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Beachbody Events: 18,000 People Working Out

Beachbody’s events are pretty massive.  Leah Green sits down and walks through the details including a fitness portion that obstructs ten city blocks!

How did you end up at Beachbody? You’ve been there for 10 years?

Yes. I’ve been here for a long time. I actually got my start with beach body that summer right after I graduated from college and moved to New York. My degree is in broadcast journalism so wasn’t thinking about events at all. I was actually thinking about more in live production. So I had my resume out there just as a freelance PA and I got picked up by one of the production companies that we work with on our infomercials cause at the time we were all infomercial based and got there. It was actually for Brazil butt lift. If you remember that program. The first like day that we were on set and we were doing like before photos and everything, I just went up to one of the other guys who was in charge and I was like, I’m sorry, what are we doing right now? He was like, we’re going to do this fitness program. These people are getting amazing results and blah, blah blah. And long story short, it was supposed to be just freelance. I ended up sticking with it for another two programs. One of the producers of one of the programs said, Hey, if he ever moved to LA, give me a call. You know, you’re great. We’d love to keep working with you. All of a sudden I found myself moving to LA. That’s where my boyfriend was now husband at the time and called her up. I still transitioned to the Santa Monica office more in live production, working with success stories, the people who were using the programs at home and finding success. While that was happening, I was also getting to help out with the live events that we were hosting and really fell in love with that. We had sort of a changeover, a changing of the guards of how that department was being run. They knew they needed to beef it up and add more people and an opportunity for a coordinator on the team opened up and I threw my name in the hat and luckily I had one of my coworkers who was on the team at that time. I was really nervous. I was like, I don’t know anything about events, so what do I do? And she was like, don’t worry, don’t worry. We got this. Like, you can do this. It’s exactly what you’re already doing. Just a little bit different. I’ve been here ever since.

Tell us about the events.

The largest one we do is the coach summit. And that’s every summer. The most we’ve ever had We always like to say butts in seats. We always sell like a ton of tickets. But you know, you get attrition on that. So our biggest butts and seats was just over 18,000. I think that was the second year that we were in Nashville is when we had that many people. We’re used to it now, But the first time we ever experienced it, it’s completely overwhelming. We had several years where our event, we were doubling every year. The business itself and the coaches were, everything was catching on and we had our first summit together as an events team here in Los Angeles. So we had 2,500 people. The next year in Vegas we had 5,000. Then we had 9,000. And then it just kept growing and it was like every year it was like, how do we do this? So it’s like we learned together because we had all come from different places and it was the same thing, you know, everybody on the team was like, we’ve never done this before. We’ve never had this many people. How do we figure this out? And we just sort of learned as we went. I just am on the most incredible team. It’s like a well oiled machine. Everybody gets their marching orders and says, okay.

So how many people are your team?

I think it’s 10 people.

Year after year this thing’s growing. What goes into making it fresh?

Yeah, that is the challenge, how do you make it for those people? What we found is a lot of times it’s about 50, 50. When you’re talking about people coming to the event, about 50% are brand new, have never been before. And then there’s the other 50% that are the old guard, the coaches that we see every year that you recognize their faces, their names, that have been with us for forever. It’s that 50% who’ve been around for forever that you’ve got to figure out how do we make this so they want to keep coming back, you know, they keep coming back. What is it? Probably the biggest thing that we do is location change. So if you are in a position that you can do that, that’s one of the best things that you can do. One of the things that we do here at Beachbody is we typically do two years. We’ll do two events in that one city and then we move on. With every city like the, there’s pros and cons when you are planning for that. Obviously, when you are bringing 18,000 people into a city, the whole city has to be on board.

We take over the convention center, we take over the stadium, we take over all the hotels, we have room blocks, almost single hotel that’s within downtown area. We try to go to places where everything is within walking distance. If it’s not within walking distance, you have to set up a shuttle system. Ehere’s a ton of logistics, but essentially everyone in the city has to be on board. That’s typically the biggest hurdle to get over. When we come in, we find that most people are really excited to have us. We go to cities where we like the people and it’s typically, they’re excited to have us. So everybody gets on board. All the hotels say we’re in. All the local restaurants know that we’re coming, we’re prepping them in advance.

What other criteria do you go by to pick a city?

