5 Event Planning Take-Aways from a Conversation with our CEO

Team GTRTeam GTR July 12, 2021

How is event technology driving the way we do in-person events, hybrid events and virtual events? What is the changing role of event planners as the requirements of event planning change dramatically? How are we incorporating new methods of lead generation and innovations like touchless badge printing into our thinking?

Those are some questions that Travis Tucker, President and CEO of GTR™ Event Technology, ponders every day. As a 15-year veteran of event technology, Travis has seen a lot in the industry and, with COVID-19, he observed some groundbreaking changes in event planning.

Recently, he shared some of his thoughts at a virtual fireside chat (minus the fire) that focused on the dramatic changes in the industry this last year.

The event was sponsored by Startup Grind, a global community for startups and entrepreneurs to address the growing challenges of launching a company and Metro Collective, a network of collaborative people, ideas and spaces in Upstate New York.

Travis was interviewed by Noa Conger Simons, President and CEO of Upstate Capital Association of New York, whose mission is to connect capital providers with companies that are seeking funding. Upstate Capital puts on an average of 15 events per year.

Here are five interesting takeaways from their conversation:

1. It’s essential to set the right expectations for events.

Setting expectations is obvious advice for events – but Travis has great insight into pivoting when circumstances change. COVID-19 has been extreme, but challenges popping up are natural for the event industry. He observed that clients were asking the wrong question early in the pandemic: How do I take my in-person event and make it virtual? The right question was and continues to be: How do I deliver the objectives that this meeting needs virtually? He explained that while it’s a similar question, it has an entirely different focus.

“Many event organizers just tried to take their meetings and make them virtual. They were unsuccessful, which is really sad because now they are saying that they will never do virtual events again — even though it could be such a great tool in their arsenal. For event planners who are feeling that way, my hope is that you hit reset because people are having a very positive engagement at virtual events,” Travis reflected.

2. Hybrid events are a totally different thing.

It’s not about how you create two things and bring them together. The right question is: How do I bring both virtual and in-person attendees together for a coherent experience? Travis said new technology and creativity offer really interesting ways to plan hybrid events. He gave several examples, such as chat walls on the side of stages so in-person attendees can see what virtual attendees are saying and contribute to that conversation.

bringing both virtual and in-person attendees together

3. The event industry has woken up.

Travis believes that from a technology standpoint, the event industry is a late adopter. Typically, event technology was adopted by event planners after it had gone mainstream in other industries. He cited event apps as an example. Mobile apps existed for a long time before event-focused apps came out. Then it took five to seven years for event-focused apps to permeate the market to the point that attendees expected to have one when they went to an event.

After a year of virtual events, event organizers see technology as a major part of their event and want to know how to leverage it to provide value. “That’s really exciting, and it’s helping drive innovation,” Travis has observed. “There’s been more funding in our space than ever before because investors see this as a real market where they can put capital in and get a return. That means innovation is going to happen.”

4. Exhibitors got real quality and value from virtual events.

Travis said early on in COVID-19 one of the biggest challenges was showing exhibitors how they could get value from virtual events. In-person attendance at exhibit halls created activity and traffic that could not be replicated virtually.

“Exhibitors needed to change their metric from lead quantity to lead quality. Seven hundred people dropping their business card into a fishbowl because they want an iPad might get you 12 actionable leads. In a virtual world, I can tell you in real-time that there are 15 people on your page right now and what they are looking at.”

5. Highly actionable data is the future.

One of the most exciting changes in the event industry is getting actionable data, according to Travis. For example, during an in-person event, people generally don’t get up and walk out if the session is not good. Virtually, an attendee is going to click off and go somewhere else. With this real-time feedback, event organizers can go beyond survey results on measuring engagement with speakers, sessions, and topics.

travis tucker quote

“You get to see the nitty-gritty and pull in different types of data to determine what offers the most value and what delivers the most impact. For example, you can determine event location better because you not only see where people are coming from to join in-person, but where they are coming from virtually. So now you can make smarter decisions based on better data about your next event,” he explained.

The path forward? Event planners who lean into creativity. Whether it is Hybrid Event emcees guiding the virtual audience through the event flow or touchless badge printing to safely check people in, thinking outside of the box will rule the day for events.

Want to hear more about what Travis anticipates in the future for event planning and event technology? Check out the entire conversation.

And if you’re a creative thinker who needs an event team to bounce ideas off of and produce the event you’re sketching on a napkin right now, we’re here to help!

Regards, Team GTR™

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