Fast Forward: What Planners Need to Know About the Future of Event Technology

Fast Forward Podcast Hosted by Logan Pratt


Fast Forward Season 1, Episode 2

In this episode of Fast Forward, host Logan Pratt sits down with event technology expert and founder of Endless Events, Will Curran, to find out more about the future of event technology. Curran and Pratt discuss everything from AI to augemented reality (AR) and Curran's newest project, leading Bizzabo's wearable event technology brand, Klik. 

Will Curran
Will Curran

Will Curran is the founder and former CEO of Endless Events, an event management company he founded back in 2007 that has since grown into a nationwide, multimillion dollar company. Curran himself always seems to be on the cutting edge of new technology, recently signing on to become head of Bizzabo’s wearable event technology brand Klik, which seeks to revolutionize the way that we think about event badges. Curran is also the host of the Event Tech podcast, where he regularly talks about how the latest and most innovative technologies will change the events industry.

Logan Pratt
Logan Pratt

About Fast Forward

Fast Forward is a new Meetings Today podcast hosted by Logan Pratt with a mission to shed light on the future of the meetings and events industry. Each month, Pratt and his guests will discuss and analyze the new technologies, trends and changes that may affect an audience of meeting and event planners, suppliers, speakers, educators, attendees and more. Fast Forward will feature industry experts on the cutting edge of innovation working to help push the industry forward. Tune in to "Fast Forward" to learn what trends and technologies are here to stay and how they will change the industry in the years and decades to come. 

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Editors note: The following transcription was facilitated by AI program and proofed by our editors. Although it is very accurate, there inevitably will be some mistakes, so please consider that when reading. Thank you.

Logan Pratt

Hello and welcome to Fast Forward, a Meetings Today podcast that explores the future of the meetings and events industry. I'm your host, Logan Pratt. And this month I am joined by one of the leading experts in meeting and event technology, Will Curran. Curran is the founder and former CEO of Endless Events, an event management company he founded back in 2007, when he was still in high school, that has since grown into a nationwide, multimillion dollar company. Curran himself always seems to be on the cutting edge of new technology, recently signing on to become head of Bizzabo’s wearable event technology brand Klik, which seeks to revolutionize the way that we think about event badges. Curran is also the host of the Event Tech podcast, where he regularly talks about how the latest and most innovative technologies will change the events industry. Welcome to the show, Will.

Will Curran

Thanks so much for having me, Logan, I'm super stoked to be here.

Logan Pratt

Yeah, we're excited to have you. I think what I want to start with is for you to talk a little bit more about your history in the industry, and kind of why you decided to make that switch from your own event management company that you founded to working for Bizzabo and the Klik brand.

Will Curran

Oh my gosh, well, how much time do we have to talk about all my history and experience? I mean, like you said, I started this when I was in high school. So, like, my whole life has basically been the events industry. I basically don't know anything better than it. You know? So when it comes to it, you know, my history very much is in actually managing events, you know, everything from small events to festivals to gigantic corporate events, and most of my experience now comes from like the corporate sector. You know, I think like all of us who are probably listening this podcast, we found corporate events and said, “Yeah, this is the part of the events industry I want to focus on.” And so [I’ve] always been super-duper focused on that. 

And, you know, when I was growing the agency, I have always had this focus on like, how can we use technology to A) Run a better business. Because, you know, at that time, it was very much like, you know, still using binders, and then, you know, then it became “Oh, you mean, we use Excel now?” And I'm like, “why aren’t we using Google Sheets? It's a collaborative tool,” you know? And it was always about, like, how do we use technology to run a better business, plan events better. 

But then like, we started realizing that same mindset bled into “how can we use technology to also create better event experiences?” And this is at a time when technology is rapidly evolving. Like I was there to witness the transition from like incandescent light bulbs to LEDs, which was like, super cool to get to see like, the use of electricity drop dramatically when it came to events. And you know, so there was little small things like that, that I started implementing into events. And then eventually, obviously, as we started doing more and more events, started seeing this revolution of event technology going from being just a registration platform to being something that you had on your phone, that could be used for networking, that could be used for data tracking, all these different technologies being implemented. And that was a big focus for myself as things kind of went along. 

A lot of people know me from the content that we created online. So people know the Event Tech podcast, they might know Event Brew, which was like kind of our controversial take on the events industry. We had #EventIcons, which I got to interview almost every single, you know, event around the entire world, every single iconic event, which was really, really cool. And then we published a lot of blog posts and written content as well. 

And to kind of talk about like, the transition away from running an agency and being a CEO of an agency to moving towards working directly inside of an event technology company is a pretty quick story. Basically, I got lucky to grow this company and get to see it just evolve in so many different ways. And I'm not gonna lie, it kind of got to this point where I started to build my team beneath me, that the business just ran itself. I was mainly working as the, you know, a content creator, I was working as, you know, the thought leader when it came to the entire company. And I was kind of looking for it saying “hey, you know, I think it's time for me to enter the stage of like ‘the true entrepreneur’ and exit my business and let it just grow without me.” So I actually hired a CEO to replace me, which was really, really cool. Because I got to hit that entrepreneurial dream where like, at age, what was I 33, 34? I retired. Which was wild. 

And so for a short period of time I worked on a couple other projects, people may have heard of the #EventProfs Community. I launched that, got that sustainable and up and running. I still you know, engaged in doing a lot of speaking engagements, speaking around the industry about technology. I still do my annual 2024 event trends presentation every single year that gives whatever trends are, you know, what's going on the industry and based on data that we found.

