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Episode 56 / June 13, 2022

Julius Solaris, Boldpush: The State of the Events Industry

Julius Solaris talks about the current state of the events industry, what is coming next, and the opportunities that abound for today’s event professionals.

 

julius solaris podcast episode promotion

Julius Solaris talks about the current state of the events industry, what is coming next, and the opportunities that abound for today’s event professionals.

Shownotes: Season 3, Episode 6:
Julius Solaris

In this episode, we talk with Julius Solaris, one of the most influential people in the events industry, well-followed for his research and analysis. He has founded several companies, including EventMB, which was acquired by Skift in 2019 and recently rebranded as Skift Meetings. Solaris is the founder of Boldpush, a management consulting agency for the event industry. He is a frequent keynote speaker at events all over the world, including at Bizzabo’s recent Event Experience Summit.

Here’s what you’ll hear about in this conversation:

  • The status of in-person events and the importance of staying nimble amid ongoing uncertainty
  • How to use data to be more strategic and intentional about your in-person events
  • Why content is the key to delivering successful hybrid events
  • Web3, the metaverse, and the massive opportunity for events

Mentioned in This Episode

Transcript

Transcript 56

[00:00:00] Lauren McCullough: Welcome to Event Experience by Bizzabo. The podcast where we bring the best and brightest Event Experience Leaders together. To share stories, tips, and lessons learned from creating some of the world’s biggest events. I’m Lauren McCullough, vice president of brand and communication here at Bizzabo.

[00:00:21] This week we’re chatting with Julius Solaris. Julius is one of the most influential people in events. Well followed for his research and analysis. He’s founded several companies, including EventMB, which was acquired by Skift in 2019, and recently rebranded to Skift Meetings. Today, Julius is the founder of Bold Push, a management consulting agency for the event industry.

[00:00:45] He is a frequent keynote speaker at events all over the world, including Bizzabo’s recent Event Experience Summit. In this conversation, Julius gives his take on in-person events, where they stand today and where they’re headed in the coming quarters. We talk about hybrid events and how great content is the key to making these events successful.

[00:01:07] And we discussed the new frontier of events, web3, the metaverse, and what Event Experience Leaders need to know right now. This episode is full of useful insights. So let’s get to it. Here’s Julius and our host Erik Fisher.

[00:01:32] Erik Fisher: This week, I am excited to bring to you, Julia Solaris. Julius welcome to the show.

[00:01:40] Julius Solaris: Thank you for having me always a pleasure to spend some time with the Bizzabo fam. 

[00:01:44] Erik Fisher: Yes. So I just saw you in person at the Event Experience Summit in New York City, actually, Brooklyn proper. Was great to see you there. I think a lot of people were like, Ooh, Julius, he’s here. Yay. And I was one of those people. But I think a lot of people either know your name or they know your work, and we don’t need to do an introduction here.

[00:02:03] And I’ve already done one pre-conversation in the podcast, but I want to hear it from your short synopsis, like what’s your superhero origin story in terms of the event industry. And you can hit just the highlight.

[00:02:17] Julius Solaris: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if it’s going to be a superhero one, but you know, I’ve done my years in media and founded a website called Event MB. Recently rebranded to Skip Meetings as part of the acquisition. That was part of the story. I sold it to Skift in 2019, and we’ve been doing a lot of analysis and, raw reporting on Event tech and trends and whatever has been happening in the event industry since the advent of mobile apps for events. I’ve been following that, more recently, going into the pandemic I’ve taken a kind of a stronger spin on the opinion as well. And I guess a lot of people know me just for that now. It’s that annoying person on LinkedIn that comes up with incendiary type of comments sometimes with the objective of stimulating discussion. I pride myself on being, sort of, an ice breaker for conversations that need to happen within the industry. So I use LinkedIn and Twitter in most cases to do that.

[00:03:16] I’ve been involved in this industry, it is my family and my community. I mean, the reason why I have a job and I was able to move here to the U.S. from Italy where we’re originally from. So yeah, I owe a lot to your event industry so my approach is usually, how can we make it better?

[00:03:32] How can we take care of the people that are within the industry? And also looking at how can we be better while we do, or can we take advantage of the stuff that is happening around us? 

[00:03:42] Erik Fisher: It’s great to hear that. And from what I’ve seen in terms of those posts that some people might say are causing trouble or bringing up questions that, oh, that’s hard to answer. I see it as you’re doing a philosopher approach, a Socratic method. You’re asking those questions that need to be asked.

[00:03:59] And even if it’s maybe to get a knee-jerk reaction in order to start a dialogue, it’s still got a purpose. Like you just said.

