The beauty of events, are the serendipitous moments that we have with our colleagues and friends. These are often the times when we learn the most, or pick up some incredible nuggets of wisdom or realize how similar we are, even if our events are quite different. As such, we wanted to create a place where those conversations can still exist.
This new conversation series gives us a chance to hang out with some of the most respected operators in the event industry. And in this particular case, even though they oversee two completely different types of events, the similarities and advice are incredible.
I highly recommend grabbing a notepad for this. Enjoy.
WHO YOU'LL HEAR FROM
Director of Festivals and Events at Founders Entertainment (i.e. Governors Ball)
Vice President of Events and Technical Director of the TCS New York City Marathon
LISTEN TO THE AUDIO VERSION
SOME OF THE TOPICS WE DISCUSS
- What these big titles actually entail. (01:39)
- How they got their start and their career path to their current roles. (03:48)
- Why watching other events outside of their market is so helpful. (17:55)
- What their experience was like when COVID initially came stateside. (23:48)
- How they internally managed their event cancellations. (24:18)
- How their focus has shifted during the pandemic. (36:00)
- How they and their teams are mentally holding up during this time. (45:20)
- Their thoughts on virtual. (50:49)
- The correlation between the movie JAWS and COVID-19. (01:10:58)
SOME FUN QUOTES ON...
Their philosophy during the pandemic:
"I have a mantra with my team. Knowns versus unknowns. 'You plan for the knowns and you prepare for the unknowns.' Well, you take that and you crumble it up and throw it out the window because everything is an unknown right now." - TM
Communication with event staff:
“I was a big fan of the word transparency...but now I'm learning transparency is good, clarity is better.” - TM
The importance of networking across event markets:
“One of the things that I think is most often in my head is ‘how are they disseminating information; how are their teams managing and connecting with other teams and what's working that we can peel off from that?’ Communication is such a big part of our events.” - JS
The life of an event pro:
"Sometimes I think that I might not be a fun person to go to events with because as soon as you get there you're like, "How are they queueing the parking lots?" - JS
"Before all of this, if somebody said the word "virtual" to me, I'm like putting up the cross, and backing away, and spraying garlic on them ... Here's some holy water. I need real life, I need people here." But there is a parallel between the two" - TM
How the pandemic correlates to the movie Jaws:
"The Mayor of Amity Island was like, get in the water, get in the water, the beaches are open! And the damn shark was swimming right behind him." - JS
The importance of working with great people:
"If the people aren't your people it doesn't matter how cool the show is." - JS
READ EDITED TRANSCRIPT
0:01:35 Chris Carver (CC): Do you mind expanding on your roles and responsibilities and what that entails?
0:01:39 Jen Stiles:
I think the quickest way to think of it is I oversee everything that's physical at the festival. So production, stages, site, with the rest of our infrastructure, permitting, medical security. Anything that you can physically see or touch with your eyes filters up to me with a team of managers and department heads underneath.
0:02:04 CC: And Ted, how about yourself? What is the VP of Events at the New York Road Runners?
0:02:17 TM: So my actual title is Vice President of Events and Technical Director of the TCS New York City Marathon. So basically, I manage stuff and things. Stuff and things, similar to Jen. So, I work alongside Jim Heim, who's the Senior Vice President of Events and Race Director of the marathon, and we are the integral pieces of all of the operation leads for all the road races that happen in New York under the New York Road Runners umbrella. Including the TCS New York City Marathon, the popular Brooklyn Half, United Airlines New York City half marathon, just to name a few. So we produce about 65 races a year, adult events, and we have about 80 up to 85 youth events in the New York metro area as well.
0:03:05 CC: Ted, your office is downtown Manhattan?
0:03:11 TM: Yep, yep. Downtown, Midtown, New York city, 56th Street.
0:03:13 CC: And Jen, where are you guys, typically?
0:03:17 JS: Founders is based out of the Live Nation office, across from Chelsea Market on West 15th.
0:03:21 CC: And how close is that to each other?
0:03:29 TM: I'm in the 50s, and Chelsea, that's like 16th Street, 8th Avenue?
0:03:32 JS: Yeah, 15th.
0:03:32 CC: So, that's like two hours away?
0:03:39 TM: [laughter] In a New York city cab during rush hour? Yes.
0:03:42 JS: Yeah. Probably on a subway, maybe five stops.
0:03:48 CC: How did you get your start in the industry? And walk me through those roles that you had to take to get to the point that you're at?
0:04:05 JS: So I started having an interest in events back in college. I joined the Student Activities Board that was tasked with producing alcohol-free programming for the campus. So whether that was a concert or movies or anything that was alternative programming to bars and nightlife, and was funded by the university. I started as a freshman, worked my way up through the organization, and ended up leading the Concert Committee. And we did small weekly local bands, and then eventually had proved to the university after a few really successful events and growing audiences to bring back the budget that had supported large concerts and promoted with the concert group at the arena a student-produced concert and sold out our arena, which is probably 6000 seats at the University of Delaware. I should have started with that.
0:05:13 TM: Who was it?
0:05:15 JS: You're gonna date me. [laughter]
0:05:16 TM: No, no, no. What's fascinating is, that was exactly my path, as well, as the Program Policy Board doing shows. So we could play this game if you want. Because I'll go way back on the road. So, but go ahead.
0:05:29 JS: It's actually quite interesting, because the first concert that sold out our arena was an MTV Campus Invasion Tour with Fuel and Nickelback.
0:05:41 TM: Nice. [laughter]
0:05:43 JS: Yeah. And I think it was actually when the first time Nickelback was really coming through, and Fuel had been gaining some popularity in the area in the Philadelphia market. But it sold out really quickly, and none of the events that the arena had booked on their own had sold out. And they had done some really major things like Counting Crows and Bob Dylan. But what we learned is that we were able to tap into the student body easier than the professionals at the arena. So with their support and us reaching the students through our marketing and word of mouth on campus, all before social media, and then their expertise in running the venue and actually bringing in a concert like that, we joined forces. And it was great. That was the first one we did. It did include the Little Festival Village that toured with MTV.
0:06:35 JS: Which was one of the first of its kind of sponsored activities on site. And actually, later in my career, after I graduated, I ended working for the company that then produced on behalf of MTV, they were our client, and produced the MTV Campus Invasion Tour for three years. So I was on the other, the professional side. So through college did internships at different venues, radio stations, whatever I could get my hands on to see different sides of the industry. And then after college, I was lucky enough to get a job in Boston with what was at the time the Clear Channel College Entertainment Division, which was booking the MTV Campus Invasion Tour and producing it on college campuses, and the Volkswagen Music Ed Tour, all kinds of sponsored tours. And that was part of Don Law's office, which is currently Live Nation Crossroads Presents, locally.
