A Live Experience for People Who Create Live Experiences

The Offline Summit debuts in Brooklyn with a program designed to show how meetings and events can 'really move the business needle.'

Offline_mainSometimes the name of an event is enough to pique our interest. The Offline Summit, for example. What’s that about? And why did we learn about it in a typically online way — i.e., through an emailed press release that took us to the conference website? To answer this and other questions, we talked to Brian Pesin, marketing manager for Event Farm, which debuted the Offline Summit at Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet in Brooklyn on June 2. (Spoilers: 1. By “offline,” they mean live and in person. 2. Attendance was a bit over 20o.)

AUDIENCE  The Offline Summit was really designed for anybody who spends a portion of their marketing budget on live events and experiences. That spans across a variety of specific job titles, but we’re looking at event planners, special project directors, coordinators, creative minds from agencies. It was about a 75/25 split between marketers and event planners, and creative minds at agencies that ended up attending. And then we had some VPs of marketing and CMOs as well represented in that mix.”

GOAL  “A lot of the big initial content campaigns we created, like the Future of Event Marketing series and the Masterminds of Experiential Marketing series, really showed us that people in the industry were looking for further education around how to make live events and experiences something that really moved the business needle. We wanted to be one of the first players in the industry to really focus on offline experiences as they pertain to business results and ROI, and put together a really awesome summit around that before one of our competitors or other names in the space were able to beat us to it.”

Offline_dumboVENUE  “It’s in Brooklyn, in Dumbo [Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass]. Really awesome, kind of raw space. It had a large theater and stage that we were able to use for our larger keynotes, some of our bigger fireside chats and panels, as well as individual sessions throughout the day. As well as four studios outside of the main theater that we could use for breakout sessions as well as giving people a place to work, catch up on emails, a catered breakfast and lunch, and so on. We really wanted something that had never been done before, that was a little unconventional, a little off the beaten path. We’ve all been to several conferences in hotel ballrooms with florescent lighting and air conditioning that puts the room at 60 degrees so you’re freezing for the whole day. We wanted something that really jived with Event Farm and the Offline brand a little bit better, and looked a little more unique.”

CONTENT  “The most important thing that we stressed when we were trying to find speakers and content was that the content be very educational, that people leave with about 75 percent tactical takeaways as well as 25 percent aspirational goals and things to look forward to in the future. We had four different tracks. The first track was Creating Experiences — talks about the different kinds of offline experiences that you can produce, what’s possible with them, what the magic is behind these experiences, and how they’re related to business. The second one was Experiential Technology — focusing on the technologies themselves and how they can enhance customer and consumer experience, as well as a couple of different applications. The third was The Business of Offline, which showed how marketers are going to be asked to justify their expenses on live events and experiences, since they’re typically the largest portion of a marketing budget. The last was Agency Growth, which took a look at growing an experiential agency — how those agencies relate to their clients to produce really cool experiences.”

Offline_happy hourEXPERIENTIALS  “We also had an Experiential Hall with a couple different experiential activations there. That was open through the course of the day, as well as an experiential happy hour, which gave attendees the chance to interact with those different experiential attractions as well as each other while enjoying some great food and drink.”

OFFLINE VS. ONLINE  “Event Farm is an event-marketing software platform that was built for event planners by event planners, and we took the same approach when crafting Offline Summit. In addition to delivering amazing content, great experiences, cool experiential technologies, and so forth, we really wanted to make an event as event planners that we would be proud of producing, especially because event and meeting planners are a hard bunch to impress. We really wanted to make sure we did our due diligence to impress upon them that we were capable of putting together a really nice offline experience for them.”

Christopher Durso

Christopher Durso formerly was executive editor of Convene.