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transformative experience

How transformative experience is key to event success?

Daniel Chua – CEO of AONIA Group & Santosh Panda – CEO of Explara discussed: How event experiences are going to be the vital driving force for the world to bring the differentiation in how you host events and execute.

Daniel has spent 15+ years in the event industry and has rich insights and experiences across the world, especially South East Asia or Europe.

This blog post contains rich insights to use in your event planning.

Santosh: The world is already moving from commodity to experiences, and we are all entering the experiences economy. Just hosting an event without bringing any differentiation, without building a premium feel,  it is not going to help you to have an impact.

Daniel: First of all, we need to define what transformative means to some people, you know, the word transformative brings to mind various interpretation. Sometimes people think transformative means a before-and-after state, mainly when especially very physically applied as you can see, and some people think of transformative as being something that evolves you.

So what is Transformative experience? To us transformative ultimately would be a change in mindset and what that can bring about. Real tangible difference. That’s the positivity, that’s productivity, lifestyle changes of sustainability. The list can go on.

So these are all attributes depending on what the event host wishes to deliver which is asked to help them facilitate and to create, so we see every event as very much an opportunity for such a transformative. Experience and the key thing the most important thing is to start with the intention because in my experience not every event organising team might not be aware or know how to go about.

The role of the professional event planner is to engage the decision makers/event hosts with such a conversation to start.

Santosh: You now mentioned the event organising team might not be aware of it. But it is the planner who would come up with creative thoughts and unique propositions as it involves time & money in executing the same, hence a significant risk or a huge opportunity.

Daniel: But with the right intention/framework, the professional event planner can conduct focus groups, break down the plan into smaller pieces and bring the event organising team to align with transformative experience implementation/ideations.

Santosh: How does the transformative experience framework work?

Daniel: Three key elements to consider are technique, technology, and talent.

First talk about “technique”. So technique in a way since we are talking about technology later is very much things which are non-technological as a focus. So preparing the audience is part of the technique. So when you want people to come into an event, it is not just the two to three days of the event that important, but prepare the audience the communications before the event, the messaging is also as important. When you send them even things like save-the-dates, that’s when the event experience begins. And now you want to be very aware that all the touch points that the audience is going to be experiencing a well-prepared. To prepare the audience and because when they’re receptive, all your hard work is better appreciated.

Santosh: How about the design and delivery as something quite remarkable as well from design everything from the programming is essential?

Daniel: I believe you are speaking to professionals here today. The minute your audience start on the journey towards your event in some cases because we sometimes also support them with their travel needs. To the time they arrive home. The delivery of the event very much would be the experiences that they encounter everything from the hotel venue the food that they eat, sights and sounds they encounter. This all comes under the delivery part. It is about the finesse of the team that delivers the event because no two event companies would provide the same event the same way. So we focus a lot on preparing the mindset of the people that are delivering the event.

As part of the technique, I bring you three assets: Singer, Song & Stage. These are all part of the technique, and we include a sub-framework.

For the “singer” context in my framework, I believe some of you may recognize Tony Robbins, one of the top pay motivational speakers gurus in the world and he has audiences of thousands. The context I mention this is to suggest that preparing the speakers for your event, the people going on stage, that’s part of the preparation, that’s important! Because in many events, most people assume that the people going on stage can speak well, that is not always the case, (s)he can even be the CEO of the company to go on stage, and the event can fall right flat because (s) he may not be a native speaker. When they’re addressing an international audience, the skill to inspire the audience and connect, therefore, gently bring across you know to the organising team the committee that this is something that we want to work with them on as well.

Tony Robbins

The “song” context in my framework is another significant component. When I say “song”, it is the content the multimedia as well and preparing this well is essential they should be a flow. If you’ve been to excellent orchestral performance, you know, some pieces of music they start light, and then you build up and then it ends either with a bang or sometimes softly water whatever it is. The intention is to make you remember, so that is fine as well as you create your event experience and also that when you when everything adds up together, it is memorable at the least and then being memorable is key to being transformative.