0:07:36 JS: I went from there to doing stuff with colleges, stuff at the venues, settling shows at the venues in Boston, working in the box offices, being a production assistant. Pretty much anything to try to see all sides of the industry, but also because it's kind of a scrappy industry [chuckle] and you take what you can get. And I think it's really interesting because I had so many different experiences that all sort of combined into what a festival is. 'Cause a festival isn't just a concert, it is the art department, it is the creative side of it. It is orchestrations, transportation, there's so many different groups. And I had gone through each and had a taste of all that.
0:08:25 CC: And how long have you been at Governors Ball and Founders now?
0:08:32 JS: Since the first year. So I met Tom Russell, one of our partners, at a Boston area festival, the Life is Good Festival, which was a marketing program under Life is Good, the apparel brand. The festival was being produced by Superfly, and Tom was working for Superfly at the time. And I was actually doing freelance 'cause I had recently been laid off from Live Nation during the merger with Ticketmaster, so there's some irony there as well. So full circle, 10 years later, back within that Live Nation family, and he and I had met through a colleague of mine, and they needed some local support. So we worked on the Life Is Good festival together, and then we kept in touch and got an email from him one day and it was like, "I left Superfly and I'm doing this show in New York. Can you be on site from this date to this date?" And I said, "Yes", and that was the first Gov Ball.
0:09:36 JS: So my role in the first year was really just being on site and trouble shooting and jumping into whatever came up, mostly from an operational perspective. And then in year two my role grew and we grew and we moved to Randall's Island. And then in year three, I came on as the first full-time employee of Founders, and that's the year that we went to the current formula we are now, which is two fields, four stages, three days. And that was 10 years ago.
0:10:07 CC: That's crazy. That’s a big milestone for anyone these days.
0:10:08 JS: This would have been our 10th year.
0:10:10 CC: Wow. That's awesome. And how about you, Ted? Give me the story.
0:10:16 TM: Wow, I'm sitting here smiling at what Jen talked about 'cause we had parallel cases and this is our first time interacting. We obviously had a pre-call before this. But I too started my career in college also doing concerts, special events. So I think all the young people in the world need to listen to this and realize that what you do in school may actually open up to a career. I also, I did radio. I was very involved in school, but I also was a part of the program policy border, the student concert and special events, where I booked some shows myself. My first show was De La Soul. So that was a complete disaster 'cause I over-charged the tickets and I realized college kids didn't have money. So after that I did a phenomenal job where we brought in G. Love & Special Sauce, that was huge. We sold out the venue and the space. And then started mixing it up with comedians like Bill Bellamy, which is MTV at the time. And then we brought up speakers like Joe Pistone, which is the gentleman that the movie and the book Donnie Brasco was based on. So he came in and did some stuff. And then the last show that I did before leaving was Solo Act with Wyclef and a little known Houston band opened up for him called Destiny's Child. So this was like 1996 or something like that.
0:11:48 CC: And what school was this?
0:11:50 TM: I went to a small state school in upstate New York called Oswego State. It's 45 minutes north of Syracuse, so way up.
0:11:58 TM: But did that, graduated, had a degree in PR Broadcast, went into work in the radio industry, Broadcasting for a heart beat. I was working there for 98.7 Kiss FM, Hot 97, CD 101.9, so that was downtown on Hudson Street. So I did that for a little while, and then landed an opportunity on a cross-country cycling event with a West Coast-based company that produced charity events that raised services and funds for AIDS and breast cancer. But they did this one-off cycling event for the American Lung Association. So it was 48 days, 15 states, traveling across the US with about 800 cyclists. So that was my first legit event gig that I did. I did some side hustles here and there just to kinda wet the whistle and see what it was all about on a professional level, but when I landed with this company called Pallotta Teamworks I pretty much stayed with them for about four or five years, and then transitioned out from there and went over to New York Road Runners as a consultant in 2001, which was the 9/11 marathon, which was insane because had that happened now there would not have been a marathon that year, but there was. And that was my first experience in the large scale, mass participatory event on a competitive level.
0:13:16 TM: So I've done walks for breast cancer that were multiple days, I did multi-state cycling events that raised funds for AIDS, but now you're dealing with competitive runners, whether it's from the pro level to lay people. But I did that for a while and it just landed me multiple opportunities with a variety of different events companies from marketing, PR events, tons of triathlons, working for Ironman, Life Time Fitness, and a bunch of different large scale event shops. Last stint was with New York Road Runners. I'm sorry, with Competitor Group and the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series, so I did that for a number of years before coming back to New York Road Runners two and a half years ago. So yeah, that's a very compressed version of a 22 year career in events, but I've seen it all, done it all, been around.
0:14:07 TM: I was actually at the very first Gov Ball in Governor's Island. I actually need to send you a photo from that venue, that show was amazing. But yeah, I love the events world and everything that it offers. I think you and I, we all talked about this before, the thing that's unique but yet connects us all together is that we have a thing that we are providing the audience, the guests, the participants, the public, and the goal is to have everyone come, experience the things safely, and leave safely. And that thing can be a concert, a race, a triathlon, a show, whatever that thing is, and that's where we're all connected.
0:14:45 CC: This may be a little more fresh in your mind, Ted, but walk me through the moment when somebody at the New York Road Runners said, "Hey, we have this job available for you"? What was that feeling like?
0:15:03 TM: So that was Jim Heim, who, Jen you know from the mayor's Special Events Task Force. So Jim and I have known each other for a decade, and just interacting and working with each other as a consultant, 'cause I came back to work for Road Runners for a little bit, he had basically... He'll tell you this himself, he was on a mission for seven years to get me to come back...
0:15:26 TM: And it was kismet, it was perfect timing. Two and a half years ago, during the holiday break he gave a shout and said, "Hey listen, we have this really unique opportunity here to come on board as a senior director, you'd work alongside me managing this team." I knew the culture, I knew the organization. I obviously had deep roots there, having worked there back in the early 2000s, and it was like coming home. So it was really cool. And just re-connecting with partners in the city that you've known for many, many years. Obviously, you know the city well, it's my home town but it was good. It's like I said, it was just coming back home to friends and family.
0:16:04 CC: And Jen, I know it's a long time ago, but what was that feeling like for you?
0:16:20 JS: It actually wasn't bad at the time 'cause Gov Ball was still sort of unknown as to what it is today. It was really more of a personal connection. I worked under the same two women for the first half of my career, well, getting to be mathematically less than that. But the first eight years I came up under these two amazing women in Boston, and they were so talented but also truly mentors. And I think that you can have a boss, but they're not always a mentor. And so I really connected with them, and in the end it was a really personal relationship as well, ... It's nice to go to work and really truly like the people that you're working with. And I really connected with the partners on our first Gov Ball, and the way they were making decisions and just the love that they had for this event and the passion, that was really when I was like, "These are people that I'd like to work alongside."
