speakers are there to educate and solve problems, not just to promote themselves. This is key to your success with millennials.

A great way to help minimize cost and allow more millennials to come to your event you might want to offer a special early purchase discount, or contests for free tickets to the event on social media. Millennials also love to travel so having your event in a great location will help attract millennials and allow them to justify the cost.


Millennials Need An Interactive Experience

If you have followed the first two steps it is likely you will be able to get a great turn out at your event, but now you have to keep their attention. A big part of understanding how to plan events for millennials lies in keeping their attention.

Millennials grew up in the age of information and news being delivered in bite size clips. This is the age of twitter and social media where most information is kept brief and scannable. To make sure you keep millennials attention keep your speakers lectures brief (never longer than one hour), and be sure to use visual elements such as photos and videos to keep your audience engaged.

Also, do not just have them sit and listen to lectures. Millennials really value networking opportunities. They believe there is a lot of benefit in networking and finding new connections. Having networking events such as a networking breakfast, lunch or happy hour is also a great way to break up the monotony of lecture after lecture we so often see at conferences. Including networking opportunities at your event allows for a more immersive and engaging event experience.

If you follow these 3 steps on how to plan events for millennials you will surely have success with this powerful generation who will continue to be a part of your events for years to come.

How To Host a Great Gatsby Party: The Revival of Vintage-Themed Parties

There’s no doubt that media influences event themes, from Despicable Me Minion cupcakes at birthday parties to Frozen, Midnight in Paris, and James Bond themed events. Themes are the perfect way to jazz up any event. They also provide flair, planning direction, and icebreakers for your guests. Themes can simplify planning, invoke excitement for those who enjoy dressing up, and bring something special to each unique function. These parties are an exciting, invigorating way to approach an otherwise boring, predictable event.

A few years ago, fashion and media revolved around a fascination with the 1940s; reminiscent of Golden Age thinking and a belief that the past was simpler, kinder, and purer. Alternatively, because the tycoons of the past knew how to party, and could take a drink any hour of the day (ie. Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire). Similarly to the 40s and the day-drinking attitude of roughish leading characters; the 20s boasted a time of excessive drinking in the face of prohibition.

“The Roaring Twenties” have risen to popularity in media with Midnight In Paris, and naturally, Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby; there is something intrinsically popular with the 1920s and its simplicity, a godsend for event planners. What is seductive about the 20s from an event perspective, is the wild, carefree style it seems to inspire. For the 20s, an age nestled between wars, and on the brink of depression, the flappers, philosophers, vixens, and gangsters had no choice but to party until the sun rose. Thus, the 20s are a perfect recipe for Carpe Diem or more newly named YOLO. You Only Live Once so why not party like the world will end tomorrow?

The 1920s are a perfect theme for any occasion; a New Years Eve bash, office, anniversary, or birthday party. This theme doesn’t seem like it’s going to go out of fashion any time soon, and can be effortless to pull of, merely because there is little to no historical accuracy linked to flappers and vintage parties anymore. Few remember details other than bold makeup, short hair, and flapper dresses which are popular in fashion today.

Hosting a Great Gatsby party can be as simple as providing booze, cheap pearls, and an invite that demands Great Gatsby Party costumes. Throw in some jazz and the event is transformed into a decadent and charming affair. Historical accuracy has been recklessly abandoned by many who pursue such a theme, just as the inhibitions of the era that has inspired this particular theme (oh the irony!). While fashion and makeup trends continue to adore the 20s, there’s no doubt that this theme will continue to be popular; proving that the media and fashion industries are not sick of it yet.

Gatsby is here to stay, and these wild parties have a vaudeville, never-care, “YOLO” attitude which will inspire only the truest sense of the phrase Carpe Diem. So if you haven’t already, plan the Greatest Gatsby party ever, and you’ll find that A Little Party Never Killed Nobody.

Inspiring Tips for planning the perfect Great Gatsby Party:

  • Setting the tone: Provide Pearls (or Mardi Gras beads) and fun scarves for dancing around in.
  • Music ideas: Electro-swing for a fun futuristic fusion, Ruth Etting, or similar era-accurate artists, Jazz or Big Band Swing Music. Also consider The Midnight in Paris, and The Great Gatsby Movie soundtracks.
  • Food: for a decade focused either on surviving between wars, on the cusp of debt and depression; or living like the world was going to end with luxury and over spending; anything is possible from small appetizer bites to full plated dinners, dependent on the level of historical accuracy you wish your party to have.
  • Venue: anywhere from a jazz bar, to an exposed brick apartment, or the basement of a home; 1920s “Prohibition Parties” can be squished into any event, depending on your guest list and number of attendants.
  • For a real flair: print out pages of The Great Gatsby book (free online) on card stock and use as name cards, napkins, or decoration.

