The Events Expert Interview Series #23: Sue Pelletier

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Hopefully you've been following along as we interview expert event professionals in our industry, sharing their insights, advice, and unique experiences. This week we took a look into the mind of Sue Pelletier, an award-winning professional writer/editor with experience in online, social media, e-newsletter, tablet app, and print publications.

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1) You've been covering the events industry as a writer and editor at influential publications for three decades. What one or two aspects of the events space have changed the most in that time? What concepts or characteristics, if any, have remained constant? And what does a typical day look like for you now, in your new role at ConferenceDirect?

The things that have changed the most:

  • An acknowledgement that conferences are not (or, at least, should not be) an adult version of high school, where you take advantage of having a captive audience to cram as much as you can into people’s heads in the hope that something will stick. While not everyone is doing it yet, there is a growing awareness now that, to be effective, events need to be personalized learning journeys, with white spaces to digest and experiential ways to work out how what you’re learning can be used back at the office.
  • Anyone can learn anything for free nowadays, so the emphasis at live events has to be on the human factors, on those things you can’t get via Google.
  • Everything to do with event technology.
  • Sustainability practices now not only make sense for the planet, but also the planner’s pocketbook.

The things that I don’t think will ever change:

  • The need to physically get together in one space and time. We’re a social species, and we need to spend time with each other in a way that engages all of our senses.
  • Food, beverage, and room temp will always be among the most important factors to an event’s success. If you don’t get the basic creature comforts right, nothing else will matter.

As for a typical day in my new role — I’m still too new for anything to feel typical. Ask me again in a year! 

2) What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?

Finding people with really interesting stories to share! It’s also the most gratifying part of what I do for a living. 

3) What types of event-related technology do you use or interact with?

 Apps, social media, AV — all the usual suspects.

4) What do you see as the biggest trend(s) in events this year, particularly in relation to event technology?

I keep hearing it’s going to be AR, but I haven’t actually seen much being done with it yet.   

5) If you could give event planners / marketers one piece of advice, what would that be?

Always be looking at what’s going on outside your specific niche to get fresh ideas. It’s easy to stay within our own professional fields, but cross-pollination is where real creativity comes from.