Event Marketer Summit: Back in the Ballroom

“Don’t rely on old blueprints. Start something new. Give them choice. The future of events is a future built on choice.”
–Alex Sapiz, VP-Global Events, Cisco


After 18 months, Event Marketer Summit returned to the ballroom! In its 19th rendition, the Event Marketer Summit hosted a 3-day conference 100% IN-PERSON in Chicago at McCormick Place. The Conference is home to the full ecosystem that makes up the event industry talent, from Agencies to Clients to Vendors. All were present for the in-person conference – Event Marketer elected to not have any virtual component for this show.

There was a great buzz about being back in the ballroom. From on-site networking with the ecosystem to watching an in-person keynote, it was a reminder of the energy bringing people together has and what had been missing from so many online programs. Even better, having the post-show beer with my team after presenting made it all feel ‘normal’ again!

The goal of Event Marketer Summit 2021 was to demonstrate how to bring audiences back to the ballroom safely. From exhibiting new technology to sharing insights on what to consider when building an on-site experience, the summit successfully provided ideas and blueprints for what the future may hold for in-person experiences.

At the venue, the showroom floor was home to 20 brands exhibiting their products/services. The Event Marketer team utilized a space 3 times the size of what they would have used in 2019 to host these exhibitors. It was a tell-tale sign of how the conference was going to be. The organizers took care of every detail to make attendees feel comfortable. More space allowed for distancing and gave attendees control over the collisions they had with others.

One theme ran true throughout the sessions—audiences are going to demand choice and flexibility from events moving forward.

Alex Sapiz, VP of Events at Cisco said it best, “Don’t rely on old blueprints. Start something new. Give them choice. The future of events is a future built on choice.”

Anheuser-Busch agreed – Gone are the days of 40 hours of content over 4 days – Anheuser-Busch announced that going forward in 2022 their yearly Sales Conference will be cut-in-half from a content standpoint. The beer maker stated that they will be re-investing their cost-savings from going from 4 days to 2 by focusing on experiences on-site and at-home. From more networking opportunities & locations (taste-testing 😊) to sending care packages of the latest and greatest products to their at-home audience. The world-renowned brand will be re-investing in the overall attendee experience and experimenting!

Overall, the event was a breath of fresh air to return in person and motivated brands to think about how to experiment now that there is a blank slate for what an event is ‘supposed to be.’ Hats off to the Event Marketer Team. From check-in to the closing ceremony, they took care of the details to make the in-person experience feel safe and to bring back the energy of getting a group together in the ballroom.

Cramer can’t wait for April 2022 for another Event Marketer Summit.

– Brendan Martin, Director Business Solutions