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Our topic this week – 2017 Event Trends! We have some amazing #EventIcons joining us to talk about their predictions for the coming new year. We have Corbin Ball, James Spellos, and Nick Borelli joining us today. They are bringing all of their event knowledge, and their crystal balls, and we’ll be discussing the top events and trends of 2016, as well as what we are expecting in events next year! This episode is not to be missed!

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Transcription of this episode:

Will: Ah, yeah. So, unfortunately Laura and Sean are out for this week, so it is just me and my amazing guests, which I love getting back to the roots, and excited to rock and roll with this show. I’m so excited we got everyone in here now, and ready to rock, and we’re good to go. This week, we’re talking 2017 event trends. We’re not going to go into a huge intro with everybody. A lot of these guys you guys know. They’ve been on the show before, or have been a long time coming. I’m going to introduce these guys, and we’ve got to jump right on into this topic.

Let’s start, Mr. Jim Spellos. Jim is a legend events industry. He’s been doing this for 30 years. He doesn’t need an intro. Everyone knows him, everyone loves him. We’re so excited to have him. He’s primarily focusing on event tech and technology now, so we’re going to be talking a lot of really cool things. He’s got some new toys to talk about, too, which are really related to event trends. We’re just really excited to have you finally on the show. Mr. Jim Spellos.

Jim: Thank you, Will. So glad to be here.

Will: Awesome. Next up is a long time requested guest. People have been asking for him for quite a bit of time. He’s very, very busy. We’ve been talking to his agent. He’s high demand to be on these speaking engagements. Mr. Nick Borelli. Nick is an awesome friend, an amazing guy, one of the funniest guys in the events industry, too. He’s just got done writing a big chunk of the 2017 Event Trends Guide on Event Manager blog. If you haven’t yet, go check that out, download that right now. I’m sure Nick’s going to elaborate on a lot of his trends that he came up with over on that guide. Super excited to have you here, Mr. Nick Borelli. Yes.

Nick: Thanks for having me. I’ve been a long time lurker, first time caller.

Will: I feel like it’s one of those call in shows, where all of a sudden you’re like, “I loved you. I’ve been watching the show forever. I’ve never mustered up the courage to call in.” All right.

Nick: It’s how I behave on social media, too. I lurk.

Will: Well, the good kind of lurking. All right. Next up is Mr. Corbin Ball. Corbin we actually had on last year’s 2016 event trends episode, and I’m super excited to have Corbin back. We had a little bit of technical issues. We almost didn’t have him here. I’m so excited to have him back, though, because we’re going to be reflecting on 2016 trends, and what happened, what was good, what was bad, and Mr. Corbin Ball is a legend in the events industry who writes a events trend guide every single year as well, and just really, really excited to have him. He doesn’t need anymore introduction, because he’s just amazing, and great friend. Mr. Corbin Ball. Corbin, how are you?

Corbin: Hi, Will. It’s a pleasure to be here. I hope my internet connection will stay up and I’ll be here through the time, but keeping my fingers crossed on this one.

Will: You’re looking good, you’re looking good. All right, cool. I want to jump right on into the questions, because we have a lot to talk about. The first question, we’re going to start off with the question we ask all of our guests, and I’m sure a lot of them are really, really curious to know. What got you into the events industry? Let’s kick it off. Jim, you want to lead us off with what got you into the events industry?

Jim: Probably the same way most of us did, by accident. I was working in a physics organization when I got out of college, doing admin work with boss, nuclear physicist, dean of physics at Columbia, comes up to me and goes, “Do you want to handle our meetings?” I said, “Sure. What’s it involve?” He just said, “Nothing much.” [inaudible 00:04:27]’s a physicist, so figure. Two weeks later, he came back to me, asked if I wanted to do it, I said, “Sure.” He said, “Great. Our next meeting’s in New York for 1,500 people and you’re in charge,” and he walked away. That was it. I did the meeting, and that was 1983, that meeting was, and I haven’t looked back. It was just so cool to really figure out something that was great to do, and you get into this industry, you don’t get out.

Will: That’s true. You’re a lifer for life in this one.

Jim: Yeah, you find a different way to be part of it, which is what I’ve done. I know Corbin’s done that as well, but you stick to it.

Will: That’s awesome. Well, we appreciate you helping and help grow the industry over the last 30 years, for sure.

Jim: My pleasure. I’m glad to be here, and glad to be on this panel with these folks. This should be a lot of fun talking about some of the new tech that’s out there, and what we think the trends are going to be. Definitely changing every day.

Will: Very changing every day. I’m excited to talk about it for sure. Speaking of tech trends, this man is a master of them. Nick, what got you into the events industry and where you are today?

Nick: It’s the only industry I’ve ever been in. I was the one that took the coats at the family parties and put them on the bed, and I was the one that poured the coffee and did all the hospitality stuff at my parents’ house for our family get togethers, to the point where when I had my opportunity at my first job at 14, my dad who used to plan all the events for their shop, which had about a thousand people at it, he had some sway at the catering company, so he said, “Hire him as a dishwasher.” I’ve done every small incremental step from that to every service job you could possibly have in hospitality, to logistics is where I spent a lot of my time, on being able to just map out a room and understand what that was, until I found out that if you have any kind of personality, that you can make a lot more money and save your back doing sales. I went from sales, and then I said you can do even less back work in marketing. Then I found my niche there.

Will: Awesome.

Nick: I love it, but I want to do the least amount of work that hurts my back. That’s the goal.

Will: Well, I’ll keep that in mind if I ever need you to load in a show with me.

Nick: I’m not your guys.

Will: No more, no more. Davy days are done.

Nick: I retired.