We’re very unique in that we have the live workout aspect. So for us, we can’t just go to a city with small meeting rooms. We need a convention center and we need those spaces to open up. We bring almost all of our super trainers with us and that’s the big thing when people, when coaches are coming to a live team beach body event, they’re coming, one, they want training, but two, they want to work out with their favorite trainers. We can’t just have one space that holds 3000 people. We have to have six. We need a lot of space. And then in addition to that, the coolest thing that we do at the summit every year is the super workout. We literally all 18,000 people work out all together. So that’s a huge undertaking working with the city, with all the police officers, with security of, because you have to shut down, you know, a dozen blocks of city traffic so that you can host this.

How do you deal with weather contingencies?

We have been so, so, so lucky that we have never had to move it inside, but we always have the rain plan. And the rain plan typically is, if that were to happen, you basically have to move everybody inside to the indoor workout spaces. It would never be as fun because everybody would need to be in the separate rooms and we’d be trying to live stream the trainers onto the screens that are existing in those rooms. If we needed to do it, we always know how, but it’s always preferred because you get that shot of standing on the stage and seeing 18,000 people in front of you.

Are you live streaming this out?

Some of the pieces do get streamed. I believe the last several years we have live-streamed our opening and our closing sessions. The opening is always on Thursday night. That’s where we do all the really exciting product announcements and the stuff that everybody’s been eagerly all year long.And then the Saturday night closing show is where we do most of our recognition.

People are torn between streaming and not streaming their event…

Yeah. The scariest thing is trying to make that decision because you don’t want somebody at the last minute to go, ah, forget it. I’m not going to go. I’ll just watch it at home. We’ve tried to appease the people that can’t be there by doing some pieces of it the meat and potatoes is really the training, the opening show and the closing show are fantastic and everybody loves them but the training is happening in general sessions and in workshops. That’s what we try to get people to actually be on site for. I’m trying to walk a fine line of, of letting people who are at home be engaged in the event because we know some people truly can’t be there, but then really pushing them of you have to be here to get the real gems.

Super Power:

So my superpower is my brain works widely. I have this ability that I’m the person that people usually come to when they say this is my idea, where and when could I do something like this. It’s usually like within a live an event that we’re currently in the middle of planning and my brain does this beautiful mind board of bubbles in lines, I see past what it is they’re asking to do, and I can map out depending on how many people it is or where it would make the most sense, see how if I were to drop that in all the things that it would moving forward, like where did the dominoes fall and where does it end up?

Pet peeves:

My biggest pet peeve is there’s so much communication that happens from us to the other people both attendees and the people internally here at headquarters who come with us to work the events and to, you know, be the speakers and be the faces. And we’ll send out so much communication ahead of time, like so much communication and we’re hitting them over the head in live meetings. And you got it, you got it. Great. And then you land at the airport and they look at you and go, Oh, so what’s next? It’s like, Oh my gosh, you gotta be kidding me.

Cause: Hope of the Valley.

Do you have any good advice for the newbies?

We sort of have a team motto here one of my bosses came up with a couple of years ago and we just say surrender and that’s sort of our go-to, is knowing that learning to anticipate obviously as much as possible. I mean I think that’s number one, but being able to anticipate that something’s going to go wrong, something is not going to happen the way that you intend it to and you have to learn instead of getting frustrated or you know, stomping it out. Just surrender to that moment and fix it. Just accept this is what’s happening right now. Here are the next steps to ensure that we get back on track.

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Sweeten Your Event with this Suite Idea

What can you do to benefit your clients?  Are suites at events out of your reach? Todd Lindenbaum has created an “Uber” for suites and luxury boxes making it easier than ever to book suites!

So tell us about Suite Hop and how you guys got started?

Definitely. So Suite Hop is a two sided marketplace. We are aggregating available luxury suite inventory at stadiums and arenas across North America and we’re making them available to customers in a way that they’d never been available before. Which is through a flexible and easy booking process. I got started in the sports business by working for a team. I spent five years working for the San Francisco giants. I was in ticket sales and suite sales, and always had an entrepreneurial bug and so left the giants and started this company 14 years ago. SH is only four years old. We pivoted about 10 years into our journey to the marketplace model, but have been helping companies and meeting planners and fans attend the games and concerts in luxury boxes for almost 20 years now.

So would you say you’re kind of like the Uber for like suites and boxes? 

