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Joe Kowalsky, of CloserStill Media, on event planning best practices, event fails, and why hybrid events don’t work

Joe Kowalsky is Show Director at CloserStill Media, a London-based company that produces industry-specific events with a focus on the Business Technologies, Healthcare, Transportation, and Infrastructure sectors. In its earlier days, CloserStill was largely exhibition-driven, but today hosts a wide range of in-person gatherings and publishes content related to these events.

As Joe’s LinkedIn profile explains, he has subject matter expertise in “large-scale event management, sponsorship, sales management, integrated marketing, cold-calling, project management, business development, contract negotiations, and client relationship management (CRM).”

I wanted to touch base with Joe to discuss the resurgence of in-person events in the post-COVID era and tap into his extensive knowledge of what goes into a good, successful event (and also talk about mistakes that event planners make).

As you may know, I have a keen interest in the events space and have become an investor in two event companies: Beyond Ordinary Events and the C-Suite Network.  Additionally, I’m planning to organize more in-person events for the eMarketing Association in the future.

Joe and I cover topics related to events and event planning, including:

  • The dynamics of event funding, including sponsorship and exhibitor revenue, and the optimal balance between these models versus conference revenue streams.
  • The importance of knowing the target demographic and creating an event that caters to their needs, rather than just focusing on revenue generation.
  • The challenges of maintaining strong relationships with content partners, particularly when they lack subject matter experts on their team.
  • Why it’s important to be a supportive and consultative event producer, checking in with speakers beforehand to offer stage tips and provide a guide.
  • The shift among event organizers towards making event content available post-event, benefiting both speakers and attendees.
  • Why event organizers must balance providing intimate, highly-qualified content with large-scale entertainment and networking opportunities to keep attendees engaged and satisfied.
  • Common event fails, such as poorly designed badges and registration snafus, that can be easily fixed with simple solutions.
  • The potential of QR codes as a green alternative to printed materials in the events industry.
  • Why hybrid events, which often promise an equivalent user experience for both in-person and online attendees, have not yet been successfully implemented.


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