But very quickly, I'm not gonna lie, I got kind of bored. I was looking for, like, something new. And you know, at age 34 you should not retire. Don't do it. As amazing as it sounds, I was basically ready for whatever my next challenge was going to be. So I posted on LinkedIn saying, “Hey, I'm looking for my next challenge. What like what can I sink my teeth into? What can I bring my experience together?” And I had been friends with Bizzabo and Alon, the CMO of Bizzabo for many years, And he reached out said, “Hey, we got to bring you on to the team.”

And kind of talking to them, you know, they had acquired Klik, which I was a customer of and really believed in. And they were like, “Look, we want you to come and help kind of run this division of the company to help it grow to the next level and get to the point where there’s smart badges in everybody's hands.” 

And it was a perfect fit for me, because I'm a real big firm believer of this, hence the fact that I was a customer of theirs as well. And essentially, today, I'm just basically working on trying to spread the awareness about Klik. How can you use it to gather data about your events, so you can have a stronger ROI? How can you use it to increase your networking, all the fun stuff that Klik is all about?

Logan Pratt

Yeah, I think the other thing I want to ask you about that switch from your business to working for Bizzabo was like, what is the biggest difference that you saw between, you know, kind of working for yourself and your own brand, and then going over and working for someone else?

And I think you mentioned, like, you wanted a bigger challenge. But was there more to that? And also, was it hard to kind of let go of that thing that you have been building? Like, was it easy to pass it on? Because you built up a great team? Or did you find difficulty in transitioning from that?

Will Curran

No, it definitely was easier because I had built such a great team that really understood the business and the vision that I was looking for, and, you know, really were aligned with what was needed. So that transition, actually, out was a lot easier than I thought it would be. And I was really, really grateful to have many amazing people still in place in the business that still continue to run it to this day and still continue to service our customers. 

Your question of like, transitioning to working for someone else, honestly, it's been such a great experience. I think one thing that's really, really nice is that, you know, for basically like, 17 years of my life, I was the sole responsible person for my own income, for everybody else's income, for everybody else's well-being. And that's a lot of pressure, I'm not gonna lie. Especially when you really do care about your employees and their satisfaction, you know, a lot of pressure ends up getting put on there. And you know, not gonna lie, when you go to work for someone else, like the tension gets lifted off your shoulders. And what I think is really, really interesting is this is also the first time, too, that… You know, as a business owner, you're responsible for sales, marketing, finance, operations, every single aspect of the business. In this part of the business, like, I'm very, very laser focused on what I'm doing. Which is a really great relief, because it now allows me to put all the effort I've ever had into my business, into one specific piece of it to see really, really great results. 

And honestly, Bizzabo’s got like an amazing culture. Like, I'm not trying to like sales pitch Bizzabo over here or anything like that. But the people that work within the company are so smart. And everybody cares about each other so much, that it became a very, very natural transition. Because Bizzabo had a very, very similar culture to what I was building at Endless too, which I think made for a really, really great transition.

Logan Pratt

Yeah, I think that's what I was assuming is that, like, it's a lot less pressure on you. 

Will Curran

Yeah, for sure.

Logan Pratt

Where you may you have less ownership, but it also, you know, it's just, it's so much easier to kind of, you know, maybe have also a better work-life balance as well. Where you don’t feel like you have to like work 12, 14 hour days, but can, you know, clock out at five and go have some free time. 

Will Curran

And we had good work-life balance at Endless, like that was a big focus of mine. Like we went remote, like, seven years before remote work was popular during the pandemic. So it was very much like, we were very focused on “Hey, the well-being of our employees first.” Because we knew if you take care of your employees, they take care of the customers. But it's definitely one of those things where, like, even if you put all that focus on it, there is just the subtle relief of being like, “Look, I'm not responsible for payroll tomorrow.” Which is just like, one of the greatest things ever as an entrepreneur, which I'm sure a lot of entrepreneurs out there know the stress of that.

Logan Pratt

Yeah, I do want to also ask you about Klik and… For those who may not have ever heard about Klik, and I think you've also said wearable technology, as well. For some of our, you know, less tech-inclined listeners, what is wearable tech and how does that impact the Klik brand? Like what is it that you guys do for those uninformed?

Will Curran

Well it's awesome because like, I've been talking about wearables within the events industry for, like, many years, in fact, My claim to fame was that in year 2020, when we published our 2020 event trends guide, we had wearables is like one of the top things. Like, you know at that point like Klik itself was growing so rapidly, and we're like “This is the solution to solve the challenge of like, ‘how do I measure ROI from my events?’ And, you know, ‘How do I increase networking?’” And wearables was basically enabling that. 

And then ironically, in-person events evaporated and wearables didn’t become a thing. So what’s interesting, though, is that we were building this momentum towards wearables, I think becoming a big trend in the events industry. And again, this is before I even worked at Bizzabo and before I… You know, I was a customer, I was one actually paying to utilize these technologies. I saw that it was moving towards this idea that it was something very important to pay attention to. This was kind of also during the rise where, you know, smartwatches like, for example, the Apple Watch and things like that were really gaining momentum. And people were comfortable with the idea of technology existing outside of just your phone and being able to make experiences better. 

So, for everyone who hasn't heard of Klik before, essentially what it is, is that it’s a smart badge in an ecosystem of technologies that kind of center around that smart badge. Our like motto and methodology around it is instead of actually replacing the entire badge, we actually create a little wearable that sticks onto the back of the badge. What this allows you to do is that it creates a button that does a couple different things.

First, it lights up, it does like a lot of different cool colors. So if you've ever gone to a Taylor Swift concert, or a Coldplay concert and seen like, all the lights lighting up in the crowd and the ability to create cool light effects, it does that. So it creates this cool “wow” moment that a lot of people have not experienced at a corporate event, but may have seen at you know, for example, at a concert. But then, and that's cool and all, but that's pure novelty. 

