Endless Events has recently celebrated its 15th birthday and we've decided to mark the occasion by hosting a very special #EventIcons episode in which our listeners could ask us any questions they want about Endless' past, present, and future. The 15-year special was hosted by no other than the CEO and Founder of Endless Events, Will Curran. Three members of the Endless team have also kept him company: Keaton Watson, Director of Sales and Operations, Karmen Jericevic, Sales Development Manager, and Sonja Hayden, the Director of Content. Watch the video or show notes below to see what the Endless dream team has shared about their journeys in the events industry. Here's what you'll find: \tWill's journey from starting a DJ company as a high school student to being a CEO of one of the most influential event management companies, \ta candid conversation about audience engagement as one of the event profs' biggest pain points: are smartphones the enemies or friends of engagement? \tthe biggest lessons over the last 15 years in the events industry, \tpredictions about the future of Endless Events and the events industry in general, \tthe difference between event marketers and event planners, \tand many more miscellaneous fun facts about the Endless team. This is a great opportunity to get a sense of who is Endless; a team of professional, knowledgeable, and accommodating individuals. And don't forget - if you're looking for an event management partner, we are just one click away. From DJ To Event Management Company Will tells the audience a quick recap of Endless Events' path over the last 15 years. "Endless Events started as a DJ company called Arizona Pro DJs when I was a junior in high school. In June 2007, I made a website." Fast-forward, Will started to shift towards rebranding to a production company. "I rented gear and we produced massive high school dances. They were revolutionary at the time. Over time, we started building a big influence in the events industry. We started putting out more content, not just on production, but general event planning. We started getting asked to do event technology, which became very impactful and important in 2020. Fast-forward to today; Endless Events is now describing itself as an event management company." If you want to know more about his story, check out our first #EventIcons episode. How Did Smartphones Change The Events Industry? A lot has changed in the world in the last 15 years. Some of the most impactful changes were brought by smartphones; they have changed the way we communicate, network, and meet new people. What does the Endless Events team think of these changes? "The first thing that comes to mind is that smartphones allowed me to not print out Google Maps," says Will. "I remember driving to different venues and addresses with a printed-out map in a plastic sleeve." The second one is the ability to communicate with clients. "From the ability to voice message your clients to having an event app on your phone, the smartphone has profoundly impacted the events industry." Smartphones & Audience Engagement: Yay Or Nay? And let's not forget about audience engagement. "So much of our event strategy these days revolve around audience engagement through mobile devices. It has revolutionized attendee engagement," says Keaton. Rachel Moore, one of the audience members, points out that attendees tend to look at phones more than around themselves. So, is the smartphone hindering true engagement? According to Sonja, not necessarily. "You can't say that audience engagement isn't happening just because you are on your phone. We are making meaningful connections through our phones, through social media, and through just the way we interact with the internet. I don't think looking down at your phone is actually not engaging. You could be engaging on the event platform. You could be asking questions or networking or friending people on Instagram. Those two things are not mutually exclusive." "We actually just dealt with this question on our PCMA DES office hours where we were talking as a panel," replies Keaton. "There's this divide between digital and physical experience in life, but those lines are blurring and going away almost entirely. Our physical lives can just be an extension of what experiences we're having in the digital world leading to and away from those physical experiences. If you think about how much constant connection people have through social media and their mobile devices, events have to evolve in that same way. That's the best way to keep people in the loop and keep people constantly engaged." The Biggest Lessons Of The Last 15 Years Karmen who has been with Endless Events for about three years thinks that the pandemic represented a massive transition in the events industry. "The pandemic showed event planners that if you're not a flexible person, this is probably not the industry for you. I remember how much guidance they needed in March 2020. Luckily, our team had experience doing live streams, hybrid, and virtual events, so we could guide them. And let's not forget about all the event platforms popping up on the market." Speaking with over 10 years of experience, Keaton swears by the power of quality partnerships. "I've always worked on the production side of things, towards the end of the event planning process. But there were so many moments where I found myself wishing we had been talking about this before, when you were establishing your event goals and designing the entire experience. There are so many things you can do if you include partners in your initial ideas. You can rely on the experiences of those partners to make your events better." Where Does Endless Events See Itself In 15 Years? But enough about the past; what does the future hold for Endless Events? Where does the company see itself 15 years down the line? "To some extent, we are slaves to event industry trends. But otherwise, I think in the future we will look at how to not only engage digital attendees but also how to craft a 3D experience in VR for those attendees. Maybe we will facilitate face-to-face meetings with a physical attendee in one location to a virtual attendee in the metaverse. I'm excited to see how these technological developments will change the world and how to apply them to the events industry," says Keaton. Sonja mentions personalization. "We will be looking for more personalized experiences in events and on-demand content. We might see a change in the timeline of events and how we interact with events to reflect that change." "Maybe the biggest event challenge in the next 10 years is trying to figure out how to create content that resonates with a large number of people in a sea of content with other people trying to do the same thing," agrees Keaton. "How do you differentiate yourself in your content to be able to grab that attention for longer than 10 seconds?" Events As A Crucial Marketing Strategy "My hope for the next 15 years is that we see an improvement in understanding that events can be a large part of your marketing strategy. Hopefully, events will be a larger part of your revenue and there will be a Chief Experience Officer on every team," says Will. "Customer success and SaaS have changed the structure of a traditional business. I hope that events will also become just as critical to people's businesses." "It's a critical strategy in a lot of businesses already," replies Keaton. "It's just not evolving as quickly as the technology is. So event planners are in a constant catch-up mode. And, to be fair, it's a huge challenge, especially when you consider that most event planning professionals for corporate companies are probably on the marketing team and they have other duties outside of just planning events. Here is where I have to go back to the partnership point because you don't necessarily have to be an expert, but it's always helpful to know an expert." "Bringing on the event planner as a full-time employee can save so much money to the company because they know exactly what's necessary, how it's supposed to be done. Events are changing so rapidly that you need that one person to keep up with the information. A full-time employee that has their own job can't follow event trends on top of that," adds Karmen. Event Marketer Or Event Planner? The Future Says 'Both' "We usually work with someone on the marketing team. So you're either dealing with a marketer who's struggling to figure out how to be an event planner or you're dealing with an actual event planner who's struggling to figure out how to be an event marketer. There are some companies that have recognized the need to have an events team. But that's usually because those events are a primary piece of their strategy for revenue generation. So when you're talking about hosting events for your customers, it pays to have somebody on your team that is dedicated solely to creating those events. But if we're talking about internal training meetings, a lot of times those responsibilities get relegated to the marketing team." Happy Birthday, Endless Events! To wrap the episode up, Keaton shares a beautiful core memory from his career in the events industry. It might be stressful to be an event professional, but the creativity is all worth it. "I found the right opportunity with the right customer who was trusting me enough to take a risk. I was really able to design something from the ground up and then see it in person, happening in real life. And watching that design be used in the real world as it was intended was an awesome feeling for me." "It doesn't really matter whether it was AV, technology, or just helping tweak the schedule - that sort of creativity is fulfilling for itself. And just to see people who are willing to really lean on that creativity and that consultation based on that creativity felt amazing. So that's probably the number one reason why I've stayed in this stressful profession. It can wear you down really easily unless you find opportunities like that." Here's to many more, Endless Events!