How to Put People First in Event Planning


Brianna Seidule began her career tending to the tiniest of details at a wedding venue. While polishing silverware and passing hor’s d’oeuvres, she observed a timeless truth: 

“If you have a good DJ, good food, and good people, it’s going to be a great event,” she says matter-of-factly. Obvious as it may sound, it bears repeating to event professionals increasingly tasked with connecting experiential investments to business objectives.

As an events marketing manager at cloud-based call center software provider Aircall, Seidule draws from her experience in hospitality to put people first. Data rules when it comes to justifying expenses, but it doesn’t exist without people. And the first hurdle in a post-COVID world is planning an event they want to attend. 

“Attendees are more selective with what events they’re attending, for good reason—to protect their mental health, limit travel, all that good stuff, ” Seidule says. “The stakes are a bit higher to provide that meaningful experience.”

Seidule received a crash course in COVID-era event planning at another stop along her journey to Aircall. She joined the experiential events agency MAG in January 2020. On an eight-person team, she catered to clients like Meta, Microsoft, and MTV for the following two years. The question of the value of events took on a new, existential meaning. 

“Is this smart?” she recalls asking herself of every decision. “Is it necessary? Is it safe?” 

The devil was in the details, but so was the delight. Despite the micro and macro challenges, Seidule’s team still found ways to design events that weren’t just memorable—they were also fun. For Barkbox’s IPO, her team constructed a replica of the New York Stock Exchange’s stage, complete with a bell modified for dogs’ paws. The activation’s setting in Prospect Park was a special, personalized touch: a Barkbox founder lived on the park’s edge for years. 

Behind the scenes at Aircall, Seidule’s meticulous, empathetic sensibility also serves colleagues. Before every event, she arms representatives with comprehensive “know before you go” call sheets that answer questions and alleviate concerns before they come up on the floor. When it comes to data, she strives to strike a balance between collecting what’s essential and bombarding attendees with information requests.

“We try to be really smart with what we’re collecting and how we’re using it, just to keep that level of trust with our prospects,” she says. 

The cautious approach has proven effective in advancing one of Seidule’s goals for the year: prioritizing partnerships. Events co-led by partners have led to measurable increases in quality opportunities and closed/won deals, paving the way for more collaborations in the future. 

And as the world reopens, collaborations are becoming more ambitious. This year, for example, Aircall is headed on a world tour with Salesforce, making stops in LondonParis, and Sydney, Australia. Stateside, September is poised to be a busy month. Seidule’s team is appearing at Dreamforce in San Francisco and Hubspot’s Inbound in Boston just a week later. 

Seidule’s knack for seeing the forest and the trees are no doubt key to her success in planning events both intimate and grand in scale. In lieu of swag, for instance, she recommends shifting budgets to focus on experiential elements (“You’re not going to get people to come by giving away AirPods anymore”) and curating with the five senses in mind. In other words, don’t skimp on food, entertainment, or any other elements that have the potential to make an event unforgettable—and unmissable—for attendees. 

And don’t forget to be nice. Signing off, Seidule voices another universal truth that bears repetition: “You always have a better event if you like the people you’re working with.” 

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