The Special Event is a gathering of event professionals and is the industry’s premier trade show; with over 5,000 attendees, 100s of educational sessions, and seven showcase events and great networking events (cough…parties). Read on, but “special” is the exact word, though I think they could call it The Awesome Show because it was awesome.

Why would a text messaging tech guy go to an event professional’s conference?
A few months ago, I noticed some event professionals using the txtsignal product. It was a new type of user and I didn’t know too much about them. I did some outreach and learned some more. I connected with an industry professional and learned a lot more.

I had two questions I really wanted answered:

  1. What do event professionals value most?
  2. Would using text messaging improve on those values?

As there is no substitute for experience, I asked a question to my industry contact, “What can I do or where can I go to discover key insights and answer these questions?”

The answer was immediate and swift: The Special Event. And it’s in Orlando this year, a 2-hour drive from downtown Gainesville. Perfect. I registered that day.

Five Things that Event Professionals Value
I attended a dozen sessions and throughout all of the sessions, I asked my questions. As I took notes, there were five things that emerged that all of those I spoke with valued (in no particular order):

  1. Communication
  2. Time Management
  3. Balance
  4. Listening Skills
  5. Relationships*

These five things were not only a powerful insights to my questions, but were easy for me to identify with. Though I’m a technology professional, I personally value all five of these (though admittedly, I have to work on #4 more;)). At the end of these sessions, I thought: “Well, I have definitely answered my questions. I can go home satisfied”.

But, that’s not even half the story.

The People
The real insight was about the people and their relationships. These are amazing people. And in a world where everything is described as “amazing”, there is no other way to say it. On the first night, I met an industry professional that I had been “e-troduced” to and upon asking for any tips, she said, “Just get out there”. (Note: She didn’t have to twist my arm). No agenda. No special sauce. Just get to know these people…they’re great people. Sage advice.

I met a dozen people before the conference officially started. On the first official night, I got inducted to a special club that TSE attendees are familiar with (I literally have a t-shirt). By Day 2, my questions were being answered by industry leaders with a candor that was very refreshing. After several days, I met one amazing person after another…all genuine, happy, and filled with positive energy.

Then, came the final night…The Gala Awards.

Each year, TSE has their Gala Awards (its their industry’s “Oscars”). It’s a dress-up affair, so I did my best. It was a well-done, but a fairly typical ballroom. The programs on the seats were different than most any program I had seen. The show started with a funny emcee and, as I was still learning the various aspects of the industry, I could start to understand the different categories. Like many industry awards, the categories ranged to cover the different areas of specialty: non profit events, weddings, multiple-day event, etc. I had met a few of the winners during the course of the conference, so it was easy to stay engaged and give them a cheer. The acceptance speeches were what you’d expect: lots of shout outs, heartfelt thanks, and the normal show-produced quick exit.

This category came up, “Best Event Entertainment Concept and Execution: Entertainment Budget $25,000-$100,000”.

The winner? A very established firm from California, led by a gracious woman that had been introduced in the first session I went to. Through the several days, I had learned that she was an industry icon, but had recently lost her son. He was a very respected and accomplished event professional himself and it was clear many in the industry were very sad at his passing. As she spoke, I could say I didn’t have a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye…but I would be lying. Any human would have been moved by her words. Her speech was a clear insight into the heart of the events industry.

There was no rushing her off the stage. And, the standing ovation said it all—it’s about the relationships.

What does this have to do with what we do at txtsignal?
We are trying to build communications that cut through the noise. We are trying to make a product that is a pleasure to use. We are trying to help great people like these have a tool they can used to: improve communication; same them some time; and, maybe achieve some balance.

As for relationships, they have that locked down. And, I can and did learn from that.