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Industry Innovators 2024: Tess Vismale

The tech expert and podcast host works to equip independent planners with the knowledge and confidence they need to make informed decisions about their tech stack.

Vismale co-hosts the popular Event Tech Pull-Up podcast with Plannerwire's Keith Johnston.
Vismale co-hosts the popular Event Tech Pull-Up podcast with Plannerwire's Keith Johnston.
Photo: Courtesy of Tess Vismale

Tess VismalePhoto: Courtesy of Tess VismaleTess Vismale is the founder of iSocialExecution Inc., a "tech whisperer" for DAHLIA+Agency, and co-host of the Event Tech Pull Up podcast. Based in Atlanta, she's also on the board of directors for the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals.

How she got her start: "My journey in the event tech industry began over 25 years ago when I followed my sister, a master cosmetologist, on the road as she designed trade show experiences for a major hair care company. Witnessing the backstage logistics, AV coordination, and the thrill of managing the chaos, I caught the events 'bug' and never looked back. I went on to work in fashion show production for Macy's Special Events and was one of the earliest adopters of event technology, becoming a Digital Events Strategist in 2013. 

After managing events for Spelman College with over 500,000 attendees, I took on the role of conference center manager at Atlanta Technical College. There, I oversaw the logistics and operations for meetings, social gatherings, and customized events in over 30,000 square feet of meeting space. This experience honed my skills in venue management, financial record-keeping, and staff supervision.

Inspired to make a broader impact, I founded iSocialExecution (iSocialX), an event rescue and execution firm, to help planners with last-minute event production, education, and tech support. My role as a 'tech whisperer' for DAHLIA+Agency and co-hosting the Event Tech Pull Up podcast allow me to share my expertise and stay at the forefront of industry innovations. Teaching event planning at UNC Charlotte enables me to shape the next generation of event professionals."

What innovation means to her: "Innovation means continuously evolving, improving processes, and leveraging cutting-edge tools to enhance the event experience. Staying innovative is extremely important to me—it's critical to stay ahead of the curve in the fast-paced event industry. I get inspired by immersing myself in the latest event tech developments, having in-depth conversations with industry leaders and disruptors on my podcast, and seeing the real-world impact that impactful tech implementations can have on events. I'm always eager to expand my knowledge and put innovative ideas into practice to deliver unforgettable event experiences."

Memorable moments: "One event that really stands out for me was when I had the privilege of supporting the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP) with their virtual event, 'A Night at the Museum,' during the pandemic. It was a challenging time for everyone, and the NCBMP wanted to create an experience that would uplift spirits and bring their community together. The catch? We only had four days to pivot from an in-person format to a fully virtual one.

I worked closely with their team to help them make the transition, focusing on ways we could create an engaging and interactive experience for the 1,800 attendees despite the tight timeline. We utilized a Black-owned event tech registration system called regmatch and a virtual event platform called PINE Events from Ukraine. Behind the scenes, there was a whirlwind of activity—from ironing out the technical details to ensuring a smooth flow—but seeing it all come together in such a short period for the weeklong event was incredibly rewarding.

What made it truly special was hearing from attendees afterward about how much 'A Night at the Museum' meant to them. In a time when people were feeling isolated and uncertain, this virtual gathering provided a sense of connection and inspiration. It reminded me why I love what I do—having the opportunity to use my skills to make a real difference in people's lives, even under pressure.

Looking back, I'm grateful to have played a small part in the NCBMP's success. It showcased our industry's resilience and adaptability and how technology can be harnessed to create meaningful experiences, even in the toughest of circumstances. The fact that we pulled it off with such limited time and supported Black-owned and international tech providers made it all the more memorable for me."

The event tech advancements she's most excited for right now: "It is incredibly inspiring to witness the growing integration of AI across the entire spectrum of the event experience, encompassing both in-person events and those that adopt a blended approach. AI has the potential to personalize the attendee journey, streamline logistics, break down language barriers, and provide valuable insights.

Moreover, by leveraging AI with a strong focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ), we can revolutionize the way blended audiences communicate and interact, fostering deeper understanding and empathy among diverse attendees. This not only transforms events but also contributes to building a better, more united world."

Her vision for the future of the event industry: "As we look toward the future, I envision AI playing an increasingly pivotal role in shaping the event industry landscape, from AI-generated keynote speeches tailored to the audience's needs to dynamic agendas that adapt in real time. The key will be to strike the right balance between automation and human interaction, ensuring that we enhance rather than replace the face-to-face moments that make events so special and memorable.

It is an incredibly exciting and transformative time to be a part of this industry, and I am deeply committed to being at the forefront of this journey. By harnessing the power of AI with a strong DEIJ lens, we have the opportunity to create exceptional events that are more engaging, efficient, and impactful for everyone involved while fostering a more inclusive, connected, and understanding world."

What she's working on next: "As co-hosts of the Event Tech Pull Up podcast, [my co-host Keith Johnston] and I are always on the lookout for groundbreaking innovations that are reshaping the event industry, with a particular focus on solutions that empower independent planners. We're excited about the emergence of game-changing tools from non-industry players like Stagetimer.io and Rundown Studio from H2R, which offer innovative features at affordable prices. Featuring these non-industry innovators on the podcast has yielded an incredible response from our listeners, who are eager for fresh ideas and cost-effective solutions to elevate their events. 

Building on this enthusiasm, we're pleased to share that we'll be launching a new series of video tutorials and product reviews to provide a more in-depth look at the latest tools and technologies. Our goal is to equip independent planners with the knowledge and confidence they need to make informed decisions about their tech stack. Through hands-on demonstrations and insightful discussions, we'll showcase a wide range of products, from cutting-edge software to essential hardware, emphasizing innovative and accessible solutions. 

Keep an eye out for more information on the launch of this exciting new series on Oct. 1, 2024—and in the meantime, continue tuning in to the Event Tech Pull Up podcast for valuable insights and tips. By harnessing the power of these cutting-edge tools, we can work together to create memorable experiences for our attendees and take our events to new heights."

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