0:17:22 JS: I feel very fortunate to have gotten to have the luxury of that decision. I'd been doing freelance for three years, and so I'd worked for a lot of different managers. And I think that's one of the things you start to learn, is some of the gigs are great, but if the people aren't your people it doesn't matter how cool the show is. It was really more of like, "Let's take a chance on this, whatever this thing called Gov Ball is, because of the people."
0:17:55 CC: Do either of you ever wonder what other types of events are doing?
0:18:12 TM: Yeah, I mean all the time for me.
0:18:15 JS: Yeah, always. [chuckle] Yeah. I think I'm constantly wondering about how teams are structured internally. So not necessarily what vendors they're using, but how they use them. I think that's so interesting. The festival world is pretty new in the U.S., relatively speaking, if you look at how many years these festivals have been going on, and there's some really consistent players in the market that are producing the majority of these events. And I think it's really interesting to look at their internal structure and how that's built. And sometimes I think you can see whose touch is on different events. So that's one of the things that I think is most often in my head, is “how are they disseminating information, how are their teams managing and connecting with other teams and what's working that we can peel off from that. Communication is such a big part of our events.
0:19:20 JS: The massive undertaking that we're trying to do.
0:19:23 CC: Ted, I know you obviously have an affinity for music, but you're in endurance, so...
0:19:31 TM: It's funny 'cause, Chris, you know this, and Jen, you might have gotten a little taste of it, but I am totally fanboying right now having the opportunity to talk to somebody that's in a space I partake in like music festivals. I travel to them, I see them, so it's always been something that I love. But I love the events as a whole. I've gone to the Olympics in Torino, I have gone to all types of large scale, big, to teeny-tiny music festivals, shows. So you look at these types of things, and I think the organizational structure is key and essential, but I love to look at the parallels between the two and how they navigate these spaces. While they have different offerings to some degree, different platforms, ultimately our core product is servicing an audience. It's a mass engagement opportunity.
0:20:22 TM: So looking at the parallels between music festival marketing and event production marketing, because, to your point there, it wasn't as huge as it was years ago but now you're dealing with competition. I want to know how do you navigate the competition? Your brand engagement, your technology use, you have your app. I still have the Gov Ball app on my phone, and using it and seeing how you interface with your customers, what the signage looks like at your venue, your ingress, your egress, your participant communication, the platforms that you use it on, how are you using social media, who are you talking to, when are you talking to them, what your customer base is. Your customer base is very different than my customer base.
0:21:04 TM: Your demographic is different from my demographic, but then when you step outside of, say, Gov ball, and you look at, say, Jazz Fest in New Orleans, that's a completely different model. That's a completely different demographic. So now I'm curious about them because they have things that cater to children, just like we do with our youth events, and to older folks, which we do that as well with senior walks and activities. So I look at different types of events, whether it's a concert, a show, the US Open, a triathlon, whatever it is, and just look for the parallels and try to take and see those types of guest experiences, participant experiences, local city engagement, partnerships, those types of outcomes.
0:21:47 JS: I could relate to all of that. Sometimes I think that I might not be a fun person to go to events with because [chuckle] as soon as you get there you're like, "How are they queueing the parking lots?" [laughter] Look at that signage." And you leave the event and you look at all of your photos and you're like, "None of these photos are fun." Like, "These are not Instagram-worthy."
0:22:08 TM: Oh my gosh.
0:22:10 JS: You can't step out of it, especially when people are doing a really good job, 'cause you're like you wanna steal that from them.
0:22:14 JS: And for our team, we're only producing one festival a year, so sometimes it's so important to go to events that are producing something more regularly, whether that's a permanent structure like a sports facility, just to see. 'Cause they're processing constantly. So what are they doing differently? And can you do that in a temporary setting. You just never stop wondering about and watching what others are doing?
0:22:40 TM: Yeah, I couldn't agree with you more. That's exactly what happens. I have two phones, I have a work phone and a personal phone. The personal phone is the cool pictures, and the work phone is me taking photos of the tent build and what they use to stake their tents with, and chandeliers inside the tents, or the queueing system that they have, or decorative signage. Yeah, you go into it...
0:23:04 CC: That's funny.
0:23:05 TM: Or you are standing there and you are really studying things, and if you're there with somebody that's not in the event space they're like, "What are you looking at? The show is over here." And I'm like, "No, I'm just looking at that VIP set up over there and how it's all installed and how people are flowing." So yeah, you totally nerd out.
0:23:20 JS: That's so funny. I've considered it. I have one cell phone, and the amount of times I've considered adding a line and getting a second one so I can divide the... I've thought about that a lot. That's funny.
0:23:29 TM: I highly recommend it. [chuckle] It was... Biggie said it best, keep your family and business completely separated.
0:23:36 CC: I actually think that would be an amazing Instagram, you need a... You're attending all these events, but it's actually in the eyes of the event operator.
0:23:45 JS: It's a lot of traffic cones.
0:23:47 TM: Yes, yes.
0:23:48 CC: So boring to the average person, but just money for you guys.
I wanna switch gears a little bit and want both of you, if you don't mind, to take me back to February of this year, February or early March, whatever it is, and walk me through what's going through your head at that time, whether it's personally or around the organization.
0:24:18 JS: This is actually a really easy question for me to answer because in February the Chinese factories were still closed for Chinese New Year and then they were extending their closure due to what was happening over there. And we were very specifically mostly concerned about the timelines of our wristband, our RFID wristband, or essentially our tickets, manufacturing and shipping, and our Commemorative 10 manufacturing. And so it was just such a narrow view of what this was going to turn into, 'cause we were just waiting for the factories to reopen, and were we gonna make the deliveries on time so that we could get our wristbands in the mail. And then I would say within two weeks, early March, that concern turned to, "Who cares when they get here, we're probably not having a festival." And then you saw what happened. We met a couple weeks later, that was the announcement of just dead stop. So it went from this tiny, very specific slice of the festival to no festival.
0:25:35 CC: And Ted, how about yourself?
0:25:40 TM: So February, we're monitoring and paying attention to what's going on. The New York City Marathon, the TCS New York City Marathon, is part of the World Marathon Majors so we have a partnership and a relationship with Tokyo, London, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, and ourselves, so the six marathons. And the Tokyo marathon was scheduled for March 1st, and I was gonna go to Tokyo for the event to go and check it out. So I was super excited, one, because of our earlier conversation, I was gonna totally nerd out on all event things in Tokyo, but two, I've never been to Tokyo before. I've never been to Japan, so I was like, "Oh, I'm super excited. I can't wait to go." And then you're just listening and paying attention to things on a global level and what was happening there. And I was going with one of my colleagues who manages pro athletes, and she's like, "Listen, I'm listening to what's happening out there. I'm not going, I'm pulling out. I have a family and everything else." And I was just like, "All right, well, I hear you."