Will: Awesome. Cool. Well, I know Corbin, you had a chance to share kind of what got you into the events industry last year. If you want to remind everyone kind of what got you into the events industry and where you are today.

Corbin: I started as a director of educational media for Western Washington University, and this small association moved to town. It moved to Billingham, where I live, and they wanted me to assist with the audiovisual component, and the marketing component of their meetings. That technology company, SPIE Association caught the technology wave and we grew to run the largest meetings, and they still do, the largest meetings in the world in optics. It was a fun ride, but 19 years ago, I went out to form my own business speaking, consulting, and writing about it.

Will: Awesome. I love it, I love it. What I love about all the guys we have on the show today is that they are very much rockstars and have written guides on this sort of stuff. I think we have the best of the best, really, when it comes to talking about event trends. I think we’re going to have a really amazing conversation. They literally were all chatting before the show, and I was like, “All right guys, save some for the show. Save some for the show.” They’re biting at the chomping bit to talk about these.

Before we jump into trends, we have a new question that we’ve been asking everyone, and it’s kind of my new favorite question. Alex Plaxen, who does all of our live tweeting, so if you’re not on Twitter right now, #EventIconsing it up right now, hop on Twitter and use that hashtag to join the conversation. Alex has the best question ever, and I literally want to know for all of you guys. I think I kind of have an idea for Jim, so I’ll take a guess at it, and we’ll see if it’s right, but what would you do if you weren’t in the events industry? Jim, I know you do the music thing on the side. Would it be music for you?

Jim: Yeah. Other than teaching, and what I’m doing now actually, is the coolest thing. The reason I might not do the music thing is because by not having to make money at it, you can follow what you want to do artistically, rather than follow what someone says you have to produce. I got to tell you, the merging of the music and the technology, I was spending this weekend with my guitar and my keyboards, and my iPad writing music. It’s all just doable to anyone these days. I think that combination is really what would … I’d probably be teaching that. Some combination of music and tech.

Will: Awesome. I love it. I love music, too. We need more of that in the world. Corbin, what about you?

Jim: Just so you know, we just did a 360 video of our band’s rehearsal last night. I just posted it to the YouTube channel. We’ll get it on Facebook later on tonight so people can see it.

Will: Awesome. I’m sure we’re going to talk a lot about 360 video in a little bit, too.

Jim: Probably.

Will: Very exciting. The AV guy in me is very excited. Corbin, what about you? I’m really curious to know. What would you do? I feel like you would be traveling the world, just enjoying life.

Corbin: I think that’s what was going to be my answer. I’m having too good of a time. It’s hard to imagine not doing what I’m doing, because it’s not like work. I love what I’m doing. If not, I think it would be somehow involved with international traveling. I would say my job feeds my travel habit. I think that that’s what I’d want to be doing.

Will: Awesome. I love it. Nick, I’m going to take a guess, but I also feel like you’re a wild card sometimes, and you probably have some secret hidden talent that I don’t know of. What would you do if you weren’t in the events industry?

Nick: If you were thinking about what I might say, it’s because if you could see my point of view, right behind my camera is the beginning of a collection that is 40,000 comic books. A number you can’t picture. It’s insane. I thought it was going to be along those tracks, potentially. That said, it would probably either be something in the realms of psychology or law. Something that really is all about studying people, and being able to determine how people react to things, and then what you learn from it. Live events to me, are just the window into that. It’s a small little test each time, just to be able to play around with people’s emotions in the best way possible. Somewhere in those realms, I think.

Will: Awesome. I would not fancy a lawyer. You’d definitely be an amazing lawyer. You would have like 100% prosecution rate or defense rate, or something like that. I never would’ve thought to say, “Yeah. Lawyer Nick Borelli.” That’s awesome.

Nick: I’m head to toe tattooed and lots of piercings, so that might hurt me, but I did a number of years, a very celebrated speech and debate team of which I was fairly good at. It was actually along that track before I made the decision to embrace the insanity that is event people.

Will: Cool. Very cool. Awesome. Well, we already have our first question from the audience. Mr. Mike Piddock, who you guys all know. Mike is also an event icon, we’ve had him on the show, and him and I had tea over in London. So exciting to see you on the show again, Mike. Mike wants to know, since we have some amazing event tech people, he wants to know, do you think there’s a better time than now to be in event tech, and an expert in event tech? Let’s start off with you, Nick.

Nick: There’s so much more data now than there ever has been, so your ability to determine how people react to things, even in the moment, is something that you never really had the opportunity to do. You’d potentially get a client to say this worked or this didn’t, but now there’s a lot more opportunity to see and gauge the response of attendees in the moment, which is so much better data. Post-event survey data is few, far between, and garbage, where now that the ability just to be able to gauge excitement level on all kinds of different, real high tech ways of sweat and heartbeat to use of hashtag in the words that people use. Just the fact that we can communicate a little bit closer and gauge the reaction to live experiences tells me that there’s really never been a better time.

Will: Awesome.

Nick: Outside the future, which we’ll talk about that.

Will: Outside the future.

Jim: It keeps building every day. All the technology that’s out there doesn’t go away, so the amount of stuff that we have to play with, to try, to utilize, it’s actually a sense of overwhelm, and I imagine that’s going to be part of the conversation from the planner perspective, which is with all the stuff out there and more coming, what do they focus on? From the geek side, there’s no cooler time to be here, because we’re just trying to figure out different things, and see how it works, and a lot of it’s hit and miss, and that’s great because value is as important as success with all of this, but the huge successes are going to revolutionize how we do our events, how we do our conferences and meeting. I couldn’t imagine that even two months ago was a better time than it is right now. That’s going to just continue to move forward.

Will: Fantastic.

