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Ask the Experts: Dave Lutz Shares His Advice for Planners


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For our new Q&A series, Ask the Experts, we asked our event planner clients to share their priorities, areas of interest and biggest questions. To find the answers, we're talking to the top minds in the industry, including bloggers, planners, editors, marketers, consultants and event industry influencers.

Dave Lutz is the Managing Director at Velvet Chainsaw, a top consulting firm in the event space, and a frequent industry speaker. Dave has a knack for spotting conference trends and writing about them in a relatable way, breaking things down into actionable insights (rather than the fluffy stuff blogs can sometimes be known for). For over 12 years, he has authored a monthly column in PCMA’s Convene magazine on performance improvement for annual conferences and trade shows.

Tell us about a recent event you attended that was really unique. What was the event, and what made it special?

Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Dreamforce in San Francisco. How they transformed the convention district and re-imagined the traditional exhibit hall was impressive. More than any other exhibit experience, the amount of learning experiences interspersed with kiosks gave a glimpse of what’s to come for the next-generation trade show.

Have you seen any extraordinary arrival experiences or conference check-in formats that are innovative but also efficient?

Event Arrival Experience and ConferencesA couple registration experiences that have impressed me include 1) registration/credential pick-up/welcome at the airport and 2) texting a number upon arrival and automatically generating credentials. The remote check-in is more of a high-touch experience for events where you want attendees to feel like VIPs, or feel grateful that they don’t need to go out of their way to get their badge at a larger event. The mobile text solution is brilliant, but rare.

Have you seen any dynamic speakers recently you would recommend?

A couple of my favorites are Rachel Botsman and Scott Klososky. Rachel is an expert in the sharing economy and is super thought-provoking on how trust is enabled in consumer applications like Uber. Klososky is brilliant when it comes to helping to think about the future through the lens of Humalogy — how much human effort is aided by technology. They both make my brain hurt!

Have you seen any new meeting formats that help planners avoid conference fatigue and encourage interaction?

New Meeting FormatsOne of the formats that we like is called station rotation. In this format, a meeting room will have three to four different set ups. Participants move every 15-20 minutes to a new station where they explore a complex problem that many are struggling with.

What professional associations are you a part of/what associations do you recommend and why?

I’m involved in PCMA, IAEE and ASAE. For meeting and event professionals, PCMA is likely the best bet. They have a strong chapter network and very progressive magazine/annual conference. IAEE is a must if your event has an expo.

Ask the Experts: Dave LutzAbout Dave:

In 2006, Dave founded Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, an industry-leading business improvement consulting firm that helps conference & tradeshow organizers grow or transform their face-to-face events. Prior to his work as a consultant, Dave was with Experient for 22 years where he served as President of the Meeting Planning and Registration divisions. He has also served on the Board of Directors of two leading event technology companies: Passkey and Eventcore.

For more in the Ask the Experts series, check out our interviews with Trade Show Expert Rachel Wimberly and Will Curran, president of AV company Endless Events! Coming next in the Ask the Experts series: We talk to Corbin Ball. Subscribe to the MeetingPlay blog and stay tuned to the blog for more event planning tips and insights.

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