For the last 15 years, BizBash has built its reputation as the pre-eminent trade show and conference for event and meeting planners in the US, with live events in NYC, LA, South Florida and Chicago. BizBash Live: The Expo is a well-rounded, day-long odyssey for attendees seeking to be educated, entertained and introduced to the latest innovators in the event industry. In 2012, they introduced the Event Innovation Forum - a TED-inspired conference featuring 8-10 thought leaders within the event industry, as part of the Expo. Also featured is the ever popular BizBash Event Style Awards, honoring creativity, innovation and excellence in events. I caught up with BizBash founder David Adler on the tradeshow floor at last week’s October 27th expo at NYC’s Jacob Javits Center.
Adler has consciously designed a multi-sensory adventure. Beneath the soaring ceilings of the nearly 6000 person capacity hall at the Javits Center, guests were greeted by an assortment of sights, sounds and tastes that connected with them on many levels. From the elegant jazz duo stationed at the entryway and the colorful booth displays, to scantily clad models and even a life-sized snowglobe, the stimulation was all encompassing.
Adler spoke to me of neuroscience connection points. I’m pretty sure mine are in my palate. I was delighted by offerings of yellowtail sashimi with marinated red onion from the infamous Montauk landmark, Gurney’s (who, I’m thrilled to see, is no longer my grandmother’s Gurney’s), grilled vegetable quesadillas by DJ Chef (yes, he spins records while he cooks), and, I will guiltily admit, pork belly cotton candy (OMG yes) from the Carnem Prime Steakhouse in Brooklyn. (To clarify, that was a piece of flawlessly grilled pork belly, swathed in cotton candy. Go ahead and judge.)
One continuing trend I’m seeing in the event industry is the migration of a multitude of elements from the arts and the culinary world and social events into the landscape of corporate events, where there seems to be no end to the hunger for fun and creativity. For example, at Pizza a Casa, founder Mark Bello offers group pizza-making classes, perfect for corporate team building experiences. Drummer, composer and arranger, Zoilo, former member of the off-Broadway hit, STOMP, has created Industrial Rhythm, a high energy, urban dance and percussion show, specifically geared towards corporate audiences.
Speaking of innovation, BizBash is introducing its own new offering that will roll out in 2016, called Live Gathering Tools. Adler described it to me as a “global marketplace for event technology and innovation.” Live Gathering Tools will be an online, virtual tradeshow, organized by types of services such as registration or audience engagement tools. It will also feature global demo days – live events that will have the look and feel of a talk show, hosted by Adler and other guest hosts.
This sort of coming together of technology and social interaction is quite exciting to those of us #eventprofs who have been following the evolution of social media and online engagement over the last few years. Adler describes this kind of targeted communication as “theatrical journalism,” a term he borrowed from icon Tina Brown. Already pulling from the best of all worlds to create his live events, it makes perfect sense for him to pursue this new online direction. In fact, he has made it his business to “celebritize” what Mary Boone refers to as the “collaboration athlete.” With so much cross-fertilization between creative genres, technology and business segments, aren’t we all becoming collaboration athletes? Indeed, Adler seems to think so, and he has made it his mission to provide the tools and resources that will enable all of us within the industry to push out further in this direction.
As he explained, “25% of all marketing budgets are now face to face events oriented.” So yes, the timing is right for all of these elements to be morphing together – the social and business, arts and entertainment. As he and I stood chatting on the tradeshow floor, a colleague of his stopped to say that he, too had just sampled some of the best yellowtail ever (it really was…) and had picked up some great new ideas for his events. To the man who makes it his business to personally greet all of his conference luncheon guests, this was music to his ears…