Next is the “stage”, that’s the destination/ venue, very important. The kind of experience,  when you bring an audience into a room to give them a kind of a wow feeling, you know, because if you typically hold a meeting or conference in a traditional Ballroom is expected, you know, the mind and body is not triggered to expect anything unusual out of the ordinary. Let’s say a new brand to launch, and the venue would be very critical in creating this high expectation and then the ability to communicate the message. Of course, there are many famous places around the world, the Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall and more if budget allows. Even back home you can look around which are more unusual places, to create the event within and around explore those.

Santosh: Transformative can also be something that we feel is something that touches the heart very much?

Daniel: Some degree of CSR where possible where it makes sense within the program Corporate social responsibility. So in this case of bringing an incentive group of about 200 people to Nepal, we also worked with a charity organization for you know people with cerebral palsy. In partnership with the Rotary Club, so everything was also very professionally managed by the charity organization because it’s essential to help legitimate charity.

When we say transformative is not just a single touch point, It is the entire range of experiences that effects that change the shift in the world. We call it a paradigm shift. You know not just a simple new perspective.

Santosh: I believe this covers the “technique” part of the framework. How about ‘technology”?

Daniel: With gamification technology, the buzz is AR and VR and more. Using AR/VR to take people to places that they did not or cannot imagine being and do not expect to be in as well. So it is that surprising that helps to create that memorability and transformative opportunity.

Santosh: And the most crucial is “Talent”?

Daniel: Trust me. It is getting these people to organize. That’s not so easy. Bringing them together is part of again all the touch points that you want to put together to affect that transformation. The talent is critical.

You can be the receptionist. You can be the guy that serves the f&b. Typically when we run a project we have got team leads that cover the entire spectrum of the event experience the registration, you know through to of course the Master of Ceremonies who’s on stage. So make sure that you connect with all of them and make them understand what the event is all about. And what the key message is all about. So no one is to be overlooked in this process.

Santosh: Do you mean collective participation?

Daniel: Yes, ultimately, you cannot create a transformative event if you have a few of the stakeholders and not include all.

Santosh: How do you measure the success of transformative experience?

Daniel: Measurement is not just a simple statistical issue in this case, but it’s about what we discussed before, the positivity, the increase in productivity, the positive lifestyle changes and the greater sustainability. That’s affected as a result of this transformative change, and it is something to be tracked only if, with an intention, you know with a longer-term approach to doing this. It’s not just filling in a servicing this event transforms your thinking. Most people would say yes, if they were kind to the organizer they would you know after all they all belong to the same organization, you know.

But if you want to track it, it’s got to be right other less visible forms, and that’s when you know, if you’re doing a great job another point when you talk about transformative, I’m admittedly, you know, each of us is hosting hundreds of events. But then again those two or three of this brings us back. You know because there is something that happened there, right? We enjoyed the experience there. That means I’m able to relate to the brand or relate to the organizing team or later the people who were behind it and I’m going to come back.

They came for a conference, for lifestyle-related events, but it was impactful. This is why I keep coming to this. You know youthfully Robbins has an example earlier and he’s got a large gathering, and people do listen to him again and again. One of the quotes that come to mind is from this Entertainer called Zig Ziglar,  he says motivation doesn’t last that’s the same reason why you have to shower every day, so the transformative experience I think really is, don’t see just as a discrete event, but see it as the longer time timeline.

Santosh: As a platform provider when we see a lot of people put their hours and hours of efforts, a lot of money that goes out into the event. It feels a little sad that the event didn’t succeed. We don’t succeed unless the event first succeeds and then industry succeeds. So I think you know, we need to go out of the mindset of saying yeah, the tool is going to make my event when a tool is just a tool. It’s the people thought process in the planning that’s going to make it happen. And I believe talent is part is what I’m passionate about it. We should work together more around this kind of subjects in the industry to be talked about and create compelling transformative experiences.

Hope you liked this conversational blog post. Let me know if you have thoughts /ideas on Event Experiences?

You can follow Daniel’s work on



Santosh Panda

Co-founder & CEO

Explara offers a suite of software products for Event Ticketing & Registration, Online Selling & Payment Solution, Crowdfunding & Donation, and Community & Membership. 

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