Corbin: I’d like to [inaudible 00:13:38] a bit. I think that there’s never been a better time to be in business than right now. The fact that we can do a four point webcast here as simple as just logging on, but there are so many collaboration tools, and so many analytic tools that you’d never have. We have the ability to run international speaking businesses out of our spare bedroom, and it’s something you just couldn’t do decades ago. It’s just getting better all the time. I think it’s the coolest time to ever have been alive to see in terms of technology. The stuff that’s coming around the corner is even cooler yet. We’re living in very exciting times.

Will: Corbin, could you imagine 30 years ago having the tools that they have right now, and what we would do?

Corbin: 30 years ago, the coolest tool was an orator font to type large print onto the badges. We’ve come quite a ways.

Jim: I remember bringing the database, the dbase home with our registration in probably 89 or 90, and I had a dot matrix printer, and I spent all weekend just printing out the 3,000 badges for the conference, and having to bring them back in Monday morning. I go, “That’s amazing. We never would have been able to do that the year before.” It really is phenomenal what the change looks like.

Will: Well, it’s awesome you guys mention how much it’s changed in the past 30 years. Aaron Kaufman’s out in the audience right now. Shout out to another events icon, it’s like the reunion episode right now. Aaron asked the question, can you predict how you think event tech will look in 10 years? He also poses the question, or will it look different in 10 years? Corbin, what are your thoughts? You’ve obviously seen so much change.

Corbin: It’s fun to predict. A web year’s like a dog year, though. Thing can change so much, even in a year’s time, let alone 10 years. I think that we’re going to see, we’re just starting to scratch the surface of augmented and virtual reality. Definitely, will have impacts on events, and the ability to attend conferences from a remote location. It’s like the Star Trek Holodeck is coming. I think in 10 years’ time, that will be well along the way. Artificial intelligence, and the ability for that to analyze, and assist, and to sort through the data, and to help with that. Data analytics will be huge coming around. In 10 years’ time, driverless cars, autonomous vehicles will be a norm, and that’s how we’ll get around. They’re starting those for Uber in San Francisco right now. It’s well on the way. We’re approaching the Jetsons more and more every day here in terms of some of the technology that’s coming.

Will: That’s very true. Well, before we reveal too many trends, I’m going to stop actually and take a quick break, because I don’t want to quite jump too much into the trends, because that’s basically my only question, is what do you guys think the trends are for next year? Before we do that, I kind of want to reflect back, because I think a lot of times we come out with these event trend guides, and Endless is definitely guilty of this. We publish one every year, but we never follow up on it. How did we do? What were our favorites? What didn’t actually come true? I’d love to know from you guys, what were your personal favorite trends from 2016 that ended up coming true? It could either be something that’s evolving kind of, but hopefully not leap too much into 2017. Maybe something that you’re like, “Hey, this is something we predicted, and boom. It came 100% true.” Jim, why don’t you take it off?

Jim: Can I jump in on that, Will? I don’t think anything became 100% true. I think what happens is the technology clearly outpaces our ability to process and use it, so I think it’s a really kind of an odd endgame to try to predict anything. Let’s face it, none of us know. We don’t know what’s going to happen. We don’t know what that big, shiny object’s going to be to change the game. From my perspective, and Nick, you and I were talking about it beforehand, one of the game-changers this year, in a tech component was Pokemon Go, just because it brought the augmented reality conversation into mainstream. Before that it was that kind of way creepy, way spooky Google Glass, “I’m spying on you,” conversation.

Now it’s, “Well, there’s something that’s consumer based that’s giving everybody the ability to get into it.” AR’s an old technology. It takes a long time. I know we’re going to talk trends, and I know some of the stuff we’re going to talk about for next year, is probably what we said would be really big this year, and we’re just porting it over, but that AR thing really shows that we’re not in charge of the conversation, the consumer is. When the consumer’s ready for it, or the killer app and tool is out there, then that’s when the game’s going to change, not particularly with the technology.

Will: Nick, I know you’re huge into Pokemon Go. You’re like the master of Pokemon Go. You have the watch on right now, right?

Nick: Yeah. I have the wearable. I’ve got some Pokemon stickers, too.

Will: Did we predict that, if Pokemon Go was going to be as big as it was? Obviously, even when it came out, but was it out of the blue for you?

Nick: Yeah. There was zero new technology. I think that a lot of times when it comes to software, we think innovation is what drives, and it’s not innovation, it’s just the right combination of ingredients at the right time. The gamification elements of that game didn’t get anyone to jump onto it. It wasn’t about this new thing, augmented reality, that’s even around. It was the combination of all the things, plus the IP. I think that the thing most people don’t realize about Pokemon Go is that whole game existed for four years prior to Pokemon Go. Ingress is the game that preceded it. It’s very similar. Pokemon Go is essentially a skin. It’s not about the technology. It’s about packaging it in a way that consumers go, “Oh, I get it.”

One thing I used to rally against all the time, there’s a website called Unmarketing that I listen to the podcast all the time, and really follow. Scott does a really great job there. He’s talked about QR codes, and how they’re one of the best examples of just because the technology exists doesn’t mean you have to use it. QR codes were this dead thing for a number of years, but SnapChat seems like it brought it back, and now Twitter has QR codes, and Facebook Messenger has QR codes. That same kind of content repackaged and done it in a cool way, all of a sudden, now people latch onto it. I think it’s not about what’s the latest technology, it’s about how do you hit people with it at the right time for the right problem. That’s what I couldn’t have expected. I would’ve said, “That’s dead. Move on. That’s dead. Move on.” It’s not about dead. You’re into music, [inaudible 00:20:41], for instance is something that’s been around for a long time, but at the right time, when you implement it, it’s really cool, right?