So like, the big idea, and Charles who's the creator of Klik, wanted to create something beyond that. And so what they found is with the technologies we could also use it for contact exchange. I think in the year 2024 we're at the stage where people don't really carry business cards anymore. Like A) It’s paper wasting, B) It's kind of like outdated when there's so many other better ways to do it. 

But what I find is that if you end up deciding to get rid of business cards for events, you have this hole that basically gets filled by the phone. And let's be honest, when you're in an event you don't want to be sucked into your phone. You don't want to actually have to touch your phone at all, you want to just be able to experience the experience that you're having and stay focused. Because the second you touch your phone, there's you know, calls from the kids calls from the wife and girlfriend, your Facebook feed’s blowing up, (well, you may not be using Facebook anymore), but your TikToks are blowing up, email, there's so much distraction on it. 

But what we need to do is find a way for people to exchange contact information. So the way that we've solved that is that you just actually click the little wearable on the back of your badge. And it lights up, and you put it near someone else's badge, that they click as well, so double opt in, and they both instantly trade contact information. So that's the core of the technology is the idea that you can exchange contact information just by clicking your badges together, which is where the name comes in. And so this makes it very, very easy for people to exchange contact information along the entire way. 

All right, I know I'm getting a little long-winded, I promise I'm almost done. Hang in there, everybody. So it allows you to do a couple other things. Now that you've made it easy for attendees to exchange contact information, you can do this for the attendee and exhibitor interactions that happen, lead retrieval for example. We believe that kind of like sticking your phone on someone's badge, that's in an awkward position, you know, in 2024 is not really the best thing to do. It's awkward. It's weird. And it also takes a long time. And again, it requires you to use your phone. 

Well, now that we've made it easy for attendees to exchange contact information and made it more fun, now exhibitors and attendees can do it and you find that it actually increases the lift of exhibitor leads by 400%. Which like, if you said to anybody, “this is going to make a 400% increase,” you'd be like, “just take my money.” Right? So that's the other cool thing about this is the exhibitor lead experience. 

The last benefit, though, and this is what I think the power of wearables in the events industry really has is the data. We are in a stage in the industry where we are being looked at from marketers, from C suite, how do we generate better ROI for events? And how do we make actual meaningful experiences that matter? And a lot of what we do right now is we just base it off of either a post event survey that only 10% of people fill out, or we just kind of like, stick our finger in the air and say, “Yeah, everybody was happy. And this event was real great.” 

Well, with wearables, and specifically with Klik, that wearable actually has the ability to do location tracking for attendees. So based on what areas you want to track within the venue, we actually have the ability to know where they are, where they swelled, what sessions they attended, you know, for example we could track the food area of your event to know, “Hey, how many people actually ate the food?” And now we have actual ROI data that we can take back and plan better events. Less of a like, “Oh, yeah, the event went really successfully,” and more so “I have the data to prove the areas that I've been investing my money in, really mattered when it came to an event.” So, I apologize everybody for talking so much. But that's like the whole understanding as far as what Klik is.

Logan Pratt

I think that's so interesting because it's also… I feel like when people think about technology and kind of, you know, advances in technology, they don't think about it in terms of getting you off your phone. I think a lot of a lot of people are kind of like “Oh technology it only serves to kind of engage you more in the digital space. It doesn't allow you to connect with people in real life.” Whereas ironically I think your stuff can actually get people off of you know, exchanging LinkedIns or something which is kind of how I've seen people exchange information. 

And I think some people have tried everything from like QR codes to you know, to bringing back business cards and stuff because we need a way to exchange information. And that's why events are so powerful is because they allow you to get those networking connections, but you guys have been able to keep them off the phones and keep them engaged. So do you find that that's a key benefit is like, increasing attendee engagement with those?

Will Curran

Yeah. 100% when it comes to it. Because it's fun, you know, that's also the big thing, too. It’s not just “Oh, hey, we found a way to kind of like band aid this QR code to a badge and this is a little bit better of a solution than trading business cards.” We found a way that makes it like, “Click! Oh this is fun, you see it light up, it blinks!” And people get excited about the idea of trading contact information, it increases the amount of networking that's happened. And we actually have the data to prove, based on our research, that when we compare events with Klik and without Klik, that it actually increases the amount of networking by 250%. 
So I think that's really, really exciting. Because not only is it “Hey, it's tangibly getting people off their phones,” it's also increasing networking. You know, if I was a planner still back in the day, and I knew that data of 250% existed… like, there's so many things out there that we dump money into to try to get people to, “network more.” 

And like, this is an actual, tangible thing that actually does it. And then layer that on top of the fact that now you also have the data to understand where they're networking most. Now you can do things like, “Okay, did that open bar that I invested all that money into, did it actually do its job about, you know, increasing the amount of networking?” Or, you know, “Did I find that most people were networking in the hallways between sessions?” I think this is just like a stage we have where we're now able to plan events so much smarter, and with so much more engagement.

Logan Pratt

Interesting. Yeah, I think that's very cool. And I think that could be a good interaction with bringing technology into the physical space as well. Because again, I think people see technology as like bringing you away from that, but this is kind of the next step of like bringing you more in touch with other people. Rather than like, have everyone on… Even if you're running like a virtual event, you know, have everyone separate or an in-person event where everyone's together… Do you kind of consider this to also be a bit of a hybrid in the sense of like, do you think you can leverage the virtual and the in-person aspects into like a bit of a hybrid meeting? Or what would you consider this to be?

Will Curran

Yeah, you know, this isn't necessarily a technology that massively improves virtual events. It is definitely an in-person technology that you're going to be utilizing this for. However, the way that we look at it, and the way that the contacts that you exchange with are presented, is it presents you a timeline. So essentially what we do is no matter whether you’re using the Bizzabo Experience OS or you’re using… whatever event app you're using, or whatever registration system, we’ll integrate the timeline directly within it. Which is also really, really cool. What we do is basically, we set up a timeline and that shows you the history of where and when you met everybody in in that timeline. 