Engaging Audiences with Live Twitter Feeds

Social media is your gateway to untapped marketing potential. Its effectiveness, though, is dependent on how well you use it for generating a long-term rapport in your B2B or B2C interactions. The power of a 140-character tweet should not be underestimated and should be leveraged during a live event or seminar. Studies show that social media users are 71% more likely to purchase a product from a brand they’re connected with.

Incorporating a live Twitter feed for your next conference or trade show is a great way to keep the interaction with your guests flowing. The last thing you want is for your guests to become disengaged by tending to personal matters on their phone or leaving early. Learn the top strategies for using a Twitter wall to keep the attendees’ attention.

Encourage Proactivity With a Live Twitter Feed

The idea of a live Twitter feed is to encourage guests to tweet about your event as it’s in progress. It’s not enough, though, to just spread a few digital signage screens over the venue and expect an instant Twitter explosion full of tweets about how awesome your event is. Use these following tips to get the ball rolling.

1. Use an Event-Specific Hashtag

Come up with a specific hashtag and include it for all your tweets related to your event. When guests begin using that hashtag for their own tweets and Instagram photos, the posts will automatically be pulled into your Twitter wall where it will be seen by the attendees. Tweets with one to two hashtags are also 55% more likely to be retweeted, so use them to create buzz both before and during your event.

Ideally, the hashtag should include the name of the event, the year, and the geographical location. However, only incorporate these elements if you can do so while keeping the hashtag short. Use abbreviations whenever possible to prevent the hashtag from becoming too drawn out. Here are some examples:

Yes: #ImportAutoShowNY
Yes: #ImportAutoShow2015
No: #ImportAutoShowNewYork2015

Yes: #B2BExpoLA2015
No: #Business2BusinessExpoLA2015

Yes: #FashionFest2015
No: #FashionFestAlbuquerque2015


2. Be the Conversation Starter

Have you ever experienced that awkward silence when a friend leaves after introducing you to a mutual buddy? The same can happen with a live Twitter feed where the conversation just comes to a halt. That is a deathtrap and is a bigger indicator that your audience is losing interest. Remember, you have to be the one to get the ball rolling. To do just that, have your staff members exchange tweets with one another and include messages that will encourage guests to chime in with their two cents.

How can this be done? Here is an example exchange:

Tweeter 1: The guest speaker is about to come on stage, Can’t wait. ☺ #TradeShowSF2015

Tweeter 2: The anticipation is giving me goosebumps. Wonder how excited the guests are? #TradeShowSF2015

Tweeter 1: Just a holler from one guest about what they’re feeling right about now would make the anticipation even awesomer. #TradeShowSF2015

In the sample exchange above, the Tweeters are clearly speaking indirectly to the audience to elicit a response. Once the guests begin tweeting, try responding to each tweet to get each person to continue tweeting. Obviously, you won’t be able to do this with every tweeter if your wall becomes bombarded with tweeters, which is of course what you want.

When beginning a tweet exchange feel free to get creative and incorporate humor and text-speak to come off as approachable and respond-worthy. Just be sure to keep the posts relevant to the event or at least your industry in general.

3. Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Selfie

Selfies are the rage these days and are what comprises the collection of most celebrity Instagram accounts. How might you use selfies to your advantage? Just as you get people to submit tweets, you can have them do the same by submitting a selfie, which will then appear on the Twitter wall. To make it more interesting, encourage attendees to submit a funny-face selfie, or challenge them to take a group selfie with someone they don’t know. You can actually make this into an ice breaker. Here are some other selfie ideas:

  • A selfie with a staff member
  • A selfie pose with a product they purchased from the event
  • A group selfie of five people or more (selfie stick required)

I remember a recent trip to the grocery store where a young female customer approached me at random and asked me to take a selfie with her while making a funny face. I don’t know what the purpose was for, but why not incorporate something similar for your event? You can even encourage participation by letting the people know that the pics may be used for marketing purposes. Most people would love for the opportunity for their photos to be seen by the mass public.

This marketing trick is especially useful if your industry caters to the young adult demographic. Over one million selfies are taken each day, and one out of three comes from those in the 18-24-year-old demographic. If your industry is in a sector like video games, muscle cars, or teen apparel, then this is a must-try tactic.

4. Promote Your Content

A live Twitter wall can be used for other purposes other than just displaying tweets. Here’s an interesting marketing stunt to give a try:

Use the monitors to show some sort of marketing material. This may be a promotional video for a product launch, a montage of customer testimonials, or even a general company video. Show the video at regular intervals and then switch to a message encouraging attendees to share or like the video on their social media channels. Include a real-time meter of the total amount of social shares generated. Let them know that if the meter surpasses a certain threshold, then every guest gets a prize. You can keep the prize a mystery, or give out something small, perhaps a discount code exclusive to the guests or a promotional gear like a company T-shirt.

