Industry Trends

Episode 38: Orchestrating Impactful Moments with Evntiv's Sierra Thompson

Sierra Thompson, VP of Business Development at Evntiv, discusses creating impactful moments, connecting attendees, hybrid events, and AI technology's potential in the event industry's future.

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Key Takeaways:

Technology in the Future of Events

  • Importance of balancing advancements in AI and tools with preserving the human touch.
  • Significance of maintaining creativity and adaptability in storytelling.
  • Recognizing technology's impact on traditional roles, while emphasizing its potential for building connections and relationships.
  • Harnessing technology to maximize human potential and create greater outcomes

Post-Pandemic Event Industry Trends

  • More events are focusing on reception and human connection time rather than spending hours in a ballroom.
  • Events should focus on creating an immersive experience.
  • Spend less on swag that will most likely not move the needle on someone remembering the brand.
  • Travel with a purpose as an opportunity for cost savings and work-life balance, which can also impact the financial strategy for each business.

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Read the Transcript 📚

[00:00:00] Intro: Welcome to Corralling the Chaos Podcast, where we talk publicly about the things you're worried about privately. My name is Angela Alea, and I'm your host. This is the event industry podcast for companies and crew where we're gonna dive deep into things like, what does our industry need that it just doesn't have?

What are the things you wanna know, but you're just too afraid to ask? And what are the biggest opportunities ahead for our industry? We're gonna go deep and nothing is off limits.

[00:00:36] Jess Cook: Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Corralling the Chaos. I am your guest host, Jess Cook, head of content at LASSO And today I am joined by Sierra Thompson. Sierra is the VP of Business Development and Evntiv., a St. Louis based team of talented designers and producers who create one of a kind live virtual and hybrid events.

[00:00:59] Sierra [00:01:00] herself has produced major in-person and virtual events across the country. For clients like the Mercy Foundation. St. Louis Children's Foundation, Washington University, and St. Louis Buckingham, strategic Wealth and the Opera Theater of St. Louis. So

[00:01:13] Sierra Thompson: welcome, Sierra. Thank you Miss Jess. I'm so grateful to be here.

[00:01:18] And already it's been such a privilege to work with you and your team, so I'm very excited about today's conversation. Oh, so

[00:01:24] Jess Cook: glad you're here. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you. Got to Evntiv., got how you got to the event space. Would love to know a bit more about your background before we really jump in.

[00:01:37] Sierra Thompson: Gladly. So I'm quite fond of my little journey simply just because it feels as if I buy accident, stumbled into a recipe that I would highly recommend to so many young individuals that know that they wanna lead. With feeding their soul and their career as well as take advantage of their hard and soft skills.

[00:01:58] Ultimately, my journey [00:02:00] started with serendipity. That is, I moved here from Vermont. It was about a 25 hour drive one way. And when I got here, I looked at my little coop car. I'm like, okay, we're not doing that again. We're gonna stay right here. And so when I came to St. Louis, it was really because I saw this.

[00:02:17] Untapped potential of this really fantastic city. As a New Englander, as I defined and dreamed of what a city would mean to me, it would be this metropolitan place that had this bustling ecosystem of shopping in restaurants and infrastructure. And St. Louis wasn't entirely that, and that was really intriguing to me.

[00:02:37] It was a very commuter city, and as I looked around at. Some of these vacant buildings, I was like, wait a second, this potential is endless and can I be a part of that potential? So very early, strategically, I would call out first and foremost there's this continued essence of intention and maybe a little bit of a vision [00:03:00] of what could I be to this city?

[00:03:02] What could the city give to me? So I lead with that because, When I first came here, I had a degree in communications. And as many of us know, that's very broad. What could that mean to us? With my personal side hustle projects, we could call it a lot of passion projects. In my past I was dabbling in a lot of kind of law and working with a lot of legislation to move some, again, passion projects forward.

[00:03:30] In my mind at this time, this is roughly seven years ago, I'm like, okay, untapped potential. I know how to create change and how can I make this in a combination of that's going to allow me to make money, make a living, and move fo and move forward. So with that, there always takes a little bit of a risk.

[00:03:50] The risk certainly was not only moving here with. Barely anyone I knew. But the second risk was just starting where do you begin? So my first shop was called [00:04:00] TUI Creative, and it ended up being one of five different agencies within a huge spectrum of different niche kind niche, what do we call it?

[00:04:14] Creative. Spaces. So it'd be like marketing, advertising, video production and then also managing a non-for-profit. These were the different niche areas I ended up falling into, and when I found Evntiv. Or when we found each other, it was ultimately allowing myself. To take advantage of all of that collected skillset, hard skills, soft skills, and finally allowing myself to maximize my truest potential.

