The Viva Series, Part 2: Events as the New Workplace—A 2022 Reality?

January 20, 2022

John D’Adamo

John D’Adamo is head of U.S. sales at VenuIQBased in Florida, he boasts more than 10 years of experience within the events industry and has built long-standing relationships with some of the world’s most respected brands. His appointment and goal of establishing VenuIQ’s American entity mark a pivotal moment in the company’s development.

We are seeing the “Great Resignation” take hold, as employees are suddenly realizing they have more options and are demanding better lives for themselves and their families. 

Commutes are out the window in favor of remote work arrangements, as many employees can now conduct their jobs from anywhere, and cities are being forsaken for suburban and even rural areas, with key buying priorities changing from the transport links to the Wi-Fi strength. 

I kept this in mind when a remote working opportunity presented itself, and I moved from the hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C. to relatively slow-paced Southwest Florida to be closer to family mid-last year. There are many similar cases happening around the world. 

On December 11, the New York Times put out an article discussing how “return-to-office” delays are continuing indefinitely for many companies like Docusign, Ford Motor Company and Lyft. There is still a human need to safely gather in-person, but due to costs, logistics and health concerns amid the pandemic, these gatherings will likely be limited to a few times a year and will need to be impactful. 

The next installment of my multi-blog series discussing lessons learned and predictions for events in the aftermath of IMEX America 2021 in Las Vegas focuses on one unique way events such as conferences and trade shows will change moving forward. 

Part 2: Events as the New Workplace 

Following a wildly successful IMEX America 2021 and given the competitive candidate/talent market, events such as conferences and trade shows are set to become “the new workplace” for remote teams. 

Not only will they be used in the traditional way of bringing buyers and sellers together, for example, but they will also now be used more often as settings for teams to meet internally. 

As Anca Trifan, founder, creator and CEO of Tree-Fan Events, put it: “In-person industry conferences might as well be the future of how remote teams get to have the in-person face-time required to solidify the relationship started virtually.”

At IMEX America last November, many organizations were doing exactly this. I met my U.K.-based co-founders, Oliver Rowe and Phil Mayling, in person for the first time following travel restrictions, and we seized the opportunity to not just network with our ideal buyers but to also meet each other and have some sorely needed time working together. 

“With our teams spread out across the globe and as much as remote working is a reality nowadays (thrust forward probably 10 years by the pandemic!), it’s very important to get the face-to-face time in,” Rowe said.

As events gradually turn back to the “in-person” experience as well as online, Rowe added that he sees this happening much more at many events, where attendees are using them as not only an opportunity to engage with the event but also their own teams. 

“For me, it’s always invaluable to spend that in-person time with my team wherever possible and safe to do so, and at an event—it’s the perfect time!” he said.

In addition to getting together for a business meeting, a meal or a happy hour, a few outside-of-the-box ideas for internal teambuilding during an event could include activities such as escape games and culinary experiences such as cooking classes. 

Regardless of your preference for activity, the key take-home point is that if organizations want to stay competitive, they need to be thinking strategically and creating unique experiences for their remote teams, in addition to the standard networking experiences that events offer. 

Remote working has moved beyond the point of a necessity in the face of adversity and has become a competitive perk for many jobs battling to recoup talent post-Great Resignation. 

Investing in these experiences and embracing the conference or trade show hall as the new workplace is vital for attracting employees and ensuring current talent is connected and firmly part of the company.

So, what will your activity be?

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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.