I try to make time to get out and see experimental theater, pop-up dining events, art festivals, new VR experiences… anything that might spark inspiration or show me something innovative.
Venetia Harpin

Venetia Harpin

Immersive Event Producer

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Creatively minded, but with a wealth of hands-on experience built up at both event production companies and experiential marketing agencies, Venetia has spent the past decade specializing in bespoke experiential activations and immersive experiences. Often incorporating broader marketing strategies and social amplification, she is renowned for creating highly interactive guest experiences for brands.

A self-confessed ‘gun for hire’ – her work in the UK included uniquely conceptual events for Samsung, Paramount Pictures, ASICS, Facebook, and more. Since relocating from London to the US in 2017 she has worked as a Senior Creative Producer for several of Los Angeles’ most prolific experiential agencies, including NVE, Giant Spoon, and Gold Sky Productions.

Notable projects include producing a pop-up ’Mermaid Museum’ in LA for Popsugar, a huge multi-faceted activation at San Diego Comic-Con for Warners/DC Comics, an immersive-theater-via-video-calling launch for Facebook Portal in New York, and turning the lobby of Netflix’s head offices in LA into a multisensory jungle for the press launch of Our Planet.

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

Research, research, and more research! It’s easy to get complacent, especially once you’ve been in the industry a while. But I try to make time to get out and see experimental theater, pop-up dining events, art festivals, new VR experiences… anything that might spark inspiration or show me something innovative.

It’s useful to see what other event agencies are doing by following their Insta accounts or whatever, but if you want to be really ahead of the game I suggest looking beyond current event trends and seeing what else is out there in the world.

How do you mix the current trends with the traditional to create a meeting that is engaging and informative?

I think it’s important to never forget the basics of good hospitality. I create a lot of very unique, one-off events but if the food comes out cold, or the queue at the door is too long, that’s what folks will remember. Consider all the elements of classic event functionality; heating, restrooms, refreshments and so forth, and then you can layer in whatever more experimental features you want to on top.

Do you have any advice for a company having a hard time choosing a theme? Is a theme necessary?

I once heard the advice ‘Go where the love is’ when building your business and I think it’s a really important principle to bear in mind. The ‘love’ is what YOU love doing. Do you plan weddings? Great. Focus on wedding planning. Do you love variety and making every event different? Awesome – make your flexible approach your USP.

Themes can be useful for building a brand but they can also be limiting. I would only use one if I had a very specific idea of what I wanted to sell.

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

I like using technology when it fits a purpose. Don’t try and shoehorn it in if it doesn’t make sense. My rule of thumb is ‘what does this tech product do to actually *enhance* my event?’ Or does it just complicate things, or even worse, overshadow the product?

I think RFID has really evolved in some interesting ways in recent years. It started off as just a registration tool for conferences and now we’re seeing it used for payment systems, content management, gamification… it’s incredibly versatile.

Have you used Gamification in your events? If yes, how was it received?

I love gamification! I know there are stricter definitions but for me, it just means ‘finding an engaging and playful way to create a memorable interaction’.

Psychologically speaking, active engagement is usually more memorable than passive observation. So finding ways to get your guests to be active participants is going to result in a more rewarding experience for them – whether it’s encouraging them to customize a take-home gift, creating a trail of clues to explore, or offering social media content ‘challenges’ that earn rewards.

What are some practices to follow that will help you to create the Wow factor that attendees seek with a limited budget?

Focus your budget on the elements that your guests will actually notice. It’s easy to fixate on tiny details because let’s face it – most of us are perfectionists! But your guests probably aren’t going to care whether the silverware is real or disposable as long as the food tastes good!

Good lighting hides a multitude of sins, don’t scrimp on catering, and potted plants & foliage can elevate even the simplest of venues.

Sustainability is a current movement that can be challenging for large events. What is your approach?

Do. Your. Homework. Beforehand! We know it’s crazy when you’re in the rush of an event – there’s barely any time to place your vendor orders let alone find out where the nearest recycling facility is. So if you find yourself with some downtime, do some research and look into what local services you can call up in your hour of need.

Also, familiarise yourself with what materials are reusable and what is single-use, and ask your vendors what their most sustainable options are.

Lastly, no one needs any more cheap plastic giveaways! Just tell your client ‘No!’

Venetia Harpin
Author: Venetia Harpin

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