[00:04:42] So I sped up the story in all of those little shops ultimately dis. Say that event if was just the perfect match for me. It allowed me from a client service standpoint to be my best self and fall in love with people, which I do every single day. And then it also allowed [00:05:00] me to work with big numbers.

[00:05:02] We, even at that senior project manager level or project manager level, you are really tasked to be an expert in every field. So that means you are managing the big bu budgets, you are designing the events, you're. Selling the event. So you need to have that showbiz right for that, those pitches. And then once you sell the business, you need to then guide that client throughout pre-pro right into production and be an educator.

[00:05:25] Be a cheerleader be a dab your eyes when you're having tear side stage, all the things and. It was a thrill to walk into a space, having such a deep breath of for Evntiv. Wise of responsibilities that I needed to become an expert in very quickly, but quickly also knew that, gosh, I think I by accident, collected all these skill sets.

[00:05:51] And now can just go be my best self. So it was a stumbling. But there's always this line of a little bit of strategy [00:06:00] trying my best to fit together the pieces to find true happiness in my career. I.

[00:06:06] Jess Cook: I love that and I love that you say St. Louis for you felt like this place where you could come in and take all of those skills and like be an ambassador to the community and really raise the community up in your efforts to build a business and.

[00:06:20] E each event is like a mini business, right? You're bringing in this ecosystem of economics and you have all of these folks that you're paying and I always loved that about events that like, you come up with it in your mind and then it becomes this. Thing that actually comes to life with so many people involved and it really takes on a life of its own in terms of the community and the economy and the ecosystem that you create.

[00:06:48] So I love that

[00:06:49] Sierra Thompson: thinking. Oh, Jess, I love every word you just said. I agree. It's so ironic, metaphorically, here you are at one singular event level in your [00:07:00] gathering community, and you're talking about a mission, and there's real purpose in that gathering. And yes, I can nerd out about that all day long.

[00:07:08] And for me to know on my own microscopic level, I try to do that in my daily just for me, not only fostering my community at work or the other respective communities I have in the boards I'm on, or the communities I serve. But certainly from the very early beginning, this is. Precisely how I saw St.

[00:07:31] Louis. It was its own platform. Yeah. So it's, it goes on every level and I love how you express

[00:07:36] Jess Cook: that. That's great. So you're at Evntiv., you start out as project manager, senior project manager, but you climbed the ranks very quickly there, going to VP of business development in just four years, which is incredible.

[00:07:51] That's unbelievable and amazing. So what do you think it is about you personally that helped you learn, grow so quickly? And what can others [00:08:00] in the event space that you know, are kind of looking to do the same, to like grow their career in that way? You know what kind of things, what kind of characteristics should they try to grow within themselves?

[00:08:11] Sierra Thompson: Yes. Gosh. Well, I must say I. And always taken aback by the timeline. I certainly am an eager person. I'm a very driven person, and it's always a welcome to reminder that it's only been four years. I think many of us, certainly you miss Jess on this call today. Anyone listening within the event industry can't overlook the pandemic.

[00:08:36] It is certainly interweave still into our day-to-day lives, and that four years has everything to do with. What event have went through during the pandemic? And by the way, it is a fantastic, one of my favorite stories because it's a story of triumph. It's a story of how do we come out of the darkest times in the most ironic time of events being there [00:09:00] is no gathering together.

[00:09:01] So part of me, as I quickly reflect on that four years is short, but gosh, it was a whole lifetime in between. For what? Expedited. I think my career at Adventive was not only the uniqueness of bringing my hard skills. And again, that array of hard skills to Evntiv. Where Evntiv. Very uniquely on its own has a huge breadth of services.

[00:09:29] So we do high-end talent buying. We do design strategy thematics for the event. We do the technical production, and then we are also those that are. Physically producing it. So show calling, stage managing, et cetera. So I say that to say, so early on you needed to have all of this expertise under your belt to succeed just at that respective role.

[00:09:51] So as a project manager and to really own your craft, you had to be eyes wide open and a sponge in every [00:10:00] single moment, every single room. And you still had to carry yourself as you are the expert. For even when you're learning. So I think in that environment of super high expectations a lot of money spent and a lot of trust in those that they're looking at being you, that you're the owner of, you just need to rise to the rice to the occasion and it's a heavy pour of they get to you, make it.