[00:04:07] I feel there is something intrinsic about then people whether they’re suppliers or, event planners, event professionals as we call them. There’s something inherent about being extremely nice and welcoming. Incredibly embracing of everybody and everyone. But that comes with problems sometimes when it’s about saying actually, no, it’s not like that. So there’s almost a resistance to creating friction in our industry. And I get it, right? They want their clients to be happy. They want their attendees to be happy and negativity doesn’t go well with events, right? Somebody has to bring up some more difficult-to-discuss topics, not necessarily with controversy, but, in a spirit of talking about stuff.

[00:04:54] Julius Solaris: Mental health, diversity, sustainability, all these topics, there are actually not straightforward and like very complex to, to tackle. And I want to learn as much as the next person because I’m not an expert in diversity and inclusion. I’m not an expert in sustainability. Not an expert in a lot of stuff, but I want to ask the question. People that are experts and we do have a lot of those in the industry can actually share 

[00:05:20] What is the path we need to follow here? Right. Outside of the gender or different players, what should we do, and how should we approach this? 

[00:05:28] Erik Fisher: You bring up diversity, equity, and inclusion.

[00:05:30] And we just did an episode on that topic, not as experts, but as you’re saying, people trying to move the needle and ask the right questions and have the dialogue about improving the situation across the board. Quick plug, if anybody’s interested in that episode, it’s the one before this one in the feed for this podcast.

[00:05:51] So thank you for bringing that up. 

[00:05:53] Julius Solaris: Yeah, I appreciate it. You did an awesome job, to be honest with your event, in terms like it made me think of your event made me think as a speaker. When You mentioned the different learning styles that we have. And how you cater for that all with obviously live interpretation and closed captions and all the different formats.

[00:06:12] Probably you can speak more to those because that was like very concentrated in my session. So I just saw her there in the bag room, but that made me think because in the past, pre-pandemic, I used to say no, to participating in panels with all white males. And, I think in the future, I’m going to say no, to participating in events that don’t have accessibility, ADA, practices in place for virtual and hybrid, or even later on, I would say, because I know we’re still in a moment of stress, but like I would anticipate in a couple of years time saying no to events that don’t have a hybrid option because like you’re essentially excluding people from the experience. So that would be the next evolution of how we need to change the approach that I’ve seen.

[00:06:57] Professionals have to stop it by making a choice as attendees and speakers.

[00:07:02] Erik Fisher: You mentioned the H-word and we’ll definitely talk about hybrid a little bit later. But first I want to talk in-person, obviously, right now, I want to do a current state of the union in a sense of the event as an industry, according to Julius. And right now, as we record this in the first half of 2022.

[00:07:23] Event professionals and Event Experience Leaders have been through a lot in the past two to three years. Now we seem to be at this point in entering into the summer of 2022, in a place where in-person events are making a, let’s just say a comeback. There are more of them happening. There are more of them being put on and people, maybe not to the attendance level they used to be, but people have been cooped up. They want to be out there. Does this mean that we can now do away with virtual and hybrid? Is in-person quote, air quotes back to take over again?

[00:08:00] Julius Solaris: This is a loaded question. And unfortunately, I wish there was a linear type of progression in terms of saying, all right, pandemic, no pandemic. We go back to the good things that we used to do and all that. In-person amazing events we used to be involved with. It’s not as straightforward as that.

[00:08:19] I think there is a, still a lot of uncertainty, unfortunately, Why? First off because I was expecting in person to be this strong right now, because that’s what’s happened in 2021 during summer. And I think there are a lot of planners looking at the trends and saying, listen if there is a safe time to do an event, this is going to be the window where at least we can safely host an in person experience. So I feel that a lot of people made that calculation. And so those are the results, but not to the extent that we’re seeing, not to the extent that we’re seeing going into the fall. This is like the conversation that I’m having in my daily practice as a consultant to a lot of tech companies and to event planners.

[00:09:07] I see that there’s a lot of planning that goes into the second part of 2022 for in-person. Now that’s amazing on paper for a lot of people that lost business. I can see that they’re ecstatic, but at the same time, there’s a lot of, sort of a preoccupation for the fact that, concern for the state of, workers availability and how tough it is to get hold of people and staff to work at the event and within locations of the events, hotels, understaffed, and all of that.

[00:09:39] There’s considerable concern about inflation and a potential recession next year. When that happened in the past, events are usually the first to be impacted again. So keep that in mind, I’m telling you now, because I saw that when it happened in 2008 and 2009. So events were the first to go. First budget item to be cut.

[00:10:00] So again, we’re not out of the deep waters here. It’s a tough one. And also there’s an incredibly unstable situation in Europe. More of a scare with monkeypox. I don’t want to talk about that. I mean, I really don’t want to talk about that because I don’t want it to be an issue.