Will: Absolutely. I love it. I love that idea that you said, it’s like a repackaging. The same cup of tea kind of reheated. It’s like taking peanut butter and putting it with jelly. They both existed for a long time, but somebody finally put it together, and peanut butter and jelly was the newest, hottest thing. I love that. I love that very much. Corbin, what about you?

Jim: The-

Will: Go ahead.

Jim: The QR code you mentioned. I hear more and more when people are trying to wrap their head around AR, I think, “Oh, that’s like a QR code, right?” They’re finally using it as a base of knowledge for a new technology, which is kind of fascinating, when you think about it.

Will: I love it. Corbin, what about you? What are your thoughts? Are there any trends that you saw that were your favorites?

Corbin: I’m looking back at my 2016 trends article, which I wrote in September of 2015. There are nine trends and most of them have really come true. One was, at that time, augmented reality and virtual reality would start making headway. At that time I wrote it, there’s nothing written for hotels at that time, and now you see [inaudible 00:21:57] hotels, and Hilton hotels, and Marriott, their VRoom Service, they’re all moving at a big way. Even, there’s a new room diagramming company, Event Forte that is building that they do 2D and 3D room diagramming. It’s just this quick step to be able to put on VR goggles and walk through the room.

The other trend, or one of the ones that I predicted that videos and images are going to be dominant in the social channels. Since then, since that prediction, the Facebook live video and SnapChat video. All the social channels have moved into video and focusing on events with that. That was a fairly accurate prediction as well. The other one was that in terms of beacon technology, that the wearable beacons would be the ones that would build out, and we’re starting to see that. I was just at IAEE this last week, and there, everyone was wearing wearables. Hubvent, the company that did that, is going to be doing a consumer electronics show this coming year. We’re going to see that channel for BLE. Others, those are a few of them, but the other predictions were pretty accurate as well.

Will: Very cool. I think, like you guys mentioned, too, it was very much a start for a lot of things. For example, Nick, I know when we talked 2017, VR and mixed reality is like a really huge things for next year, and it was very much the start of it this year. Very, very cool. I think that’s a lot of times our trends. You start to see it creep in. We’re December this year, moving into 2017 next month, so it’s about time we start trying to predict what’s going to happen, hopefully, in at least a month, right?

Do you guys think there was any trends, curious, we kind of started to hint around this, was there any trends that you thought that people were like, “This is the newest, hottest thing”? Maybe like two years ago we were saying QR codes, or a couple years ago, people were like, “QR code are going to change everything.” Sure, while they definitely did start to evolve, and people know about them now, and they’re starting to get involved, people will say, “Hey, that fell kind of on its face.” Was there any technologies that you guys thought, that you saw a trend pop up that it just completely fell on its face, and maybe you’re even happy it didn’t happen?

Jim: Here’s one thing, and I think this really speaks to the fact that every technology pushes forward, then moves backward for a number of reasons, and then moves forward again. I would’ve thought the IOT, and all of the connected devices in home, would really have made a bigger, bigger push. From a personal perspective, I understand why not, because of the security issues that those things have, and people aren’t aware that it’s an IP address like anything else is, and the DDOS attack that occurred a few weeks ago was all perpetrated through the Nest thermostats, and the stuff like that, and people not understanding the protection. I would’ve thought the IOT would’ve exploded this year. I think it’s still poised to, and I think that clearly everything having an IP address and having that capability to be able to be completely connected. Once we figure out the security issue, which we haven’t yet, but once we do, that becomes an absolute game-changer. In business, in personal life, in everything.

Will: It’s interesting that you mention that, too. Two days ago, yesterday, Android announced Android Things, which is basically the phone software for internet thing devices. Now, Google’s saying, “Hey, we’re putting a big focus on it. We’re developing an operating system for it.” Really, really awesome that you’re mentioning that. Nick, what about you? Any trends you thought fell on its face this last year?

Nick: In a year’s time? I don’t know. There’s so many things that the promise of it is all that you really get, that just haven’t really blown up maybe as fast as you think. I don’t know, everything’s just moving so exponentially. The internet of things is definitely something’s that been talked about for five or six years now that really hasn’t caught on the popular world, I think, beyond that. Certain aspects of drone use in live events, based on legal parameters have halted, where people thought they would be, that it would be all drones everywhere.

There’s some very specific and good reasons for safety and for security that they haven’t become as pervasive as they would potentially would’ve liked to be as an industry. I’m not saying, necessarily, that some of the reasons are bad that these things have been proliferated at the rate that some people thought they would. Those are two that just jump out at the top of my head.

Will: Interesting. Corbin, what about you? Any trends that on your end that you thought fell on their face?

Corbin: Yeah in my 2016 trends article, I also talked about the internet of things. I agree with you, Jim. I think it’s just a matter of the rate of deployment. It’s huge. It will be huge. It already is. It maybe not directly in the home as much as it is for smart grids, and smart buildings, and those type of things, but smart roadways, the autonomous vehicles that we’re talking about. That’s all coming nearer. I just got an Alexis Dot, and it’s just so cool to be able to say, “Play this music,” and there it is, or whatever. It’s really a new world out there. I’m still optimistic about the development, it’s just a little later than expected.

Jim: I think part of the issue is that the implementation just takes much longer than the creationism process. You can create something, have the vision, but for implementation to catch up, to be able to get the roadways designed, and make sure it’s tested, and properly laid down, it’s going to take awhile. I also don’t know, and I may be way off base on this, I don’t think we’ve had any revolutionary ideas in the past few years. I think we’re at an evolutionary stage, which is kind of natural that we have a lot of cool ideas, and then we start to figure out how to use them, and how we might integrate together, and then we might hit another revolutionary stage.