[00:10:24] Coupled with leaning on those innate skills and really putting true trust and confidence in yourself. Even if it's that day that you woke up, you're like, today is more of a fake it than a make it day. But still showing up and trying your best to show up with that intention, not only aesthetically in a lot of ways, just putting a jacket on in a little more makeup that day to just look the part and then from your internal out finally find that confidence and strength to be like, okay, I'm going to [00:11:00] show up today to say I'm going to try this for the first time, or try this for the 10th time, and this time I'm gonna take my ninth learning with me.

[00:11:09] That's all it is as you, you're keeping, you keep trying. If I was to go far beyond that though, you know what? If I really pause and think what differentiated to truly make the difference, it would be very clear expectations. I the, in that intention word I'll probably use throughout our entire conversation today, because I think that is the bloodline through much of what I've done both in my extracurriculars and at Evntiv..

[00:11:37] And I led with intention very literally with my boss, Sam Foxman, who's also the president and owner of Evntiv.. And I will never forget a joke that I played on him that we had our first retreat. And this is actually a ongoing joke that also points back to me. My very first [00:12:00] retreat at Adventive, Sam was talking about our future hierarchy.

[00:12:03] This is. Pre Covid what we're gonna grow into, what is the amazing next five year plan? And I am weeping in the back of the room because in my head and heart, I'm like, that's me. I'm gonna be on that hierarchy. And something he said in that meeting was I really need. Each of you to come to me to tell me what do you want an event?

[00:12:27] If you need to be an active conversation, active part in that conversation of how can I serve you? How can I ensure that you're happy? And I'm like, done. I got this. I can totally tell you exactly what I want. That joke is when he said this, he's like, I don't want to see just a manila envelope one day I e your rec resignation.

[00:12:50] I really need you to make sure we don't ever get there. So I think it was probably within five days later, I come in with a manila envelope. [00:13:00] And cuz I think I'm hilarious and within the manila envelope was actually like, I wanna be you one day. I want to run this company. I want you to teach me everything you know.

[00:13:11] I think I have found the craft I want to specialize in for the first time in my career, and I really need you to help me get there. So Sam was very actionable. I cannot speak. Speak more highly at this man. I love him. He's gonna come to my wedding later this year if I, in as long as there's not another event that pops up high priorities here at Adventive.

[00:13:33] Yes. But he was terribly actionable and he immediately made a mentorship plan with me that we are still carrying out today. He is one of the toughest. People I have in my life when it comes to feedback and he knows it. But it's really good for me. So I think there's like a two-part message there.

[00:13:53] There's, know what you want and talk about it and be loud about it, [00:14:00] and definitely make those that have the power for change know it. So they can guide you towards those goals. And then the second part is ultimately, I guess keeping them and yourself responsible. The mentorship I didn't really ask for that was a part two to my request, and that has probably been the biggest gift, and certainly the irony is this person both had the power to create change in my life.

[00:14:28] And offered me the tools of how do I create that change. So terribly grateful for that man. But that's probably a huge piece I'd want to call out is don't be scared to say super loudly. What is it you want one day?

[00:14:43] Jess Cook: That's fantastic. I think back to like even my own career and I feel like the times where I've grown the most or I have been able to get to that promotion that I'd wanted and told someone I wanted.

[00:14:55] It was because I, one was very verbal about it. I let someone know and I [00:15:00] aligned myself with people who could help me get there, who had done it before, who I could learn from. And I am, we all are a combination of all of the things we learn from all of the people. Right and in our lives, and so you have to align yourselves with the right people because you want to be.

[00:15:19] The kind of combination of the best things, right? So I love, love, love

[00:15:24] Sierra Thompson: that answer. Yeah, no, I love that too. And I can't help but say, Jess, this inspires me to know I have forever defined my It's kind of growing up as the village that raised me. And it's just a similar way of saying that we are all a combination of those that we surround ourselves by.

[00:15:43] I see. No matter if it's a nuclear family or like mine just defined by. Undefined. I guess I was gonna make some kind of poetic gesture of difference, but layers and [00:16:00] layers of added humans in my life. All very non-traditional in this village scenario that I call it. And that has definitely allowed me to be a chameleon.

[00:16:09] And I think all of us need to maybe feel more open-minded to pulling out those different pieces of us, given the environment we stand in. That's awesome.

[00:16:20] Jess Cook: Sierra, tell me a bit about your project management experience. Because we know how chaotic that can be in the event space. Project management, just in general in any industry is a really tough discipline and in the event space even more so what are some of your key, what were some of your keys to success there and maybe even some of your biggest challenges in that role?

[00:16:43] Sierra Thompson: Yes, my success and challenge is actually a double-edged sword. But I'll kind of speak to both and then point out where they're, it's a uni unique duality. Client service actually totally nerded out about [00:17:00] I love this.