[00:10:19] I hope it’s not going to be an issue. I’m in denial for now. It’s still uncertain. And I feel that what I want the audience to focus on is in Europe and in Asia. Some people have been in lockdown for like a year, like over the past two years, they’ve been locked down at home.

[00:10:39] So there’s a lot of homecoming feeling, with these in-person events that is happening right now. Now the big question is: When this is all done and dusted and we’ve all hugged each other. It’s like, oh my God, this was amazing. Finally in person. Okay. What next? We’re running a 50%, 60% capacity at in-person events.

[00:10:59] Where is the missing 40%? Is it international travel? Is it people that just decided they didn’t want to go to events anymore? There are a lot of question marks in such a rapidly evolving situation. My suggestion is to stay nimble, stay flexible, and be ready to change the plan — within reason. 

[00:11:18] Erik Fisher: A few episodes ago, we were talking with Orson Francesconi and he was talking about the pivot that the FT Live, Financial Times event did and that they learned and his takeaway basically, spoiler alert. He said they are moving forward with a digital-first strategy and they will add in-person as it’s applicable and available and make sense to do so. What do you think about that?

[00:11:45] I think it makes sense for the Financial Times to have a strategy like that. Why? Because they are a media company. A lot of media companies are thinking like that because they have a lot of affinity in terms of the audience. The audience is already used to consuming digital content in some format, right?

[00:12:02] Julius Solaris: You have subscribers. There are a lot of intentions, in terms of subscribing to that content and consuming it virtually or online. So virtual events for media companies, as well as tech companies, it’s a natural extension of their already present digital footprint. Now the question is, what is happening with those that don’t have that digital footprint. They don’t have an audience or those types of events that are very based on human interaction, where content is not as important.

[00:12:34] Think of exhibitions in trade shows. The content part was just like starting to flourish within those pre-pandemic. So it’s been a tough proposition for them to pivot to virtual. They’ve done it unsuccessful in most cases. So it’s very tough for them. So it’s very vertical related, I think tech, education, or media have a lot to do in terms of virtual and having a hybrid event strategy as they call it. So mixed between virtual, in person, or synchronous hybrid, meaning two events at the same time for two audiences, one online, one offline, just so we get the definition out because I know we’re going to have questions. Yeah. But we have to define hybrid.

[00:13:17] So, not from you, but from, at least the people that I’ve talked in the past, I think again, let’s move away from definitions of as well. I think that, right now, the concept of planning events has never been more fluid, and we should shy away from giving definitions. I’ve had Twitter fights on whether a prerecorded video is an event or not. Right? Because some people like, you look at the Apple developer conference, the Apple keynote, it’s all prerecorded video and they call it an event. Interesting. I don’t want to judge that. But do you know if there’s a live component? Why not? I think we need to be inclusive of that concept.

[00:13:55] And creators are changing that. In the future is going to be the metaverse maybe? Or some new platforms. There are new ways of doing events. Yeah, without putting boundaries to it. I think we gotta be ready to engage whenever, wherever, however, people want to engage with our event. Our target, not what everybody else is doing.

[00:14:14] Our attendees. That’s very important, right? 

[00:14:17] Erik Fisher: Yes, it’s based on your attendees and you should know your data. You should know your demographic, your core customer, and all of the good data there. I’m glad you brought up the Apple event. Because that just started me thinking. Yeah. You know, it is prerecorded. I’ve really enjoyed those prerecorded, high-produced, I’ll just say it events that Apple has done throughout the pandemic.

[00:14:35] And I’ll say event because there’s an interactive community on Twitter, tweeting about it back and forth with each other. Commenting. If that’s not an event, it’s almost like a live-action audience to a movie. But who’s to say that’s not one version of events moving forward. 

[00:14:53] Julius Solaris: Yeah. It’s like watching Game of Thrones and tweeting with the hashtag back in the days or whatever. But maybe it’s just because I miss Steve Jobs and I miss that keynote style, which made all Apple events iconic, and that keynote was full of people wowing in the audience and things not necessarily working sometimes and feeling the emotion in Steve Jobs’s voice when he was announcing some stuff.

[00:15:23] I had this thought during your event, that was incredibly well produced. And it was like a whole set of TV, almost TV producers. I think we always have to be careful, which is not what happened with your events specifically because it was made by event people. And so we get it, but in some cases we’ve gotta be careful with the overproduction of events.

[00:15:42] Cause otherwise, we miss that live component, a vulnerability that events need to have. And like getting things wrong and having to mess up or having a speaker there’s emotional, having all of that, it’s part of the live experience that we co-create during an event. That if you take away that co-creation part, if you take away and it becomes all like flatline type of rehearsing, the 15 times.

[00:16:07] Then it’s kind of like, I don’t know, I’m not saying we gotta be sloppy. But we appreciate that about events. We appreciate that human nature. We don’t have to take the human component. 

