The Experiential Marketing Summit (EMS) 2018, held May 14-16 at the Marriott Marquis, San Francisco, was an experience from the moment you walked into the hotel lobby. To the right, a bellhop, and to the left a shoe-shine stand and an old timey piano where attendees could strike up a chord. With breakout out sessions, exhibits, and general session content delivered from some of the biggest names in experiential and brand marketing, it was an opportunity for networking and collaboration, educating attendees on how to elevate their experiential marketing events to the next level. VDA’s Kim Gallagher and Bob Russo attended this year’s event in sunny California. I caught up with Kim to see what she had to say about EMS 2018, and she didn’t hold back in her praise of the summit.
“The sessions were mind-blowing,” said Gallagher. “ You have access to people that you usually would never have access to, because they are really high level, global marketers! I think the sessions are the selling point, hands down.” With a downloadable app for the event, attendees could pick and choose their schedule (with some restrictions given level of sponsorship/badge) to cater to their needs and interests. Kim noticed a trend among the sessions she attended as each program pulled in the featured company’s brand marketing/events team, and the agency they partner with to produce their events. In a huge turn for the Experiential Marketing Summit, there was a large focus on the giveback/charitable opportunity each event represented.
Kim’s favorite sessions included Festival University – a deep dive into the trend of festivals, which have become a major part of our cultural landscape – and Airbnb Open, a case study presentation on the development of the coveted Airbnb Open which brings together top Airbnb hosts and guests. What originated as an event for 500 in 2014, by 2017 had evolved into a citywide event, which brought 15,000 people together for an experience that “turned all of downtown LA into a cohesive venue for the best campaign of the year.”
Kim had a lot of key takeaways from the Experiential Marketing Summit:
• Make community giveback/charity/cause a part of your event strategy. While it’s important to educate attendees on event brand, there should be some sort of messaging about why people are attending – pull this in to your message with very organic ties and subtle branding
• Make sure you are using tech with a purpose! If it doesn’t make sense, don’t use it. If it’s not going to drive home a message for the brand, stay away from it.
• Make an effort to include local businesses and artists into your program – how can you help the local community where you are hosting your event?
• Always ask what metrics you want to measure prior to planning – how do you measure your event success?
For more information on how VDA can help with your next event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888.868.9200 to connect with our sales team!