0:26:42 TM: And I'm not really paying as close attention to the severity of the situation, 'cause I'm just like, "Oh, I'm gonna go. I'm not married, I don't have kids. I'll be able to work it out, so we'll go." But we're monitoring and paying attention to this. Now, mind you, we had the United Airlines New York City Half Marathon which was scheduled for the middle of March, March 15th. So that's a 25,000-person half marathon, it starts in Brooklyn and ends in Central Park. So I have two parallels happening here, what's happening in Tokyo with our colleagues there, and obviously how that may affect or may not affect our event in the New York with the Half. And yeah, it went from zero to 60, similar to what Jen said. It went from a whisper to a full-on scream in a matter of two weeks. And then flight's cancelled, everything's cancelled, and then that was like the slow process of everything else being adversely affected.
0:27:37 CC: Ted, how has that evolved for you over the last few months?
0:27:45 TM: It's interesting, I have a mantra with my team, and I wrote it down, it's on my board, it's in my office, and it says, "Knowns versus unknowns." You plan for the knowns and you prepare for the unknowns. Well, you take that and you crumble it up and throw it out the window because everything is an unknown right now. And it's mirrored across the board for everyone, so you're like, "Is this temporary for a couple of weeks? Is this temporary for a couple of months? Is this temporary for how long?" So it kinda extends.
0:28:17 TM: So you don't know how long the impact is gonna be, unfortunately, and it just weighs on you, not only as just a person that's been trapped at home in my apartment in Washington Heights for the last four and a half months, to people that are trying to live their lives and do things as well. So the knowns and unknowns are pretty... There are so few knowns, and the unknowns just dwarf it.
0:28:41 CC: Do you mind walking me through what it's like to operationally cancel an event? What are the things that you had to unwind, the stuff that you were already working on? You were definitely a little bit early, but you were ready to start your advance. You mind walking me through that?
0:29:04 JS: Yeah, I mean, when we made the decision internally, my world was easy. Honestly, it was pretty simple to shut down. I think the harder part for our team... Sponsorship was pretty complicated and strategic because of the unknowns and needing to provide answers, and then however they wanted to shift and pivot within that world. And then marketing. Everything consumer facing is pretty complicated and nuanced, and from the details of how are we doing refunds, are we pushing to next year, how are we doing that, how are we messaging that. But for the things that I directly manage, sadly, it was a pretty quick note to every single vendor and staff person all at once explaining that the event's not happening.
0:30:05 JS: I think we told our internal folks, maybe two hours before the public notification. That's something that's really tricky, because I feel like it's a balance of wanting to be respectful for these people...their careers and their plans, but at the same time it's information that can travel very quickly so you don't want too long of a gap. So I think we were all on standby just to hit "Go" on various internal messaging, public messaging, et cetera. But honestly, we were far enough out that we hadn't started processing deposits. The artist advance had only started with a handful of artists that tend to do longer advances. So it was a pretty clean shut off, to be honest with you, which is fortunate. I know a lot of events were not in that position, so we just happened to fall into a timeline that was more simple. But I think that's also because New York was the epicenter of what was happening, so the shut down was pretty quick, whereas some of the markets, it lingers like, "Can we do it? We think we're gonna be okay." So you try to get closer, but yeah, we were cancelled a little further out.
0:31:23 CC: Yeah, I can imagine your job would have been a lot more complex if it was closer.
0:31:29 JS: Yeah, it truly was like...I didn't know this until the day I went to go send the note, but that there was a limit of the amount of people I could put on an email. Typically we are up and running with our Lennd database. It's the reason why our comms are typically so smooth. But in this case, I didn't have it set up yet, so I went to go send it via our email and it got rejected by the server and I started freaking out for a second. And I was like, "No, pause. Comm, take the list, divide it into four batches, let's queue them all up and then hit send on all four real quick." But it was like a moment of like, "Wait, why did this email bounce back?" [laughter] And I guess I hadn't had to send an email like that ever in my career with that many parties on it. Because typically when we're on-site for the festival, communication is more streamlined into one vendor contact per vendor and one department head. But we really wanted everyone to know this all at once.
0:32:17 CC: And Ted, how about yourself? I know this is very fresh on your mind, but what's that been like operationally?
0:32:25 TM: Yeah, it's been tough for me. Specifically talking about the New York City Half, that was days. Literally days. If you remember, that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday was when things really started to get hot in the city. Jen, you know that with the mayor being on television pretty regularly monitoring things, the governor obviously speaking and monitoring things and trying to get a gauge on what the facts were and how big the impact was. Our race was that Sunday. So we ended up... Our last day in the office was the 12th, which was a Thursday. Friday the 13th we were home. And then it would have been Saturday... Saturday the 14th would have been the race. Yeah, it was insane how quick that was. But a very similar scenario to Jen where it was a matter of strategic communication across the board to all parties. Partners, agencies, and definitely participants. But it was essential that our staff knew what was going on and what was happening. So that strategic communication was essential, similar to Jen, to kind of get the word out to everybody at one time. Obviously we wanna make sure our staff knew what was going on because they were customer facing.
0:33:45 TM: They're in that service space so they needed to be prepared and have the answers and the resolutions and at least what was going on and be armed with information. But then getting that information out to participants, partners, city agencies, vendors and all that stuff, was a quick action. But again, like Jen was saying, people got it. When they realized how big this was they got it and got it really, really fast. When major events and activities, like when the NBA shut down, I think people's attention really perked up. And then we shut down, we cancelled, and then days later the St. Patrick's Parade cancelled and that hadn't happened ever in its 100 and something year history. So yeah, it's been an interesting roller coaster to say the least.
0:34:35 JS: And you're reminding me now of how tuned in we were to the news of the shutdowns. And I remember screenshotting when a store would close its doors, and you're like, "Oh my gosh, the store is closing?" When a national retailer like Gap is like, "We're closing." And it was the out of an abundance of caution early on. Do you remember all that? Everyone was just like, "Out of an abundance of caution we're doing this." But it was alarming to say like, "Oh, they're shutting down all this." And then after how many of those you're like, "It's not news anymore." Like, "Oh, you're just late to the party, you're shutting down now." But I'm re-living that sort of in my head right now, [chuckle]
0:35:14 TM: I remember, I don't know if it was the last night that I was in the office or the night before I was in the office, I went to a restaurant, sat down, and I was sitting there by myself. And you're already starting to feel the city quiet down big time. And I was just watching the news and just reading on my phone ... And I was just like, "Wow! This is... This is it. This is a thing." It was so eerie how that was happening. And obviously, I've lived... I was in the city during 9/11, I remember the black out that happened after that. I remember the first black out in the 70s, that's how old my ass is. So you've encountered and experienced these things, but this is obviously different. No one's experienced anything like this before.