I see it as the future where… imagine with your event apps… that the people that you're meeting, whether you met them in-person or virtually or if you're at a hybrid event and you found a way to connect and cross that border… I've been preaching that for years like “How can we use these technologies to potentially bridge the gap between someone meeting in-person and virtually at an event?” You know I imagine the future where we have call booths where you could walk into and have a scheduled meeting with a virtual attendee, that'd be really, really cool to be able to see, and maybe we'll get it there with holograms and all that fun stuff in the future. 

But I think the ability for someone to bring up their phone and see a history of everyone they met, I think that's a really important part about events, whether you're talking virtually or in-person. Because so often when we're networking at events, you know, you get these, these contacts… And let's say, for example, you're not using Klik, you just get like a stack of business cards, or you're just doing the LinkedIn thing that we talked about before… You're just basically gonna get a list of everyone you've met, you're not gonna remember when you met that person. And let's be honest, what we see on average for an event is, on average, most attendees meet at least 10 people per event, just as like a baseline. With Klik, you know, it's closer to 25. But if you met 10 to 25 people, that's a lot of people to remember details: “When did I meet them? What was their job? Do they have kids? Do they not have kids?” And you might, like, take notes, but let's be honest, are you going to really sit there at a networking event and immediately afterwards be like, “Okay, I met this person. ‘Oh, I apologize. I'm taking notes right now. I'm kind of listening to you. But it’s more important about me remembering everything.’” Or worse is that “Oh, I'm gonna take 10 minutes right after I talk to this person and write down everything that I know about them.” 

You know, if you're gathering leads as an exhibitor, you're probably going to do that because you know how to take shorthand, you know how to get the quotes really fast. And we do have solutions for lead-scoring and being able to remember leads and gathering information about them. But most of the time what you find is most attendees aren't doing that. They're just gathering the contact information and they're hoping they remember three days after the three-day conference about who this person was and do a personalized follow up. Which I think that a timeline allows you to establish and make that a lot easier for someone to remember. 

Logan Pratt

Yeah, and I think what's so interesting is like, a lot of planners and attendees have an idealized version of the event, like, “I'm gonna do this, I'm gonna write down everyone I meet, I'm gonna have 100% participation in the post event survey.” But we know that that's not how that works. And so I think it's just removing the pressure off of both the planner and the attendee like, you don't have to worry about it. Like we do it for you, which I feel like is the point of technology in general. 

And with that, I do want to transition because like, I think you're also very knowledgeable about event technology in general in the industry. And I think you've been a very good predictor about where technology is headed in the industry. So I want to ask you… thinking back to when you first started in the industry, back in 2007, are there any like current day tech practices that are now commonplace that actually kind of surprised you? And seemed a little bit far-fetched or unrealistic that have now become sort of mainstays?

Will Curran

Definitely like AI was the thing I think that we all thought was decades out. But that's kind of the obvious one I think that most people will see. But I think that still has the potential, you know, to make disruption waves in what we're doing. You know, for example, record all of your sessions, immediately create like a concise follow-up, pre-edited video that highlights all the best points made across three days of content, across seven different tracks of all that stuff. AI I think has the ability to do that in the future. And then there's just so many more things that we don't know are coming. But that was one area that I definitely never was gonna… And in 2007, if you told me that you could talk to a computer and it would sound like a human I would have said, “Yeah, maybe 2050. Y’know?”

Logan Pratt

What is your opinion on where AI is currently? Because I think the opinion that a lot of people have is that it's not anywhere close to where it could be or anywhere close to being, you know, practically usable in their day-to-day lives. What is your opinion on where AI is now, and where it could be? You know, we've seen such tremendous growth in just the past couple years, where it could be, you know, even 5, 10 years down the line? 

Will Curran

Yeah, I actually do think that it's totally usable. I do think that it's, you know… Also like, I do think that there's tons of potential for it to go even further, for sure. You know, that ability to go further is a lot of what I'm like, “I don't know where this could go.” 
It's kind of like when Apple announced the App Store, you know, that was basically happening around the time that I was starting in the industry, right? Like, smartphones were just kind of growing and starting to do their thing. And honestly, my interactions within the industry weren't large enough in the few first few years that I really got to see how that changed things. But I'm sure for anybody who's listening to this who was in the industry pre-iPhone, and now exists afterwards, would say “I would have never expected that I'd have all my details of my event literally on a little device inside my hand.” They were used to carrying big binders with everything together in one spot. 

I think AI is kind of in that similar place for us. We don't know where it's gonna go and what it’s gonna look like. But when it comes to usability, I think that it absolutely can tremendously change how you do your day-to-day. Let’s talk about session descriptions. We literally don't need to write session descriptions anymore. You can take your existing website that you have right now, tell the AI to learn the writing style of your existing session descriptions, and then say, “Hey, I am doing a session with Will Curran. Here's his templated description and title.” Let's say he doesn't even give you that to you, like he is is one of those speakers who says, “I'd love to do a talk on AI.” And that's all you have. You could tell a tool like Chat GPT “Hey, write me a session description in my style that's about AI for Will Curran,” and boom, does it instantaneously for you. Which usually that first draft would have taken you maybe 20, 30 minutes or so. Now you get it instantaneously, you proofread it, it takes you five minutes to do, and boom you're out the gate. That is something that has a tremendous amount of value to save us all time. And that's just talking about session descriptions. 

I think one of the areas that it’s very rapidly going to solve for us is also the tremendous overload that people are starting to get around the idea of data. As much as I’m preaching the idea, like, “We need to be collecting more data for events and tools like Klik can do it.” It's also scary for a lot of planners because it's just another hat that we've been given that we have to know. Right? We went from being the people who created great experiences to now we have to worry about DEI, we have to worry about sustainability, we have to worry about event tech, we have to worry about AV. And now everyone's wearing so many different hats and now everyone's preaching saying “You have to understand data and use data to plan better events.”