If a prize is involved, the audience will be more inclined to participate and share with their friends and encourage them to “like” as well. In lieu of a prize, you can also promise something amusing. Perhaps a CEO or other high-ranking company member will do something video-worthy like dunk himself in a water tank while fully clad in an expensive suit. You can even make it more appealing by promising to use that video to raise awareness for a charitable cause, similar to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The Power of Technology Is at Your Fingertips

You want to provide value to your guests who took the time out of their schedule to attend your event. The goal is to raise brand awareness while adding entertainment value to maintain the engagement factor. Guests who leave the event on a high note will be more likely to become long-term customers whom which you can rely on for maintaining brand loyalty. With a live Twitter feed, you have an out-of-the-box resource for taking customer interaction to a whole new level.

Category Event Planning Tips

History can be an amazing teacher in politics and economics, but it can also be a great way to learn from some of the best event planners who have ever lived. Take a look at 5 notable event tips from people who knew how to entertain. From Manhattan Socialites who dominated high society newspaper columns, to heads of state, to famous entertainers, our list is filled with unique individuals known for hosting amazing events. So take a second to learn from history’s greats to discover invaluable event planning tips.

1. Brooke Astor

Event Tip: One must always be poised, no matter the circumstances

Wife of millionaire, William Vincent Astor, Mrs. Astor became a fixture of New York City high society. Her numerous parties, philanthropic fundraisers, and luncheons were stuff of legend. To be invited to one of Brooke Astor’s events was to be included in a very exclusive club indeed.

Brooke Astor’s events were so popular and successful not only because she was tied to wealth, it had to do with her incredible ability to remain calm and graceful no matter the situation. In an interview with Vanity Fair, she talked about the need for a host to forget about their problems in order to remain attentive to guests. She said, “Forget disasters; they are part of life. Nothing is meant to be too easy. You must take these incidents in stride—tonight you are [entertaining] friends.”

2. President Franklin Roosevelt

Event Tip: Make your events fun and you shall be rewarded

The only President of the United States to serve three terms in office, President Roosevelt knew a thing or two about hosting incredibly important events. During World War II, he often invited heads of state to the White House to discuss things like world peace, and how to stop the spread of Nazism (ya know, small stuff).

But despite the enormity of what was discussed at these events, President Roosevelt always made sure his guests had a good time. In a biography of his Presidency, Dorris Kerns Goodwin recounts how he and world dignitaries like Winston Churchill would share a few glasses of brandy, and dance around the White House before getting down to brass tax.

So take a page out of President Roosevelt’s book and be sure to create a fun environment for your guests to relax and network with one another. It doesn’t matter if you event is focused on a serious and professional topic like business best practices, fun (and maybe a bit of alcohol) is always welcomed by guests.

3. Consuelo Vanderbilt

Event Tip: Create events with a purpose

Not all Victorian era socialites were just concerned with corsets and high tea. Consuelo Vanderbilt was one of the first high-minded women to champion causes such as labor conditions and women’s rights. She organized meetings and larger events to bring her peers together to discuss the most pressing issues of her time.

Rather than hosting another frivolous get-together, Consuelo Vanderbilt created some of the most talk-about events of her era by making them meaningful. Attendees were expected to come with an opinion and a desire to make things happen. This helped to infuse the Vanderbilt’s events with fantastic energy and optimism.

The next time you host an event, be sure to communicate why exactly your attendees should come, and give them a small assignment to do before they show up to give everyone a sense of purpose on event day.

4. Frank Sinatra

Event Tip: Engaging speakers go a long way

It seems that every celebrity worth mentioning has a notable Frank Sinatra story. From sports anchor, Ahmad Rashad to preeminent oscar nominee, Meryl Streep, most famous people have a story or two to tell about Mr. Sinatra. Sinatra was known to be a gregarious host and regaled his guests with stories of his escapades on the road. Of the galas, and parties celebrities like Streep and Rashad had attended, why is it that Sinatra’s parties stand out in their minds? It’s because Sinatra supplied his guests with an amazing and captivating speaker – himself.

Event professionals should recognize the importance of providing attendees with speakers who are not only informative and qualified, but who are also engaging. For an event speaker to be memorable, they must be able to pull their audience in, away from distractions of work and fellow attendees. It’s key to making sure attendees will remember your event.

5. Jay Gatsby

Event Tip: Create a spectacle and wow your audience

Ok, so maybe Mr. Gatsby is a fictional F. Scott Fitzgerald character. But, wouldn’t you have wanted to attend one of Gatsby’s famous parties? The well-to-do characters in Fitzgerald’s book certainly did, why? It’s because Gatsby always went all out when hosting a party. From beach-side fireworks to endless champagne and impeccable food, Gatsby created a spectacle at his events.