0:36:00 CC: So during this quarantine time, where have you guys spent most of your time and attention?
0:36:10 JS: Local municipality briefings. A lot of focus on... I mean, as a New Yorker and also as someone that produces events primarily only in New York, I think that's where I've spent most of my focus. Understanding what's happening in New York and New York City, and New Jersey and Connecticut, the Tri-State area, has been, I think, on the top of my list of just understanding what's happening here. Communicating with all those city agencies, participating in the mayors... The citywide Office of Event Management task force or advisory board to hear what's on their minds, what are they challenging us to solve or what do they think is gonna happen, that's where most of my focus has been. I'm keeping up with what's happening nationally, but to be honest with you, it kind of doesn't sometimes matter because if New York's gonna have a permit or a policy that's different than somebody else, we're not necessarily gonna convince them to change it. So we really need to be up to speed on what are the health and safety standards that we need to adhere to in the future.
0:37:32 TM: Yeah. Similar here. Obviously, making sure, staying connected with the team at the shop, but also paying very close attention to everything that's happening locally. But I've also had... I also pay attention to what's happening on the national level because it's really interesting to see how the numbers go up and down and vary from city to city and state to state, dare I even say country to country 'cause I get on some calls with colleagues overseas and hearing what's going on with them. But also going back to the earlier conversation of what other events are doing, and how other events are navigating through this, and what are the protocols that they're trying to create, how the magic P word that everybody uses, pivot, how everyone's pivoting to virtual and what they're doing on that platform and how they're monitoring and paying attention to that. So, my ears have been really tuned in on hearing that and really reading what's going on from an industry perspective.
0:38:31 TM: One thing that Jen said though that's really on point that I would hope other event producers and folks that are listening to this and monitoring this heed is you can create what you wanna create, but at the end of the day you should be following city, state, and federal guidelines as to what the best path is to navigate through this. But you should do your due diligence with providing and assisting local markets with information and guidance and whatnot. Because we are subject matter experts, we know what's going on, but I don't have an MD at the end of my last name. I'm not a scientist, I'm not a doctor, so I'm always gonna take guidance from those that know that space. But the partnership that Jen's been a part of, that my boss, Jim Heim's a part of as well, with that city task force is huge, and I would ask... I would wonder how many other cities, states, and municipalities have a similar program going on where they are talking to event producers, universities and colleges and schools, different types of folks that come together and talk about navigating through getting people in some place, experiencing that thing, and then leaving safely. What is the best way to do it? So watching and monitoring all of those things has consumed my time.
0:39:47 JS: Yeah, and I think nationally, watching, like you said, Ted, who is getting events off the ground and seeing is that something that we could apply here. If you're watching the NBA right now, well, they're existing in a bubble, so that doesn't probably work for your race, it doesn't work for my festival. But what's the NFL gonna do? And what are those major entities that are operating in lots of different scenarios, in different states with different guidelines, what are they doing? I think is really interesting as well.
0:40:18 TM: Yeah, and I think to that part about the NBA in particular, just reading about what's going on and monitoring that, you either sit and wait or you get up and move. And they obviously are doing their part to get up and move. And they have resources that you and I don't have and our organizations don't have; they also have the pressure of being able to provide a product to the masses and partnership obligations that tie into that as well. So again, I look at it from an event producer's perspective and say, "What are the things that are gonna be learned from this experience that can be transferable, not only to our platform, but potentially evolve years from now?" And kinda going back to that virtual perspective, there are gonna be people who are chomping at the bit for this. Obviously, NASCAR has happened with no fans, and soccer has happened with no fans, and people are watching and paying attention to that so there's obviously engagement from a participant engagement or a guest experience. But also from a partnership perspective, you're now fulfilling your obligation by creating this product that people have eyes on. So watching that stuff is really, really interesting, but you're absolutely right, there's no bubbles here. I can't put everybody in a little bubble suit running 26.2 miles like little hamsters and whatnot.
0:41:37 CC: Ted you may not have MD by your name, but I think after this you may have a PhD after your name. Same with you, Jen. I have to imagine, for somebody new getting into the industry after all of this there's just gonna be so much more that they are going to have to comprehend.
0:42:12 JS: Yeah, and I think something else that I keep coming back to is looking at what we already do through a different lens. That's become a big part of a lot of the conversations. And particularly with the mayor's office, that was a big part of the conversation... I don't know if it was a re-education or more of a refreshing and a reminding when we're talking... Some of the keywords right now are "contactless" or "distancing," and so looking at the technology and the processes that we already have that do fulfill that. Maybe it's not a complete change. And I can give some examples. If you're using walk-through mags for your security instead of pat downs, and people are emptying their pockets into the TSA style check in, where... Into a basket. You're distanced from that security personnel. If you have an RFID wristband that you're scanning, you're distanced from the ticket scanner. That's a contactless experience. And so I think that's been a big part of a lot of the conversations I've had, is just rebranding some of our processes.
0:43:27 JS: Maybe it's "contactless ticketing", but it's really still an RFID wristband. And part of that is, I think, consumer confidence. I think that's gonna be a big challenge for us, is consumer confidence. I agree with you, Ted, people are anxious. They want entertainment and activities, and I think it will be a strong market from that perspective, but I think as event producers, we're gonna have to instill some confidence that these are safe practices.
0:44:00 TM: Yeah, and it's also gonna force folks to not be one trick ponies. So Chris, you were saying to young people that are listening and paying attention to this now, there have been folks that are die-hard anti-technology, cross their arms, "I'll never get on Zoom." And now we're on Zoom. Like, "I'll never have a smartphone." And now you're being forced to have a smart phone. Like, "I'll never use an RFID." Now these are things that are going to be so commonplace, so now it's almost a keep up or get left behind kind of a thing. But also, I'm an optimist by nature. What other incredible creative ideas are gonna come from this that are going to continue to enhance our day-to-day lives, one, but also our day to day experiences in the world of entertainment? Think about what life was post-9/11... I'm sorry, pre-9/11 and post 9/11, and how far that's come even now, and the opportunities and business models that have come from that. Like CLEAR. CLEAR is the greatest. Before CLEAR, it was TSA Pre. Before TSA Pre it was... What is it? Frequent Flyer. So there's all these evolutions that come about, and I use a lot of flying and travel references 'cause that was part of my life for 18 years. But it forces innovation and it forces you to race it, because if you don't, you're stuck, you're done, you're finished. So you have to look at different ways of doing things.
0:45:20 CC: How are you guys doing and how's your team doing from a psychological/mental standpoint?