Well, I think AI has the ability… You can give it raw data and say and say “analyze this for me and find the trends for me,” and it’ll present that back to you in an easy to understand manner. And I think that's really one of the examples where we could in the short term like, this is maybe only a month or two away from ever happening, is that we could literally give it all the data that we're now collecting, that I hope that you're collecting, and able to analyze it in real time for your events. Which I think is really, really powerful.

Logan Pratt

Yeah, and I think a lot of people are just, you know, kind of scared of what AI presents and the almost existential threat that it poses. Because when machines came about and were kind of, you know, “mechanical muscles,” for people, it allowed us to kind of use our brains more and kind of have more intellectual working. But now that there's machines that can also do the brain power, I think a lot of people are scared of that. So what would you like… One, would you consider yourself a tech… I'm assuming you're a technical optimist. But what would you say to like maybe the technical pessimists who see this new technology and are a bit scared of the threat that it poses to their jobs, but also to maybe their attendees. Where they maybe won't get that experience from a person-planner, you know, a human-planner?

Will Curran

Yeah, I mean I'm definitely on the optimist side of things, like my philosophy is the “AI is not going to take your job, it's someone who uses AI is gonna take your job.” And I know there's a lot of examples about how companies are downscaling their workforces because of AI tools. However, I believe what they're doing is that now that small base that's left is utilizing those tools to do even more. And again, there will be ways to find additional jobs and work to be done. 

For example, we talked about data analytics or session description writing. Let’s say, for example, you spend somewhere like 20-30 hours writing session descriptions for your corporate event. You know, I think instead of doing that, now you have that 20-30 hours to do something like, for example, do the data analytics, to focus on creative DEI solutions, focus on creative sustainable solutions. In a world where like, we don't have enough time as event planners, I don't think it's one of those things where all of a sudden our jobs are gonna get slashed, where that role is not exist anymore. I just think that we're now going to have to shift what we're focusing our time on. 

And I'm not gonna lie, I think anybody out there who says, “I love writing session descriptions,” I don't think that's what events are about. I don't think people actually genuinely get value, other than maybe an understanding about where to go when it comes to their sessions. Where really we need to focus our time on is about those experiences, it's about getting the right people in the right rooms, so we can network and ideas can happen and growth can happen within those events. And I think that's the area that that us as event organizers really do need to focus on, rather than session descriptions or responding to emails from attendees asking, “Hey, is there going to be a bathroom at the beach party that we're having on Tuesday night?” Right? Like, that's the stuff that we don't need to be focusing on. Instead, we're need to be focusing on other things. 

So I think it's definitely one of the things where I'm an optimist. And I really think it's one of these things that like, we don't know exactly what this is gonna look like. And it is scary, right? Like, I'm sure people were really frightened when Adobe Photoshop came out. And they were a photo editor. But now you look at it and look at how many amazing graphics and visual arts that we've created with Adobe Photoshop. It's a very, very similar idea as well.

Logan Pratt

Interesting. Yeah, I also want to kind of… I think AI is going to kind of change a lot of stuff. But I also want to get your opinion on, you know, the changes that you have already seen… I think you already mentioned kind of the iPhone and that kind of coming out around your time. Especially since we saw, you know, 2020 kind of drastically change how people view event tech with virtual meeting platforms and hybrid meetings as well. What is the big… Like, how has technology grown and changed in your time? And what has surprised you about the change and technology and kind of… Is there stuff that you weren't able to predict about technology changing?

Will Curran

I mean, I got lucky that I was always on, always trying to find like, what that next thing is. I'm a super early adopter. Like, I think the first thing I've never early adopted is I still haven't technically gotten a Vision Pro headset. Technically I had the VIVE Pro, I was very much into VR. I haven't gotten too much into mixed reality yet. But like, I'll probably be like early majority when it comes to adopting the Vision Pro, I think mainly just because of the price. 

But there is a lot of things that… I don't say that I'm necessarily surprised by, but I'm happy that ended up happening. So for example, like you talked about virtual platforms. I remember when I first started finding out about platforms, like for example, Blab, which was like a live-streaming ability, put four people on a screen and just talk with each other and record it like a podcast. I was always up on that very, very early. And what I found is that we started exploring these ideas of using things for example, like GoTo Meeting and WebEx, to be able to do hybrid events. 

There was an event that we ended up planning very early on that was part of like a “reaction” to the future of events collapsing. And if you ever hear that story, just Google like “Future events CTRL + ALT + DEL” and you'll hear this whole story about how this event ended up getting created. But shout outs to Dahlia, who was kind of the mastermind behind this event. And Dahlia, and everybody who was helping plan it, I basically brought on my like GoToMeeting account where like, “Let's find a way to make it work.” There's all these different locations around the world that are presenting content to each other and interacting with each other. And back then that would be considered extremely innovative, you know, and if you have conversations with Brandt Krueger, as an example… He also talks about, like how they used to do phone call hybrid events as well. And, you know, this stuff has been around for a while. 

So by the time that 2020 had happened, we were really lucky to be in a position where we had been doing live streaming of events and hybrid and virtual events for years. But I was really happy to honestly see that. I think the one thing that surprised me as far as that technology actually was the opposite. Not necessarily the adoption of it, because it’s adoption during the pandemic was a necessity. But it was honestly the adoption that it didn't become as popular as I thought it would be. 