Keep these event planning tips in mind the next time you’re in a position where you must truly entertain attendees. Create a spectacle by using unique lighting and event design in addition to providing attendees with a high-quality experience. Whether that means finding outstandingly good event speakers or making sure that the catering at your event isn’t just good, but excellent, #eventprofs must go above and beyond to truly create a memorable event. Consider partnering with a food or beverage brand that fits your event, they’ll like the exposure and will be sure to put their best foot forward, and your attendees will appreciate top-notch catering.

The five event planning pros we have profiled might not be the typical sort of planner. But we can learn critical event planning tips from each of them. Whether it means being poised, gregarious or sparing no expense, each of the profiled event planners are famous for being fantastic hosts. As a result, they each have at least one critical tip for all event planners to note.

5 TED Talks That Will Teach You Event Design

Designing the an event space that is both functional, and pleasant to look at can be difficult. On the one hand, #eventprofs need to seat all of their attendees, on the other hand, event planners want their spaces to feel unique and sophisticated. If you can relate to this challenge, you’re in luck. Here are five Ted Talks from world leaders in design, the goal being to inspire you to create event spaces that have sophistication and style, while also being functional for your attendees. So take a look at the short and sweet videos below and inject some inspiration into your day!

Designing the an event space that is both functional, and pleasant to look at can be difficult. On the one hand, #eventprofs need to seat all of their attendees, on the other hand, event planners want their spaces to feel unique and sophisticated. If you can relate to this challenge, you’re in luck. Here are five Ted Talks from world leaders in design, the goal being to inspire you to create event spaces that have sophistication and style, while also being functional for your attendees. So take a look at the short and sweet videos below and inject some inspiration into your day!

1. Don Norman: The three ways that good design makes you happy

Don Norman says the great design must have three key elements in making people happy. It must be beautiful, functional and reflective. Norman says that the key to great design is that it must be pleasant, he says that “pleasant things work better.” What does that mean for your next event?

Focus on injecting fun and novelty into your next event. Instead of renting those predictable stacking gold chairs, why not opt for more novel acrylic chairs, for example. Introduce some novelty into your next event as a way of delighting attendees.

2. John Maeda: How art, technology and design inform creative leaders

As president of the Rhode Island School of Design, John Maeda sits at the intersection of technology, design, art, and leadership. He tells his audience that by fusing technology with simple design and novel artistic approaches leaders can become better at managing their responsibilities.

While planning an event, it’s worth considering ways to implementing pieces of technology that incorporate simple design, and novel art to help attendees in leadership roles better network with one another. An example of this might be implementing a photo booth that is capable of uploading photos to Instagram. Attendees will be interested to try a novel piece of technology that presents a perfect ice breaking opportunity.

3. Steven Johnson: Where good ideas come from

We often think that our best ideas occur to us in a flash. At one point in time, we would have yelled “eureka” out of our window! But Steve Johnson argues that ideas occur in a network. In historic London, they happened in a flourishing coffee house scene, for example.

It is because great ideas are cobbled together from the smaller ideas of people around us, that networking becomes critical to sparking big ideas. Help attendees reach their greatest ideas by creating spaces that encourage collaboration and open communication. So what does that mean for your next event? Create communal work spaces that forces attendees to look at one another rather than allowing them to isolate themselves. Design spaces that give attendees a feeling of safety and comfort so that they will be compelled to network and share with one another.

4. Jinsop Lee: Design for all 5 senses

When creating a fantastic design, looks aren’t everything. This Ted Talk argues that truly memorable design incorporates all 5 sense to create an unforgettable experience for the user.

The automotive company, Nissan, implemented a trade show booth design that released a trademark scent every so often so that visitors receive a complete experience when checking out the automaker’s cars.

When planning your next event, consider designing a space that provides attendees with a great experience across their five sense. Create beautiful banners for guest to look at, use comfortable chairs for guest to luxuriate in, serve delicious food, and maybe take a page from Nissan and make sure that the event space smells great too!

5. The design genius of Charles + Ray Eames

The grandson of the duo behind the famed mid-century modern Eames reclining chair shares his family’s secret to great design – “anticipating the needs of the guest.” The designers of the Eames chair realized the difference between style and design, the Eames chair is known for having a lot of curves, but when it came time for the pair to design a house to solve the problems of modern living, there were no curves incorporated into the design at all.

What’s the takeaway, forget about creating a stylish space, create a space that has good design. An event space that has good design is one that solves the problems of your attendees. So make sure that it allows attendees to relax, network, and learn while also giving them access to things like charging stations, refreshments, and restrooms. If a space is well designed, the style will take care of itself.

