Event Industry Then Vs. Now with Dave Merrell
We recently asked our Allseated Ambassadors to talk to us about how the event industry has evolved over their years in the business.
Here is what Dave Merrell of AOO Events had to say!
What was the event business and industry like when you started out? What systems were in place?
I started my business in 1989. ILEA (then called ISES) was very newly formed so there wasn’t much presence from them, and the nations Universities had not even considered adding in a curriculum for the special events industry. The only “information” or “inspiration” came from “Special Events Magazine” and “Event Solutions Magazine”. At that time, Special Events Magazine was about a ¼ inch thick and had tons of content, so that was my ONLY education for the industry.
There were no systems in place and there was little to offer in the way of guidance and assistance in running a special events business. I learned most of my own systems by simply creating them, and massaging them over the years to respond to the ever-changing landscape of the events business. It was truly a Mom and Pop type of industry back at that time with no direction or guidance.
What’s your fondest industry memory from when you first started?
I can remember the first big job I got was for $17,000. I was so nervous about it that I passed on going to a Madonna concert the night before (even after I had bought the ticket) just so I could stay home, and get enough sleep so that I could pull this gig off. Nowadays we don’t accept a job under that amount unless it is an existing client. My how times have changed.
What’s the biggest different that you see then vs. now?
There are many places for you to reach out and get help today. Starting with ILEA, it has evolved into and organization that is directly addressing the needs of all the Live Event members and now provides a professional designation (Certified Special Event Professional). Universities across the country are now offering courses in our industry, mainly in the Hospitality Management programs, but now we are seeing them creep into Marketing curriculums too, largely because Live Events are becoming an integral part of the way that corporations touch their customers now days. Many associations are popping up in more specified work expertise and disciplines that offer guidance, camaraderie and networking opportunities. Processes and programs such as AllSeated, are popping up everywhere thanks to the demand, coupled with our incredible advances in technology which are allowing us to become more efficient and good at our jobs.
How are clients different today?
They are becoming more sophisticated (in the corporate world) and more hand’s on (in the social world), which is not necessarily a good thing.
In the social world, the onslaught of pinterest, Etsy and all the apps that help guide a bride through the processes of an event, have brought about the DIY generation of brides and grooms. This brings with it a sense that they know it all, how can this be so hard, and I know what I like. The result of that is the social events market is going through a crises of professionalism at the moment. We in the industry all know what we bring to the table, and it is way more than what you get online, but unfortunately brides don’t look at it that way. There is an up hill battle to gain the respect that the social events industry deserves.
In the corporate world, the importance of immersive, live events and the up close and personal “touch points” that occur between brand and client. TV commercials don’t reach the audience they once used to for many reason. The live industry is in one of the most important pivotal point for our industry. It is important that our industry steps up to this challenge, displays their self -worth and takes their rightful place in the Marketing Agencies.
Out of all of the technology available, what attracted you to AllSeated?
Virtual Reality technology is at the beginning of a breakthrough. Although the full uses of this technology are yet to be discovered and realized, AllSeated already has a cutting edge use for us as event professionals. And in our industry, we need to appear to live on the cutting edge, if we want a “hand up” with our clients.