In February, Dax Callner joined GES, the Las Vegas–based company that produces exhibitions, conferences, and other events around the world, as chief strategy officer–events. Callner, most recently with Sparks, brings his 20 years of experience to the job.
MeetingsNet: Five years from now, what won’t we be doing at corporate events that we’re doing today?
Callner: Five years from now my hope is that we won't be counting the number of event attendees. I believe there is a seismic shift happening where the goal is to attract not just high-quality attendees, but those who can and will spread event content through their own networks. It's not an attendance numbers game; it's an advocacy and endorsed reach game. What we should be counting is the number and quality of endorsements that come out of an event program.
MN: What might someone be surprised to learn about you (or your approach to event marketing)?
Callner: I was a history major in college and I've never taken a marketing class. My approach to event marketing is fully informed by learning this industry in real time, on the job (and I must say, I really didn't know what I was doing for many years), and by my ability to look at a lot of information from disparate sources and turn it into actionable strategies. That came from my study of history, an education that has served me well as an event marketer!
MN: What do you wish corporations better understood about event marketing?
Callner: Corporations need to understand that events service a multitude of business objectives, and should be evaluated as such. For example, there is certainly a potential “selling” component to events, and event marketing should impact [the] anticipated pipeline. There is also a real branding element involved in event marketing—one could argue that a corporate event is the most immersive, holistic brand experience possible. Therefore, brand perception impact is an important way to evaluate events. Finally, corporations should better understand that events are about connecting people. Human interaction, above all else. It’s that human component that should be a central focus, and corporations should be evaluating the strength of relationships between event attendees and the brand representatives on site who interact with them.