These five Ted Talks illustrate various key aspects of the design process and should give event professionals a good start when they think about what the design of their next event space should be.

The most successful designs are ones that are novel, innovative and most of all – solve a problem the user is experiencing. That means it’s critical for event designers to put themselves in the shoes of attendees. Ask yourself, “what will my attendees want and need from this event” and try to create a novel way of helping them to reach their wants and needs. If you stick to that principle, you can’t lose!

Three Steps To Finding, Pitching And Keeping Event Sponsors

The Three Steps To Finding, Pitching And Keeping Event Sponsors

For many event organizers, event sponsors are a major source of revenue that can be the difference between a profitable event and one that is a true money pit. But regardless of your event planning experience, finding, winning and keeping great event sponsors is a poorly understood and time-consuming undertaking.

To help organizers maximize their revenue, we’ve distilled three principles from our eBook, Catching The Big Fish: The Event Sponsorship Guide, that will make securing the right sponsors easier. You can download the whole eBook here.

Step 1: Finding The Right Event Sponsors

Before you begin searching for the perfect sponsor, you’ve got to know what a great sponsor actually looks like. To do that, you must first define the purpose or vision associated with your event.For example, if you’re organizing a tech conference focused on environmental solutions, your event purpose might be “To inspire event attendees about environmental innovation.”

For example, if you’re organizing a tech conference focused on environmental solutions, your event purpose might be “To inspire event attendees about environmental innovation.”If you’re planning a marketing conference your vision might be “Building an ecosystem of digital marketers who have a mastery of online marketing tactics.”

If you’re planning a marketing conference your vision might be “Building an ecosystem of digital marketers who have a mastery of online marketing tactics.”

Once you understand the vision of your event, you should try to find sponsors that share that vision. Tesla or Solarcity would be great sponsors for an environmentally conscious conference, while Hubspot or MailChimp could be a fit for a digital marketing conference that hopes to educate attendees.

Another way of defining this vision is by analyzing the demographic and psychographic makeup of event attendees who have already signed up for the event, or who have attended previous events similar to the one you’re planning.

If for example you’ve noticed senior level sales managers often attend your conference on business strategy, a sponsor like SalesForce would be ideal.

Once you have a clear vision, and/or some data about the your event attendees, you can begin searching for sponsors that fit your ideal sponsor profile.

Read industry publications and look for sponsored content, or ads on these websites. Companies that choose to invest in niche media outlets are likely to be interested in sponsoring your event as well.

Step 2: Pitching A Potential Sponsor

Once you’ve identified a few ideal sponsor companies, it’s time to master the art of cold outreach. Find decision makers in Marketing or PR departments and send them a short email asking if they have a few minutes to talk over the phone. Present a few interesting pieces of data to wet their appetite.

For example, if you want Microsoft to sponsor your innovation conference, let your contact know that 60% of people who attended last year’s event held senior positions in IT departments.

Presenting demographic information like this lets the recipient know that you’ve taken the time to understand their business goals, and that your conference has the potential to provide real value to the company.

After securing time to talk over the phone or in person, it’s critical that you gather any other data that supports your claim that a sponsorship opportunity will serve the company in question.

It’s also advisable to come with a clear promotion plan that demonstrates exactly how you intend to promote the sponsor before, during and after the event.

Step 3: Keeping An Event Sponsor

The most valuable sponsorships are long standing ones. It’s important that you try to maintain a great relationship with sponsors after an event has concluded, after all, you’ll most likely want the company to sponsor future events.

A great way to maintain long lasting sponsorships is by keeping them involved in the event planning process, and presenting them with a post event debrief.

During the event, be sure to come up with a sponsorship promotion plan taking their collaboration into account. Coming with a rough plan and asking for their feedback is a great way to go about this.

After the event, compile key metrics indicating the value your event provided the sponsor. Information about the number of people who visited their profile on your event website, or networking app could be a good start. Also include data about the potential sponsorship reach, and tie that into demographic information of attendees.

Conclusion: Sponsor In Perspective

While event sponsorship may seem like a daunting task, organizers should understand that sponsoring companies receive a great deal of value from live-event partnerships. Events and conferences are a powerful way for companies to get exposure to key decision makers, something that is becoming increasingly difficult to do via other paid sources.

In truth, by following the three steps above, organizers are helping to insure they enter into mutually beneficial relationships that help both parties to achieve their bigger goals. The key to creating these partnerships starts with doing thoughtful research that is supported by your event data, and ends with your ability to nurture long-lasting collaborative relationships.