[00:16:16] And increase production value without losing the human aspects to it. 

[00:16:22] Julius Solaris: Totally. You got it. Yeah. You said it better. 

[00:16:24] So do you think that we still need really large, say 5,000 person in-person events or does virtual replace that? Or is it yes and or both what’s your thinking? I think you’ve probably got a million different answers to that multi-pronged question there.

[00:16:42] Julius Solaris: It’s funny because like you mentioned really large five, 6,000 events can actually be really small in some verticals. So size is very relative when it gets to events. My take on that is that we either are going to need it. Extremely large events. So I think there’s a need for those. So we’re all going to IMEX.

[00:17:03] We’re going to IMEX in Frankfurt. In a short time, I dunno what the podcast probably is going to be out already when we’re already been at IMEX. We go to IMEX in Frankfurt. We go to IMEX in Vegas. Why? Because one answer, like it’s not about the event is not about the content is maybe about the community, but it’s because everybody is there.

[00:17:23] That’s the answer to it. Everybody’s going. And that’s the humongous, primordial almost archetypical reason why we attend events. One of the major pushes to attend events because who’s going to be there. I want to be there FOMO and all of that.

[00:17:40] I think there’s a reason why we want to have these big gatherings because especially in a sea of virtual opportunities to connect. We need that in person experience to be very unique and really up to captivate that serendipitous opportunity to bump into people that we don’t know.

[00:18:01] We need that size. Otherwise like a smaller event, You kinda already know who’s going to go there. It’s tougher. If let’s say a middle-range event, maybe a small intimate event. 20 30, 40, 50 people. That’s another way to go about it, right? Because it’s more intimate. Like I can share more. It’s a different proposition, right?

[00:18:21] It’s about connection. Maybe the ones in the middle are the ones that are going to struggle. The ones that are not too big, not too small. In between. It’s going to be a tough proposition for these events. Cause a lot of people are going to make the decision. Can be bothered to attend these mini-events.

[00:18:35] I need to stay home with my family. That’s becoming important. I can travel just for one day that’s not going to cut it for me. Maybe all the time virtually that’s it. I’m going to go to the big one. And that’s my only one. And I put all my eggs in that basket and see what happens. 

[00:18:52] Erik Fisher: I don’t know if you’re familiar with Noise Trade, but it’s essentially years ago it was founded or partially founded by basically a blue-collar musician and I’m familiar with them and the story here goes, they realized that they could drop in and do a house show in strategic locations across the U S based on the data they had collected from their fan base. So you sign up for the newsletter. You say where you’re at, you’ve got a zip code. He can then correlate and say, okay, where is the biggest bang for my buck? Places for me to fly at a minimal cost. Yeah, essentially, an event like you just were talking about a 30 to maybe 50-person event, which is part of the being flexible that you were mentioning moving forward, high impact, but also high connection, high touch, high see and be seen and human interaction and so forth.

[00:19:50] And so once that started to move that direction, they were able to see that like their concerts or again, micro concert, if you will, was a hit and they were able to plan so many more of those and even fly in, fly out, home. Fly in, fly out, home versus go on tour and be on the road for weeks on end and not have a life.

[00:20:12] Julius Solaris: And you know what you’re describing, this is not necessarily an outlier. This is something that your audience, the listeners can do right now. Pick up the phone, call the Bizzabo representative. I know you guys are strong about data and, ask for help in terms of telling me, like I’ve done a bunch of virtual events, where did people connect from?

[00:20:32] Is there an opportunity to go into a new geography based on previous attendance patterns? So that I minimize the risk of going in person. That’s an example of how you can use data strategically to be more intentional about in person without the risk of will they come. So if you go, if you know that a thousand people from Indianapolis kind of like are so connecting to your events, It’s a no-brainer, right?

[00:20:57] You’re close to that area. You can at least be certain, that a lot of people are gonna respond. You’ll be amazed how sometimes that’s changed from the past. As people, many people relocated. Now they can work remotely. And also second and third-tier destinations. Becoming incredibly important to collect that kind of road show mentality, where you can have more opportunities to connect individuals in person and then draw them together, online in a platform or the continuity in a community.

[00:21:29] However you want to do it.

[00:21:31] Erik Fisher: It’s definitely a way forward for data. And it flex’s the power of that data and maintains flexibility like you were talking about. 

[00:21:41] Julius Solaris: Sure. 

[00:21:41] Erik Fisher: Yeah. So curiously enough, and actually I’m gonna add this since I want to move into the hybrid area here. So that same musician that I was talking about was doing shows that you would purchase a ticket and attend the concert virtually throughout the pandemic and offering it at a reduced rate because it was., air-quotes again, just virtual. It’s a different experience. It may not be the same experience. I don’t want to argue that per se, although we can. I’m curious, what are your thoughts in terms of hybrid moving forward right now that we’ve got a virtual component, we’ve got the in-person component hybrid often means doing both of those at the same time in tandem?