[00:17:01] For some time I would define my success at Adventive by ensuring that I could teach this too. So ultimately I think, and especially post pandemic leading with this humanized conversation being a human, I think first and foremost, authenticity is deeply important. I have loved this, again, I'm gonna call it post pandemic era of knowing that you can have kids running through the background and dogs sitting by your feet.

[00:17:29] And I think there's just this more humanized nature in what is a. High end business. And I think that's why I've loved it, is that we can now just serve each other as experts and there's not this veil of perfection. And I think I personally have strived in that cuz I just want to know you, Jess. I just wanna know the person on the other side of the screen or the other side of the table.

[00:17:53] So first and foremost, the authenticity is almost unteachable, but certainly something we can pull out of each [00:18:00] other. And then beyond that the true, I think skillset is, education hat is something I say a lot to our producers. Are we educating our client on the why? Why are we're choosing a certain thing or why there's options actually, or why we're gonna tell you that there this exists, but we're really gonna guide you to this, and this is the why.

[00:18:23] So that has everything to do with leveraging your expertise. But I call it education because I wanna go farther to ensure that. The alignment is there, the expectations there. So those are the other hidden pieces that are terribly important to that success. And then furthermore, I would offer that it's really just those organizational tools.

[00:18:45] Trying not to reiterate expectation, timeline setting, which is really huge key pieces to what we do. It's really about ensuring that best product now, every client, every budget, every[00:19:00] creative opportunity that we have the pleasure of working on is all going to have different variables to maximize, take advantage of.

[00:19:10] So at Adventive, something that is a major differentiator to us is that we are very strategy forward. So we lead a lot of our creative conversation with a strategy prior to going into ideation mode. I. And in that strategy, there's again, a lot of opportunity for real high level heady alignment when it comes to a brand and what we're com communicating at that respective event.

[00:19:38] And that is where I find the most buy-in the most that moment you really feel as if you're that singular team. The extension of the client's team, as we like to call it as well. And I think that is an opportunity that is unlike other agency where we're not just giving a [00:20:00] resource.

[00:20:00] We are actually guiding you in the best possible. And so in that's what we call a C M O session core mission objective session. We will walk away with what our true tactics are and in. 10 more things that I could get into, but ultimately those tactics become different talking points throughout the entire pre-process.

[00:20:19] We're always going back to those tactics. So again, I love to call this out because here we are in our education hats is on. We're given options along the way. We're constantly setting expectation. We're being good communicator. But then there's this thread of. We've agreed upon this, and I'm gonna make sure that happens every single step of the way.

[00:20:39] And so I think it's really that trust that really immersive trust on behalf of every respective event that is very important to the success of the overall program and the relationship. That's

[00:20:52] Jess Cook: so great. Talk to me a little bit about when you were talking I wanna know a little bit more about this.

[00:20:56] How do you what's your process for documenting [00:21:00] all of that? We've agreed upon this strategy. We've agreed upon these tactics. I, in my agency experience, I found that like clients very easily forget what we talked about last week, what we've agreed upon, right? You come back with all these great ideas and they're like, why are we doing that again?

[00:21:16] Would love your thoughts on like, how are you documenting that? How are you communicating that so that everyone's. Stays on the

[00:21:22] Sierra Thompson: same page. Heck yes, my darling. I call, I have many different versions of what I call this but a lot of times I call it insurance. Did you extend the insurance that were still agreeing upon the same conversation we just had?

[00:21:38] But yes everything in writing. So what that really looks like at Adventive would be meeting notes. Agendas follow up emails I am every single one of my clients I will do this for, but it certainly was born out of the clients that need it the most, and that's okay.

[00:21:58] We all learn [00:22:00] and adapt, so I. We both have felt that one client, they're like, wait, what? We just talked about this. Like how did the whole scope of work just change? Yeah. Am I crazy? So to hopefully mitigate, feeling crazy. We will follow up with everything. So again, in the meeting, Rigid meeting notes.

[00:22:21] Our teams are comprised of really a core of three to four individuals. There is the senior project manager or project manager who is really that boots on the ground day-to-day liaison and totally responsible for the full scope of work that was sold in. Then there's a director who, and we are a mostly women in power team, so I might say she the most.

[00:22:41] So she being project manager, she being director we love us. Love it. They are really dually responsible for the relationship to the client and to the overall brand and the account we could call it. Then furthermore, there's a technical director. This [00:23:00] would really sum up your very core three.

[00:23:02] His name is Brian Bird. He's one of two gentlemen on our team. And. Brian would be responsible for the insurance of the AV and the quality and the safety, et cetera. And then often there is also my counterpart, Nikki Franklin who is responsible for the overall success of everything. She is the VP of client service of, thus she oversees all accounts, but that core three again, is going to be your.