I was definitely one of those people in 2021 that was preaching “Hybrid is the future, make sure that you're thinking about your virtual audience, invest the money into live streaming your sessions, invest in the technology that allows in-person attendees to meet virtual attendees.” And no one really wanted to do it, right? We were all so exhausted, I think. And we were also, you know, budget strapped as well. That it basically… You combine the exhaustion and the desire just to do whatever’s easiest, and that was the return to 2019 style of events. And then pair that with the fact that not everyone had budget, it just led to this path to say, “Look, let's just do the easy route. And let's go for it in-person only.” Not to say, for anyone who's listening to this, that they're not doing hybrid events now. You know, virtual events like the webinar and virtual events are bigger than they've ever been, I see more of them than ever before. And I think they're a critical part of our event strategy. But they definitely didn't pick up as much as we thought they would, like in replacing in-person experiences. 

Other technologies that I think I got surprised by… You know, I honestly am shocked by the quality of production that we continue to have within events more and more. You know, I have a big production background. How high-quality LED screens have gotten, how amazing lighting has gotten for events, like all these things that create really amazing experiences for presentations for concerts and festivals. I think is really the part that not necessarily shocked me, but I'm so excited to see that continue to grow. Because I think what it's done… and to the point, is that we've created these high production value experiences is it’s what’s drawing a lot of people to come back to in-person. You know, not only the networking and things like that, but like “Oh, the fact that I can go to see as much amazing laser show.” The fact that a concert is so much more enjoyable in-person versus watching it at home. I think that's what's drawing a lot of people to come back to in-person. And I'm excited. And that's an area that honestly, because I'm kind of taken my pulls off of production. Who knows in the future what the production value is going to look like in the future when it comes to events?

Logan Pratt

Yeah, and there's something interesting that we talked about last episode with Bill Reed. Where he said like, “It shouldn't be your job as a planner or an event manager to simulate the in person experience when you're doing a hybrid meeting.” I think a lot of people aren't really into like, VR and AR in terms of like trying to simulate you walking around a a convention center or something with a headset on. Do you find… Do you share that same opinion? Or do you think that people might be willing to accept a “Metaverse” for an in-person meeting when they’re remote?

Will Curran

I think right now with where the technology is, I don't think we're willing to accept it because it's just too weird, it's too uncanny valley for a lot of people. And also the ability to do it well requires a lot of very specific things to fall perfectly in place. But I think like right now, yes. In the future, who knows? 

Like, there might be a future where we have every single convention center has cameras all around it that now make it where, you know, as you're moving around the venue, you actually see the people in0person moving around you. Maybe there's a future where you can place yourself as a humanoid robot inside of an event and walk the show floor and then that's how you're actually virtually tuning in. I mean, technically, that already exists like what it was five, six, seven, eight years ago or so? There's a robot that has wheels that goes around, it has a screen on it, and allows you to telecommute into an event. And I was utilizing that on my laptop, no problem at all. I'm thinking about a future where yeah, you strap a Vision Pro headset and now you can do that in an even better way with better cameras and better 360 video and things like that. However, you know, I think that we just need to continue to keep tweaking it. 

And the problem is, with the events industry as a whole, if you talk about like a major trend is that like, a lot of times we see these technologies affecting the consumer space, right? You see VR in every gaming… and people using it for gaming. You see, for example, AI in its use on your refrigerator. And then you wonder to yourself, like, “Where's this stuff in the events industry?” 
And I think a lot of people think that the delayed adoption that ends up happening means that the events industry doesn't want it. But what they don't realize is that the events industry is so prone to fear of Murphy's Law and things failing and not going well. Right? Like, we will do everything we can to avoid technology until it's perfect. And that's okay, we do need that! We do need events to go really smoothly, we need less stress for event planners, let’s not create more stress for them. That's not what anyone wants in any sort of way.

But what people have to realize is that whatever technology is going to hit the consumer space is always going to take a little bit of time to trickle down to the event space until it starts to become more solid, more reliable, and can create that less-stressful environment for an event manager. 

Logan Pratt

Yeah, I think a statistic that’s often touted is that this is the third most stressful job is an event planner, a meeting and event planner. We don't want to, you know, add any more stress or like, “Oh, the robot doesn't work.” We don't we don't necessarily need that. And I think we are pretty far away from like a Ready Player One, you know, fully immersive kind of experience. I think you're right it’s just too new, it's too uncanny valley. And we might see that adopted but I think a lot of people are still weirded out by that. 

I am curious about your thoughts on any current technologies, that you know… Every innovation is touted as like the next big thing. Every time something comes out people are always like “This is it, this is the next big thing. This is the next evolution of technology.” Are there any technologies that you see that you find that attendees are not fans of and that you think will actually be phased out in the next five to 10 years? That are touted right now as like “this is it,” but you don't really see a future in? 

Will Curran

That's such a great question, Logan. I was thinking to myself, “Oh, well, what’s the one that no one’s really thinking of,” but now I’m trying to think of like yeah, what gets hyped up too much. It's hard right now, especially in the technology space, because there's so much noise around AI and because readily so, there's so much good stuff happening. And there's so much good developments happening. Like for example, with Sora and its ability to generate video, that's just going to take up a whole news cycle for a whole month talking about video generation. But what is overhyped right now? You know, that's such a great question…

Logan Pratt

Because the classic example that I that I think of is NFTs. Where like it was very hyped up like everyone's talking about “This is this is web 3.0, everyone's gonna be using this as like their virtual avatar.” And now it's such a meme, and everyone hates them now. I think that's the classic example. So I don't know if you saw anything like that in the event space where people are like, “This is it, this is like the next big thing.” That’s where my mind immediately goes to as somebody who's been aware of the tech space for a while.

Will Curran

That's a great point. You know, NFTs… I agree definitely with that. The only part I think that NFTs might have a glimmer of hope in the future is we're talking about like AI generated art and the ability to tell real from fake… Maybe NFTs, and the underlying technology, the ability to know that it's real and fake, might be able to come from NFTs in that way. But that's starting to get us down a way nerdy rabbit hole, you know, feel free to hit me up on that one if anyone wants to talk about it. 