[00:22:20] There’s also the potential to do them both separately. What are your thoughts on that?

[00:22:24] Julius Solaris: I have a few. There’s no secret that the future is the hybrid. There’s been a slogan of many companies that want to push their agenda, concerned that they were going to lose the virtual footprint that they accumulated during the pandemic. We’ve got to be honest about that. I’ve seen it firsthand in my previous experiences, and I know how we need to stay relevant for event companies. It’s incredibly tough to navigate that environment. There is some reality to the fact that applying the hybrid event with the experience that we had over the past two years of turning event events online, there are a lot of higher expectations in terms of the participation online.

[00:23:06] Therefore you cannot just have a flat camera and expect everybody to spend a thousand dollars attending conferences online. If there’s no engagement. There’s no interaction. There’s no production value. There’s no design. There are no dedicated emcees. There’s all of that right? Obviously, that becomes a tough proposition for many events that now already we’re running on tight margins.

[00:23:33] The margins are growing smaller because of costs and inflation. And even more so now with that one budget, you have to produce those events. So it’s a tough proposition for a lot of people. But on the other hand, there’s all a bunch of people that looked into this and spend a lot of time. And I can vouch to that because I did, do you know when I was, previously working with tech companies, I dug deeper in this.

[00:24:00] I can tell you. There is opportunity in this. There is an opportunity to make more money. There is an opportunity to decrease the costs in some instances. If you get a right. Now the problem with this is that, as I said earlier, hybrid is not necessarily for everybody.

[00:24:17] So we talked about how it is more suitable for some verticals where attending consuming content online is already a pattern of behavior that your audience has. So media, tech, education, they’re used to that. It’s more difficult in other environments, but why? Let’s ask ourselves that question.

[00:24:38] Julius Solaris: I feel that sometimes the problem is with the content specifically. And that’s why a lot of events struggle with hybrid and they blame it on hybrid and not, people are not interested to attend an event virtually, but why? Is your content worthy of being consumed online or not?

[00:25:02] Are people attending for your content or are they just coming to the in-person event? Because they want to know. And yeah, you think there may, maybe you put together the best content ever, but really it’s not like you’re doing things as they used to pre-pandemic because I get it. A lot of us have event planners said during the pandemic, there’s nothing like face-to-face, and face-to-face will always win.

[00:25:26] Let me tell you. Face-to-face pre-pandemic wasn’t perfect at all. Like we were attending crap events that we didn’t like. They were boring to death. A waste of time. Bad coffee. Awful buffets. We’ve seen it all. That’s not to say that this event industry pre-pandemic was this perfect thing where everything was amazing and that we were closing business every day.

[00:25:47] It wasn’t like that at all. And honestly, a lot of those problems have been carried over during the pandemic and virtual events. And now into hybrid. So if hybrid sometimes it’s not working for you. I will recommend to take a serious look at how you design the content for your event. Because I attend hybrid events or fully virtual events today that have an incredible compelling, content offering.

[00:26:13] And to me, it’s like accessing a premium YouTube almost. Almost like, don’t care about going into the live event. I go for the replays. I go there to spend the time or sometimes if I go to the in-person experience, I spent a lot of time there working, but I know that when I go back home, I can catch up on the content that I missed.

[00:26:34] So there’s a lot of opportunity like that. And let’s not forget, let’s not forget about sustainability. And the fact that our world is burning. So who like seriously, this is like the time to make something about it. And hybrid is a direct solution to that. And if you’re ignoring it by being polarized towards one end or the other, you’re essentially like saying, I don’t care. And that’s a problem, especially as soon as you’re going to impact younger generations; maybe with older generations, you’re getting a pass, but that’s not going to last. So hopefully that doesn’t come as a threat. That time to have a proper look, a deep look inside our practice and how we do events. 

[00:27:19] Erik Fisher: Everything’s up for grabs right now. Now’s the perfect time to reevaluate. To take a hard look. You said pre-pandemic and I, and as you were talking about your experience with, networking at an in-person event and knowing you could go watch content later, that’s something that I did too. And because the magic’s in the hallways often. That was the phrase we used. My thought was though, we were never thinking of that online content as online content only it was mostly prerecorded or recorded sessions at the in-person component.

[00:27:56] And then it became the virtual ticket. Now that’s changed due to hybrid where everything’s all meshed together, but you’re saying, essentially, we need to be asking ourselves, what are we doing the event for and who we’re doing the event for, and definitely upping our game in terms of the content as well as, especially when it comes to, this is not the leave in-person out, but especially when it comes to the different modality of hybrid and virtual, when it comes to interactive elements, and engagement opportunities.