[00:23:31] Stable, consistent team throughout the entire process. And year after year, we take a lot of emphasis on aligning or pairing or matching that team, both from a soft skills level, from a just personal level. We really will go the mile to be like, Ooh, you love that mission. Well, let's get you in front of parents.

[00:23:53] Planned Parenthood, for example. And then certainly availability. Then it comes down to dang, who's available. So I [00:24:00] call this out because they also have responsibility in exactly what you're asking. Who is going to be that continuous liaison that we're constantly coming back on that alignment and reiterating what was agreed upon, et cetera.

[00:24:14] That really is gonna be that project manager. They are pretty exceptional, if I may say, I mean, Super kudos to our project managers. Being that I've had the pleasure of working at every level of this organization, they are truly the beating heart of what makes us successful, and that is as granular as just capturing the notes in the meeting.

[00:24:35] It goes a very long way. That is, Not a minor task because to your point, it can totally derail the entire not only like what we're trying to achieve, but maybe even the relationship. So it's not something to be overlooked and we are very rigid about how we communicate both post-meeting, but again, pre-meeting we come.

[00:24:56] Every meeting to an agenda. I mean, we're planners. [00:25:00] We can't even help it. We literally need to have an agenda. And it was so kind of you, Jess, and team to actually send me some of the questions prior because in my whole planning body was like, Ooh, what do I need to say?

[00:25:15] Jess Cook: Yeah, that prep work is crucial and thank you for that inside glimpse of your structure and kind of how your process you put together.

[00:25:22] I love the idea of keeping that same team every year, because again, you're just, Compounding and building that trust, which is so important. That's nice. I saw this sign on the event of website that I wanna ask you about. I love it so much. It says, we orchestrate moments of impact. And I think something we see at Lasso, we see event companies do a lot is they really undersell themselves.

[00:25:42] They don't sell the experience or as you're calling it, those moments of impact they create, they just sell labor and a list of gear. And I think that line makes me think maybe you all do something differently at Evntiv.. So I'd love to hear about how you pitch or propose new business.

[00:25:59] Sierra Thompson: Yes. [00:26:00] Oh my gosh. Well, it's very floundering. I love actually knowing with your kind of just breadth of who you've talked with, who you serve that we have stood out differently. So thank you. I totally bought in early on to the orchestrating of moments of impact and certainly I. Moments of impact itself is something that we both define ourselves as, and it's something that we strive to execute in every single program, no matter big or small.

[00:26:29] What that really means to us, and I'll lead first with a brief definition is a moment of impact is, At one singular time, in one singular space, everyone is feeling the same feeling. You know the same, okay? Yes, the same. You know what we're trying to evoke as a motion, or furthermore, something that you will remember far after this event and in our opinion.

[00:26:56] There is not a reason to spend your money or your time or [00:27:00] your effort on hosting an event if you aren't striving to tell someone something that they need to know again far later. Because events can be frivolous and we don't believe in that for many reasons. So that actually is a really great bridge to say.

[00:27:19] Our major differentiator is certainly leading with that strategy, as you heard me say earlier, and that strategy is a lot to do with the moment of impact because if we all agree that we have to have a moment of impact to ensure the success of this, Program. Then we are also going to agree that when we go to create the scope of work following our C M O session, which is really us aligning on that strategy, that every single dollar is gonna tie back to ensuring that respective moment of impact.

[00:27:50] And if it can't tie back, then it's a cost. If it is tying to what we're trying to achieve, it's an investment and I'm going to. Try to ensure that a [00:28:00] hundred percent of your money is invested towards that mission and or towards those cmmo session, or excuse me, the core mission objectives. And certainly that is going to lead us to, and pardon me if my dog barks, I see her.

[00:28:16] So funny. And so that is us showing you even very literally from a scope of work standpoint, how important that moment of impact is. Now every event will have a different moment of impact when it comes to a non-for-profit, which is truly my bread and butter. It, you can assume it's gonna be something to do with the mission.

[00:28:38] It's gonna be something to do with really driving home the why you just should be involved with us and why this matters to you in our greater community. If it is more of a corporate space, and instead it's probably gonna be, how do we. Inspire you to want to work with us, buy our product, or whatever [00:29:00] that might mean.

[00:29:01] And it can be far less literal than both of those examples. But the point being we think that this is absolutely necessary and it has crafted every. Processing within our business of what is important from managing that budget, from aligning those expectations and to actually what comes to fruition.

