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Deborah Elias

20 Years of Keeping Up With the 'Wow'

Fasten your seat belts: The last 20 years have brought some amazing innovations to add the"wow" to special events. Deborah Elias shares her insights.

Ten years ago, when celebrating the 10th anniversary of my company, Elias Events, I wrote an article about the 10 changes I witnessed over the years. Now at the 20-year mark, I feel the need to write another article.  

This time around, the changes in the special events industry are astounding, and to say advances in technology are a driving force behind special events is an understatement. In the current Silicon Valley-driven environment, the top minds in the world are constantly producing apps and software that help with everyday work product flow but also others can be used at actual events, thereby allowing you to keep up with the "wow"!

Let’s start with the obvious: Smartphones and the world of apps did not exist 10 years ago. With the advent of the iPhone and its subsequent many iterations, the world of planning events has completely changed. Well, frankly, life in general has! At no other time in history could an event be planned from a device that fits in the palm of your hand. 

Ten years ago, the phrase “There’s an app for that” did not have meaning. Cut to 2018, and the number of apps and their ability to help the planning, designing and implementation of events is well … too many to count. The phone can be used to check people into an event, measure out the length of a room, take memorable videos and photos, and remind us when to do it all over again.  

Much to the chagrin of the National Transportation Safety Board, drones are here to stay; and I for one am excited about this device. For outdoor events, they are a perfect way to capture all aspects. If used correctly and within safety guidelines, they can also be used to transport items such as drinks as well. Unbelievable shows, such as the synchronized lighted drones shows at the Olympics and Super Bowl, are taking entertainment to a whole new level.

To say that virtual reality is a big thing at events is an understatement. Transporting guests to alternative realities is an exciting application to enhance events. The wave of the future is the ability to market events, venues and locations without ever having to leave the office. 

The use of frozen liquid nitrogen is making a huge splash, and the reaction is spectacular. This product must be handled with great care and by a professional, but its ability to take drinks from boring to extraordinary is always a crowd-pleaser.

A huge game-changer in the audiovisual component of events is the LED wall/screen. Using these instead of a projector and screens is useful for so many reasons, including the ability to not have to rig, the versatility in their use, and, well, frankly, because they look so much better.  I am obsessed with using them and always glad when a client agrees.

3-D printing has become a cool addition to events. The ability to print many items--from sugar desserts to giveaways--on-site is fun and imaginative, and with the advent of more products, is becoming cheaper to do. 

A new cool element to add to events: Artists who create paintings on-site. They typically will paint the scene such as the ceremony of a wedding or the venue for a birthday party. Guests love to watch the piece unfold, and the clients have a visual reminder of the event for years to come. 

From speakers to LED lights, Bluetooth products have become a staple in the industry. Their use has allowed for sound and lights in places where this might not have been possible before. These products are activated by remote control, and many of them are accessible from apps on smartphones.

One of my absolute favorite new products is indoor sparklers or fireworks. The dynamic additions to the pyrotechnic arena have made a huge explosion--pardon the pun. The biggest plus is that they can be used indoors, do not require permitting and are safe (they can be touched without any fear of harm).

Deborah Elias, CSEP, CMP, CIS, of Houston-based Elias Events is an award-winning event planner and is passionate about all things events related with a particular focus on event technology and products to wow her clients, guests and colleagues.



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