[00:28:29] Julius Solaris: Absolutely. See, like hybrid seems to be working extremely well, where attendees are forced to attend. It’s a shame, right? It’s if you think about medical congresses and continuing education, you need to attend those events. Like they need to show up there because they need to keep their certifications or whatever. That applies to a lot of associations and verticals and stuff like that.

[00:28:51] And it’s a shame, right? Because we’re missing out on the opportunity to create. Everybody’s going back to content these days, right? There’s the talk about the creator economy. And I think as event professionals, we’re holding that power in our hands to be the catalysts of all these voices, pull them together and create incredible impact.

[00:29:14] All Social Media beyond what we can even expect by just means of congregating the top voices … the new voices that are coming out as part of this new creative revolution. And so we have this major opportunity to take advantage off. And it’s sad to see how we have to rely on like certification credits to get people to attend.

[00:29:41] Again, no stress. I don’t mean to come across as patronizing here. I know how difficult it is to plan events. I know how incredibly tough is to manage all the moving parts. Making sure that things happen and everybody’s safe. And there’s serious concerns right now.

[00:29:58] Julius Solaris: And I know sometimes content is left for last or what can we put there? Where’s the speaker that we don’t pay, or really let’s give this to sponsors without policing what they do. You know what I mean? There’s a lot of that in content planning. But I feel that, at the end of the day, that’s the product. That’s the core product that the boss says yes to. The boss says yes to the content. Then you go to get, I don’t want to say drunk, but to have fun, let’s put it that way. That’s what motivates you. But what motivates the boss is the content. So you gotta be aware of that and how we step that up and make it relevant for them. 

[00:30:37] Erik Fisher: You can’t ignore the content when it comes to the event experience that you’re creating because, in a lot of realities, the content is what’s left afterward. Now you do have your memories and you do have your experiences. Of the event experience, which the content is part of. But again, it’s the lasting thing that you can still revisit after the event proper in the time window that it was launched and executed is over.

[00:31:04] As you said, the magic happens in the hallways. I think like a recommendation for the planners to mash up the two things. Create a liminal approach to events. And liminality is the concept of bumping into people into, outside of our comfort zone.

[00:31:20] Julius Solaris: So think about moving from one session to the other. What’s going to happen in one session? You know, what’s going to happen in the next, but you don’t know what’s going to happen in between. That concept, it’s what we refer to as serendipity. But let’s not be lazy as planners. Let’s plan around that and use it to our advantage. Combine the two things.

[00:31:41] So horizontal sessions where people can discuss content and get together. Less breakouts, more workshops. More “let’s work together to do these types of things.” More brain dates, as you did during your event, right? More of those opportunities to collaborate and get together and have networking that is not necessarily around tequila or mojitos, but more around, how can you help me to do my job better?

[00:32:07] Julius Solaris: Or how can we connect to do something together? Because that’s the incredible power of events, right? You meet your next business partner, you meet your next partner, you meet, whatever. That’s the connection that we remember about that. 

[00:32:22] Erik Fisher: You mentioned earlier the creative revolution and even the creator economy that’s booming these days. And I know that in the last few months, you’ve been doing a lot of participating in what’s closely associated with that, the web three communities and events. And I’m curious: I know that you’ve got some thoughts here when it comes to events and web three. Any highlights you can give us?

[00:32:45] To be honest, I’m just a student. There’s people that are way more experienced and understand the dynamics way more than I do. Since I just started my own venture, consulting companies, I’m I feel like I need to be in the know about what’s next. And I spent some time researching and reading.

[00:33:02] My understanding of what’s happening is still very superficial. It’s not necessarily in-depth. It’s good enough to understand a little bit. I know the dynamics of events or I can tell you what applies and what doesn’t. So I feel that, to be honest, the creators are probably one of the biggest threats to them planners right now. Cause they own the audience and like planners usually owned the audience and like they pulled together speakers to get that audience. If you think about, the example of the anti-event planner figure like Tony Robbins, whether his own audience, motivational speaker, that’s evolving into the creator part where these communities are coming together because they connect constantly online, around Twitch, around YouTube, around Twitter or Instagram or TikTok. They come together constantly. It’s always the same people they are in discord. So they’re talking to each other. And, we know being in events for 15 plus years, that social tension that is created online, can only be relieved by meeting in person. That’s a fundamental basis that if you operate by this, you will uncover a lot of opportunities for you. The more tension you build online, the more connection you build online, the more frustration people feel and more need to come to meet in person. We’ve seen it with social media. When we had conversation about social media being a threat to events in 2010. I remember those when we were saying like, we can’t use the hashtags, that events, because this is going to cannibalize event attendance. Like those were the chats we were having. Can you imagine? Can you imagine it’s like the complete opposite is happening right? FOMO, like seeing everybody sharing pictures from the event, like you can, like, I’m having conversations right now on the planning of IMEX and we’re planning to do a walk, 7:00 AM four or five people.