[00:29:22] Because what's truly powerful is when it works very well. And I can't help in my mind's eye right now. I have an example. So one of my favorite examples happens to be the non-for-profit that I work with pro bono. It is again, another passion project. It's Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri.

[00:29:43] And I came to them about two years ago, so my third year of volunteering, and they had, in my humble, professional opinion Had the pieces of a lot of success for a wonderful annual gala, but they're just missing the mark in [00:30:00] some areas. I don't know any, anyone would know being outside of our industry.

[00:30:04] So it's just like you're seeing the things that not everyone can see, and that's great. So coming into it, we ended up renaming it, re-strategizing it and really emphasize the program and the importance of the program. So moment of impact for what I would call. Baby organization, we're in our infancy of growth, both with our awareness as well as financially, what we can raise.

[00:30:29] And so we have to think a little diy and at Adventive that's not always the case. We have a little more resources to work with. And so the balance here was, okay, how do I take everything I know when I'm raising millions of dollars in the room and we're doing this with less resources? And it ended up being that.

[00:30:48] Looking into the history of mental health America, their icon is the bell. And the bell is a representation of literal asylum chains being boiled down and made into a bell to [00:31:00] showcase this idea of the rebirth. And. The changing of the stigma. And so this bell is both the brand identity of mental health America and then to me, really felt metaphorically could tell the story that we were seeking.

[00:31:14] So we ended up rebranding what was Snowball gala to ring out hope. Where in my opinion it was far more message driven and a little more clear what we were trying to communicate. And then the program just saturated you in the why, like, why we are renaming this, why this means something to us, and the moment of impact to us.

[00:31:35] Was telling a super impactful story and then saying if this touched you in certain ways, ring the bell. We've given you no, and I'm getting chills right now. Remembering the ringing in the room. And there was multiple different versions of that. And it was beautiful. And this is a very low cost, maybe a hundred dollars of.

[00:31:56] Cheapy little cute bells from Amazon and that did not matter [00:32:00] because the point is, it's the motion, it's the connection, and it's certainly the connection to the mission itself. So that is a moment of impact to us. And again it is not successful event if it doesn't have that. I love

[00:32:15] Jess Cook: that and I love that you were able to make it like a collective feeling, right?

[00:32:18] Everyone ringing those bells together. I think that's a fascinating thing to think of, like. You're building an event. What is that ru, that bell ringing moment for this particular event. Right. I think that's an incredible way to to sell an event as well, because like you say, you can tie everything back to that reasoning.

[00:32:38] Nothing then becomes. Extraneous, right. Oh, well why do we have lasers? Why are we doing why do we have this

[00:32:46] Sierra Thompson: like smoke machine, the champagne scoot. Yeah. Scooted rolling. Yes, right.

[00:32:50] Jess Cook: Hey, maybe it's necessary for this feeling, this moment of impact, but if it's not, then out it goes. Right.

[00:32:56] So I love that. That helps just streamline things for [00:33:00] you and for your clients that. That's really incredible.

[00:33:03] Sierra Thompson: Yes, it's my pleasure. And I apologize, Jess, if I got so excited that I didn't necessarily tell you how I pitched that. Yeah, let's hear it. Okay. Let's see. It's never the same, that's for sure.

[00:33:16] But ultimately, It is our major differentiators, not only strategy, live-in excuse me, strategy driven but it's also our creativity in our client service. The real pitch are these three pillars. It's not just one singular pillar because what you'll get from us is we wanna be an extension of your team.

[00:33:34] We wanna be a good steward of your budget. Thus, we're going to talk exactly what I said to you, and that is walk you through what is an investment and what is the cost. And then this is all because of that strategy driven nature. So that is a quick summary to say that would be the rounded approach that I think is our major differentiators.

[00:33:55] I love

[00:33:56] Jess Cook: it. And I love that you're selling on being unique and not just, [00:34:00] here are the people in the gear. We need to make this happen Right there. There's such a huge difference. And I think that's one of the things that probably makes you such a leader in this industry. Couple more questions for you.

[00:34:12] I know we're kind of getting close on time here. One is after Covid, so many people left the events industry and now we have this new wave of people coming in because events are finally thank goodness coming back in full force. You are certainly part of that new generation of like fresh event industry thinkers.

[00:34:33] So would love to get your thoughts on like what are some of the trends and events you're seeing right now that maybe youth think are kind of here to stay? And on the flip side of that, what are some trends that maybe the industry is ignoring that they shouldn't? Maybe they're the same.

[00:34:47] Sierra Thompson: I don't know. Ooh, that's very interesting.

