Ruben Onderdelinder is a Consultant at Lively, a full-service event technology agency. Started in 2017, Lively now uses Grip technology for their clients' events. Ruben has worked in the event industry for seven years, and it began with an internship building one of the first mobile event platforms. We talked about the partnership with Grip, Lively and how the pandemic has changed the shape of the events industry.
How did Lively come about?
We saw how technology platforms were changing events. In the past, the technology was only really being utilised for registration purposes. We wanted to support our clients further and stay innovative. So, we began Lively to bring a range of innovative technology products to both our corporate and organiser clients.
How did the relationship with Grip develop?
Grip's role in this was to provide networking technology and artificial intelligence for exhibitors. Grip could offer an innovative matchmaking service to our clients' events, which stood out to us. We wanted to provide clients with best of breed services, and that indeed started with Grip.
Can you describe how you felt when you realised that conferences in 2020 would be moving to a virtual environment due to the pandemic?
At that first moment, we realised that all of our deals were off because they were based on in-person events. So, at first, we were extremely worried about our business and our turnover! It was just a crazy scenario. What helped us was how innovative our tech partners are with their marketing. We were able to offer our clients online events because we knew our partners could manage that. And the online events had to be efficient because efficiency is essential, whether it's in-person or online.
What was your feeling towards virtual events before the pandemic, and what is your feeling towards virtual events now?
Only a percentage of delegates used the 'schedule events' option on the app with in-person events. By default, online is the venue, so all delegates are using the app and the technology available to them. The moment I saw this happen, I thought, wow, now things are really changing. Now we can prove the effectiveness of technology for events.
Do you think technology is currently meeting the audience's expectations?
I think platforms like Grip prove what you can achieve when you fully utilise the functionality. But clients still probably don't realise the full potential of this technology and what they can do with it. I think we still need to shout about the fact that tech allows people to access event content and gives people a fantastic networking space. It's far better for connecting than many existing marketing channels, although this benefit is not being used to its full potential yet.
Have you found that digital events have increased data and the insight available to you? Have you been able to utilise this information either in real-time or for future events?
I believe that data has become more measurable. The increased data now provides organisers with usable ROI that they can share with clients. An event organiser can see how many meetings were requested, how many were taken up, and determine which ones developed further. The data also allows organisers to see which exhibitors have been the most popular and why. It helps to create a benchmark, which is then shared with clients.
Can you tell us a little about your experience when working with Grip?
The flexibility of partnering up was essential for Lively. We were able to have an upfront conversation about what Grip was going to provide and what would be Lively responsibilities. When we were starting out, and getting our first clients, working so closely with Grip and knowing we could rely on them for the expertise we didn't have was essential. You don't want things to go wrong. As Lively evolved into the business we are now, the partnership with Grip has evolved alongside it.
What's your best conference experience, and what made it so memorable?
I supported the Money20/20 event in Las Vegas, which is focused on the future of payments and money. We had a networking lounge in the middle of the venue that PayPal sponsored. All meetings between participants took place in the PayPal Lounge. It was an actual big-budget event, with some top-tier attendees. It was certainly eye-opening!
Is the future of events virtual, in-person, or hybrid?
I think virtual events are here to stay. People will increasingly consider whether getting on a plane is the right thing to do. That may be because of time or climate considerations. I think in-person events will be less frequent, but the ones that go ahead will become bigger and more efficient thanks to the technology we have now become used to. There is also the opportunity to test the water by offering a virtual event first, and if it proves popular, it could then be run as an in-person event next time.
Why are you excited to work with Grip in the future?
I think it's important to stay focused and get the right knowledge around applying the technology. I’m looking forward to seeing the continued high innovation levels around the challenges facing Lively's clients!
We loved talking to Ruben! Look out for the next in our '10 Questions With…' series soon!
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