What I Learned at an Event for Event Planners Pt. 2

Last month, I attended BizBash LA for the second time (you can see my 2015 recap here). I had a great time hearing from industry leaders and meeting fellow event professionals. It’s one of the few times I get to enjoy events from the attendees’ perspective, and it was reaffirming to realize that as planners, we all encounter unpredictable issues at our events, no matter how much we try to avoid them. The difference is in how we react to these situations. And as former White House Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard noted, it’s crucial to take note of lessons learned with every event to improve for the next time.

Here are some takeaways from what I learned:

Customers come first

When planning an event, it’s important to think about the attendee journey. Put yourself in the guest’s shoes and walk through the entire experience, from beginning to end. What type of information do you need pre-event? What’s the first thing you do onsite? Where do you go after registration? Where is the WiFi information posted? How obvious is it where the restrooms are? Be mindful of the little details that make a big difference.

In the events world, ‘customers’ refer not only to attendees, but also to partners, sponsors, and internal stakeholders. It’s important to establish clear set goals upfront and remind yourself about what you’re working towards throughout the planning process. With sponsors, think less about what you can get out of them, and more about what you can offer to them. Sharing the costs means sharing the experience, so make sure you’re creating an experience that is mutually beneficial to you both.

Be authentic

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, Google created a festival-like experience for this year’s Google I/O. They went back to their roots to really embrace the heart and soul of the company. Developers from around the world enjoyed playful activations and celebratory concerts.

As the largest tech conference in the world, Dreamforce is the ultimate expression of Salesforce as a brand. The event includes various summits that showcase local entrepreneurs, customer success stories, and volunteer opportunities.

Ultimately, it comes down to having clear values and staying true to who you are as a company.

We’re in the happiness business

Events are often a celebration of some sort, whether it’s a product launch or a holiday party or a press conference. To produce great events, you need to produce great experiences. And to produce great experiences, you have to know your audience and understand what makes them tick.

At Zappos, the Fungineering team puts on a number of events to foster employee engagement and happiness. There is a strong emphasis on delivering WOW through service and interaction throughout the journey, from wearable invitations to entertaining entryways to cab vouchers at the end of the night. It’s all about taking care of your attendees and making them feel valued.

Last call

Events are the ideal places to share experiences and make connections. And in order to experience, we must feel and connect. So let’s commit to creating environments that allow for meaningful connections to be made.

Join me at Liferay Symposium North America on Sept. 26-27 in Chicago to see how I apply these lessons learned. You can view all upcoming and past Liferay events on