0:45:34 TM: It's challenging to say the least. We try to do the best we can on a social level using platforms like Zoom and Teams and things of that nature to connect everybody 'cause we all work so closely together. We're grinding, whether it's freezing cold outside at 2:00 in the morning while we're building something out, or 90-something degrees outside and we're cranking through and wrapping up an event. So the camaraderie and connection is there. The learning continues. We've actually created portals and platforms so that way we can share information for people to stay connected and learn. 'Cause if you're not working those muscles, they get weak. So keeping people in the loop on things is essential. But just engaging with folks is key, and just being... Again, going back to it again, being creative with it too. We do monthly challenges where it's like, "25 push ups, 25 crunches, 25 squats." And everyone's checking in every day when they are doing these types of things or sharing photos of their family and their kids and whatnot, or their dogs and whatnot.
0:46:39 TM: All that stuff keeps people... Keeps it light, but it keeps people engaged. There's still a lot of learning though, for sure. I was a big fan of the word transparency, it was something that was my mantra. But now, I'm learning transparency is good, clarity is better. So providing clarity to people and having an opportunity to truly understand why something is the way it is. Versus being like, "This is what we're doing", I'm like, "Okay, I get that this is what we're doing, you've provided me transparency there, but can give you some clarity on things?" So some... A lot of professional development is something that I'm going through as well as the team as well navigating through this. Next to pivot, the other word everyone uses, "unprecedented times", "uncertain times", those are the same things too. It's like the key words for 2020 when TIME Magazine comes up at the end of the year, names or words you've used a lot: Pivot, unprecedented. So those are the things for sure that apply.
0:47:33 CC: And Jen?
0:47:35 JS: Our team is good. We have a really small team, Founders is 10 people in total. They've done a really good job of staying positive. I feel like we started a lot of conversations for a long time with, "I don't have an update for you."
0:47:56 JS: I think that's gonna continue for quite some time, and people have been like, "Yeah, I mean, we're all seeing the same news." But that... Yeah, that transparency and clarity, that's such an interesting or important point. 'Cause I think sometimes there might have been things that we kept within upper management, and now I feel like as soon as there's an update everyone's gonna know as soon as possible. If we get a green light on anything or there's any type of movement, there's less to discuss. We're still doing our weekly team call, there's less to discuss, but I would say there's also less that's left out. Maybe something that I wouldn't have normally... That lives in the production world that I wouldn't have mentioned to everyone, now you're telling everyone. So, yeah.
0:48:50 CC: And so, it's almost mid-July, and in a normal year what would you be doing now? Jen, I know you would be six weeks, almost six weeks out past Gov Ball.
0:49:04 JS: I would be a full-time accountant right now. [laughter] That's pretty much... Yeah. [laughter] There's not much at all to say about that. We'd be loaded out. Hopefully, knock on wood, we would have had a rain-free year and load out would've been nice and mud-free and clean. And then I would just be, yeah, full accountant, wrapping up vendor invoices and tying out the budget. That would have been 100% of my time.
0:49:37 CC: And Ted, how about yourself? What are you doing this time of year in a normal year?
0:49:42 TM: What is it? Today is Thursday, we would have been getting ready for one of my favorite races, the Retro Run, where I break out the old afro and get out there and have some fun. But yeah, we'd be in the thick of it. Summertime slows down a little bit for us, which is a blessing. I mean "slows down" in air quotes. We still have seven or eight events through the month. But this would be a time to kind of recharge your batteries and get ready 'cause you would have had a pretty intense winter, spring, and then you're coming into the summertime. It's super hot outside so things will start to slow down a little bit. I'd probably take some time out to see some family and some friends, a little bit of a vacay, but we would be getting ready to roll into a very, very busy fall.
0:50:45 CC: Virtual is a big word right now in all aspects of the event world. It takes a different mold in different segments. Are there certain things you're looking at to leverage when it comes to virtual?
0:51:18 TM: I'd be curious to get Jen's take on this because I literally had a conversation with some colleagues about this earlier today. [We are looking at] the parallel between in-person and virtual. It can't be an all or nothing kind of a thing, because obviously our world lives in IRL, like in real life. That's what we do, this is what our engagement is. And sometimes folks in our space, I'll speak for myself in particular, if somebody said the word "virtual" to me, I'm like putting up the cross, and backing away, and spraying garlic on them because I'm like, "What is that craziness? Here's some holy water. I need real life, I need people here." But there is a parallel between the two where you wanna leverage and explore ways that you can have people physically experiencing and engaging in something, but in a much smaller number. That's the big thing that's happening now is events can come back, but they have to be teeny-tiny, a fraction of the size, because you need to allow physical distancing from folks... I don't like to use the word social distancing. We want people to be social, we just want them to be physically distant. So if you're going to cut the number of people down, but you want people to experience it in mass, the parallel then is a virtual platform kind of a thing. And what does that look like?
0:52:38 TM: So take my race production hat off and put my concert festival VIP hat on. If I had a private show for X many people that are there in person and seeing this, can that be streamed on a proprietary app that you pay a fee on and download, and now you're there and you're watching this too? If there's a record release kind of a thing, can I see that on a small setting? So you could still have a VIP person come up that's paying top dollar for that experience, but still open it for other people at a certain price too. So the virtual platform, some folks are like poo-pooing it, some people say that it's over-saturated right now, but I think that you need to be creative about what it is and what you're offering, how you engage your customers, how you engage your guests, and how you engage your partners, but also creating either a balance of what in real life will be when it comes back with the virtual platform. So there has to be a little bit of a partnership between those two spaces.
0:53:39 CC: Interesting. And how about you, Jen? How are you feeling about it?
0:53:45 JS: I feel mixed, to be to be honest with you. My whole career has been focused on just everything being in real life, and that was really the best part of it. The planning period, the pay-off is you get to go on site. [chuckle] You get out of the office and be outdoors, whether it's rain or sun. And then you get to build this physical thing that all these people are gonna get to come and experience in all different types of ways. But I think that's the reality that we need to be looking at, absolutely. I've never been a huge live stream fan, it's just not how I love to intake music, but we did some of our archived sets within the past few weeks, and I watched them and I really enjoyed it. And I partially really enjoyed it 'cause I was like, "Oh, I actually have never seen a Gov Ball set for this long." [laughter] So I watched the Black Keys set from 2015 from start to finish, and I was like, "That was great." [chuckle] But I also spent a lot of the time watching the crowd and the corner of the screen and little things, so I was still back into my world of, "Oh, maybe that fence scrim looks messy", or [laughter] I don't know, something.
0:55:06 JS: But it was fun; I think it was fun because there was an audience there responding to it. So that's really tricky. I don't know if it's gonna be as exciting to see every artist perform on a stage without an audience. But that model you mentioned of maybe there's less of an audience and so we split our audiences might be the reality of the future. We're definitely internally talking about everything and looking at everything with still a hope that there is a real event in 2021. And I guess by real what I mean by that is more traditional, like what we've seen in the past. But yeah, I think it's tricky. I mean, you gotta look at everything right now.