[00:35:04] Julius Solaris: I have people chatting on it and saying FOMO, I want to be here. Or can we do that? I like, so now we’re like synchronizing it across Europe and people are gonna walk at different times. I mean, just to come up with something. But what I’m telling you is that the tension is real. So this community is now, there’s so much tension that has been created.

[00:35:23] Exacerbated by the pandemic. So there’s a lot of needs. And so these creators on top of everybody, obviously Gary Vaynerchuk and the V Con everybody’s referring to. Great case study for event planners. A lot of event people attended. I’ve seen, replying to my updates on web3 and that you get in only if you are a member of the community and that includes having a NFT or not going to go into the details of that.

[00:35:52] There’s going to be tokens to be used to get in. So I guess, what we’re talking here almost like creating almost like airlines, super VIP club, where all you can get into the room only if you’re a VIP. And there’s a lot of frustration and exclusivity to that. And people are freaking out and they want to attend at all costs, but like creators have the audience.

[00:36:16] Why? Because they have the content. Because they have the community. And they pull it together in a nice fashion. That’s what, to me, what web3 is going to be about. The connection of content and community where independent creators are going to be able to have their own Metaverse. Their own discord. Their own token. Their own NFT. But the monetization model, when it gets to that, I’m in a lot of these chats when it gets the other than the NFT or the token.

[00:36:45] It’s only events. It’s like for the music industry, these people like don’t get any money from Spotify. They make it from events, right? That’s that’s it. So the go-to monetization model for the creator economy is events. Virtual, in person, whatever, but still events. So keep that in mind because the opportunity there is massive for you event professional, looking at the next four to five years. 

[00:37:12] Erik Fisher: You mentioned the metaverse, I’m curious, where do you think we are as an events industry and event experienced leaders in regards to the metaverse.

[00:37:20] Julius Solaris: I’ve got to be careful about what I say here, because I don’t want to be picked like in five years time, somebody showing a clip from this podcast. Yeah. You said that, it wasn’t going to happen and look at it now. So I feel that the current state of affairs, like the current state of technology that we have today, and I want to make that sort of premise because I think it’s an important one. The applicability for the metaverse or concept of the metaverse as Meta is implementing it. As Decentralland is implementing it and all of these new platforms that are popping up, even like the standalone universe’s is that a lot of, metaverse event platform are creating right now.

[00:38:00] There’s a lot of those popping up all over the place. For the business events community, which is the community I belong to, I don’t belong to the music community events community. I don’t belong to the sporting events community. They don’t belong to the fashion shows community. So to the business events community, I see an extremely difficult.

[00:38:21] For people in the next two years to meet on a metaverse style type of platform with avatars type of interaction, whether with visors or with two D interaction on a computer. Why? Because to me, I always go back to this friend of mine now from Miami, who was a planner for large association meetings in the medical and the source of 50,000 members or whatever cardiology you can, whatever medical application you can think of. So the number of clients is 50,000, 70,000 type of events. And they told me how they struggled during the pandemic to get these people, to click on a zoom link, to join a call. So now you explained to me how these people are going to get put a visor on themselves or go and move with an avatar in a 2D environment.

[00:39:18] I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Now the younger generations in four or five years time. Yeah, of course they will be used to roadblocks There is more excitement. Those are the ones that are excited about right now in the music industry, in the fashion industry, because music and fashions are transient and they have to take advantage of whatever it’s called right now.

[00:39:40] And that’s cool right now. Will it stay for them? I don’t know. I remember the mini disc in videos, music videos, because it was cool, but we’re not using it. Until we got the iPhone of the metaverse, we’ll see what happens.

[00:39:55] Erik Fisher: I was just going to say that. You were talking. And I was like, yeah, you know what? I think we need a democratized piece of technology like smartphones. Remember it used to be flip phones and blackberries, and then nobody remembers that anymore. Other than old people, which I’m counting myself as part of.

[00:40:11] And I think it’s going to take one, the technology and the software. Combined with the hardware to continue to advance. But also it’s going to take a ubiquitous technology application, hardware-wise for it to be that everybody has the opportunity to do it where you can do, like we take for granted now with, ubiquitous texting and even FaceTime and taking a picture and instantly putting it up in the entire world can see it.

[00:40:40] That’s where, and again, I’m not going to venture a guess as to where that when that’s going to happen. And eventually when that would even be applicable towards events, I just know events are going to try and do that sooner rather than later, is my guess as it’s possible, but it may be fuzzy till we get there.

