Podcast: Winning on Support

This episode of the Event Manager Podcast, by Skift Meetings, titled Winning on Support, features Jon Kazarian and focuses on the topic of taking the stress out of working with event technology.

Kazarian is the Founder and CEO of Accelevents, a leading virtual & hybrid events platform. Within his role, Jon’s focus is on leading the company’s vision and helping event organizers and marketing professionals transform their events via innovative tech solutions. 

Jon is an active member of the events and tech communities, and is considered an industry thought leader, sharing his insights via publications and speaking at event industry events. He also contributes to social causes, such as chairing the board for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Fall Formal Fundraiser. 

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Before diving into the topic of this episode, Jon talks through his career journey, from how he ended up in events, which is a particularly personal story, and how this initial event launched his move into event tech and the progression on Accelevents since its launch in 2015.

As event professionals, regardless of what realm of the industry you work in, you know how much time, effort and planning goes into an event which usually culminates within just a few hours, or a fraction of the time it took to plan and execute. Kazarian, having hosted his own events, was acutely aware of this, understanding the stress and sense of urgency that event planners find themselves in. With this in mind, he set out to create a company in which his clients could have full faith in, where they felt fully supported by Accelevents through every stage of the event planning process. This was set as a cultural underpinning of the company and one which garnered such positive feedback from clients that Accelevents were considered a partner with their clients. The instant feedback from clients allowed Accelevents to continue to innovate at a fast pace.

Having created this positive and supportive environment with clients, Kazarian and his team were being asked to facilitate more of the event and planning experience for these clients. It’s important to note that Kazaian was still working a full-time job with another company in 2019 – he details where the Accelevents was positioned and the planning they had in place for growth pre-pandemic and how this entirely shifted once 2020 hit, both positively and negatively, buth their goal remained to make life easier for event professionals. 

Kazaian explains, as they continue to grow, how they have been able to ensure that the customer experience is top of mind. 

One of the side benefits of having such a strong focus on the customer experience is that not only do clients receive all the support they need from Accelevents, but they also go on to share their experience to others they know, resulting in the majority of new clients coming via referrals. 

With restrictions easing, 2022 has seen the return to in-person events, the first for many since the first months of 2020, if not the end of 2019. This has also seen organizations and event planners move their attention to hybrid events, a blend of virtual and in-person, which can mean different things to different organizations. Kazarian notes that for anyone within the events industry, they will have no doubt heard the view that we can get back to in-person events so we should just do it, however, he counters that there is a large audience of people that never went to events in person, for a variety of reasons, pre-COVID, and as such won’t be there now that these events are returning to in-person. With that in mind, Kazarian believes that we shouldn’t be neglecting this audience, instead we should be considering how to make events accessible to these people and the avenues that incorporating a virtual element opens to making this a reality. 

Kazarian also discusses where he sees the industry at the moment and what return to in-person means for Accelevents, noting that their focus isn’t on in-person versus hybrid versus virtual but ensuring that the events they create provide opportunities for every potential participant, regardless of their method of attendance. He also chats about who is successful within the industry at the moment and what is contributing to this success, adding that the increase in travel and hospitality costs, plus the decline of available budgets, has a role to play. 

We all have our own ideas of what creates a good event and what takes it to the next level and makes it great. Kazarian shares his thoughts on this and his approach to taking them to that next level. Kazarian feels that there are too many events which take place with no defined purpose,  an aspect that wasn’t identified before the planning stage began, noting that failing to define the ‘why’ is not unique to events. 

Whilst Kazarian believes that event should only use 20% of the event tech features that are available, he also feels that an event planner should have access to all of the features on offer, allowing them to tap into various features between events in order to minimize repetition and instead provide new experiences for the audience at each event. 

As always, this is just a snippet of the discussion that takes place, there is so much more to hear so head to wherever you get your podcasts and listen now. Hit subscribe whilst you’re there to ensure you never miss an episode.