Live events that enhance the online experience and vice versa: Event Planners Talk and Future in 15 Show make it possible!

The Next Event Planners Talk x Future in 15 event is just around the corner, with less than one week to go. We are excited to welcome everyone on Thursday, 21 February 2019 for the event ‘pitching for success: pitfalls and opportunities’ at Allianz Park in London, our official event sponsor.

February 2019 marks the fourth year that I have collaborated with Caleb Parker, the host of the Future in 15 Show (in fact, the first event took place on 24 February 2015, so it’s almost a 4-year anniversary!). Four years ago, Caleb first spoke on my panel about social media for events, and he has subsequently moderated more of my events. Later in February 2017, Caleb launched his own YouTube series ‘Future in 15 Show’, which highlights innovation in the events sector and so, going forward, it was a natural decision to collaborate on content production and live events. 

July 2015, ‘Loving the pitch’ event at Broadway House, London

About Caleb Parker and the Future in 15 Show

Caleb is a born entrepreneur, who throughout this career has straddled the hospitality and commercial real estate industries, and today brings these competencies together in everything he does. Currently, he is on the board of an events agency Select Event Solutions managed by Clare de Brett and the founder of Bold, a flexible workspace brand in London. 

December 2017, ‘Creative and innovative venue design’ event at Bold space, London

Our partnership evolves around the Future in 15 Show and Event Planners Talk. Previously, when Caleb was the technology and innovation Chair at HBAA for the past three years, he was often asked what he thinks about a new or existing event or technology provider; at one point, when he didn’t have the answers, the idea of the show came about to highlight best practice examples from someone who could answer the questions. 

About Event Planners Talk 

The Event Planners Talk involves sub social media Twitter and Instagram channels of my blog and started as a weekly Twitter chat in 2014. From 2014–2018, I ran it on a weekly basis, changing it to a monthly one at the beginning of this year to adapt to the altering landscape of social media. Social media is constantly evolving, and it is important to use the various platforms, particularly Instagram, to connect with my community. I now conduct regular interviews on Instagram Live and these events have received fantastic feedback so far, encouraging me to do more of them (I have also conducted this interview with Caleb on Instagram Live — and because the stream is available for only 24 hours, I have transcribed these interviews into blog posts). 

Further, changing from a weekly Twitter chat to ‘monthly topics’ allows me to provide a deeper analysis of an important industry matter, after having realised that a 1-hour chat wasn’t enough. For example, during these first two months of 2019, we have focused on pitching, with in-depth interviews with Kevin Jackson, Sabrina Meyers and Thomas Vig, as well as one Twitter chat. All of these interviews have provided me with fundamental feedback to design a discussion which would be most suitable for business needs. The final discussion will take place at the live event on Thursday and will conclude this topic. 

In 2015, I hosted the first Event Planners Talk event as a way to connect my online and offline audiences and create more networking and education opportunities. Now, the Event Planners Talk is a micro-learning platform for the events industry that offers bite-sized educational content throughout the year, addressing the most challenging and thought-provoking topics for the events industry and looking for applicable solutions. 

October 2016, ‘The role of airlines, added value and the decision making process in MICE travel’ event at the London Marriott Hotel County Hall, London

Event Planners Talk and Future in 15 partnership: strong synergies and content overlap  

Caleb spoke on my first panel, and subsequently we continued working together on future events. Since I moved to Germany in 2016, I continued hosting events in London. Additionally, I started hosting these events in Germany. In that way, Caleb and I both expanded our collaboration, covering two important markets, the UK and Germany, in addition to our international audience online. 

March 2018, ‘Influencer marketing in the MICE industry’ event at International Club Berlin, Berlin

We have decided to join forces because we have strong synergies between our social media platforms — blogs, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Additionally, we have audience and topic cross-overs, so it was a natural decision to host more of these events together. 

The way it works is that we host an Event Planners Talk about a topic, and Caleb films Future in 15 interviews afterwards, so the audience gets more in-depth educational content and can also contribute to the discussion. We see huge potential in engaging both online and offline audiences and providing the opportunities to meet face to face. 

April 2018, ‘The future of event recruitment’ event at Blooms London, London

Why I don’t attend all of my events in person

As some of you may know already, I haven’t attended several of my events in London. How is that possible?

There is one reason for this: our vision for digital innovation to provide an amazing online experience that can enhance the live experience and vice versa!  

We believe that the online audience can and should have access to all educational content from the event and at the same time also have a great online experience. We understand that not everyone can attend each event in person, but that shouldn’t prevent them from engaging with the content and other attendees ‘in the room.’ 

The only way that we can perfect this experience is by me being an online attendee myself. My team in London is responsible for the online coverage, and I follow closely online; together, we ensure that all key points are communicated from the event, and a write-up and videos are available shortly post event. 

May 2017, ‘Values in the events industry’ event at The Royal College of Physicians, London

Do we think that offering the full content online will decrease attendee participation?

No. In fact, it enhances the event experience both for people attending and those following online, and over a longer period of time, it increases participation. Now, almost every major conference offers live streaming of sessions and post-event recordings, but that can’t be compared with the experience of a spontaneous chat which may lead to a business opportunity, a hand shake, taking a selfie together and being in the room with other fellow business leaders who share the same passion and expertise. 

Now, when many media outlets are putting content behind a paywall, we are in contrast offering all content for free online because we know that the live experience can’t be completely replicated in the digital space, with the interaction that people have with each other and the business opportunities that can be derived from meeting face to face offering a priceless experience. Being in a new setting outside your usual work environment, with new people and new content, makes the experience significantly more powerful and helps generate more ideas.  

Another aspect is transparency. How can you communicate that your events are worth attending when events are not ‘tangible’? The topics we discuss and the venues where we host our events may vary, but the depth of discussion and online engagement is what defines the quality of the education provided at our events.

We are not only in the media business, but also in the events business and therefore these two concepts are inseparable.  

In the last couple of years, technology has given us the chance to connect with our online communities. In the past, if everyone was going to participate in an event they had to be there, and not everybody can afford the money, the time off or the associated travel costs; because of technology, we can now participate online.

We are often asked how suppliers and destinations can engage an online audience at events. We typically reply, ‘you have to put your money where your mouth is’. It is hard for me not to be there in person, but this issue is also an example of how our work culture is changing, and we have the right tools to adapt to the changing needs of our workforce and attendees. Thus, online audiences can also have a great educational experience if the organisers make it a priority. 

Instagram, Twitter, blogs and YouTube are free tools that organisers can use — everyone is so busy that we can’t expect them all to be at every single event, but we want both our online and offline attendees to also have an amazing experience. 

Photos: Sandeep Rai (London) and Thomas Loris (Berlin)

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