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How to bring your event into the 2020s

Posted on February 10th, 2020 in AI for Events, Blog, Experience Economy, Industry Insight, Leadership

Do you feel like your event is stuck in the past? The events space is constantly evolving and re-inventing itself. If you’re looking to make changes to your event to give it a more progressive feel, but you’re not sure where to start, you’re not alone. 

From introducing new tech to changing the way something’s always been done, there are a lot of considerations and challenges on the path. 

We spoke to Jeremy Garling, founding creator at Fourth Wall, about outdated event trends, making the most of your budget and using technology in a smart manner. Following some, or combining all, of this advice will help to shift the outlook of an event into something more modern for the ’20s.  

Move away from outdated event planning

It’s no secret that events are a big part of many marketing plans these days, and it’s likely that your audience has a bigger choice of events than ever before.

Looking around the events on offer in Australia, you’ll see plenty of new and out-there options, but you don’t need to make wholesale changes about what you do.

Simply moving your thinking away from how your venue looks and instead focusing on the message you want to send out (and that you want your audience to receive) can have a huge impact.

Making sure that you create a consumer experience stems from intention and messaging, not from one item sunch as the type of seating you have in the venue.

Jeremy said, “One of the main words we move away from is ‘décor’. When you’re talking about décor, I think you’re talking about something in the 1980s. If we’re talking about furniture, fit-out, it’s a really dated principle. What we to focus on, and what we do as a business, is ‘What are you trying to say?’ and ‘How can we change the behaviours of guests so that by the time they leave they want to do something different?'”

“If you look at the great experiences around the world they’re all consumer experiences: South by Southwest, some of the great festivals of the world, they understand that people are no longer going into a festival experience or a business experience – it’s merged, they’re constantly in a consumer environment.”

Making the most of your budget

For many people, an event idea can only go so far before their budget runs out. They’re faced with the choice of cutting corners to have a touch of something magic or foregoing the memorable moment to make sure all the basics were ticked off.

For Jeremy, there are two main problems with this approach. The first is that no company he’s ever worked with in 23 years has had a frivolous budget. The second is that the word ‘budget’ itself is problematic.

He said, “No client has an excessive amount of money. What we do as a process is start with ‘What is the best solution?’ Don’t worry about cost; what is the best solution?”

“We never talk about budgets in our business, ever. We talk about investment; we talk to our clients and say, ‘What do you want to invest in this experience to get something out of it?'”

“They might say $100,000, so I can tell them ‘This is what you get for that, the solution you really need is $1,000,000, but our experience can deliver a $100,000 version of that. If you make is $150 000, we can invest more and get a greater return.”

Use technology as the icing on the cake

Technology can add to an event – when it’s done right. To make sure you’re using tech properly, it needs to be done to integrate with your strategy, not as a starting point for how you create an experience.

Whether it’s virtual reality, AI or any other piece of technology, it can only add benefit to your event if you’ve got a reason for it being there.

Jeremy said, “Firstly, design the guest experience, then put a digital overlay over the top. If you actually start with the digital component you jar the process. It’s far more important to get the experience right, far more important the story you’re telling, and the communication you’re trying to come up with that leads into behavioural changes, is right. Then add the digital layer.”

“The important part is don’t lead with the digital, and don’t let digital lead you. Be in control of it the whole time.”

Jeremy Garling is the closing speaker at 2020’s The Business of Events conference in Sydney. Find out more about his views on creating the perfect blend of digital and tactile to enhance the human interaction. Tickets are available here for the event, held on 19 March 2020 at Luna Park.

*Image by [Fourth Wall] via [www.fourthwall.com.au].

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