0:55:54 TM: Big time. Big time.
0:55:56 CC: Yeah, it's interesting. I also see a lot of interest in figuring out virtual tools in the operational sense.
For example: We work with a number of sports organizations with concerns about media on site. So they're asking us to evolve our platform to provide a virtual media center on top of our portal system so media can actually still engage in the press conferences but behind a gated experience.
Same goes with things like training of staff and volunteers virtually. Rather than putting people at risk in person, can you leverage a platform like us to do that training in advance?
I'm starting to hear ways to leverage that for 365 engagement. so when the events come back, even physically, there are definitely organizations that are looking at expanding that engagement around the borders of that event.
One of the interesting things, and this is totally hypothesis, but I could see with what's happening in college sports for example, it likely could get crushed this fall. So if you were really reliant on donors and season ticket holders and those types of constituents, they're gonna have to figure out ways to engage them. And if they can't be in person, they're gonna have to figure out how to do it virtually. So to me, it's really fascinating to just be a part of a lot of those conversations and help organizations execute through these challenges.
0:57:28 TM: Big time, big time. And I think the thing too that's really been interesting, and Jen, I'd be curious to get your take, and Chris as well. When there are calls, again, I like to look at the parallels of other things in our world that are directly affected by our current situation. Restaurants and bars can open, but they have to open in a unique and different way. So here in New York City we are... What is it? Phase three or phase four now, Jen? I think it's phase three. So there's no in-restaurant dining, but they've done things outside with space. So they didn't close the casket, throw it in a box and throw some dirt on it, they figured out a way to be different and engage with people. So how do we as event producers, how are we as creatives of experience, not have a funeral but create something new and different and say, "Alright, we may not be able to do... " I think about Govs Ball in particular, and I've stood on that mound, the field, and just watched throngs of people out there where whoever it was, Kanye West or Guns 'N Roses or any of these other shows that I've gone to where they've drawn a giant crowd, and I'm like, "Alright, how does this work?"
0:58:41 TM: [laughter] Because we do everything big. 53,000 people are running in the New York City Marathon, largest marathon in the world. How do we still engage with that? And is it smaller bite-sized nuggets over an extended period of time? Is it smaller experiences in different places? I don't know the answer to that, but it's definitely the thing that I think about a lot, is we wanna be able to share this, we still want people to be engaged with it, but numbers are gonna be a pretty tremendous player into when things can happen or how things can happen.
0:59:15 JS: Yeah. Yeah, and I think for both of our events, I think that the interaction between someone else at the event, whether it's your friends or a stranger, if you're at Gov Ball part of your experience is probably food and beverage and interacting with those, and I can't deliver that virtually to everyone. If you're a New Yorker, like, yeah, we can probably get you some nuggets from The Nuggets Spot, they're and that could be really fun, festival food at home. But if you're not in New York that won't be quite as easy.
0:59:48 JS: And then for a marathon, I would imagine even if you could do a VR type of run, so much of that competitive juice probably comes from the person that's running that you're tracking against. I'm not a runner but, you're pacing against, and that competitive spirit. But also I do watch the marathon every year. It actually goes past my street and I just leave my apartment building and go stand on the street... You get chills cheering for all these people, and it's so exciting, and they're running for a cause or whatever they're doing. And transitioning that is really hard, that contagion of the enthusiasm of a crowd is something that I think is gonna be really challenging to move forward virtually or within smaller groups. 'Cause there is something about that enormity of it, having the hundreds of people running by you in two minutes is different than the beginning or the end of the race.
1:00:51 TM: The trickles of people running by you.
1:00:53 JS: Yeah, like the middle where it's really busy.
1:00:58 CC: I'll prompt you with a thought here. Back in March when all of these events were delaying till the fall, I ended up seeing some Google Doc with all of the festivals that were now rescheduled for every weekend in the fall, there's like six festivals a weekend. And so I kept thinking, "What's the ramifications of that?" Is there a run on talent? Are these events going to be competing on all the same rental gear? And with people potentially leaving this industry and going to find other full-time work, I would assume you’re going to have less experienced people. Have you even gone there yet, even thought about some of that stuff?
1:02:13 JS: Yeah, absolutely. I was one of those people, absolutely, that was looking at how many festivals are on the same weekend in October. And then looking at it and saying, "Well, they use this staging vendor and they use this staging vendor, so that might work. But they use this... " There's only so many of these massive stages. Yeah, I was definitely running those numbers, those quantity numbers, and I think that's gonna be interesting as we look at if 2021 events are happening, how those dates shift. But it's not just within the festival world. If we're all talking about some sort of physical distancing, and we need barricade that for miles and miles, or something like that, that's every event. That's not specific to festivals.
1:02:53 JS: So yeah, I think there is gonna be some within the vendor world, but I think that can be... I think we'll get over that. What is not an infinite resource are the staff, that gig workers economy, the freelancers. How many freelancers are gonna leave the freelance event market for more stable full-time work? I think that's an unknown right now. I think that's a bigger concern because that's a really niche group of people that have trained themselves on events. They might work the Marathon and then they might work Gov Ball, and they know both of those events and how they function. Or they might just work in freelance music. But I know a lot of our team members that I see on site for training on Wednesday, some prep on Thursday, and then the show Friday, Saturday, Sunday, they're hopping from event to event in these shorter time periods. And then you see 'em at the New York Food and Wine, and they know the ins and outs of that event. I don't know how that's gonna turn out. That's a big question mark as to the stability of those folks and the insecurity of the events world, the future there.
1:04:19 TM: Yeah. I would echo that 'cause I think, oddly enough, it applies across the board to all industries. It's gonna be a play on resources and what resources are gonna be available to us, whether, to Jen's point, it's people, equipment, or supply. And then also creating a sense of confidence for everybody. Obviously confidence to your guests and participants and people that are there to experience it, but confidence in your staff to ensure that it's gonna be a safe environment to be there, the acts that are gonna be performing there. That list goes on. So those are two variables that we can create as best as we can the infrastructure there to have people feel somewhat confident based on the resources that are made available to us. The supply chain management was crumbled in March and April because this thing happened and people were like, "We don't have masks. We don't have gloves. We don't have meat." Like these things are all things that were directly affected, so that's why I look at, regardless of event producers that are here, maybe we own a restaurant, maybe we own a supermarket, maybe we own a trucking company or whatever it is, it's gonna be resources that are gonna be available to us and confidence in your staff that's there and the people that are experiencing it.
1:05:42 CC: Speaking of confidence, I've been spearheading a survey called the Event Confidence Survey, because I was inspired from the Consumer Confidence Index. And it's been really interesting to see the responses. There have been several hundred responses so far across the board. It’s definitely not a crystal ball, but it will definitely help us see the trends in the sentiment and the psyche of the industry.