I think right now, we should have had so much stuff that still has promise. AI, and drones, and the IOT. It can’t all be deployed at once. It can’t all be thrown out there. There’s a huge part of the population that doesn’t want that, or is very scared by it, or is afraid that those type of technologies are actually impacting their ability to have jobs, and work. We have to deal with the undercurrent of what’s happening in the economy and with people, as well as just the coolness of the technology.

Will: Awesome. I will say I’m a huge internet things guy. I’m the guy who has like four Echo Dots in my house, all the Q bulbs, and everything. I’m rooting for that trend big time.

Jim: Change your username and password on all those.

Will: They’re all super longs and have all symbols. No one’s going to-

Jim: Good.

Will: I’m huge about that, yeah. That’s a very good point. Mike actually had a comment in the audience about how it just hasn’t taken off, too, because there’s no real standard for everything to kind of go through. For example, on the home, we have ZigBee, Z-Wave, all those things like that. All these different types, and they still all don’t communicate with each other. For example, Google Home still doesn’t communicate with my lock. Until someone comes along, maybe that’s Android, and says, “Here’s one standard for communication for everything.” It’s going to take a little while. I think everyone communicating has a lot to do with communication.

Jim: Nick and Corbin, I hear that. I’m thinking, there’s not going to be a standard, because Apple and Google aren’t going to play nice with each other, and I think we have more fractionalization than we’re ever going to have integration in all this. Plus, by the way, the name sucks. The IOT just isn’t sexy. [inaudible 00:29:57] better name for that.

Will: That’s true. The word things is kind of weird.

Nick: That’s actually one of the main problems I have with expectations people have with event technology is that they don’t all talk to each other, because they’re not going to. They’re all small, they’re all fractionalized. No one’s working on, I shouldn’t say, I think a lot of people are working on, but no one’s deployed something that is a neural net to combine enough of these things. Until that happens, innovation speed in the events industry is going to be really incremental.

It’s going to be, “Here’s a widget over here, here’s a widget over here,” and that’s where the overwhelming factor comes in for event implementers is that there isn’t something with more of an easy API that they can plug a bunch of things into, because there isn’t an Android, or Google, or even something even fractionalized like that, that even exists. I see that fractionalized world that is coming for the consumer in the event tech microcosm is a worst case scenario right now. That’s why innovation isn’t really exciting as people want it to be.

Will: We need like an If This, Then app for event tech.

Corbin: I would just agree with you a little bit on that. I think that that’s one of the trends that’s coming here, is that in the past this has been a real problem, because these systems, especially the so called platforms that are supposed to do everything, one size does not fit all in the meetings industry. They do not do everything well with that. One of the trends that I outline in this year’s technology article is that these newer cloud-based systems are being built, robust APIs that are designed to integrate with, interoperate with Salesforce, and the Salesforce [inaudible 00:31:46] tools. All the standard Gmail, and the MailChimp. You go down through this.

You’re starting to see consortiums develop of different types of technology companies, a registration company and an abstract management company. You’re starting to see software as a service product for platform integration as well. is an example of this, where they’re really designed to help the average person connect through a number of the different products used in the application program interface. There’s APIs that do that. I think that we’re not going to be constantly stuck with this, “Well, we just can’t work with each other. That’s an impossibility.” I think we’re moving in strong steps in the right direction, and we’re going to see more and more of this happen. Integration is going to be one of the key buzzwords in the next couple of years.

Will: Awesome.

Jim: [inaudible 00:32:48] integration, but I also want to mention that until this company, Google, and their new phone, until we figure out a single interface, there’s going to be a lot of fractionalization still occurring. If the Pixel becomes that standard phone, and they get everyone off of Marshmallow, and KitKat, and all the old OSes, and you have a single OS there and a single OS with Apple, and a single OS with Microsoft, then I think there’s APIs, and that convenient approach for these services to be connected seamlessly will really take off. I think Google, right now, holds the card even though as a strong company, they’ve booted this on a bunch of occasions with what they’ve done with their phones, and allowing the phone service companies to drive rollout times, and all that. I think it really is hurting the progress in order to help their sells.

Will: Solid points. Speaking of phones, and kind of apps on phones, I want to kind of pivot to a question about, and eventually get to an audience question that we have, but I want to talk about a trend that we saw this last year, I think that Nick saw was coming and now he talks a lot about, which is SnapChat. SnapChat’s been out for almost three, a couple, three years, four years now or something like that. It was always kind of big for just a little bit of messaging, things like that, but this last year, it really took steam. This is the first time I heard everyone saying, “I don’t know how you SnapChat. Show me how you SnapChat.”

We’re seeing it prevail at conferences, and everything like that. What are your guys’ thoughts as far as SnapChat’s growth, because I think it’s very much affected the rest of social media and the rest of media in general. For example, Instagram’s copying its features, Facebook’s copying its features. Basically, Instagram and Facebook are copying all of its features. Everyone wants to be SnapChat. What are your guys’ thoughts on the rise of SnapChat this last year? Corbin?

Corbin: I think SnapChat is the most exciting social media development this last year. With 110 million daily views, it’s blowing everybody else out of the water, just about. The one thing I find interesting about it, it’s way more than disappearing messages. They have been targeting events, I think. They’re geolocation abilities, ability to set up geofences, and target that around events is significant. Their stories feature, which is really bringing people together.

They’re continually evolving. Just came out with a whole series of new features today, and I think it’s really an interesting one to watch. I think that they’re going to continue to move. All the social media tools, they’re moving kind of toward events. They’re using events as a way, when you boil down, social media and events we’re trying to do the same thing. We bring people together. The venue of a live event is one that’s attractive to these companies, and SnapChat really fits right into that category.