But a good point about a technology that is kind of overhyped I think right now… And that no one’s really, really talking too much about. Honestly, and I'll die on a hill on this one, is that I believe social media is seeing its downfall start to happen right now. 
So you know, for example, we look at a few recent social networks and kind of how they've collapsed recently. For example, Twitter and X. No matter whether you love Elon Musk, you hate him, I really don't care. Their user base has dropped dramatically. And I think what used to be a technology that… we would do things like for example, live tweet at events. Shout out to Alex Plaxen, who's like the OG when it comes to live tweeting at events. But like, we used to care so much about what's happening on Twitter, “It’s the new way to break news,” all these things like that. There's a chance that it might not exist really soon. Facebook, which was like, honestly, how I grew my business. I used Facebook groups, Facebook pages to really build my brand awareness. Now, it's like we always joke like “No one younger than a millennial uses Facebook.” Right? And, you know, I think there's this place where people are also getting concerned about what social media does to our mental health. 

I think, though, this idea that “Oh, social media is where we're gonna post about the event, it’s where all the stuff is gonna come from.” I think that might change in the future. I have this manifesto if you go to the Event Profs community website, and find the manifesto, it’ll probably pop up for you. I have this rant I put together… That I believe that social media has a good place, it brings people together, it gives them community. But the challenge is that we lean so much heavily on a space that we do not own that we kind of rent the land for… And all it takes is for an algorithm to change. All it takes is for… LinkedIn, for example, announced that they're gonna have games coming soon. Like, it just makes a decision like that for a social media network to no longer become popular. And we're constantly having to relearn, learn a new strategy, figure out how the algorithm works. When in reality, what social media should be doing for us is giving us a space that we can send our attendees to after the event to continually keep interacting. But no one's really using it in that way. 

So where I think the hype should be put in is building your own custom community on your own platform. Using something like Circle or Mighty Networks, or something like that I think is where the power of this comes from. And the ability to take what people desire from social media and being able to build energy on it from events.

Logan Pratt

Yeah. Do you think then that we're just gonna see less people using social media? You know, because I have heard the whole thing of like, you know, TikTok might get banned in the next couple months, obviously the Twitter X thing… But also people are trying to take, you know, mental health breaks from social media because it is so toxic. So do you think people will just kind of scale back their social media use? And we'll see an overall decline in social media use across every platform? Or is it kind of like you were saying that people might diversify and go to a different platform like Threads or BlueSky in the case of Twitter? Do you think those will kind of start to rise up? Or do you think we're just gonna see everything decline?

Will Curran

Yeah, I'm excited about the fediverse and what it's capable of doing in terms of like, the ability to post one place and it can be syndicated across multiple places. If you haven't heard about the Fediverse, just YouTube it and there's a bunch of videos that explain what it is. I do think that's a very interesting trend. But I do think that we're going to see a combination of both, a little bit of a decline towards social media. Because, you know, let's be honest, the next generation is understanding that this is not good for them. And so they're going to think very critically about just signing up for another social network. Versus like, you know, I'm a millennial, my generation always was like, “Oh, Instagram, that's the new hot thing, gotta sign up, gotta get an account, I'm just going to start posting and I don't really think about it, I'll let the algorithm just take over my entire life.” You know, TikTok, similar thing. 

I think that we're going to probably get people to be more critical of it. And so I think… I hope we won't be in the situation where it's just always there's something new, and we're always constantly switching to it. Because I hope that we then be more critical of it. And yeah, take more mental health breaks, be smarter about it. But also, I think whether that does happen or not, I think that we have to realize that like, it's just not good. In that we need to, as a business strategy, move away from it as a whole and try to create our own spaces. Rather than, you know, just trying to be where everybody's at. 

Like, I personally only log into LinkedIn anymore. Nowhere else. And I think that like, you know, that's really crazy, because I also try to avoid my time on LinkedIn as much as possible. Because me, the saying I like to say it's like… I like to think I'm a pretty confident guy, right? Like, I've been very successful in the industry, I have a lot of influence in the industry. So like, social networks shouldn't really affect me too much. But when I log in to look at the feed, I feel meh, I feel anxious, I feel like I'm not good enough. And if I'm feeling that, what is someone else who maybe like, doesn't have as much confidence as me feeling out there as well? And I think that's just a simple sign to show that, like, there needs to be something better out there.

Logan Pratt

Yeah, and I think that's a common complaint of all social media platforms. You know, whether it's LinkedIn and you're comparing your your professional life, or Instagram or Facebook where you're comparing your personal life. Like, “Oh, I'm not in Hawaii right now.” You just start to feel bad that you're just like, you know, chillin at home. And it's the same with LinkedIn, too. And that's a common complaint that I that I hear about LinkedIn, specifically. You know, you go on there and everyone's bragging about their promotions, everyone's talking themselves up, and it gets kind of depressing at a certain point. Even if you even if you are a confident person. 

So the other thing I want to ask you about as we… I think we're gonna kind of start wrapping things up here. This podcast is called Fast Forward… So where do you see the future of technology in the meetings and events industry going? You know, we've touched on a lot of like certain products and technologies, but where do you see the industry as a whole? You know, not even in the next 5, 10 years, but the next 10, 20, 30 years? You know, thinking in decades? Where do you think things are going and what new technologies are you really excited about that you think will drastically change the way that we plan or attend events?

Will Curran

For sure. I think everybody's talking about AI. So like, I'm gonna avoid AI because it's gonna be like so many people are talking about it. And I'll choose one that's actually related to like what I do for work right now. Because A) I think it's important for people to start thinking in this similar way that I do. And also, you know, I do want to make sure that everyone utilizes our technology as much as possible. But I want to give people a vision of what I think the future can look like using technologies like wearables, for example. 