Definitely. The reason we pivoted our business model is we did see these collaborative consumption models starting to really get traction across all aspects of the economy. And what is not necessarily known widely is that suites and stadiums and arenas are actually widely available and somewhat distressed. There are a lot of suites that are sitting empty for games and concerts every single night. And so we’re trying to modernize the approach to bring those available boxes to market. We’ve hit on something good. We’re growing fast and connecting people with suites.

How do I use your services and how does that benefit me or my audience?

Before we started doing what we’re doing the methodology of booking a suite for an event. So I’ll use some of our meeting planners that we work with as anecdotal examples. We just did an event with a meeting planner out of Chicago. It was for a large tech company. They were wanting to do an event during a bears game in November. In the old model, you would go to the bears website, you would fill out a form on their website and sometime in the next 48 to two weeks, somebody would email you back and we might have something available. We don’t have something available. But you should really talk to you about buying a full season lease. That is where we come in is we’ve got aggregated supply. So we’re getting the available suites directly from teams and venues that are listing on our platform or getting them from those companies that are on the longterm leases that can’t use every single game. So the uber model, right, it would sit empty. So they’re looking to recoup some of their investment and that actually has suites have gotten more distressed over the past five, 10 years they’re starting to actually sell suites to ticket brokers. So there’s this supply that’s really fragmented. And so we’re aggregating all that together and making it really easy for a meeting planner to have one throat to choke, to book a suite at any of the 150 venues across across North America that we’ve got on our platform. We’re really saving them a lot of time. We’re making the proposal process much easier.

If I wanted to use it I can get ahold of you and then you’ll help me with the logistics of getting it booked with a lot less of a hassle?

So even better than that, you could actually go to suitehop.com You could see live transparent availability. So you can already have an idea of what it’s going to cost, how many people it holds, what’s the suite gonna look like. Um, and then we absolutely can support the like heavy lifting on the event planning side on the back end of that meaning facilitating the catering if you need to get swag bags into the suite before the event happens. All the logistics that go into really activating an event the way meeting planners do. There’s a lot of ways you can treat the suite as a black box and still do a lot of those execution elements that you might do in a hotel or a restaurant. You can still do those in your own private space in these venues. And so that’s what excites us when we work with the meeting planners is we can be really creative.

What are you seeing as a trend in using suites for concerts and sporting events?

Where I’ve seen, especially in the past three or four years, is meeting planners that are representing large tech companies that sell through a channel. So channel partner events, field marketing events, channel sales events. It’s like a partner enablement field sales enablement tool to get stakeholders in the same room for three hours in a relaxed atmosphere where it’s not salesy. It’s really relationship building.An important thing that has come up with that is a lot of times there does need to be an educational component to these events. And so most of these venues in North Americans today also do have onsite meeting space. So you can do a two hour meeting in a conference room and do your educational component and then you go and you drink beers and have a good time. And build relationships during the game. So I think that’s what we’re really seeing the strongest demand with is in those channel and field marketing organizations.

Am I getting any sort of savings by bypassing going directly to the stadium?

So sometimes is the answer? Most of the teams and the venues that are listing their own inventory directly on our platform are doing it at price parity. So if you look at our business from, the venues perspective, we’re a distribution channel for them. We’re a way for them to advertise and reach new customers. So our fee is coming directly from the venue. So like at Madison square garden for example, if you went to the Madison square garden page on suite hop and prices that you would see those suite listed for would be the same exact prices if you called Madison square garden and they’re paying us a commission for delivering new customer. It’s an efficiency and customer service opportunity. The way we’re working with meeting planners too is, is you know, we are baking in commissions. We’re paying meeting planners for our suite bookings. It’s not like a blanket thing cause we need to understand each situation uniquely. 

So what do you see as the future of this as you look like say five, 10 years down the road?

The reality of the suite market is that it’s becoming more and more difficult for these stadiums and venues to sell the suite on a longterm multiyear agreement. So what that means is there’s going to be more supply that needs to be marketed on an event by event basis. That’s growing and it’s growing fast. We play a really important part of finding customers and connecting customers, quickly and easily with transparency of what’s available. 

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Authenticity and Events: The New Movement

Our first international guest, Dan Bolton brings two words to mind: Genuine and Authentic.  He shares how specific events have impacted him as well as help change culture!  This episode shows how events are more than just gatherings but can be movements!

How did you get in the events world?