[00:34:50] One of my. I'm gonna call my boss. His name's Keith Alper. He is [00:35:00] let me say this. Evntiv. Is a part of the nitrous effect. This is probably another one of our major differentiators. The nitrous effect is a collective of niche agencies within the communication marketing, advertising space.

[00:35:11] Eev is one of five. Keith Alper is really our. Guiding light at the top of the nitrous effect. And Keith is a forever lifetime learner and I feel like I am a beneficiary of being on a short list of people that he'll just send his random thoughts to. And I love Keith's random thoughts and something he sent me I thought, felt was actually really applicable to this.

[00:35:39] What was then and now? Patterns we're seeing in the event industry. And it just pulled it up as kind of a guide for me. But ultimately when I saw it I was like, oh my God, this is such a wonderful list. This is precisely what I feel like I've personally witnessed as like a data collection, every single boots on the ground event [00:36:00] scenario.

[00:36:00] So before I referenced that too much, what I would tell you. Is, it might sound elementary but it has a very large impact in these couple scenarios I'm gonna say. So post pandemic, what we are seeing is certainly hybrid is here to stay. And that has a lot to do with efficiencies, with cost travel, et cetera.

[00:36:25] So instead of having maybe a major organization travel three times a year, instead they're doing two virtual conferences in one major in-person conference. You know what I would love to say is thank gosh that. Third in-person conference came back because not only is that my true love very selfishly I want that, but also I personally, sincerely feel as a human we need that.

[00:36:49] Yes. We need to foster that connection, right? We need to feel as if we're not alone in so many different ways very emotionally as well as even [00:37:00] professionally and so on. With that being said, hybrid is certainly here to stay now for what is in person. I'm gonna take like a non-for-profit gala, for example.

[00:37:12] Usually it could be comprised of a super high level, three big pieces. There is the cocktail hour reception, there is the dining experience program, and then there's the after party. Now, what would traditionally pre pandemic be? 45 minutes to an hour cocktail event go into your program, which is probably gonna be almost like two hours in that room.

[00:37:35] Program dining, et cetera. And then you come out from maybe another hour and a half of after party. Those durations are dramatically different. So this is where I would start that the pattern has changed and I do not foresee it going back. And I would say you've changed for the better. As an old soul.

[00:37:51] What I'm about to say, I really like. So that means we're getting to the party earlier in, in the post pandemic world, we're [00:38:00] gonna have a longer reception because we just wanna be together. We just wanna have some cocktails and talk and chit chat. And I've already given my money, or I know the money I'm gonna give.

[00:38:08] And so this is really the true kind of emotionally invested time. And then what we've now done is we have done. Everything in our power to shorten that program, we're gonna make it more impactful. We're gonna infuse more content-driven storytelling. So you are not just watching talking heads, you are seeing far more on the screens, which we all have a far better attention span for that than someone standing up there for 10 minutes.

[00:38:34] So it's gonna be a lot of Combination of different media being video and people, et cetera. Even maybe musical performance, surprisingly in between, like we're really shaking things up, but the point being duration is 30 minutes or less. Like that is our sweet spot. Wow. Yeah. Okay. Short. Yes. Yeah. And that doesn't necessarily mean it's congruently 30.

[00:38:57] It could be. Five upfront, [00:39:00] welcome, let's eat and enjoy. And then we come back for that ex outstanding 25 minutes. And then after party is almost not. We have found that, and this is why I live with I am very okay with this, is that the after parties are falling off many people are leaving following that dining program experience and then thus, That I'm thinking budget allocation to the band and the additional lights and that special sound system we needed and the dance floor that now only four individuals are taking part in.

[00:39:34] It's not a comfortable feeling. And those first few learnings. And then you quickly wanna tell all your clients are we sure? Let's just note we need to know your audience, that they're gonna stay behind. Cuz I really don't want this band to play to no audience. Well, glad. So that is a major pattern. And it allows me and others to go home earlier.

[00:39:52] So I'm loving it. Yeah, it feels more

[00:39:55] Jess Cook: sustainable. It feels, it's so funny that you say that. Like it just feels [00:40:00] right nowadays to like. Let's come in, let's be together, let's get to the point, have a very powerful program, and then let's go home. Right? I think that is just, that's the stage we are all in as humans right now.

[00:40:13] A hundred

[00:40:13] Sierra Thompson: percent. A hundred percent. Now, if I may, because I do have this little list, I'm gonna, I totally agree with so much of this, and I'll just point some things out, so yeah. Then and now it would be then events. Now experience. Sure. I agree with that. But I have to say my Headspace was always experienced and so was Evntiv.

