What Makes an Event an Experience?


In a post that “broke LinkedIn,” Boldpush influencer Julius Solaris suggested that the word “events” was outdated and that savvy marketers would be wise to nix it from their vocabulary in favor of the more exciting and expansive term “experiences.”  

If one is in agreement with Solaris—and judging by the post’s reception, it seems that many people are—the question arises: what’s left to distinguish the role of an experiential marketer?

Freelance event curator and new dad Joshua Faseel is qualified to weigh in–his most recent full-time role was as an experiential marketing manager at Osso VR

“It’s about setting yourself apart and making the experience immersive,”

Fasseel says with emphasis, continuing:

“And leaving people talking and feeling like they’ve never done anything like it before.”  

As far as producing one-of-a-kind experiences goes, Fasseel’s background is an undeniable asset. One of his first jobs was as an intern for Live Nation: the biggest concert booking agency in the world. His earliest exposure to events was handling the logistics of spectacles featuring the likes of Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Elton John.

“A lot of people want to work in that industry—I was hustling when I was younger,”

he says matter of factly. He credits the early role with training him to work well under pressure and to “be comfortable with a little bit of chaos.” 

Driven by a desire to stay close to home in Detroit, Fasseel branched out, working at a venue and handling similarly high-profile events in sports and entertainment. He also ventured into media production, shooting several national tv spots for brands and sponsorships at Rocket Central. While it may seem like one more enviable addition to his resume, Fasseel also believes that tv production shares a surprising amount in common with experiential marketing. 

On the one hand, the connection is obvious:

“You’re managing the budget, the site location, all the people that are on set,”

he says. Post-production and after a spot has run, the similarities are even more pronounced.

“You’re looking at views on Tiktok, how many people visited the website…All the data and analytics are very similar to an event, where you’re analyzing event registrations that led to a sale.”

At Osso VR—a platform that leverages Oculus headsets to train doctors for surgery—Fasseel put his experience producing blockbuster events to creative use. Case in point: for the most recent American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Annual Meeting, he worked with five different creative agencies to create video content that highlighted new analytics features. Crucially, the videos played in Osso VR’s booth reflected personas and were timed accordingly. 

“Depending on who they were, they were led through a different attendee journey,” Fasseel elaborates. “And the way that we presented the analytics was custom so that everybody had a little bit of a different experience.”

The way Fasseel describes the meticulously-planned activation doesn’t sound too dissimilar from a showrunner recapping a call sheet. But his choice of words also resonates for what it implies about the future of events—and in particular—experiential marketing. 

Of his time at Osso VR, Fasseel recalls:

“As much as I was focused on the day-to-day logistics…I was also at meetings every day, talking about our overall brand strategy.” 

Per his words, an experience is more than an elevated event—it’s also “the thought and strategy behind the event.” 

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