Will: Nick, I wanted to ask you. This is actually a question from Twitter, and Corbin kind of brought it up that it’s more than just sending picture messages back and forth to each other. The question from the audience is, “Do you think SnapChat should even be considered a social media, since it’s primarily one to one?” You have the stories feature that Corbin mentioned, but do you consider it more off a messaging tool, or do you think it’s valuable as a social media, and as a form of communication to the masses?

Nick: I didn’t for the first three years. That’s why I didn’t advocate it for events, that’s why I played with it when it came out, and I just played with it. I used it as a way to communicate one to one with people, as I did when I was on IRC, then ICQ, then AOL, then Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. It was just a slight variation on that with some really cute little ways to augment the conversations. When the story feature gained prominence, I started paying attention, and when adopters of larger media started playing around with it and getting some traction on it, I paid more attention, and when certain influencers used it, I really started adopting it for certain events.

I don’t think your Facebook posts are much different than a SnapChat post. I don’t care what you posted three days ago. I’ll never see it again. The fact that I technically can doesn’t make any difference. So much social media is disposable anyway, and this one just formalizes it, and by formalizing it, it strengthens its fear of missing out factor, which was my number one trend this year on my trend report contribution was the value of fear of missing out on experiences, and the value of fear of missing out in events in general.

60% of SnapChat users contribute to it every single day. 25% of LinkedIn users log in once a month. Just log in. Might be accidental. It’s such an engaging, addictive platform that it absolutely matters. The fact that, and this is what I think Corbin probably heard me say earlier, so I apologize, marketers ruin everything and marketers haven’t ruined this yet, and because it’s really infuriating as a marketer that the things I can’t do with it, the data I don’t get, my ability to automate, my ability to program content that is probably happening right now on Twitter that I wrote three weeks ago for my accounts.

I can’t do that. It has to be in the moment. It has to be live. It’s making marketers act like people and the content better for it, and having people having to jump through hoops to find you means that they actually care. I think that we’re eventually going to get out of this vanity metrics world of social media of how many followers you have, which never mattered, but people thought it did, and get into how high the quality of your followers are. I think SnapChat is perfect for that.

Jim: If I may. First of all, that last point about the vanity metrics, it ain’t going away, because we’re human and we want those vanity metrics.

Nick: We’re vain by nature, of course.

Jim: My view on SnapChat is it’s driving change more than driving adoption. It’s driving change because Facebook and Instagram are forced to be able to look at all these great ideas and implement it. As I teach outside the industry, in the different industries, SnapChat is that either, “I don’t want to know about it. I don’t need to know about it,” or, “I want to know about it because I want to know what my kids are doing.” It’s not that conversation about functionality. I don’t know whether we’re at a point where the critical massive event planners are going to be planning for people at industries that even care about SnapChat yet.

It may be way too ahead of the curve for a couple more years, for the demographic that SnapChat tends to play with. My take on SnapChat is I’m following it just to see how quickly Instagram and Facebook are going to use those tools, and go, “Okay, here’s a great idea. We’ll change the name so it sounds like we came up with it.” One more thing on that Instagram conversation, is that’s the social media that it blows me away that our industry is not using as much as it should, as visual as we are in the hospitality industry.

Nick: That’s why it’s my favorite social media as a user, it’s my favorite social media as a marketer, and it’s my favorite social media for engagement in the live events realm. I’ve been talking a lot about SnapChat, mostly because it’s new to the scene of even being a viable option, where a year ago this time, it was not even anything worth talking about. Now, just like all social media, that’s not the right thing for every problem. It’s simply a tool, and it might come back like some of the other tools we talked about before, but it’s a tool that is treating social media very differently than a lot of the other ones are, because they sort of rest on their laurels and decline, like Twitter, for instance, which is just in a tailspin of lack of innovation, and they are unaware of what it is. The fact that they could’ve been bought by Salesforce or Disney, means that it has no rudders. The directions those would have gone.

Jim: Who’s going to buy Twitter? Obviously, someone’s going to put an offer.

Will: Let’s do it guys. Let’s put it together. How much you got?

Jim: ESPN?

Nick: Yeah. ESPN is Disney, right, and Disney said no. Salesforce, I thought, was interesting, but they passed on it. I think they’re going to pass on social media completely after both looking at LinkedIn and Twitter. I doubt they’ll build their own, and if they do, it’ll be more like Slack than it will be an actual social media, per say. Who buys it, whoever buys it will define what it is from that point, because now it’s nothing, and it’s not trying to be anything. It’s in a holding pattern for someone to define it, and that’s death. Unless someone throws a life raft at it.

Will: We’re seeing people in the audience shout Microsoft. The audience is saying Microsoft.

Jim: What do they want with Twitter?

Will: I don’t know.

Nick: I mean, they could, but I hesitate to see if they could figure out what to do with it. When you see the buyouts that have happened over the last 20 years of AOL and Yahoo, just because someone tried to define it and buy it, doesn’t mean they have the ability to have their thumb on the pulse of what made it powerful to begin with, or what the deficit in the marketplace is right now. With lack of innovation at its core, which it’s proven to have, I don’t see a future in it. I really don’t. I shouldn’t say that. If it could figure out a way to be a niche social media, I think it’s fine, but it’s really hard to be a niche social media, especially with an IPO. You have to be able to keep making money.

Will: Real quick. Before we dive too much into selling Twitter, we only have a couple more minutes left, so I want to kind of veer the conversation back in the right direction.

Nick: I think we should buy it, by the way.

Will: I think we could talk about this for days. Maybe we need a Twitter episode soon.

Jim: Maybe we buy it. Corbin, [inaudible 00:43:12].

Nick: Let’s just do it.

Will: We’re going to do a Twitter episode.

Nick: You’re doing a lot of great business. You should pitch it.

