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Two Minutes with Michael Guerriero

The former Maritz executive is now leading Digitell and has plenty to say about the changing world of online meetings.

Michael Guerriero, the former division president at Experient, part of Maritz Global Events, has transitioned to the virtual world. He’s been named president of Digitell Inc., which provides online event technologies and consulting. Guerriero joins James Parker in the executive suite. Parker, who had served as Digitell’s president, is now the company CEO.

We caught up with Guerriero a few days into the new job to ask him about the changing landscape for digital events.

MeetingsNet: Looking out five years from now, what do you expect we’ll be doing very differently in terms of online conference design? 
Michael Guerriero: In the last four months, we have already seen a greater focus on the experience of the virtual attendee. Going forward, including when hybrid events return, there will be even more attention given to virtual attendees and the resources that it takes to engage them properly. For example, we anticipate greater use of event hosts who will provide in-depth commentary and analysis of the information that is being delivered and facilitate communication with those online. These in-studio hosts could be similar to what you see for sporting events on television today.

MeetingsNet: Beyond the dramatic increase in our comfort level with virtual and hybrid meetings, what lasting impacts of the pandemic do you see for the meeting and convention industry?
Guerriero: One of the most important things that will come out of the pandemic is the understanding of the power of virtual events and how organizations can reach a wider worldwide audience that, in most cases, never considered attending in person. Before Covid-19, many meeting professionals were unable to get past fears of cannibalizing their physical meeting and because of that, they stayed away from virtual events or a true hybrid experience. Post Covid-19, virtual events will become an integral part of every organization’s strategy. Not only is there room for the in-person event and the virtual event, there is a proven demand for both. I also believe that after the pandemic, organizations will be challenged to meet new ROI expectations of attendees and exhibitors, and of the organizations they represent. Finally, the traditional revenue models for everyone involved in putting on and servicing meetings and events is being disrupted and will need to evolve.

MeetingsNet: What are conference planners today getting wrong about virtual meetings management? 
Guerriero: Some planners are reacting to today’s crisis without the understanding that building an online audience is not just their primary goal for 2020, but it’s also their goal for 2021 and forward; organizations need to incorporate a longer-term strategy for engaging attendees and exhibitors virtually. Delivering a poor experience right out of the gate may prove to be the worst thing for an organization's long-term success. In addition, for reasons we all understand, most organizations haven’t added staff with specific skills associated with successful virtual events. Rather, they are redeploying the staff they already have but who don’t have this experience. Organizations need to invest in their team and their digital partners.

MeetingsNet: What might someone be surprised to learn about you? 
Guerriero: They may be surprised that I have a sense of humor rooted in sarcasm. I enjoy time outside the office through boating, running, and golfing. Now that I joined Digitell, I am looking forward to doing all three in nearby Chautauqua, N.Y. 


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