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BizBash IdeaFest Los Angeles 2013: BONGARBIZ plays 20 interview questions w/Cara Kleinhaut at Caravents

Caravents event production technology












Those thought leaders at BizBash Ideafest Los Angeles 2013  asked BONGARBIZ to speak to Cara Kleinhaut, CEO of Caravents, a featured speaker at the BizBash Event Innovation Forum conference in Los Angeles, Wednesday, June 19, 2013, about her Innovator’s topic, “Amplify: Integrating Social Media in Your Event Design.” http://www.bizbash.com/bizbash-events/idea-fest/2013/los-angeles/details/?n1=233

Caravents is the event production technology pro of event production technology professionals, creating high-concept environments, multi-media and technology-driven installations, live broadcast and press conference production for clients such as Target, HBO, Time Inc and Elle. They just won #ISES Big Apple Awards! Best Corporate or Assn Event (Budget over $150,000) And the winner is: @Caravents

We asked Cara Kleinhaut to play 20 event-tech questions with us for the answer to the burning BizBash IdeaFest Innovator’s question: How do we amplify our events by integrating social media?

What event has Caravents done that you are proudest of, where the event was “amplified” with social media? What kind of social media did you use?

One event we are really proud of is Target’s Unite in Service event. We produced with 10,000 guests during the Presidential Inauguration weekend in DC this year. We set up pre-programmed, branded social photo stations at multiple locations around the event for guests to share their experience. All #hashtags and @handles were pre-programmed, share screens branded, so Target’s messaging along with the correct @handles of all the event partners and the event #hashtag etc. were listed correctly and we could track true metrics post event.

How did you measure the results?

We were able to track mentions from all featured @handles and #hashtag usage, along with uploads/shares directly from the stations.

What did you learn by doing this, in other words, the sage advice you can offer your same and newer clients now?

Create multiple, branded social touch points around the event and pre-program the messaging with correct @handles and #hashtags. We want to avoid “pilot error” when guests have to type in all the right information. It’s not enough to put up a sign with @handles and #hashtags and expect people to use them. We have to create engaging, fun (and branded!) social stations for guests to share their experience at the event with all their friends/fans/followers outside the walls of the venue.

What other forms of social media have you used to amplify your events?

As many as possible! FB, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Livestream is also a forum for social sharing.

Any favorites?

FB, Twitter and Instagram as that is what guests and their friends are checking anyhow, hourly! Also, the makers of these platforms are becoming more aware of how to integrate better into live events and starting to see how valuable live events can be as place for social activity on their platforms. But still, FB still sees the most traffic. I do find that more social influencers are using Instagram.

And live streaming allows people from all over to be a “fly on the wall” to events they normally would not have access to. With #hashtags we can even have them participate.

Are there any forms of social media you stay away from?

IT’s about reach -we really stick to what consumers/guests are using the most to reach the most people from our event.

Any you haven’t used yet?

I’m sure. I just don’t know yet!

Any event experience you’d like to do or try, with social media and/or related event technology?

I’d like to see more customized apps for events. I think it’s a great way to get guests talking about a new product, allowing them to download photos, incentives to buy post event, share about the brand right from their device, and use the app in fun ways around the event. For one event, a customized app was created for ordering desserts from the bar to guest seating areas. I’ve never seen so many people ordering dessert! Why? It was fun to use the app in the event.

Anything you fear from using social media in the design of an event?

No – as it is all about experience. This is the modern day version of “Shouting from the Rooftops” that you are having a great time with a brand/person/place etc. It’s about sharing excitement and enthusiasm.

In the media this week (the New York Times that is) social weddings are described where cell phones are turned in at the door, the anti-amplification of an event. How do you handle this? 

For a wedding I totally agree! There is an appropriate place for all of this. A wedding is an entirely different type of gathering that is supposed to be intimate and one where you want your guests totally focused on the wedding taking place. This is geared toward corporate, branded, commercial experiences. However, having some fun social stations (photos, voting etc) in the reception is not all that bad!

Do you ever encounter guests who don’t have a cell phone or need to be educated in how to use social media?

No. It is OK if not every single person engages. The idea is to tap into who we call “Social Influencers” those with thousands of friends/fans/followers. These are the tastemakers/influencers who set the trends and tell everyone else what to like, wear, where to go etc. in their given circle. They are extremely valuable to activate at an event to spread your message! Remember we are 10x more likely to be influenced by our friends than a celebrity endorsement. Thus, the power of social.

How do you handle this, in other words, a guest’s techno-phobia?

Not everyone has to engage. It’s about the right people engaging.

If I were an event producer who was a secret techno-phobe, where would you recommend where I could come out of my event production technology closet and learn about social media? (Hey, they can come to your Innovator’s Session, right?)

Not a bad idea! Not all companies can do all things. Know what you are good in, and find partners who can fill in where you are weaker. We CAN work together!

Do you incorporate social media with your broadcast production, and if so, how? If not, how do you see this being incorporated? 

Yes, for Caesars Total Rewards Launch, which we just won a Big Apple Award for in NY (very exciting) that was broadcast live between four cities and streamed on multiple websites and FB pages of the event hosts, artists and sponsors. On site bloggers and social media reporters tweeted, posted, pinned and instagrammed throughout the night, from all four cities. The social impressions from this event were in the hundreds of millions.

Do you ever pay to advertise your own event production company on social media and if so how successful do you think it’s been? 

Our business is entirely word of mouth and reputation based. We are really grateful for organizations like Bizbash for giving people like us a voice.

Do you recommend paying for advertising for an event production company or planner on one social media channel over another, say Twitter over Facebook, etc? 

I would advocate spend the money creating engaging content that your potential clients will think is relevant and interesting rather than advertising.

Is there anything about any of social media channels that you’d like change for the better (and therefore you deserve a patent for)?

Ah, well, I’m not at liberty to say!

Any guesses on what the event technology for social media in the future will be?

I believe we will start seeing more RFID and NFC worked into events, and not just large festivals like Bonaroo. We want sharing to be seamless, easy and fast. The less guests have to use their own devices, the better. I think now that we, in events, finally have metrics to share we can show how an event experience brings value to a brand. Events, in my view, have new meaning as we have already gone through the trouble to invest money to create a well thought out environment, great food/beverage, good service, entertainment, branding, decor, and experience – so let’s activate everyone socially and allow them to share their fantastic experience!

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