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Tera Barnes attending the Experiential Marketing Summit in Las Vegas 2024

Tera Barnes attending the Experiential Marketing Summit in Las Vegas 2024

Attending the Experiential Marketing Summit in Las Vegas as EMP’s Vice President of Business Development gave me a great snapshot of the industry’s latest innovations. At this year’s event, new tech innovations like AI integrations and drones were at the top of the list.

Another great experience was stopping at Two Dudes Photo to snap a dynamic profile photo. Excellent photography! It’s the best I’ve seen. I also experienced a personality-test AI photobooth, which “mapped your snapshot” onto preselected personalities. Unfortunately, I didn’t think the AI-generated image looked anything like me—it looked a little too good.

The AI Image of me…

There were standout moments with leading technology, demonstrating the range of applications of these critical industry tools, allowing attendees to envision professionally and proactively. Several heady presenters, such as former head of innovation and creativity for Disney, Duncan Wardle, focused the experiential into a visionary perspective with a dynamic keynote, sharing his tools that advance creativity and innovation. The spectacularly dressed State Farm Head of Marketing, Alyson Griffin, gave a standout performance as a public speaker and marketer. She expressed her brand philosophy in a masterstroke of storytelling; my takeaway is that Alyson and State Farm’s success is a long game, deemphasizing random acts of marketing to favor a campaign based on touchpoints. 

Alyson Griffin of State Farm dazzled the audience with her energy.

While the industry at EMS viewed showcases built around forerunning technologies and interactivity, I found that much of the panel discussions could benefit from “a content review process, which would optimize presenters’ use of the stage for more impact and clarity.” I was disappointed the main stage was not better equipped to amplify the core messaging with elevated technology like an LED wall at center stage. That stage is the medium that should amplify the messaging with robust technology. Since this was the Experiential Marketing Summit, the stage should be interactive and experiential, with vivid content and strong imagery.

Although I found the snapshot of the industry I was looking for, I envision additional ways EMS should continue to improve its outreach and performance. It’s a pet peeve of mine, but presenters should be better educated about how their media will display on different technologies, such as when presenting on LED, don’t use much white space. There were several blinding panel discussions where rows of attendees were inches away from a very bright LED wall. A content review process would’ve used the staging to its maximum potential unless the plan was for attendees to get branded sunglasses for the showcase. Wow, it was that bright, and you could hear the gasps when that content went up!

The LED is very bright! Seat guests further away from the stage or use a background color other than white.

Also, the panel discussion on “Strategizing to reach Gen Z” showcased four incredibly astute brand masters representing Cisco, Warner Brothers, Shipt, and Peacock, which was fascinating but sometimes tricky to follow without captions identifying who was who. Simply displaying their names and companies on the two-screen IMAG projection in “lower thirds” would boost their messaging and amplify their brands.

The IMAG projection and lower-third captioning allow an audience to follow a panel discussion more easily.

Though Vegas is no stranger to games of chance, chance does not play well for business development missions: I wasn’t playing around, but I left inspired. I intend to return with a party of my own. I won’t return for the strip, but as a VP of Business Development with “colleagues,” I am betting once more on the Event Marketing Summit at the MGM Grand Las Vegas to deliver. 

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