[00:40:56] Listen, one piece of advice to everybody listening here. Just right behind you, you have a hashtag on the wall. Let me tell you a story about this. When Twitter came out I remember like I was very engaged in LinkedIn. We are the big group for event planners.

[00:41:14] Julius Solaris: We’re discussing like the rise of social media for events. And I was telling, in a discussion, I think that hashtags are going to become incredibly important for events going forward. And people are like, say, yeah, maybe for some type of events as I’m seeing right now today for fashion and music, maybe for that.

[00:41:33] But I don’t see hashtags being used in business events ever. So I’ve had heated conversations about that in the past. So can you imagine that in retrospect today feels like crazy, right? Everybody’s events are called with hashtags is in the name, which is crazy. So I think the open approach to this is very important right now.

[00:41:55] And not being dismissive because I see a lot of that. I see a lot of people that whenever I talk about web3 and the metaverse either make funny jokes, commenting, like dismissing. And that to me speaks like fear. Like you’re afraid that this is going to take over and you could be in trouble if you don’t get it.

[00:42:12] That was confirmed to me when I put together as like small guide about web3 and events and all of a sudden I have 600 requests to share it. I have to manually send the guy to 600 people because I wasn’t expecting it. And I was like, yeah, let me know if you want to copy here. I’m sending a direct message to everybody.

[00:42:30] So I didn’t expect, I thought like maybe like20, 30 people, like looking at the volume that tells me like how we need to be more harnessed with how we approach these problems and say, listen, I don’t know crap about this. I’m willing to learn. I’m willing to make my decisions in terms of, is it going to be useful for my event?

[00:42:49] Yes, no, maybe? But like at least learning more stuff like protocols for events. Where it’s becoming very important. They’re popping up. They’re becoming like the way to, testified that you’ve attended and experiences. Like having them and then recording that moment forever. So there’s like very exciting stuff that is happening on the background and people that are working on it, events are they’re at the core of it.

[00:43:12] So Yeah.

[00:43:14] I’m going to Consensus in Austin, I’ll let you know how it goes.

[00:43:17] Erik Fisher: I think I hear you saying ultimately, as Event Experience Leaders, we need to, at this point in time and moving forward, we need to remain open-minded, we’ve got to remain flexible, and we need to continue to ask the questions and assess what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. And that’s what you’re doing.

[00:43:37] You’re asking those questions.

[00:43:38] There’s people like you can start on the TikTok today. And be incredibly famous and do extremely well. You can start on Twitter today and be incredibly relevant and incredibly, like make a lot of a ton of money and revenue for your company, whatever. Being first doesn’t mean being successful.

[00:43:56] Julius Solaris: So the fact that you missed out on Bitcoin, or you missed out on a metaverse, and you’re not the first early adopter of it. Doesn’t mean Jack, like what you should care about is to understand it and once you’re ready for it, get in it and do it properly. Because it’s going to be just another medium.

[00:44:18] The rules are always the same. People are always the same.

[00:44:20] Erik Fisher: We don’t have to be. We can evolve. We can become more open-minded. We can become more flexible. If anything, that’s what the pandemic taught us. We have to be flexible and continue to do so. Julius it has been awesome talking with you. I can’t believe we’ve gone this long. I would love to, not that you need it direct more people towards what you’re doing currently.

[00:44:42] Where can people find out more about you and connect with you and all these questions that you’re asking?.

[00:44:46] Julius Solaris: For sure. [email protected] So Boldpush is my consultancy, agency for event leaders, whether it’s event tech or large event owners or portfolio owners, where I help them with thier marketing strategy or their content strategy, depending on the client or the go-to market strategy to just make sense of this new world and help them to thrive and connect with the right people.

[00:45:14] Or to Julius on Twitter. Julius Solaris is on LinkedIn, always happy to connect with all of you. And I’ve liked to be challenged by your opinions. I love a good challenge and people coming in. So yeah, just reach out to me if you agree, if you don’t a lot, have a conversation. 

[00:45:32] Erik Fisher: Perfect. And, I will link up to everything we just mentioned. And throughout this conversation in the show notes for this episode, Julius, thank you so much for being here. 

[00:45:41] Julius Solaris: Thanks for having me Erik, such a pleasure.

[00:45:43] Thank you so much, Julius for joining us on Event Experience. And thank you for listening. If you’re enjoying the show, we would love to hear it. Connect with us on social and subscribe rate and review us wherever you’re listening right now. Share the show with your colleagues and friends. We really appreciate it.

[00:46:05] You can find transcripts of each episode as well as key takeaways on bizzabo.com/podcast. On behalf of the team. Thank you. We’ll gather again soon for a new episode of Event Experience.

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