First things first – the Event Tech Podcast is back! And what better way to kickstart one of your favorite podcasts than to look back at 2020 in events? Obviously, both of our amazing hosts have been extremely busy. As event profs, Will Curran and Brandt Krueger had the ungrateful experience of witnessing the devastating effect of a global pandemic in their lives and businesses. But the good thing about change is that it invariably forces growth in every direction.
So today, we open the floor to our incredible nerd-talking duo. Will and Brandt have a lot to catch up on and a lot to share with event profs everywhere. How did their professional lives change? What will the future look like? And what do we have to say about the industry now that things have stabilized for a bit? So without further delay, here’s Event Tech Podcast, in all its former glory, with a look back at 2020 in events.
Rocking The Boat
“The first part of the spring and summer as this thing started to look serious, I, like everybody else in our industry, just saw all of my in-person events vaporize over the course of two weeks. Literally two weeks. They were all gone”, Brandt recalls. “And I was left thinking what am I going to do? What am I going to do with my life? And my wife got furloughed from her job. So it was serious times like it was for a lot of people”.
Not all remained dar, thankfully. As Brandt explains, “I had this relationship going with the Event Leadership Institute, and I had been teaching technical meeting and event production. And they were kind of like, Hey, we think this online thing could be big. Do you want to put together a course for us? It was like getting shot out of a cannon and then building an airplane. Because we literally put together a full six-week course in about eight weeks, in an effort to try and put together the most comprehensive course that I could on how to do this stuff online. And it’s, it’s proven to be very popular, it’s been a magnificent experience”.
2020 In Events: Will’s Side
Early on, Will realized just how much the pandemic was going to rock the industry. The Endless mindset was then all about educating people. “It started off with can I just pick your brain? But then very quickly became, we need to just give you our event. Can you just do this all for us? And I think we got lucky because we’re so busy with all the work that we have. And we’re just so opportune and so lucky that we actually are growing more than we were pre-COVID”.
“So we’ve been just trying to capture all the opportunities that we can help as many people as possible. And really over the last couple of months, we’ve seen a shift in our business. Because it used to be that the technology companies were the ones that you called last. You had the venue, you had the catering, had all your content solidified all the branding,. And then I’m going to layer in technology. Now it’s technology first. So because technology touches everything now, it’s, we need you to do everything for us. So our whole business is just seeing a huge transformation”, he adds.
2020 In Events: A Time For Evolution
“You guys were proactive about it. Unfortunately, for a lot of folks, there was this idea that, well, if our only choice is to go online, then we’re just going to wait. And I literally heard about a planner who was let go just recently, because she was resisting bringing their events online. She’s just like, I’m just not going to do it. I don’t want to do it. And they’re like, well then bye. That’s where, unfortunately, some people have been so dug in on it’s in-person or nothing that they’re missing the boat”, says Brandt.
“In the beginning, it was all about let’s make mistakes, let’s get our hands dirty. Let’s learn new things. And now that we’re seeing the second evolution, the improvements, everyone who made mistakes is now smarter and knows how to do it better. But the thing is, if you haven’t made the mistakes, you haven’t learned those lessons yet. And what’s been interesting to me is that everything is condensed right now. If you’re doing virtual events right now, you are in demand. The people that you need to learn from are busy, the people that are executing are busy. So everything has been condensed. It’s like we have the coal that’s now being compressed into a diamond in a lot of ways”, adds Will.
Looking back at 2020 in events, it’s obvious that the first stage was a bandage one. But as Brandt puts it, “it may be a temporary thing, but it’s never going back to exactly the way that it was. And if you think that it is, you’re lying to yourself. So we have to move past getting by and get back to producing good events, wherever they may be, online, in-person, hybrid. Wherever they are, we need to start going back to high production value and delivering value to your attendees”, says Brandt.
“Right now, this is the perfect time to book out a strategy session during those two weeks that are leading up to Christmas. No one’s putting on events two weeks leading up to Christmas. That’s your time, so spend three days building out your whole strategy for next year”, says Will. “This is like the perfect time to take that break, to start thinking about your technology strategy across the board too. And you have to start with thinking goals, objectives. But also right now in Q4 2020, you have to start doing it now to be ready for the next year”.
Brandt adds that you must also “involve all of your stakeholders. How much are they being involved in the process? How much are they being involved in deciding what data is going to be collected and how it’s going to be collected? And how much of that data are you offering them? It’s all about value. And it’s all about figuring out what is the value for the attendees and what is the value for your exhibitors and internal stakeholders as well”.
There’s No Turning Back!
When it comes to 2020 in events, one thing is for sure – we’re being forced to wake up and smell the roses. “As an industry, I think we’re going to come out stronger. And it’s that age-old humanity thing of, out of our darkest times, we somehow come out stronger. And I think we will do so in the industry because we’re being forced to advance like 30 years into the future of where we would have gotten if we were just going to keep inching along like we were doing before”, says Brant.
“I’ve always felt like the events industry has been one step behind technologically. Because we’re so prone to Murphy’s law and wanting to make sure everything’s rock-solid as possible, we’re also afraid to adopt new technologies. We love looking at and going on about, VR and transparent screens. But then the second you say, all right, let’s do it, they’re like, oh, well, I’m not willing to invest in it. Or I’m not willing to risk it. Let’s just go with the rock-solid option”, adds Will. “But this pushed us to say, if you don’t know how to work remotely, if you don’t know how to set up a webpage and you don’t understand some basics about what looks good on live streaming, you’re going to fall behind in some ways”.
And that’s a wrap on this week’s Event Tech Podcast! This time around it was all about looking back at 2020 in events, and what Will and Brandt learned from it. Many more, exciting episodes are coming your way, so stay tuned. And remember, if you need help with your virtual event, don’t hesitate to contact us – the Endless team is here to help!