10 Top Event Influencers Talk About Their Biggest Challenges

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We recently asked 10 of the most widely followed influencers in the event industry to tell us about the biggest challenge they faced in their work. While the answers varied (not surprisingly), three common challenges stood out:

Keeping up with the speed of change: Technology, in the world of events as elsewhere, is advancing at an unprecedented rate. But it's not only technology; best practices, the culture, what's hot (and not), how people consume information, attendee expectations--all seem to be changing at an accelerated pace. Keeping up is a significant challenge.

Time management: Related to the first challenge but different is the challenge of spending time wisely: balancing continual learning about new ideas and developments with getting today's work done, short-term vs. long-term priorities, and where to focus attention when there are so many demands on it. As Will Curran states below, "Having a time machine would be fantastic."

Educating others (clients, the boss, the market, etc.): Several influencers cited education as a challenge, in different ways, both in terms of strategy (the need for structural change, industry transformation) and tactics (the value and use of social media, sound, lighting, and other technologies at events).

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Here are the verbatim responses from 10 top influencers:

David Adler

The biggest challenge is the speed of change and being a lifelong learner without enough time concentrate. I consider myself “Millennial Minded” even though I am so far from being a millennial, but keeping a fresh perspective is always a challenge.

Corbin Ball 

I think I share a common challenge with many event professionals: keeping up with technology change!  As this is my full-time job, I likely spend more than the average amount of time doing so. Innovation is alive and well in the events and exhibitions industry, and new ideas, software and tools are popping up daily.

Rachel Wimberly

The world of publishing has shifted drastically on every level over the past decade. A switch from print to all online, reader's habits, creating value for advertisers, etc. it's all constantly in flux. Keeping on top of it all, as well as the news, is a massive challenge—but one that (I hope!) we succeed at with both TSNN and Corporate Event News. 

Marissa Pick

Convincing people that social media is worth the investment of time and resources.  In my current role, I’m focused on developing strategy and working internally on execution.  We’ve rolled out more creative offerings at our larger scale conferences, but the question of KPIs and success is always a tricky one. 

Someone may see an ad or discount code, think about converting, and come back the next day through Google—so we lose the attribution tagging we placed.  It’s easier to show engagements and page visits, but harder to track back direct revenue.  As we’ve brought additional platforms it’s become easier, but it’s always still challenging to have to make a case as to why social always should be a part of a cohesive communications plan. 

Christy Lamagna 

My greatest personal challenge at work is reminding myself that I can’t take on new projects right now. I want to read every book, accept every paid offer to speak, mentor and coach everyone who asks for help, add more charities to the list I already support. It’s a lot of work to stay on track as there’s just so much I want to do, learn and share.

I also have an enormous challenge with the industry as a whole-how planners are perceived, how we behave, how we allow ourselves to be treated. Until we evolve from event planners into event strategists we are going to be overlooked, undervalued, overworked and frustrated. I have the tools and roadmap for upping our game and learning more sophisticated ways to plan and think about events that I write, speak and coach on. My textbook on strategic planning will publish this year. That will be a huge step forward to achieving my goal to transform the industry.

Nick Borelli

The biggest challenge I face is time management and taking on the right clients. I want to help everyone in our industry more than anything, but I have to be smart about who I take on because I have a finite amount of attention I can give.

Will Curran

Our biggest challenge is educating people, filling in the knowledge gap about AV and production. For example, we just launched a course on how to hire AV companies. We want to help people understand there's a better way to do this process than sending out a generic RFP specifying how many speakers, remote mics, etc. are needed.

We also try to help clients understand our recommendations and the ramifications of different AV decisions. We'll explain why we're recommending specific equipment in specific locations, and how changes will impact the attendee experience. We try to educate clients, to help them make the right decisions. It enables us to have better conversations about topics like the cost impacts of event changes.

My second-biggest challenge is not having enough time. Having a time machine would be fantastic.

Michelle Bruno

My biggest challenge is giving all of the great ideas and initiatives the time and attention they deserve.

Dave Lutz

Helping our clients sell the need for change in complex governance structures. 

Adrian Segar 

Deciding how I should spend my time. I have short-term and long-term plans, and new opportunities continually appear. There are a lot of choices I can make, and I constantly need to choose. This is a good challenge to have!