[00:40:29] So that's a little bias. But if I was to emphasize, absolutely we need to be immersive. We need people to walk in and. By the way, prior to walking in, it needs to be in every touchpoint. The communication prior that save the day invitation, all the expectations set early. Everything is a part of that experience.

[00:40:48] Farther down the list, it talks about, these are some silly things. I'm like, oh my God, this is so true. No swag. Again, the frivolousness. I don't. I would not guide my client [00:41:00] to buying a thousand t-shirts. Cuz not only do I think that's a little wasteful, but furthermore, I don't think that's gonna move the needle on someone, remind, remembering this brand.

[00:41:10] If anything it might turn into a rag at home who knows? Yeah. So no more swag. Again farther down the list. We're finding that this aligns really well with Evntiv.. One might have been seeking an event planner before, but they're really thinking about event strategists and thank the goodness, because that is exactly how we think.

[00:41:31] And I must say between you and I and everyone else, it is a sensitivity of mine when we are called. Planners or any version of them, like, producer, I would say yes. Because you are orchestrating, right? There's a lot. But that strategist is so exciting cuz that tells me people are yearning and in respecting that there is a true strategy that this did not just.

[00:41:56] Come to fruition. And we are guiding you through an overall [00:42:00] experience. Again, going farther down this list, I'm seeing that travel with a purpose that has a lot to do with, again, cost savings. Also balance of life. There's a whole little soapbox I could go off of in, in where I have found myself in life and what balanced me balance which is really more hybrid and All kinds of things I could say there.

[00:42:28] But ultimately that has a lot to do too with financial strategy for each of these businesses. Just like the hybrid, virtual in-person, et cetera. So I could go on, this is really cool, Jess. I'd be more than happy to send it to you. And it's just yeah, virtual. Right on. Yeah. That's

[00:42:45] Jess Cook: amazing. Yeah. I'd love to like share some version of that in the show notes if we're able to that.

[00:42:49] That sounds great. And I totally, I think too, people's expectations are totally different now. Like if they're going to take the time. To attend an event experience, right? Like, they [00:43:00] want it to be something that's memorable. They want it to be worth their time. And so I think everything you just said is so important around that point.

[00:43:09] A hundred percent.

[00:43:11] Sierra Thompson: One

[00:43:11] Jess Cook: last question for you. This is something we ask all our guests, so I'd love to hear this from our guests. What do you hope for the event industry? Yes. Gosh. Well, I certainly hope that we continue to keep thriving in this in-person space with so much technology. And I say bubbling up, that's not fair.

[00:43:31] Sierra Thompson: It's consistently expediting around us. But I'm thinking AI and chat said G P T talking about things like, I pretend I know, and I'm just quickly trying to. Figure out like, okay, how do we use these tools? But how do I not make sure that it gets better than me? I don't want it to take over the event space.

[00:43:55] And I call technology out because I think technology is going to guide [00:44:00] us in how do we ensure the humanized factor of the future of events. There's gonna be so much technology that takes the weight off of a lot of our roles. And so what I hope for the event industry is that it stays in person, that there is always reason to celebrate and gather together.

[00:44:19] That we become far more creative and how we're telling our stories. The worst of it is having a boring event. So we have to ensure we're staying creative and nimble in how we think. But I just wonder technology is going to, and it already is, surrounds us and it's certainly not slowing down.

[00:44:41] So I'm most curious and most hopeful that we can harness that opportunity of technology, maybe offload some of the things we didn't know, didn't have to be our responsibilities, and then really allow us. Humans, which hopefully can never be recreated maximize that potential in creating that [00:45:00] connection and fostering real relationships and creating things that are larger than us.

[00:45:06] And yeah, hopefully could just continue to thrive in that space, even knowing that we're getting pressure from different applications that I know that can do a lot of creative lifter.

[00:45:18] Jess Cook: Absolutely. I love that answer. Thank you so much, Sierra. It's been an absolute pleasure to talk to you, learn from you.

[00:45:24] Thank you so much for joining us today. We really appreciate you being

[00:45:27] Sierra Thompson: here. Oh my gosh, it's my pleasure Jess. Thank you very much for having me. This has been lovely. It was my first podcast, so thank you for allowing me here today. Of

[00:45:37] Jess Cook: course. I'm sure the first of many. Thank you so much. You're fabulous speaker and we've learned so much today.

[00:45:43] So thank you for sharing all of that with us. Thank you. Thank you all for listening today. If you liked what you heard here on Corralling the Chaos, you can subscribe for more. And if you have any questions, we are here. Please send us an [00:46:00] We're happy to help. Thanks. We'll see you next

[00:46:03] Sierra Thompson: time.


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