I am definitely not new to the event scene, but new to running a company that puts on conferences. My team is far more experienced than I am in the event business having come from some of the biggest event and media platforms in the space.
When i was running my PR firm, events were a key part of our business development efforts so I was fairly active in attending most of the key ones. But over time, they just kinda got stale and I started attending them less and less.. Same speakers. Same venues. Same topics.
“Outlook on this”
“Outlook on that”
“Blah blah blah”
So when I bought my first event platform in January, CRE // Tech, I knew I had to do something different, and put my money where my mouth was. There was no way, I could repeat what I didn’t like about the real estate event scene.
Now with a few events under my belt, and a very robust year of events coming up in 2018, all exclusively focused on the commercial real estate tech sector, I can say that I have learned a lot about this business and what it takes to create a great event. Here are the main things I have learned:
1. Events where the sponsors speak are a shitshow. Sounds harsh but I feel strongly about that. “Pay-to-play” is one of the dirty little secrets of the event business. To me, it’s how NOT to create a great event. The speakers should be selected on merit, not on money.
2. Content is king. People don’t just want to hear their peers speak, they want to be inspired, informed and enlightened. Therefore, my team and I are constantly looking for speakers that really raise the bar on ideas and insights.
3. Everyone loves a good party. Yes, the food, music and energy of the event DO matter. Originally, when my team said we have to have a cool DJ and band, I said, “Huh?! It’s a friggin real estate event!”. Well as always, I defer to people smarter than me and they were 100% right about that. I’ve seen it firsthand. Creating the right buzz is so important at these events.
4. No freebies. When you charge, people see that you’re serious and NOT trying to just fill the room. And you do get close to a full house that way too. So, don’t ask me for a free ticket 🙂
5. “Who” is there is just as important (if not more important) as how many are there. People want to connect with potential customers, top thought leaders and industry titans. We work really really hard to ensure that our conferences have the right mix of professionals in attendance. Bodies for the sake of bodies doesn’t do anything for anyone.
While we are a work in progress, I am thrilled at the momentum of our event business. We are done planning our CRE // Tech NYC event and the lineup of speakers is set. I am really proud of what we will be doing and as I have learned, we won’t be repeating anything we did in 2017 in 2018. We are constantly learning and trying to get better and are super excited about our 2018 schedule which we will announce soon. More events. Amazing speakers from all over the tech landscape. And if you have an idea or suggestion, let us know because we can learn best from the professionals we are trying to serve.