Actual People In-Person, Actually!

Join Charles and his guest host, Kate Patay, as they sit down with the one and only Matt Johnson of BizBash. Real industry professionals came together last week and attended an in person event. Find out how that was possible and what went into the process!


It’s fascinating to me the headspace you must have been in to move to an in person event.

For us it all goes back to the power of human to human interactions. And two the economic impact behind meetings and events. We invested in hybrid technology, some worked some hasn’t. We realized there is value in not only bringing people to a hotel and a destination but more importantly seeing the whole new level of body language and having more meaningful conversations. For us we were fighting so hard and realized this is more mission driven than us trying to salvage a show. We needed to send a statement to the event industry, that we refuse to be silent, we refuse to sit back.

We moved this event from Las Vegas to Orlando in 28 days. Many people don’t remember because of all 2020 has brought us, but this event was originally slated for New Orleans in August, but because of their restrictions we were going to find a new destination. We held out as long as we could politics got in the way and our industry was a casualty so we had to make a game time decision. We reached out to Marriott and asked where we could go. We’ve been here before, so really pumped to be here, we are their first corporate event. Moving a conference across the country in 28 days in a logistical nightmare. The narrative internally with our team, naturally when you move an event from west to east or east to west, you’re going to have a little bit of pick up but so many people said even though it went from an hour flight to a full day of flying, I am in. Look at what we are able to do here. I am walking away with so many new relationships which is really cool. The thing that has been most impactful for me, was I didn’t realize how many people were ready to talk about business again. Seeing RFP’s be exchanged, technology companies holding the hand of event planners, even the exchange of business cards, I see a glimpse of where we are headed as an industry.

What does the next 12 months look like?

I am an optimistic person by nature. Our portfolios have started back and are successful. It’s all going to start with business travel and how many corporations have said we’ve done zoom but need to get our team back together and reenergizing the workforce. As business travel starts to pick up that is going to be a key indicator for us in the live events industry. For all of us, we’ve flown cross country to have important meetings, but those have been paused. My first trip will be to New York. I’m confident on the cleanliness. Sports events, we are watching them but youth and amateur are starting back. Associations are going to look and get creative with bringing members back. Corporations will follow, some will continue with their travel freeze but I think everyone is used to investing in event technology that will power hybrid events. I wish I had a crystal ball.

What is your hope for the future?

I hope that we wake up as show organizers and embrace technology, don’t let it be a phase. It is here to stay. Someone told me earlier, they run an association and through this pandemic they have see a lot of their senior level long standing members let their membership lapse, but what they have decided to do is double down their efforts on the millennial. But I think people are going to continue to evolve and say how do we reach, using technology, the next generation of leaders in the event industry. Other than just looking at color and nationality we need diversity. For us it’s important that that 24 year old in that office have something of value to add. Our event planner is a 26 year old and she has stepped up to the plate.

What is your advice to someone who is just starting out?

It’s so intimidating when you are coming to a convention for the first time. For people that are entering this, find a mentor. Find someone who is at the senior level of their company and find time and buy them lunch or a drink and have a 1 on 1 relationship and allow them to be a sounding board for you.

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