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5 Must-Do Event Planning Social Media Tips

5 -Must Do- Event Planning Social Media Tips

This guest blog post is coming from our strategic digital marketing partner, StringCan Interactive. Our team has been leveraging an amazing marketing and content automation tool called Hubspot. The goal of the tool is to act as an easy-to-use interface that will help businesses attract and engage their customers by providing them with relevant, helpful and personalized experiences. We hired StringCan to help maximize how we use Hubspot and built out an actionable plan as to how we can engage better with you, our community. We were so blown away by how smart their team was; we even did a testimonial.

We asked their digital strategist and resident social media expert, Alix Parker, to share some tips from their research on the event space we felt you would find valuable.

As StringCan’s Digital Strategy Manager, I worked closely with Endless Entertainment to develop their digital strategy. We helped them by validating their audience and created personas so they knew where and how to engage with their audience online. Working with Endless Entertainment was a blast because the event industry is fun, flashy and exciting! After speaking with many event planners in this space, we learned a few tips to help them better engage on social media.

Turn your audience into raving fans

First off, you need to ask yourself, “Who will care about this event?” And no, the answer is not everyone. Marketing is more successful when you are focused–the more specific, the better. We recommend creating personas (a fictional representation of your audience) to help your team understand exactly who your audience is, what they care about, what will motivate them to attend your event, and what pain points your event helps to solve.

Once you have that figured out, you should use these personas to make most of your decisions for the event. When creating the event theme, selecting speakers or entertainment, sending out marketing collateral, etc., you should keep your personas in mind to make sure that each piece of the event will resonate with them and  is audience focused.

Make it easy for them to share and engage

Again, put your audience at the forefront of this decision. Is your audience active on Facebook? Instagram? Vine? Post information about your event where your audience is active and they will be much more likely to engage.

After you select the platform, you can leverage different features to get more awareness for your event. For example, if your audience is active on Twitter, you can create a hashtag for your event and tweet before, during, and after the event to engage with your audience. If you use an event hashtag, put the hashtag on all marketing collateral as well as your Twitter handle so people can start tweeting about the event.

Start the conversation online before the event

Don’t think that you need to wait until the day of your event to engage with your audience online! You can create places for your attendees to get event information or start conversing before the event even starts. You could establish a private group on LinkedIn exclusively for this event and invite your potential attendees to the group to start a dialogue. Then you can share relevant information or a teaser to get your guests excited about the event.

Don’t forget to engage online during the event

Engaging online during your event can spark some fun conversations and is an easy way to connect your attendees to one another. Encourage your attendees to live tweet your event by sharing fun quotes, images, or other things going on at the event and including the event hashtag. If you want to get people really excited about live tweeting, put up a screen at your event  that has a live feed of the tweets that are using the event hashtag. Everyone loves to see their name and thoughts on the big screen, so giving them this opportunity will make them feel like a superstar.

Post images of the event on your social platforms so others can see what is going on at your event, or find fun pictures of attendees that they can tag themselves in.It’s also a great idea to interview attendees at the event and ask them what their favorite part of the event is so far. When you hear a great response, ask the guest if you can film a quick video testimonial that you can share on social media. This will hopefully show their passion and why they love your event to potential attendees.

Follow up with attendees after the event

After the event, send out a quick 1-5 question survey asking the guests to rate their experience at the event. Asking for direct feedback will not only help you make future events better but will also make your customers feel like they are being heard.

If you put on multiple events every year, you can send them information about similar events in the future that they may be interested in attending.

These tips are just a few ways that you can take your social media to the next level for your upcoming event. By knowing the audience you want to attend your event and engaging on social media, you can quickly come up with creative and unique ideas to get them involved before, during, and after your event.

When Choosing A Hotel For Events, Go Beyond The Rate

We get it.  The economy has improved and is looking better than it has for the past several years, yet planners/travel managers/organizers are still charged with getting more for less.  However, the hotel/hospitality industry is not manufacturing.  We don’t sell parts by the millions we service individual guests each needing something completely different in order for the outcome to be successful.  The overall value in a proposal/experience especially at a hotel contains multiple layers of numbers, not just the rate.  Let’s get beyond the rate conversation and delve into what generates the value of choosing a hotel for events.
Speaking of locations, there are several factors that determine overall value and that can add or lower costs.   A hotel for events can do many things but the one thing it can’t do is move its location. Consider total travel time and additional cost.  Some of the questions to discuss are:
  • How far is a location from the airport?
  • What are the transfer costs?
  • Do you need cars when you get there?
  • Are there things to do around the hotel (restaurants, nightlife, shopping, attractions)?

It is our job as partners to ask the right questions and listen so that we can work together and then generate the right proposal.  That’s value number 2.  Make sure that you are speaking with someone that cares as much about your needs as you do.  The value in a companies’ sales team is important and can determine the outcome of your experience at the hotel/venue.  They are there to help you determine the right fit so that your objectives/goals can be met.