Pretty much by fluke, I was a circus performer. I wasn’t that good at it actually. We toured around the UK and Europe, I was a fire breather, stilt walker, a clown. Not the career path my parents had wanted me to do. They thought I’d be a lawyer, doctor, or police man, when I said I was going to run away with the circus they were disappointed. That’s how I got into it then it was the case of you need a real job. I started booking entertainment and managing, creating shows and performances, worked with agencies and started my own business 4 years ago.

You’ve worked on projects around the olympics.

I’ve done two. I was a performer in Athens for the closing ceremony, I was a dancer. Then for the London olympics I was supporting the choreography for the athletes parade.  Every time you see the athletes with the flags, we do things like that as well. 

It’s [the olympics] interesting because it’s dominated by two or three big companies always pitching for them.  It depends on who is the favorite at the time. Can you imagine the politics  and stressed involved? We worked with Jakata last year, the stress levels to put that show together were pretty intense.

It’s something I’m going to talk about in my session tomorrow (At ILEA Live) basically talking about how bigger events really do help drive and position countries. It’s basically a marketing machine so they showcase their country and use it as an opportunity to promote themselves and empower their population.  It’s a pretty big deal. There’s often interventions or recommendations with presidents. Last year in Jakarta, we were working with the military and Vice President.

Events can really put you on the map.

Yes for good or bad reasons. They definitely put places, people, and country on the map for sure. It’s a form of soft power, thats why these countries bid for them, they want to project themselves as a great nation.  

We are working on Expo 2020 at Dubai, a world fair that happens every 5 years in big cities.  They bring together 195 nations taking part in this six month festival.  They have over 60 events every day for 173 days.  It’s huge, countries build pavilions and they are almost like mini embassies and they showcase innovation and technology. They are like a tour center to showcase countries. People travel from around the world.  They are expecting 25 million people to attend.  They are building infrastructure for that. They are building a whole city basically outside of Dubai to accommodate. Then they factor that into the legacy plans.  This will become a destination once the event is finished. It’s an opportunity for people to come experience the Middle East and position itself as a center for live events and knowledge sharing, bringing people together. This is important for the way the world is. Nations use these experiences to really propel them into the future. It’s competitive. It can really help drive the future of the city or destination.

Great, tomorrow you are speaking, what are you speaking about?

I’m going to talk about my experience in Jakarta, some of the things we went through.  It was a really humbling experience.  We go there and kind of tell people what to do. They are bringing in the internationals and we got so absorbed into the culture, it was a beautiful experience.  They are all volunteers, 4000 we had to choreograph. You have these school girls and they don’t see the big picture, it’s a four month journey, they don’t want to be there, they are forced there and it builds to this extremely proud moment of them being proud of their country.  It’s empowering to see this. 

What’s the most memorable event experience you have ever had?

I’m going to say a recent project, the special olympics. 

Anything new for those starting out?

This industry is changing so fast. We need to be consistent, authentic, real it’s hard work.  People think it’s really easy and simple, but it’s pretty stressful.

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Tomatoes, Crickets, and Heads of Lettuce?

Tell us about your background

I was with Microsoft for 13 years came into the program to change the world at Microsoft with food. I was able to do that.  We had some good times and some bad times along the way, but for the most part it came out really well. The thing about Microsoft is they are using food as every tech company is using food, to be able to attract the best and the brightest.  They invest a lot of money in the food program to be able to attract and retain.  The kids that are coming out of college they are not looking to come to a company that they will stay a long time, they are looking for the Big Bang and a lot of that has to deal with food. In college mom and dad picked up the bill so it was free food and you come to work and your expectations are high around that.  At Microsoft we didn’t have free food. We were big on food waste so the idea of paying for food you make decisions differently than you would with having it be free. For the most part we were able to maintain that in the Bay Area where there is a competition for workers. 

I did a lot with this idea of becoming a profit center vs a cost center. We got into a lot of crazy things, growing our own food hydroponically.  I had some grow towers that we put out in the cafe and our digital geniuses that worked there saw it and wanted to digitize it.  We had our grow towers connected to the cloud and we were monitoring them with a surface tablet. The cool thing about that is they were growing in the office space, as you were doing your work next to you lettuce was growing. 

Listen to this episode to hear Mark’s full story!

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Genius Ways to Maintain Health and Fitness on the Road

It can be challenging and nearly impossible to get to the gym when traveling!  Justen Jones comes into the EideCom Studios to talk through some simple yet genius ways to maintain your health on the road.