The Challenges of Systemizing Event Planning

Skift Take

This episode features Jennifer Brisman, founder and CEO at VOW in a conversation about making technology work for event management.

We start at the very beginning, back when Jennifer was a pre-med student at George Washington University. She ran an organization that helped orient students on their pre-med journey with events, including panel sessions, meetings, and even scrubbing in for surgeries. Someone was needed to coordinate this, and it was Jennifer. She was also tasked with heading up fundraising activities and reached out to an event pro for help. The rest is, as they say, history. 

The event pro offered her a job right out of college, and she was hooked. She says it was a natural fit. Eventually, she went on to work for two major production companies producing shows, including Earth, Wind & Fire and The Doobie Brothers.

Her entrepreneurial spirit took hold, and she realized that was the direction she must go. 

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“I struggled with scaling my operation. If I could do 10 events a year, how can I do 50?” she asked herself. “No amount of staff could allow me to do that, and I realized it had to be solved by technology. That was 2003.” 

She hired an IT person to create a marketplace for vendors and venues, but there wasn’t a way to make them transact at that time. She realized the timing wasn’t right and continued honing her event production skills, organizing 600 events. “I did become obsessed with systemizing things,” she said. “I wanted to optimize my time with my clients.”

Time passed, and she was ready to roll out a real-time communications hub for events. The thing was, it was right before the start of the pandemic. “We had to pivot and become a Covid screening app,” she said. 

VOW Digital Health Spearheaded

VOW Digital Health was born. “It was evident that people would do anything to gather for all reasons and all seasons,” she said. “We championed data privacy, security, and trust and soared.” The app did Covid screening, tracking, and clearing at scale.

Planners are not in the tech stack, she says. “Amidst the pandemic, everyone was more demanding of digital products,” she explains. Things get complicated when having to use more than one platform. “That’s when the wheels of the wagon fall off,” she says. 

As the world emerges out of the pandemic, the focus of VOW is evolving to a focus on the guest experience. “We will help save an organizer time, money, and stress while delighting their guests.” 

VOW is not a planning app. Instead, it is focused on streamlining and automating guest management, starting with check-in and beyond. “We are not trying to do everything. We are late-stage event management going into the guest experience,” she said. 

One of the most significant issues facing the event industry today is staffing. VOW plans to help. “The future of event technology companies like VOW is to solve challenging economies of staffing and scale event professionals so we can do more for less. We need people who can help decipher that for scale. That is what my next ten years will look like.”

VOW Angel

She also sees the guest journey improving more and more. “I want people to leave their home as their VOW angel sits on their shoulder,” she says. It will help with parking, the shortest line, food and beverage ordering, and more. 

“Events are one of the most valuable tools for marketing, PR, brand engagement, loyalty, product launches, and more. We are building tech to accelerate the gest experience before guest gets on site. That is our vision and what we are looking to do, and VOW is doing it in the cloud.”