Beginning the proposal process, there are several key values to look for.  A couple of basic places to look include:
  • Value dates – every hotel for events/venue has them.  If you have any flexibility, it will help.  If you have a lot of flexibility and you are set on the location, ask for their specific dates.  Sometimes it’s as easy as moving your arrival day up or back a day.  Pattern is as important as the actual dates.
  • Concessions – Make sure that they have put a dollar value on each concession that you are requesting.  That way when you are comparing hotel for events, you have a better understanding of the total package that you are being offered.  This is a direct difference to your bottom line so it’s important to make the choices that will make the biggest impact.
  • Food & Beverage – there are a lot of ways to look for value with Food & Beverage.  There is a difference between taxes & gratuities.  When you are able to work with the chef to create a menu based upon your budget, that’s also an added value.
  • AV – make sure that you understand the total needs of your program/attendees/travelers.  It may be perceived as a value to have complimentary wifi in guest rooms/meeting rooms, but not if it’s too slow.  That could end up and ruin your event/program and then you have to do something last minute that could end up costing you a lot more.  Look for a complete package up front that includes everything you need.
  • On property contacts – make sure that you have access to a team, technology, or a key contact that will be there to assist you at any time.  It’s invaluable to be able to make real time changes/requests.

The above list is just the beginning.  Once you have determined the priorities for your needs, you will be able to look for and realize the values that are most important to you and your company.    Remember, in order to receive a value packed proposal it is imperative that you communicate and include all the same pertinent information with each sales manager.   As you know, your relationships are invaluable.   There is inherent value in creating partnerships.  The value of hotels/venues understanding your Business/programs/travelers needs is priceless.  Your time is worth a lot and how you spend it makes a big difference.   Start creating value now!

Event av questions you need to know

Event AV Questions You Need to Know

Imagine sitting at your desk as 4 pm nears the corner. Your stomach is growling and the only thing that will get you through the final hour of the day is a succulent PB&J sandwich. You search through your office fridge and pull out two slices of bread and a jar of jam when you realize the jar of peanut butter sitting in the door is empty!

How many times have you had the perfect plan in mind, only to have it fall apart right when you need it? In the event industry, it is especially crucial to ensure that all details are captured, prepped, and ready for the big day. One of the most commonly misinterpreted components of an event is preparing the AV set-up. To help make your event day as easy as possible, I’ve thrown together a list of Event AV questions that you need to know.

1. Do You Want to Go on a Date?

Remember the days when a first date was essentially another name for 20 Questions? You will want to get to know your contract the same way you would a person during a first date. To do this, contact your AV provider and set up an appointment to review the contract. Below is a sample list of event AV questions that you will want to cover:

– What comes with the contract standard?
– What services are not included with the standard?
– Am I limited to an in-house AV provider?
– Does this contract reserve the right to “bid”?
– Does this contract include power?
– Is there an indemnification clause? If so, what is included?

Once you ask your AV Technician the questions above, you will be well on your way towards better understanding your contract.

2. How Much Will this Cost?

One of the first steps in planning an event is understanding your budget. Though money is often an uncomfortable topic to discuss, prepare to ask specific details regarding the cost of each service. To facilitate this conversation, begin by asking a few of the following questions:

– How much will it cost to rent the equipment for the event (broken down for each individual item)?
– What is the cost of a standard service? What does this include?
– What is the cost of add-on features? What features does this include?
– How much will it cost for live streaming?
– What is the cost for a rehearsal/run-throughs?

Keep in mind not all AV services are the same. Typically, In-house providers are more expensive than out-of-house companies. Be sure to compare costs between AV companies to find the price that is right for you.

3. What Detailed Information Do You Need?

Once you have a good idea of what services you want for your event, you will need to communicate your desired proposition to the AV Company. During this time, the AV Company will likely return to you with a series of questions. You can prepare ahead of time with the questions below:

– How much power can the venue provide?
– Will you need extra room access?
– How much time will you need for set-up and tear-down?
– How many presenters will speak?
– How many presentations will there be? And what format?
– What kind of microphones will the presenters have?

The questions above will provide your AV technician with all the necessary details to ensure a seamless presentation at your event.

4. Will you Come Take a Look?

In the event industry, it is especially important to make time for a practice run through at the venue so that you have a very clear understanding of what you can expect on your big day. Oftentimes, however, event planners forget to do a practice run through with their AV Team. Schedule a time with your AV Provider to join you at the event venue location and walk through all of the AV components. A few event AV questions that you will need to know are listed below:

– What is the height of the ceiling? Stage? Doorways?
– What is the size of the screen?
– Will the visual presentations be compatible with screen size?
– How big is the venue space? Will the audio be loud enough to fill space?
– Is there storage available?
– Where will AV equipment be monitored and managed?

