The virtual world or the online event world is not going anywhere, anytime soon.

Aryn Chapman

CEO & Senior Event Producer

Ax3

Location: New York

Ax3 Studios is a full-service event production company specializing in corporate events, meetings, and conferences; locally, globally and virtually.

With creative excellence as our guide, we are committed to working with leading corporations, associations and nonprofits. From policy summits, international conferences, and fundraisers to special projects and initiatives, we take care of the event planning, design, production and management so that our clients can focus on their key takeaways, spreading their message, and moving the conversation forward.

25+ years of combined experience among our principals, we have been helping our clients deliver events that educate, inspire and engage. Based and incorporated in New York City, our clients include global leaders as well as small companies and start-ups. We have produced events across the country and have developed strong vendor relationships both locally and nationally. As of 2018 we are proud to share we are international with events and teams in the UK, Israel and Germany.

Aryn is a speaker and moderator on the topics of; the future of events, being a good digital citizen and the benefits of virtual and hybrid events.

What do you enjoy most about your role in corporate event planning?

What I like best about event producing is the collaborative nature of it. We excel at supporting our clients and becoming a seamless part of their team. Helping them craft their program to meet their strategic needs and maximizing the limitations of time and space is an exciting opportunity we get a thrill rising to.

Also, working with the other event professionals and vendors, all of us pulling together to execute the vision of our client and creating a better experience than if it were just a solo endeavor, is one of the things I miss most about this particular time period.

Event professionals are my favorite people.

How do you keep up with the constant change in the industry?

I read a lot of trade newsletters and I’m a member of a lot of the different events community groups on LinkedIn and on Facebook. One of my favorite places to get information is from Liz Caruso’s Techsy Talk, Event Industry News and the newly-formed Event Coalition.

I run a happy hour for event professionals where we both commiserate and share best practices. This is a place where we, as a group, collectively discuss current issues and opportunities, talk them through collaboratively and brainstorm on best practices. We have found in this time that’s more like the wild west than we’ve ever experienced in our lifetimes and that it’s been incredibly valuable to have a place that you can openly and comfortably share ideas and thoughts and can get instant feedback in real-time to solve problems and issues as they come up. This has been hugely helpful in keeping up-to-date and current with what’s happening, especially as quickly as things are changing in these very exciting times.

What are some ways to personalize a corporate event?

One of the easiest ways to personalize your corporate event experience is to create your own unique agenda. It’s one of my favorite ways of doing this and it’s an obvious must, especially in a virtual or hybrid event.

Another great way is to be proactive and make sure that you connect with other participants and schedule 1:1 meetings with them. In some venues and platforms you can even set up group meetings. This way you can create your own discussion groups and extend your own interests within the context of the event.

Some events are even starting to allow you to create sessions as a participant. They’ll give you a set of let’s say three topics and then the participants vote on which of the topics they like best. The one that gets the most votes becomes the session for that time slot.

Another nice way to personalize a corporate event, especially for your VIPs, is to have personalized goodie bags. Not only with their name and individualized agenda but it could have products that have specially chosen from your sponsors or from your vendors specific to that person.

What do you see as the corporate event industry’s greatest challenge, currently?

I see the event Industry’s greatest challenge in general, not just corporate events, is how fractured we are and how competitive we have been to our detriment. We don’t have a unified voice that we can collectively negotiate and advocate for our industry. I know people who haven’t worked since last April. The idea that there isn’t a safety net, there isn’t health insurance, there isn’t a way to Advocate in a strong voice for relief is why the Events Coalition started. I know this is what they are working towards and advocating for and I feel like we should all be involved with them.

We need representatives from all the voices across the industry. Everyone from guitar techs to prep Cooks, event producers to technical directors, camera-people to florists. It’s a huge industry with competing interests, for sure, and nothing has affected us quite like this pandemic. It’s been a real wake-up call for me in particular, with north of 11 million of us in this country and no one really looking out for us.

How do you leverage event technology and what would you consider the biggest game-changer?

This is a very clear question given the pandemic. It’s all about technology. Technology is everything; event platforms, event apps, 3D, 2D, AR, VR, RTF, API, etc, etc. I know technical directors who are converting their warehouses into LED surround stages so that you can have a keynote, literally, anywhere in the universe you want them. Our studio has demoed north of 500 different virtual event platforms of varying sizes, capabilities and age. We are currently revisiting a lot of those to see how they will be applied to hybrid events. I imagine that hybrid events are going to be here to stay. The virtual world or the online event world is not going anywhere, anytime soon.

The biggest single game changer is obviously Zoom. It has created a world where video conferencing and video 1:1s are the norm. It’s far superior, in my opinion, to Teams, WebEx and Google meet. The beautification filter being key among the reasons! It’s stable, it works with most bandwidth and it’s easy to use for just about everyone but my 100 year old grandfather. It’s really no wonder it has become the front runner. I only wish I had bought stock a year ago.

Zoom has revolutionized the way we will continue to think about events and their reach. We are no longer thinking about an event in local terms. Events are now by their very nature and necessity Global. There’s no reason for them not to be. There’s no reason not to have a speaker in Shanghai, time zone considerations are an easy schedule fix or remote record them. You’re no longer limited to the size of a ballroom. Why not sell tickets even if they are at a slightly reduced cost? I think that covid has created a brand new world and it was really about time, the tragedy notwithstanding.

How do you measure the success of an event?

We measure the success of an event by answering these four questions:

  • Did the event meet the strategic goals of the client?
  • Did the participants have an engaging and good time?
  • Did the event function the way we anticipated it to? This can mean did the platform perform, or did the agenda flow the way we anticipated.
  • Did the client meet its financial goals? This can include coming in on budget and meeting fundraising expectations.

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