Niche EventFest Excites Attendees at First Launch in New Orleans
How do attendees of the first-ever Niche EventFest get to a networking party? They have a traditional second line parade down the middle of Poydras Street in New Orleans accompanied by a brass band and a police escort.
Niche EventFest, held Nov. 3-5, is the creation of Carl Landau, self-proclaimed Grand Poobah of Niche Media and believer that fun and conferences go well together. This isn’t Landau’s first rodeo though. Niche Media is the producer of Niche Media Conference, Niche Digital Conference and Niche CEO Summit.
Landau said the idea for Niche EventFest came from the obvious interest in events as a revenue source from attendees at his other Niche conferences. Once he saw that event focused workshops were selling out, he knew the time was right.
Niche EventFest is targeted to niche publishers looking to add events to their portfolio or those looking to improve the events they already manage. This first Niche EventFest was attended by 128 business-to-business publishers, consumer magazine publishers, corporate event producers and association event managers.
While Niche Media incorporated a lot of fun and laughter into their event, there was serious education and networking taking place as well.
Andrew Davis, author and founder of Monumental Shift, kicked off the event by encouraging attendees to keep the momentum of their events going 365 days of the year by thinking like a publisher.
Phil Mershon, director of events for Social Media Examiner said, “Drew Davis imploded my ‘best-ever’ mindset and highlighted the importance of harnessing the eight weeks of natural momentum leading up to our event and seeking to leverage that into future loyalty from our audience and customers.”
From there, 21 speakers presented at eighteen sessions, roundtable discussions and a pre-event workshop. Breakout sessions focused on high-level topics for the CEO, operations, and marketing and audience acquisition.
The small size of the event offered attendees, speakers and sponsors an ideal networking opportunity. It was an event where you could meet every person in attendance and spend quality time in deeper conversation with many of the people you met there.
“I came to Niche EventFest to meet other event directors from similar conferences and was thrilled to find veterans and newbies who helped each other think through all facets of our events. Incredible opportunity and value,” Mershon said.
The event culminated with a Niche Media version of the popular T.V. show “Shark Tank” called Niche Tank. Four lucky contestants had the opportunity to pitch their event to two “investors”, industry veterans Sean Guerre of Stone Fort Media and Greg Topalian of LeftField Media.
While there was no real money being invested, it was all in fun, contestants pitched very real ideas and the judges offered valuable advice to each contestant.
Lest things get too serious, though, Davis, playing the role of emcee, kept the audience laughing. The open bar didn’t hurt either.
Brad Ring of Battenkill Communications plied the judges with wine as he pitched his idea for a home wine maker event. We would never accuse the honorable judges of being swayed, but Ring did, in fact, win the contest and got a neon green Niche EventFest bowling shirt for his efforts.
“I was planning on rolling out more regional winemaking events and homebrewing events over the next year, but it was great getting positive reinforcement from the panel as I start up the long hours it will take to make these new events successful,” Ring said.
Landau can relate to the work and challenges a new event brings. As with any new event, Landau said his biggest challenge was that potential sponsors don’t know you.
“Sometimes, sponsors will stick with an event even though it’s not working for them, over trying something new,” he added. Landau started with sponsors who trusted his reputation and built from there.
“The key thing is the attendee experience. If (attendees) have a good experience, the word will spread,” Landau said.
Based on comments from his audience, Niche EventFest should have no trouble spreading the good word. Dates and location for Niche EventFest 2015 still are being decided.