Will: I’m working on it, man. All right, cool. We have a couple minutes left, so I want to end on the things, well not end, but jump into the topic that everyone’s here to talk about, which is the 2017 trends. We’ve kind of teased at it a little bit. I know you guys have a ton. A bunch of you guys have written long, lengthy articles. We’ve written our articles. I’m curious to know, what do you think is your number one pick, trend, for this next year that you think is going to be the big thing that we’re going to shift into? Jim, you want to kick it off?

Jim: I would love to say VR. I am so, so enamored with it right now, but I think the big trend next year is how we harness data, and it’s the coming of AI, and the ability for us to be able to use that in meetings, which is not happening in 99% of the conferences that are out there, and meetings that are out there. We have every piece of information, quantified, and the ability to analyze it. We are cool tools. We are used to AI, we see it in Netflix, we see it in Amazon, we see it in credit card fraud protection, so it’s not a new tool, but there has to be some way for us to be able to go. We have a basic database information, and we now need to use a new style approach to figure out what is that we have and how we can use it to make our events better. To me, it’s AI.

Will: I love it. I will agree with that one. Nick, what about you? I know you have to pick one, sorry.

Nick: I know. I’m looking at a bunch. Data is such a cop-out answer, but the days of the gut are over, I think, completely. Data is data. There’s always data. There’s always been data, you just couldn’t really do anything with it, and now that I think that there’s different programs that you can actually implement data for. An event takes place and now you can determine who your biggest advocates are, and you could actually use this information to create influence, or marketing programs, and think tanks around your events, and actually court the people that are stakeholders.

Stakeholders have been what, sponsors, presenters, anyone who has money in the game, but influencers are stakeholders. I think being able to turn an influencer into a proper stakeholder by identifying them is something that is really exciting, both in the marketing tech realm, which I kind of live in, that and being able to make the fear of livestreaming go away, and realize that if you fear people watching your event at home as opposed to attending it, you have a bad event.

Just knowing that you have to be able to have some implement of it. If you don’t have a live experience that is exciting enough, or it has a fear of missing out, or has something that needs to be there in person, then it’s not a great event in the first place. I also think that livestreaming monetization has a long ways to go. Not from the technological standpoint. It’s there. It’s easy, anyone can do. It has a long ways to go of fighting a fear, I think, [inaudible 00:46:33] who think that they are missing out.

Will: Awesome. I love that, if you’re too afraid to do livestreaming because you’re afraid people won’t attend the event, then you don’t have a good event. I love that. Fantastic. Corbin, what about you? What’s your one trend?

Corbin: I’m following a similar line that Nick did as well. It speaks to the maturization of our industry, is that the tools are becoming able to talk with each other. I think, because of that, data analytics is going to be extremely important. You’re seeing this as being developed by these software companies. To be able to integrate from multiple sources, data points. It used to be that the on site media was the black hole of event data management. [inaudible 00:47:28] before and after, but during the meeting, you’re flying blind. Now, you have a myriad of sources that you can gather, and it’s going to be a matter of being able to analyze that, and make sense out of it in real time.

Then being able to take that and suck that back in to a CRM system, and into a marketing operation system. I think that that’s going to bring huge advantages to events. Every touch is trackable on a mobile event app. Every movement can be trackable with mobile beacons, wearable beacons. You have social media sentiment analysis. The list goes on and on and on, and data sources, being able to combine those, bring those through, make those make sense out of it. That’s tied with what I was talking about earlier as well, software integration tools that make that happen, and make multiple products act as if they are one, and be able to collect the sources from that. I think that that’s a big trend. Not a real sexy one, but it’s one that it speaks to where industries are growing. We’re finally growing up from a digital standpoint, and we’re seeing some exciting things develop because of it.

Will: Absolutely. It definitely couldn’t be a more exciting time to be in the events industry, that’s for sure. Awesome. I have two more questions for you guys. Going into 2017, obviously we have a lot of people who plan events or are involved in events watching this show either live right now or after the show as well. I’m curious to know, if you had to pick one tip for 2017 for planners, what would be your one tip for them? Whether it’s related to event trends or not, what do you think that would be? Nick, I know you said that one thing about, “Hey, your event’s not good enough. You probably shouldn’t be livestreaming anyways.” What would be your one tip for event planners, Nick, that you’d want them go into 2017 knowing?

Nick: Just because it seems like this is the line I’m on right now, I’m going to stick with it. Not treating how you engage with the people who are digitally engaged with your live event as an afterthought, and actually programming your event, like how you use ShowFlow for instance, or any kind of scripting, or anything like that. Scripting your event from the digital side as well. What are the different activation points? What are the different emotional arcs? What do you want out of people in that realm as well? As opposed to saying it’s a bolt on, you do it reactively as you can think of it, but actually craft our story in a parallel line, in a digital to be able to create whatever unique goals you want. Either to have them come to your event the following year, or be able to get the complete but different value out of the event in a digital format. Just having those people kind of latch on, and just do it reactively. It has to be scripted, and you have to be able to do it with purpose.

Will: I love it. I love it. Jim, what’s your one tip for planners? They’re all listening.

Jim: Stop being afraid to fail, okay? That’s important. We overanalyze In this industry and we compare, we think about this and that, and we don’t get anything done. Try it. The most difficult part of this is going to be selling your boss that we’re going to try three things and two of them, and maybe three are going to fail, and that’s good. If they are aware, and open, and understand, they will support it. If not, you ain’t going to get any technology in there, because there’s not going to be that absolute sure thing. You’ve got to try it. It’s the same in all industries, but we lost our ability and we put too much fear in failing, and we have to stop that.

Will: I love it.

Nick: I like this a lot.

Will: All these are so good. Corbin, what’s your one tip?

