The challenges facing Event Profs with Grip’s VP of Account Management, Wayne Crawford

Industry veteran Wayne Crawford has been involved in the world’s biggest events, like CES and JCK. He joined Grip recently so we thought it’s time to get his unique take on the industry as we move into 2022.

Dahlia El Gazzar
What do you think is the biggest challenge for Event Profs in the next 12 months?
  • Event professionals are facing and will continue to face a number of challenges in the near future.  The biggest challenge will be knowing when to fully commit to in-person events in the near-term future while remaining flexible enough to pivot if the pandemic worsens again.  Predicting Covid mutations, scientific responses and the resultant human behavior is guesswork at best right now.  Building community, communication, maintaining brand loyalty and scheduling all factor into the equation.  Hybrid and virtual are obviously a factor.  Virtual events have proven that content/education is not difficult to deliver digitally, but the interaction and commerce of an exhibition floor cannot be replicated with today’s technology.  
Is the future of events virtual, in-person, or hybrid?
  • Human beings of all generations are social by nature and therefore crave face-to-face interaction.  Therefore, in the absence of extraordinary phenomena such as pandemics, terror or severe weather, in-person will always be a preferred form of event delivery, particularly in the exhibition and confex space.  That said, the pandemic began to create a roadmap for the future of events.  Due to technological advances, virtual will be relevant and a good fit for certain types of events permanently.  
    In my opinion, hybrid is still a bit of a wildcard. It offers an unlimited set of options for configurability and delivery, but the commercial benefit is still being perfected.     
Tell us more about your career up to now, what has been your career path?
  • My career has never been dull!  I’ve spent virtually my entire career in the exhibition and events industry, which includes stints on both sides of the fence as both an organizer and a supplier.  My early years were spent managing some fantastic brands like CES, the Consumer Electronics Show,  the NAB Show for the National Association of Broadcasters, and some cool launches like the leading jewellery show, JCK. There was some great success and some failures, too.  Failure is humbling but always a learning experience.  My more recent experience has been as a supplier of technology to the industry with companies like a2z/Personify, Core-apps/Community Brands and now Grip.  Along the way, I founded a consulting company, Wayne Manor Group which primarily focused on delivering results on Salesforce.
Why join Grip in 2021?
  • I considered my next career move extremely important because the events space is in a very delicate and yet transformational place.  Historically, event organizers have been slow technology adopters.  Obviously, the pandemic has been horrible for humans and business in so many ways.  The silver lining for us is that the promise of leveraging technology to create better connections and experiences around events is finally being realized,  both in-person and digitally.   Grip has best-of-breed AI-based matching and scheduling for events and is interchangeable across virtual, hybrid and f2f events.  For me, that’s a differentiator that is perfect to scale a company around.
How do you feel the events industry has changed since the pandemic?
  • It’s changed in so many ways!  The obvious answer is the constraint around the in-person delivery of events.   This has resulted in a number of other changes, including an unprecedented openness to technology, more creativity around building community, and a great deal of talent drain.
How can Grip best serve the industry right now?
  • By providing education and thought leadership on solving the problems around virtual, hybrid and in-person event delivery.  Also, by continuing to innovate our products to provide event success for all stakeholders.
What excites you most about your new position at Grip?
  • Continuing my career in the industry I love, with a smart group of people and in a company with a fantastic product and culture.
Who would be your dream keynote speaker, and why?
  • Dave Grohl.  I love music and I think he’s an interesting guy.
Finally, can you give us three fun facts about yourself?
  • I can juggle (no chainsaws, bowling balls or lit torches, though...)
  • I can play the drums (or at least could in my past)
  • I have an uncanny knack for running into (and talking to) famous people while travelling, like Muhammad Ali, Dolly Parton and Tom Brady!

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