1:06:20 CC: My last question, and I appreciate you guys taking so much time but it's been really fascinating, is, if you could pick my next interview pairing, and I would be curious to see who you would want to see. And you can obviously stay in your lane of festivals, Jen, and endurance, Ted. But I'm curious, who would you want to see conversing?
1:06:48 TM: Interesting.
1:06:49 JS: 2 Psychics [laughter] If you can predict the future for us, that'd be great.
1:06:56 CC: I love it. A tarot card reading.
1:07:00 TM: Yeah, exactly.
1:07:00 JS: Down for that.
1:07:04 TM: That's a really good one. I immediately went to having persons of persons. And I think you actually had an interview of people that are actually making events happen, like bringing in the commissioner of the NBA, granted, if you said my fantasy, bring him in and have a conversation with him about that. And then someone else on a completely different platform, which would be, talk about problematic, let's light a thing on fire, but someone in politics that has to figure out a way to get, whether it's the Republican National Convention or Democratic National Convention, and what that's gonna look like and how they're navigating through that experience or whatnot.
Those are two super extreme situations, and I don't know how things are gonna look from the political side of things, but definitely talking to somebody from the NBA would be really interesting. Or if it's not the key lead from that, the support mechanisms that are there. I may not wanna talk to Adam Silver, but let's talk to their director of medical operations, or let's talk to their legal team on how they're navigating through that, or let's talk to their sponsorship person. When they got hit with, "Hey, we're shutting down the sport for X many months", and now they're reeling with partners that they either have in hand that they need to fulfill or potential partners that they need to secure, lock-in, and provide a service for.
1:08:38 TM: So those are just like a couple of random ones.
1:08:43 TM: I got one more for you that would be kick ass, because going back to my 18 years of travel, somebody from that industry. Delta, American, United. There have been a lot of interesting articles talking about the airlines that are navigating through this experience the best and what they're offering their guests and how they're adjusting things like, "Middle seats are open, and we're getting a packet with water, hand sanitizer, a snack, and a mask." Like what are they doing? What was that? What were the decisions that were made there? How much did that cost? What's the longevity of this? So it'd be really interesting just to talk to those kinds of folks that were either forced to make things happen, or said, "We have to do this. We're jumping in." And granted the NBA thing hasn't started yet, it might blow up, God forbid, the first week out, but you gotta do something. Someone's gotta be the first.
1:09:37 CC: Yeah, MLS started yesterday, right?
1:09:39 TM: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And Major League Baseball is cooking. Is the NFL watching what the NBA are doing and what Major League Baseball is doing, and saying, "Great, we could do this." Is there a potential business model, Jen, that you can have, like mini-concerts in these spaces now to engage with folks that can't be there and maybe it's being live-streamed to some degree? I don't know. It's all kinds of stuff that's cooking there, but those are just a couple of ideas.
1:10:07 JS: Yeah. And maybe for all of those entities, the person that's responsible for procuring or issuing their insurance.
1:10:20 TM: Oh, wow. Yeah.
1:10:21 JS: Yeah. I think that's a great point of places that are already functioning, so Universal Studios or Disney, like how are they functioning? What was their liability risk that they took? Did they take on liability that we can never achieve, or was it not as big of a concern? I think that's gonna be a big piece of the future puzzle. Insurance is already extremely expensive. What's the future there? Get a broker, get a quote.
1:10:58 TM: I'm gonna slide this one in there too 'cause Jen is in the spaces talking to the cities. 'Cause what people don't realize is major cities, big or small, and I have talked to a colleague of mine who's working on trying to produce an event down at Virginia Beach, that market is really unique because they have a season. Earlier in the pandemic I was watching Jaws, talk about a perfect movie for this situation... [laughter]
1:11:21 JS: I was just thinking of that.
1:11:22 TM: That damn mayor was like, "Get in the water. Get in the water."
1:11:27 JS: The beaches are open.
1:11:29 TM: But you wanna talk about a perfect...
1:11:29 CC: Wow.
1:11:30 TM: Yeah, watch that movie, Chris, it's incredible and it applies so well to our current situation. But when you have a seasonal window like sports, like running, like festivals, but you're a municipality, how are you navigating through this? You make your money off of people showing up. You make your money off of hotels, restaurants, tickets... Cars that are getting towed, all of these things that are happening. Event producers that are coming in and producing events there and paying permit fees and paying overtime for police and paying for this and paying for that, all that stuff dried up. So how are these cities navigating through that too? So getting a city official would be interesting as well.
1:12:13 JS: I love that you mentioned Jaws, that's my favorite movie of all time. And very recently, I'll have to dig up the article and send it to you both, but someone sent me an article on Jaws and specifically calling out how the mayor of Amity Island is like, "No, the beaches are open." And they're like, literally there's a shark swimming by. And he's like, "No, come, spend... It's safe." [chuckle] Yeah.
1:12:35 CC: Oh, wow. That's crazy.
1:12:36 JS: That's awesome.
1:12:37 CC: It's interesting to think how potentially the most organized body in live events could, and potentially should, be the tourism bureaus of the cities, because they're so reliant on room nights and all of that.
1:12:58 TM: Heads and beds, baby. Heads and beds. They're all about heads and beds.
1:13:01 JS: But I think it's tough right now. I'm not sure we're into a phase where the departments and the agencies that are regulated to do certain tasks are able to do those yet.
1:13:17 JS: I think in New York in particular, I think we're still in a holding pattern. I don't think the permitting office is... For street permits, SAPO, is yet at a point where they're problem solving because I don't think we know the problem yet. Unfortunately, I think it's still a little premature for so many of these groups to be doing what they do. And I think that... I don't know when that shifts. I'm not sure when the reigns get passed back over to say, "Okay, this is how life is now, figure out how you fit into it." And every agency has to figure out all that. But I think those are great conversations to keep having, absolutely, because they're definitely thinking of every scenario and trying to figure out, "If this happens over here, how does this work?" And et cetera, et cetera.
1:14:08 CC: That's really fascinating. Well, I wanna thank you both for taking the time. I knew it'd be amazing. It's incredible. Hopefully, I would definitely watch the whole time of this, and I think people should and would, and hopefully they'll get their notepads out and all of that. But, thank you so much for taking the time to do this.
1:14:29 TM: Absolutely.
1:14:29 JS: Thank you.
1:14:30 TM: It's a pleasure, Chris. Thank you so very much. Jen, you're amazing.
Lennd is a next generation event technology platform that simplifies operations and planning so event teams can work smarter, move faster, and improve their ROI.
To learn why some of the most respected event teams trust Lennd to power their operations and learn more about our virtual event tools sign up for a demo: www.lennd.com