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What is the most innovative thing you’ve seen done either at your event or an event you’ve attended?
We recently raised some money. And to celebrate the closing, we had a closing dinner, which is a very typical thing you do whenever you close a round. We wanted to include all employees, and we realized we had to save some money. We got everybody together, and we opened up the doors to the event, and they walked in to an empty room. We had chairs stacked and tables not set, and everybody had to use our software to build the event on the fly. It was great, because A) it was celebratory, and B) it was an opportunity to use our software and see it in action. Then we had awards for best table set. It was fun!
What is the best use of technology you’ve utilized at an event or seen at one you’ve attended?
Intel contracted a drone company to write software to create a choreographed dance of 100 drones at CES while the Intel CEO spoke. There was Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. We talk about “Wow!” moments all the time. That’s a “Wow!” moment. Also, I saw Matthew McConaughey speak at PCMA in Austin, which I didn’t care a lot about, but apparently that was a big deal. I think using celebrities to promote a city is a very low-budget way to get people to talk about it and get excited.
What do you see to be the biggest business advantage to doing or attending events?
Any time there is a recession, events are going to be under attack, and we are no longer playing a defensive position like we used to in the industry. I think now, more than ever, we’ll know that face-to-face is a powerful thing, and we need to keep going, because when you have face-to-face meetings and events, you have results. You have motivated salespeople. You have well-versed researchers and scientists. You have connected customers with your company. In fact, Salesforce’s own data shows that customers that go to Dreamforce close faster and pay more money.
Keeping that in mind, I think the answer to your question is it depends on what you’re trying to achieve, but I think the reason to go to business events, if there’s just one thing, it’s to create community. When you have community, you have a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, and you’re just more likely to be a brand loyalist, and that is so important in today’s day and age. I think that’s the power of events.
GUEST: Dan Berger
As Founder and CEO of the hospitality software company Social Tables, Dan has been described as a “relentless and focused entrepreneur” and recognized 40 Under 40 in the meetings industry by Collaborate Magazine and Connect Meetings, Event Innovator by BizBash, and named to Successful Meetings Magazine’s “Most Influential” list.
Dan’s technology career started at a young age, first at a digital agency where he worked with clients such as MTV Networks and Glaxosmithkline and then through his web consultancy. After graduating from New York City’s Hunter College in 2004, he became a Special Assistant in the U.S. House of Representatives where he was described as “bright, energetic and hard-working” by the Congressman he served.
Parallel to this role, Dan ran a 15,000 member association where he organized 30 special events per year. He got his MBA from Georgetown in 2010, did a short stint as a management consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, and started Social Tables in 2011.
Social Tables has raised $10 MM in venture capital (Bessemer, Thayer, 500 Startups, Fortify) and has 3,000 customers, including Hyatt Hotels, The Venetian-Palazzo, Goldman Sachs, Live Nation, Harvard, and The State Department. The company has 65 employees and is headquartered in Washington, DC’s Chinatown.
The company has won numerous industry awards, including Best Industry Innovation from ISES, an Honorable Mention from EIBTM, and People’s Choice Award from Canadian Special Events.