In addition to the questions above, your AV provider will get a good understanding of the layout of the event space. They will be able to account for any limiting hallways, structures or other hindrances to their performance.

5. What is Your Name?

How many times are you stuck with an electrical problem and don’t know who in the crew is the electrician? Take the time to get to know your AV team and what they do. This will help you know who to reach out to in times of need and save an abundance of energy in the future. You will want to ask your AV provider the following questions:

– Who is the main point of contact? What are they responsible for?
– Who will be the contact(s) for specific services (Sound, Presentation, Microphones, etc)?
– Who do I contact if I cannot get ahold of the main contact?
– What is the best way to reach these contacts?

Not only will getting to know your AV team provide you with a smooth event, but you may even build lasting business relationships in the future.

Sit back and relax!

By covering the Event AV questions above, you can ensure that both you and your AV Company will have the same goals in mind to execute a flawless event. Now it is time to sit back, relax, and watch your AV Company successfully cover all the details for your future event

Catchbox: The Story of the Throwable Microphone

Catchbox is the world’s first throwable microphone. First conceived in 2012, the product has gone through a number of iterations and prototypes to finally becoming a fully working, safe and fun product that engages audiences around the world, whether they are attending conferences, workshops or lectures. Richard handles marketing & community activities for Catchbox, and he is here to tell the story of the throwable microphone.

The Root of the Problem

Whether it has been a corporate all hands meeting, a conference, or a university lecture, we have all at some point found ourselves looking at the clock and started counting down the minutes. At the beginning of our journey to create Catchbox, we looked at this problem and realised its roots; a lack of audience engagement. Instead of participating at events, audiences were left to sit quietly and listen. Not only did this make for a fairly dull atmosphere, but more importantly, a lot of the learning and productivity was being lost. After speaking with many industry experts, ranging from professional speakers to event organisers, we realised the problem of getting audiences engaged was systematic. Everyone was looking for a solution, yet a good one simply did not exist. So began our quest.

Finding a Solution

Our initial thoughts were to solve the problem using software and smartphones. However, after making some initial trials we realised we did not want audiences to learn a completely new technology. Furthermore, stage microphones were already used for Q&A. Even though they were cumbersome and slow, everyone knew how to use them. We also liked the idea of having something physically present in a space. Something that didn’t require additional setup, and hence could be used spontaneously. The choice was then obvious: it had to be an actual microphone, and it needed to fly. The idea was just absurd enough to maybe work.

Fun is the Way to Go

After all, what is the best way to disarm a stressful situation? Add humor and fun to it. How to to tackle the slowness of people passing microphones? Eliminate the need for a person to actually carry one. We wanted to create something that would lighten up the situation and make asking questions fun and encouraging. For our first prototype we simply put a microphone into a soft toy and used it at a conference in Helsinki. To our surprise, not only did the early prototype not break, but everyone loved it. The Catchbox seemed to act as an icebreaker, quickly evaporating the tension from the room with a simple throwing gesture. What started as a 5 minute formal Q&A quickly turned into a 30 minute discussion with everyone wanting a turn to use the Cathcbox. (It was actually called friendly mic back then)

Back to the Drawing Board

After our initial success, conference organisers started lining up to rent out the unit for their own events. With each event we were able to make improvements to the shape, design, and technology to make the product even more effective. At the same time, however, we realised a problem. While organisers loved the product, they didn’t want two companies handling the audio, and audio staging companies didn’t want to connect something they weren’t familiar with into their professional systems. Renting the Catchbox was fine for the short term but if we truly wanted to change events globally we had to create a certified manufactured product, not just a prototype. Hence we went back to the drawing board and started developing Catchbox 2.4 and Catchbox Pro, two systems designed for the needs of audiences, event organisers, and audio professionals. Please keep in mind we did not simply put a microphone into a soft case. A lot of thought and hard work went into designing the Catchbox.

Not Just a Microphone in a Toy

To ensure safety, we had to make the product soft and very light. Using advances in foams and technical fabrics, the current Catchbox weighs the same as a handheld microphone, while having enough padding to protect both the electronics inside and people catching the product. The fabric in turn is carefully treated to repel dirt, water, and bacteria. Our AutoMute technology in turn makes sure the device will automatically mute when thrown or dropped, meaning the device includes a number of sensors to determine motion. To make the wireless link stable, industry leading wireless chipsets were incorporated, along with automatic frequency hopping and antenna diversity. To ensure the best sound quality tailored for speech, the latest advances in microphone elements developed for smartphones were employed.

And the result? After two years of development, the Catchbox 2.4 and Pro are certified in the US and Europe, and the product has won the Red Dot Design award in 2015. With already over 1000 units sold, we are well on our way to make Catchbox an integral part of any event that wants audience engagement.