You know how to read an event production quote? Will Curran, Founder and Chief Event Einstein of Endless Events, tells us how he is leading transparency in event production and AV.
Event production, or AV (audiovisual), is able to transform an average event into an outstanding experience. It’s much more powerful than words, because it hits people in their feelings and emotions. “There’s a whole science going on in the backstage”, continues the event pro who’s in the 40 under 40 event industry leaders list. Today, he tells us how to properly invest in event AV that chisel a mark of your brand in the heart of participants, without breaking your budget or getting lost in confused contracts.
1 – Will, how shall we call you? Founder, entrepreneur, event planner, leadership trainer or maybe all of the above?
I don’t believe in titles very much and I’m a little bit of everything. So probably we should say Founder and Chief Event Einstein. That’s because there’s a whole science thing going on at Endless and it’s also a fun little title.
2 – At Endless Events blog, you constantly cover a wide range of topics involving the events universe. But what’s your favorite one? And what about your readers: what’s their preferred subject?
Naturally, as we are an event AV company, we love writing about audiovisual production and that source of stuff. That’s what we do, so we love to write about it. That’s how we can help the most and provide the best value to the audience.
And I think that the audience loves it too because we’re one of the leaders in building transparency among AV companies. So clients know what they are getting and all that kind of stuff. So AV and technology are definitely topics we love writing about.
Starting from the beginning: what really matters on event production.
What we’re doing right now is trying to educate and help Event Planners understand WiFi. We’ve been writing a lot more content about that. Similarly to what AV was 7 or 8 years ago, Planners don’t know they’ve got choices. When planning an event, they used to believe they had to use the in-house audiovisual company. And now it’s the same about WiFi . WiFi is extremely complex. People don’t know how it works, they just know they need it. So we’re trying to educate and help planners to understand “hey, when it comes to WiFi , what do you need?”, to start off. We’re trying to make them aware they’ve got the choice to pick the right solution for their events.
3 – When designing an event at Endless, what you think that is the most challenging stage? And how to handle it?
One of our biggest challenges is the amount of time to plan an event is always shrinking. Planners are coming to us with less and less time. They also have less and less time, so they’re always asking: how can I save time? How can I do less?
We’re always trying to figure out a way of making planners save time more and more. That’s definitely one of our biggest challenges. Naturally, in the planning process, there’s a lot of details going on and planners have a lot more to worry about. They are not only in charge of food & beverage anymore. They’re also in charge of housing, registration, technology, AV, etc.
I am constantly trying to find ways to communicate properly, to sit down and have effective meetings. Acting as a partner on the solution they need is completely different from “Ok, I need AV and here’s the 5 things I need”. I have a million questions based on that. Some planners say they don’t have time to talk about that, so just get it done.
Honestly, from our customer success standpoint, that doesn’t work very well for the whole planning process.
More and more jobs to be done, less and less time.
we’re lucky that as we do a lot of content, we get in the process early than ever. people constantly come to us saying: we’re down to start talking about this earlier. but also there’s people coming to us saying: my event is in one month. and I’m like “wow, that’s now”. some other say: it’ in two weeks.
So it depends. So Endless is trying to get involved early in the process to be more strategic, design-oriented and also to help with other parts of the event, like negotiating with the venue, which people tend to wait and we’d rather being involver earlier so we know about restrictions, what kind of wifi we need. We understand the technologies are very much being affected early in the process. SO people are like: I need to have wifi, but I don’t have money to pay for wifi. The capabilities of the venues, that’s the point.
Sometimes we need to say: You just literally physically just can’t produce your event in this space. It’s not OK. If we’re involved in the process earlier, we can just let them know about it. So we’re not reactionary, we’re more strategic.
4 – As a leader in the event marketing universe, what you consider the most important factor to have in mind when building up a body of professionals to work with on an event project?
When building a team, the number one thing is: talking about the culture of the organization that you’re building. For instance: if you’re hiring AV, catering or whoever it may be, you need to be able to talk about the culture, the mission and the values of the company. That informs a 100% of the mindset and the processes people use to plan. Think about how this person is probably gonna think when a problem arises. How is this person gonna speak to my CEO? The culture portion gets very much forgotten a lot.
I think also that nowadays we do larger and larger events, we are looking for solutions and partners with the flexibility to execute on unknown and weird environments. For example: if there is a solution or an idea that you want to implement, far too often the answer is “oh, we can’t do that”, or “oh, we need to bring a partner to be able to do that and it will cost a lot.” Flexible partners try to find solutions and say “maybe we can do this in another way”. You can’t lock me in a box because of what you can’t execute.
5 – People love talking about success. But let’s cover a more controversial subject: failure. After so many years on the road, what’s a specific matter that, when you detect, you feel the event is not gonna work out?
I never had this question and I loved it. I’ll admit that’s definitely my operations team job. To see the failures, find the issues on time. And my job is to make clients happy. So that’s why I’m here, to say: this is a bad idea, let’s not do this.
So, if I had to pick what I see as a big failure, what I see lack of proper communication. If something goes wrong, someone without the cultural fit is gonna have the flexibility, the passion, the understanding to find a solution for that? That’s one of the big things that could lead to failure. It’s usually people related. It’s lever, like “equipment is gonna fail”. People are big drivers.
Other thing I see that can probably be the cause of failure too is the marketing portion. When I’m planning an event, I hope they have already started to talk about it, to sell tickets and gain traction.
Honestly, if we can’t look at a website, how to have an idea of what to expect? Does it look exciting? Does it look unique? If it looks boring, we know that no one is going to it.
6 – What’s the project you led that you’re most proud of? Why?
I love every project. But when we have a new project, it becomes my favorite one. Because they either had a creepy AV company, or a partner they didn’t like. We get to inject our value for the first time and see their reaction to that. That’s mind blowing. That’s my favorite part of the project. I’m not saying that returning clients are not valuable, but it’s sure exciting to have a new client coming on board.
If I had to pick one… it’s so tough… it’s like picking a favorite kid. I also love any sort of project where we get to do something unique, the client trusts us and is willing to give us some freedom.
So I’ll say LTEN, a life sciences education network. I think the reason why I like working with them is that they are so busy in their time, that I usually get to add value and bring expertise. They really rely on Endless. It’s really a trusted partner relationship instead of a supplier “hey, I want this” relation. It’s much more partner oriented.
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