Dahlia has an OMG-attitude about all things tech and audience engagement solutions. With more than a decade of experience in the meetings and events sector, working on both the professional planning side and as an association collaborator, Dahlia is known as the coffee-fuelled ‘go-to’ source for trend-setting solutions, eventtech news, and social media expertise.
Her mission is to untether the busy professional from their desktop and office and enable them to be more efficient and productive working from a beach in Mexico [umbrella drink in hand] through their mobile device utilizing smart solutions and apps.
- What experience can you draw upon to successfully judge the ETAs?
I have a continuous curious mind about tech that can catapult event professionals and events to new heights. The beauty of judging the ETAs is getting a behind-the-curtain view of how tech is innovatively being utilised to either help tired work processes, accent event experiences, spark engagement and audience interaction in a new memorable way.
It’s not about how cool or innovative the tech is, it’s how creatively it was implemented to support the goals of the event and team.
- How long have you worked in the events industry and what keeps you interested in it?
I have been in the events industry since 1992 when I organised my first ‘event’, which was a camel race in the Sinai desert. Negotiating with Bedouins gives you the start of the business skills you can use anywhere in the world. From that moment on I was hooked to events, and I am a true event junky. My agency embeds into 60+ shows a year where we are involved in a variety of engagement activations, each one giving us different perspectives on how we can better serve this industry.
What keeps me interested, is dealing with people, emotions, and always trying to set the bar higher for new levels of education, memorable experiences, and helping minds consume different content in various ways. What’s boring about that?! Basically we are upping our game every time, and theirs.
- Best (and worst?) moments working in the events industry?
Let’s start with the worst. When you are dealing with an event team that is overstretched, working out of their core skill set, and asked to deliver amazing experiences with no budget or brain width because their leadership doesn’t understand they need more to deliver more.
The best part is when we are able to come in and be an extension of that team of 1.5 people and help them design mind-stamping experiences whether they are implementing a new event management system for their organisation, or new creative and messaging that brings in more brand fans to their events or a brand U bar that leaves attendees and sponsors delighted with what they just experienced, and leave saying ‘this was the best part of the conference!’. That is truly the best.
- Favourite piece of tech for work and personal life?
My iPhone. It keeps me sane, connected, organised, and is the external hard drive to my busy brain for both my work and personal lives.
- What’s your go-to piece of tech when working on an event and why?
Slack is our communication control centre when working on an event. It keeps the team updated on client needs, keeps us all in touch, everything is in one place, the ability to share photos and event info, and we add in our event channel all our post-event feedback and how we can enhance the event next time.
- What was the last event on which you worked?
I was just at the PMI [Project Management Institute] annual conference – we had a brand + business district where we help attendees from all walks of life with their resumes, a complete 360 brand assessment, their website if they have one, Linkedin ™ profile, and had a headshot station for them, it was awesome.
- From your experience, what’s the best way to utilise tech at an event?
Tech has always enhanced the event experience, and now we need it more than ever to create more interactive activations, easily personalise the event participant journey, and more importantly, gather and properly analyse the data to do a better job at designing events.
Tahira Endean says it best, we need to intentionally design our events.
- We all learn from our mistakes! What was the biggest lesson you learned from a mistake since being in the industry?
Not going with your gut. Not launching that one idea that was considered crazy or waiting for approval from someone. Launch, pivot, change how you are doing things, all the time. Don’t wait because it’ll just be too late, or you will never know if it actually can work.
- What are you most looking forward to at the ETAs?
I’m looking to see who the winners can inspire to change their event design, or processes, or mindset on how to use tech going forward. Our ETA winners should be influencers and inspire others to use #eventtech creatively and innovatively.
- Why is it important to recognise the achievements of tech companies?
Always praise those that are doing things differently. And always give feedback, everyone needs feedback. The awards recognise their achievements, and for those that win, they should continue to seek out from the judges and the audience what resonated with them from their case studies. And those that didn’t make the cut, well they have a bigger opportunity to seek out more feedback and opportunities to better hone their approach.
In my eyes, all entries are winners, because they made the time investment to showcase to the industry how they have implemented tech innovatively. It would be great if you make the entries public for all to learn from.