Corbin: I think that how technology is affecting events, one of the biggest things is it’s creating the event as an experience. There are so many ways that people can be engaged at events through their mobile apps, and through networking applications, through gamifications, through social walls. The list goes on and on and on. I think that for my recommendation to planners is be aware of this and educate yourself about the need of trying these different ones. There’s so many that you can try. There are many of them that are free tools, or low cost tools, but the event as an experience is what attendees or our participants are expecting. I think that as we move forward to embrace these tools, and not be afraid of [inaudible 00:52:20]. One of the ways you do that is by educating yourself about the options out there and trying them.

Will: Awesome. I love it. Those are fantastic tips. Very actionable, too, which I love for everyone to go into 2017 with. We’re going to end the show on my last, and one of my favorite questions, which is, “What resources do you have that you want to share?” Whether it’s a website, a blog post, or anything like that. Starting off with maybe any trend guides that you have seen, or maybe one that you participate in or wrote. Definitely please share those right now to let us know where they can find it. Then, maybe like a cool tool, a new app, a new blog post, a new book you just read, really anything. Feel free. I know Nick’s looking around thinking about grabbing something right now. We’ll kick it off-

Jim: Actually, Will, let me start, because what I want to do is mention the other two guys. If you want to keep up on the technology, it’s about Nick and Corbin, and what they’ve written, and what they do. We’re talking top of the industry. I’m just a geek that teaches out there, but these guys have stuff that you can read, that you can get, and I think that’s what everyone has to be focusing on. The tool to use is social media. It’s to understand your filters and be able to curate effectively. I don’t care, we dissed Twitter for 10 minutes in here, and I still use Twitter as one of my main tools to figure out what’s going on in the industry. So, use the hashtags and use the filters, but follow these two guys, because they’re the ones that really are making it happen, and have great, great stuff that you can read.

Will: Follow this guy, Mr. Jim Spellos, too. Come on.

Jim: [crosstalk 00:53:56]

Will: All right, Corbin, obviously please let everyone know where they can find your guide and any cool tools, resources that you have.

Corbin: The two tools I offer is my website and then my Tech Talk newsletter. It’s the longest running newsletter, 18 years now, and it goes out to about 11,000 people. You can subscribe to that at my website. It goes out every other month. As Jim pointed out, there are a lot of good sites out there. I’m following Nick and Jim, and Will, you, too. There are a lot of thought leaders out there. One thing about our industry, we’re really well networked, and open to sharing. One of the things, you can follow experts [inaudible 00:54:54], but also asking your peers what their issues are and what their success rates are. I think people are really willing to help in this industry.

Will: I love it. All right, last but not least. Nick. Go forth.

Nick: I’ll do some really quick ones. One thing that we talked about before this started that I wanted to shoehorn in here, and I think I can make it stick is, what you should be doing as event professionals to get the most information possible, is everyone, all these geniuses are important, but what’s most important are your attendees. Be a great people watcher. Figure out how people tick by watching how they react to different objects, how they react in different environments. I got a chance to talk to Corbin about this in Vegas. I’m trying to develop something around this, a curriculum around this, as a really intro pop psychology way to design based on experiences that people already have, and how they do that. Anyways, watch people. Try to do that where you’re allowed to.

I’ll tell you what. This book, I don’t know if I want to say it out loud, but if you can see, it is really interesting. When we talking about how event people aren’t willing to fail, and also the hospitality gene is so through that it’s a lot of nice guys in our industry. We’re just a little scared. For instance, these two guys, who made their own path. Waiting for someone to give a path to you and saying, “This is what is expected of me,” is so typical of a lot of type A people who are just trying to focus on maintaining or perfecting something, as opposed to just going out there and saying, “No one’s ever done this before, but I’m going to try it. I’m going to give it a shot and I’m going to do it my way.” You don’t see that a lot in the industry.

Then, I got really into this book, too. It’s from Clarke Allen, who’s a really awesome event designer. It’s called The Inevitable Box. It’s something that event people really would get into, because he talks about all the failures he’s had for the last 30 years in the events industry, particularly about starting one of the first DMCs in the early 90s in Charlotte, and a couple other different event entrepreneur experiences he’s had, and he is brutal in his self-evaluation of the mistakes he’s made. It’s very special to event people, because they’ll see a lot of the things that they’ve experienced over the last 30 years in events in his life. Those are just on my table now.

Will: Awesome. I love it. Oh my gosh. Amazing, so we are coming right to the end, almost perfectly on timing, because these guys are bosses. They know how to run this show. I got to give a huge thank you to you guys. That was just absolutely amazing. I was just furiously taking notes. For everyone who’s tuned it right now, if you want to catch all the links and things of books and all that, if we were going too fast, we’re going to post all this on the website. Just head over to the blog, posted over on the right-hand side. Check it out, we’re going to have all the resources there for everyone. This is just an absolutely amazing episode. These guys are just so awesome to talk to. I literally could talk to them for hours on hours, but I know they’re very busy people, so I want to keep good to their schedule. I want to give a huge thank you. Thank you, Jim. Thank you, Nick. Thank you, Corbin. You guys have been absolutely amazing, and thank you guys so much for being on the show today.

Nick: Thanks for having me. It was fun to not just be a lurker.

Corbin: It was great.

Will: Awesome, awesome. Well, you guys, we got to get out of here. It’s the end of the episode. If I could have my host stick around for just a second, but we’re going to catch you guys all next week on #EventIcons. I hope you guys all have an amazing week, and we’ll see you guys all in seven days

Will Curran

Author Will Curran

Information junkie, energetic, and work-a-holic are just some of the words we can use to describe Will Curran. Aside from spending 20 out of 24 hours a day working as the Chief Event Einstein of Endless Events, you can catch Will ordering a chai latte or watching The Flash with his cats. He is also well known for his love of all things pretzels.

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