Dahlia El Gazzar | Engaging Your Audience

Welcome to Allseated Exchange. Learn what’s next for event design with event industry change agents. This season focuses on helping event planners prepare for hybrid events. In this podcast summary, we’re visiting with change agent, Dahlia El Gazzar, Founder of Dahlia Plus Agency, a full-service marketing firm, specializing in helping event professionals figure out what hybrid means for them.

Are most planners prepared to provide the experience attendees want?

According to El Gazzar, No. When it comes to tools, it’s realizing that it’s not only about a virtual platform, but you also need to:

  • Know event participants to personalize their experience
  • Gather metrics during the event (not after) to gain insight going forward
  • Have empathy now more than ever because everybody has something else going on
  • Step up the quality of content marketing (content creation and production)
  • Redesign business models when using events for revenue opportunities, for marketing, for sales, for touchpoints with members.

It’s really about engagement. How do you bring audiences together? You need to know what your audience wantsHow are you going to cater to them?

Answer the question: How are you going to tailor events, content, and experiences to your attendees?

Defining hybrid

Hybrid can take a variety of forms, customized for specific needs. Hybrid can’t be a general term across all events. People get stuck thinking of hybrid as just one thing or another. It’s not black and white, it’s more shades of grey, El Gazzar explains.

It’s really about engagement. How do you bring audiences together? You need to know what your audience wants. You’ll potentially come to a point, where you’ll have participants attend in person or attend virtually from their room or from the coffee shop. How are you going to cater to them? From event experience design, type of content they want to consume, and at what times, what are you going to feed them so that they say: I was part of that experience, and it was awesome, she says.

Event planning and technology

You don’t have to use all the tools that are out there, but be aware of what’s available, and use what works for your audience’s needs and your event goals. Technology is a critical tool in planning and delivering successful events. If technology isn’t your passion, partner with someone you trust to manage your technology needs.

El Gazzar advises don’t try to handle [technology] internally with your existing team. Your team has enough to do already with planning, managing, and supporting all the events themselves. It’s not fair. You need the right partners to help you figure out the technology piece.

Content design

Focus on content design (not from a program perspective). It’s content design and delivery. Your speakers need training in something with which they’re unfamiliar, and your attendees can be part of the pre-production and the production, El Gazzar says.

Marketing First

Today marketing is last, not first. Marketing isn’t brought in when looking at new platforms or when designing. It’s only when looking at the speakers. Involve marketing through the entire process because they know what the customer wants. Marketing needs to understand the product and how it will give the customer what they want, El Gazzar explains.

Lightning Round

Why do you enjoy working in events?

El Gazzar: The people and the hugs.

What’s your superpower that you apply to your role?

El Gazzar: NetWeaver? Connecting people with intention.

What city that you visit is your favorite?

El Gazzar: I should say Cairo because I’m from there.

What’s an event planner’s greatest strength?

El Gazzar: Herding cats.

What’s an event planner’s greatest weakness?

El Gazzar: Delegation.

Outside of events, what’s the topic that planners should study to be stronger?

El Gazzar: Content marketing.

What can planners do to increase their value?

El Gazzar: Not be humble, be bold.

What’s the change you most want to see come to events?

El Gazzar: Not having fear of trying new things.

Fill in this blank. The best events …

El Gazzar: Personalized experiences.

What’s the secret to your success that anyone could do if they worked at it?

El Gazzar: Oh, that’s a tough one. Crushed the imposter.

Listen to the podcast.

Guest Bio – Dahlia El Gazzar

Dahlia has an OMG-attitude about all things eventtech and experience design. She’s her own brand, with more than a decade of experience in the meetings and events sector, working on both the professional planning side and as an association collaborator. Dahlia is known as the coffee-fueled ‘go-to’ source for trend-setting solutions, eventtech news, and professional branding expertise.

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