We talked about how, you know, the ability for you to get off your phone in terms of networking and the ability to contact exchange I think is really, really important. One thing that we have built with Klik, is that we also have the ability for people to interact with what we call “touch points.” Essentially, you just click your badge to a little button, and it doesn't require the button to click back. Because obviously, there's no other button, like laying around.

Imagine, for example, taking this button and putting it on a podium at an exhibitor’s table. And instead of you know, the only way that you could potentially share your contact information, to become a lead for this exhibitor, is that you have to interact with a salesperson. We know that, statistically, there's introverts and extroverts at events. Some people like to talk to people, and some just do not want to talk to people. Well now you have the ability for someone to click their badge, and maybe get a white paper, sign up for a webinar and not have to talk to a salesperson. This is great, because now we're creating a more inclusive environment for people to interact. But it also achieves the goals that the exhibitor is still getting their contact information, seeing them as a lead and can follow up with them, nurture them, whatever they need to do from a marketing aspect. 

Now imagine that same concept, let's apply it to more creative ideas. So for example, one thing that we've done in the past is, we've talked about getting people off their phones. Well imagine the next reason you need on your phone a lot during an event is to know where the schedule is, know where my next event is. Location mapping and location Wayfinding. Well imagine you can click your badge to a screen, and instantly it shows you your entire schedule for the day, what's your next session, where's the room. You can tap on that it shows you a map of where to go. And boom! Like, now you're making it where attendees no longer have to be on their phones at all. And it's making the interaction where they can just click to it, get the information they need, it knows who they are and it's a personalized experience. 

I really feel like that's the future that we're kind of already in. But it's just not commonplace. Because most people just want to assume “Oh, yeah, I’ll just put it on the app and everyone will be fine with it. I don't want to think too hard and put too much effort into what I'm trying to do.” But I do think in the future, this is what people are going to be craving in terms of experience. 
I'll tie in the idea, too, that… You know, we avoid AI. But I'll go to the one that most people… We've avoided for years talking about, but I think it's almost here. With Apple's Vision Pro, we've now introduced to a user base, a very common user base, the idea of AR and VR and things like that, and made it something people are willing to talk about more. And I think in the future… everyone's racing to make glasses smaller and smaller and smaller and more usable and more, you know, not as weird as a whole entire set of ski goggles on your eyes. But I do think that in the next five years, 10 years, we will crack that code. They will get smaller, they will provide us an AR experience that is normal and totally non intrusive.

And what I think is the future is that… Imagine instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in signage at venues, to brand the venue and you know… Even, for example, doing my whole idea of clicking to a TV screen, setting up digital signage, all that can go away. Because now we can just tell people, “Hey, when you arrive at the event, it loads up an AR experience automatically and overlays the existing venue.” And it allows people to then navigate through the venue, allows people to, for example, get information about attendees just by looking at them. Or you know, for example, being at a session and instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on screens everywhere, we just have a built into our glasses. Like, I think this future of where AR and mixed reality can go is really, really powerful. And I feel like it's closer now that Vision Pro has come out. I don't think it's one of these things where it's tomorrow we'll all replace all our signage. But we're talking in 10 years, it's totally doable. And  I'm very excited because it's something that in the industry, we've been talking about, AR and VR, for so many years. But this is, I think, a very big potential to seismically shift how we design our events in the user experience that people have for those events.

Logan Pratt

Yeah, and I love the idea of bringing introverts out as well. Because poor introverts are so, you know, not able to engage well at events. And as an introvert myself, I am very excited for that future where, you know, you would have to not talk to salespeople in order to make those connections. You can just click from afar and kind of still engage in that sense. 

Will Curran

As an extrovert I also don't want to talk to a salesperson, either. 

Logan Pratt

Well thanks so much, Will. I think as like a last little thing, is there anything else that you kind of want to say? You know, where can people find you as well? I know you host a number of podcasts. And you're very involved in the industry, you have a lot of stuff going on. So where can people, if they want to hear more from you, where can they find you?

Will Curran

I appreciate it, Logan. Thank you so much. Yeah, if anyone ever wants to find me, I'm super easy to find. You can either just search “Will Curran” on Google or go to You just go there, that's where you'll find all my links to all the different stuff that I do. The podcast, more information about Klik and Bizzabo. But you know the thing is, if you are listening this podcast and you haven't heard about Klik so far… Like, I'm not asking you to buy it. I just want you to check this out and know it exists. Just search, “Klik,” k-l-i-k, on Google and find us and would love for you to hear more about it.

Logan Pratt

All right. Well thanks so much for being on, Will. 

Will Curran

Thanks so much for having me, Logan.

Logan Pratt

That was my conversation with Will Curran, who is constantly on the cutting edge of event technology and one of the most passionate and energetic speakers I have met so far in this industry. Curran is enthusiastic and optimistic about the future of the industry and the role AI and wearable technology will play, viewing AI and new developments as opportunities to embrace rather than obstacles to overcome. I can’t wait to see where the future takes us and if any of Curran's predictions turn out to be true. Perhaps we’ll have to revisit these topics a few years down the line. 

If you liked what you heard, consider checking out more episodes of the Fast Forward podcast and other Meetings Today podcast interviews with some of the biggest names in the meetings and events industry. You can find out more by going to or finding us on Spotify. And as always, thank you for listening.

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About the author
Logan Pratt | Digital Content Coordinator

Logan Pratt joined Meetings Today in May 2023 as digital content coordinator, focusing on digital marketing efforts and covering breaking news stories for the Meetings Today website and newsletters. To send a press release or any information regarding the meetings and events industry please email