What I Learned on the Sidelines: My Recap of #techsytalk LIVE

Wow – the last few weeks have been a blur. July and August are usually slower times for event planners, but we have no such luck here at LKE. We are swamped planning our big conference of the year – techsytalk LIVE. After the event, we catch up and before you know it, we’re in September! In case you aren’t familiar with techsytalk LIVE, we designed the full-day conference to educate event planners on technology. Our goal is to design an interactive, educational experience specifically created For Planners, By Planners. At the end of the day, we hope we’ve inspired planners to try out technology at their next event and adopt a mindset of innovation.

Since the event on August 19th, our team has begun to unwrap the event, find areas for improvement and applaud our successes (that’s always important). And while many great attendees have already written their recaps, I haven’t had a chance to write mine. One of the unique things that I get to experience at this event is being on the sidelines. For an event designed for planners like me, I participate in limited ways since we are also managing logistics. So – I notice a few things that maybe our attendees even missed. Here are a few things I learned working our event and experiencing it alongside my colleagues.

Technology is Everywhere
First and foremost, I was very impressed to see a wide range of attendees at techsytalk. From younger students to veterans of the business, special events to corporate, we had a great representation of our industry. If anyone still thinks that technology is only for Gen Xers, you have to experience this event. I also realized that nearly everyone came with multiple devices. I saw people toggling between their smartphones, tablets and computers. And that still didn’t replace the need for a good old pad of paper and pen. Our venue, Convene, made it easy for attendees to be connected. We had great wifi signals throughout the day and every seat in the house had charging stations. Venues who aren’t keeping up with this technology are going to find themselves far behind in the long run.

Planners are Passionate About Education
Maybe I’m a little jaded from all the conferences I go to. I feel like there is sub-par content and organizers are doing whatever they can to entice/trick people to attend educational sessions. However, techsytalk LIVE is really geared around education. We’ve flipped the traditional model on it’s head. Rather than having a tradeshow all day as a main attraction and education off in some wing, we design the entire day around education. Exhibitors and planners sit side-by-side to learn and connect. There’s still an exhibition portion, but we find that the exhibitors have made better connections during the education. And, there is a hunger for learning that I’m not used to seeing. Planners came and focused on content. I realize they could have been checking Facebook, editing photos from their last event or escaping for long bathroom breaks, but I sat in the back of the room and watched participants take copious notes, tweet thoughtful takeaways and come back from lunch break early. I was so proud to see our industry still so passionate about learning.

Event Technology is Still in It’s Infancy
In just the last few years since I’ve been in the business, I’ve seen such a transformation in event technology. It’s become a category all it’s own – with companies creating products to meet our every need. But there is still so much change to come in the future as evidenced in the event. There are hundreds of registration companies and apps – many of these will collapse or combine. There are still too many companies working in silos – creating products that work for a niche customer, but don’t provide an answer to all of the customer’s needs. Planners still need to work with 5-10 tech companies for every event. Some integrate, some don’t. This is incredibly confusing and frustrating for the planner and while we’ll never end up with a one-stop company that provides all our needs and has a monopoly on the market, there is definitely room for more collaboration. As planners, our needs will be met more seamlessly as the industry grows. The planners embracing these companies and learning as much as they can now, will be the planners of the future. They will be more qualified and attractive than other planners who waited for it all to “settle down” before trying to figure it out. Thankfully, techsytalk was filled with these trend setters and I can’t wait to see all the planners grow and really help raise the profile and standards of our industry. We have a long way to go, but we’ve already come so far.

I have to say, I’m so proud of all we’ve accomplished with techsytalk LIVE. And by no means is this about who I am. We have an AMAZING team – Ed and Kelly work tirelessly for months coordinating logistics, but more importantly, imagining what a great conference should look like. We have day-of staff that are bar-none. And, even more importantly, we’ve been blessed with a community of techsy beasts that inspire us to keep pushing the boundaries and figuring it out. There will ALWAYS be room for improvement and we welcome that with open arms. However, I learned some very important lessons at this event and I hope others have too. If you wrote a recap of the event, please leave a link in the comments. We’d love to see the event from various points of view!