We’re back today with a very special episode of the #EventIcons podcast. Will’s guest is Isaac Holt, the Master of Technimagic at Endless Events. This week, he put on the shoes of the podcast’s host and did quite an amazing job.
Will and the live audience had a lot of questions for our new host. To make him feel welcomed and at ease, they mostly talked about technical production, but also touched on the future of virtual events and hybrid events – the works. So, press play, and please welcome Isaac Holt!
Everyone, Meet Isaac!
First, Isaac explains how he ended up working in the events industry. “I’ve been with Endless Events for almost two years. But I have been in this industry since I was pushing road cases for free lunch. I’ve really been in the audiovisual industry since I was about 12 years old.”
It all started when he noticed all the big speakers and projectors his neighbor had. “He owned an event management company and had all the fun tools. That piqued my curiosity. I started thinking about how I can get involved. Since then, I’ve been laser-focused on the events industry. I played a role in everything, from sales, implementation, and design,” he says.
Technical Production Post-COVID
Now that we’ve gotten to know Isaac, it’s time to pick his brain. Will asks: “How much has the technical production world changed since COVID broke out? What’s the biggest change that you’ve seen?”
Isaac has seen a great push for creativity. “We found ourselves lacking the ability to want to do more, to want to push the envelope, to try new things. To break boundaries that we hadn’t been able to break before with virtual presenters and being able to bring them in real-time. We found ourselves having to scratch our heads a little bit. What do we need to do in this space to get the same wow factor that we were getting when we could have 1500 people in a ballroom?”
Next up, one of the former Einsteins of Events, John Pistotti, asks Isaac a technical question. “LED or conventional LEKOs – what’s your answer?”
“I’m actually in the spot where I try to stay away from conventional LEKOs. I love the idea of having your movers instead. There are so many great movers out there now that can fill twice the amount of space with half the amount of equipment and footprint. I think all of us that have been in the event industry long enough really hate it when the client decides to move the podium from the left side to the right side of the stage. And then, you find yourself up in a boom lift for four hours, trying to get the lighting readjusted the way that you really wanted it. I’ve moved away from conventional fixtures, even the LED LEKOs for that reason – it’s just the flexibility it gives.”
Creating Event Experiences With Technical Production
“In the world of technical production, there tends to be a lot of limitations. How do you work with a client to balance technical feasibility, but also make them happy at the same time?”
“A lot of the conversations I’m having aren’t about what’s happening in the room,” says Isaac. “It’s about how that affects the 5,000 people that are watching online when it comes to their hybrid event. We talk about what little changes can we make that it’s going to look best for our online audience. A recent example of that was something as simple as a backdrop that was super textured but had nothing lighting it up, which oftentimes can mess with the camera. These things aren’t going to change your budget, but they’re going to change your experience.”
“That’s the number one concern we hear about hybrid events. People think that they’re going to be twice as expensive and that hybrid staff is double in size,” says Will.
The Importance of Post-Event Debriefing
As all event planners know, the event timeline doesn’t end when the event wraps up. There’s also post-event debriefing – and it really matters. “We like to always have a debrief with our clients after their event to really see what went well, what you love, what can we do better next time. And one of the things that came out of these debriefs is the realization of the reach vendors could possibly have. We’ve always kept vendors out of the virtual space because we couldn’t figure out how that would monetize for them.”
“One of the cool things that came out of a conversation with a client was respecting the fact that there are people in person, but realizing their wider audience was online,” adds Isaac. “Yes, there are 1,500 people in the room, but how do you make this make sense for the 5,000 people online? There’s a lot of fear surrounding that. Also, you need to value the product you’re delivering virtually. And there are always going to be people that are going to watch it from their home. I’m still going to watch some things on Netflix that I’m not going to go see in theaters because it’s more convenient for me to do that.”
“It’s coming from an abundance mindset rather than like a scarcity mindset,” replies Will. “If you always look at it as a cost rather than an investment, you’re always going to be on the bad side of things.”
“This is not smoke and mirrors,” adds Isaac. “We have seen ROI for clients from doing virtual events that they never got before.”
Future Trends In Hybrid & Virtual Events
As the master of technical production and events in general, Isaac can make some educated guesses about the future of the events industry. “I want to talk about the virtual audience and what is being catered to there. And then I also want to talk about the in-person audience. I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten used to being able to sit at home in the comfort of my big recliner and watch an event, watch a live stream of some sort. And I think that that experience is going to be one of the things that keep people out of in-person events going forward.”
“And then, on the other hand, you’re going to find people wanting to be more comfortable at your event. Maybe that means that you’re having a smaller experience because you’re going to need the square footage for comfortable furniture at your hybrid venue. You’re going to start to see people wanting a little bit more of that comfortable environment that they were used to when they were at home.”
Isaac also mentions Facebook’s Metaverse announcement and what that implies for the events industry. “We’re seeing a lot of requests now for 3D cameras to be added to environments. Even if it’s just to be able to allow people to be in the room if they want to be in the room.”
Why Virtual Events Are Here To Stay
Isaac elaborates on why he thinks virtual events aren’t going anywhere, even when we can go back to in-person events and conferences. “It is really difficult to want to move away from being able to capture your entire audience because there are still things that have always stopped people from going to conferences. Not every corporation is paying all expenses for their folks to go to these conferences. But what we’ve done is we’ve created this environment where we hit 7,000 people last year with this information. So, why would I ever go back to 1,500 people when I just reached 7,000 last year? And I think those are the elements of virtual events that are going to continue forever. I think that a lot of mobile platforms and virtual platforms are going to stay.
“There are folks that will never be able to go in a room because they physically can’t. It terrifies folks to be in that environment because there are so many people, especially with the new remote work culture normalized. And let’s talk about the hard one; some of them are not vaccinated in places that require vaccinations at events. So yes, these things will keep pushing virtual to be a thing.
“How do we continue to have a high-production live stream for our events? We need to prevent people from tuning out and feeling like they’re watching a Zoom call,” says Will.
Isaac thinks that content is king. “This is where it comes down to creative aspects of the event. What a lot of conferences have done for years is several speakers, their PowerPoints, a bathroom break, and dinner. And then, we’re all there for the drinks afterward. That is fine if you’re at an in-person event again. However, it’s not my preference when we’re trying to create a great environment. What we should see are the Apple events of the world. Their video content is so clean. So, what we’re going to see in the future is a lot of heavy content, creative graphics, and things that help tell a story. It’s all about taking the attendees on a journey.”
Mark These Words: Don’t Be Afraid!
And last but not least, Will asks Isaac the standard final question. What’s the one tip that you would want event planners to know?
“Don’t be afraid,” says Isaac. “Don’t be afraid to push your clients for more. Push them for better ideas, bigger thoughts, newer locations. Help them guide that journey. Otherwise, we can get in the habit of doing the same thing over and over again, because we know what our profits are going to be. We know what the experience is going to be like and what to expect, but I would hope as I do every day that everybody’s looking to grow and to continue to be great.”
Join us again soon for more Isaac-filled episodes!