Vitto Christaldi, the Head of Learning and Experience at HUBUD, conducted a workshop titled Events: Animating Your Space, at CUAsia’ 18 Coworking Academy. Before his current designation, he was the first events manager (or self-proclaimed events maestro) at Hubud. He created all the events that are happening in their coworking space; such as networking events, skillshare, think tank, and much more including bigger events like CUASia.
According to him, when organizing an event you should ask yourself four questions – what, why, who and how? There are many purposes of holding events, for Vitto it’s all about marketing, branding, community, generating revenues and PR.
Events help to market your coworking space and also aids digital marketing aspects with Facebook and Instagram. The whole point of hosting events in your coworking space is to create opportunities for people to enter your space and experience it for themselves. You can do it outside of the space as well, “At Hubud we also organize events outside of the space, it is to show the work that coworking encompasses and also to promote our space,” shared Vitto.
You can also use events to brand your coworking space depending on which direction you want to go. For example, at Hubud, events in a coworking space is a ‘lifetime amenity,’ and they promote people being themselves, and living healthier. Events can also help attract new members and foster growth in the community. If you have a great/success stories from your members or an event, you could try to get media coverage on the story, which in turn can help the coworking space with marketing and PR.
Hubud operates by converging these three elements; live, learn and work. What about you, if you are just getting into hosting events, then how would you decide which events to organize? Vitto has come up with a constructive suggestion, which it to organize global events. All of them have guidelines prepared, so everything is set up for you, thus making it easier to hold.
In Hubud, the first event they organized before they even opened was Pechakucha Night. It is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown in 20 seconds, the format keeps the presentation concise, fast-paced and facilitates multi-speaker events. Initially, Pechakucha was for artists, entrepreneurs, etc.; but you can put your creative spin on it, for example at Hubud they tweaked it to convey life-changing stories.
Startup weekends are good too; it helps people to find their business ideas, learn to pitch and also teaches how to launch startups. Techstars provides a lot of resources, which will come in handy when you organize the event.
You could even try hosting the slightly unconventional Fuckup Night, which involves presentations from speakers sharing their failure stories. It is very casual, and there are usually only four speakers, so there is not much substantial content. Other International or global events Vitto mentioned, includes Startup Grind and Creative Mornings.
You could even go for internal events; Impact at Hubud, provides a platform for people to present their challenges and everyone brainstorms together to find the solutions. One of the mottos at Hubud is ‘throw the spaghetti against the wall, and see what sticks,’ keeping that spirit in mind, they host karaokes, which is one of their most popular and regular events. Other ideas for internal events can include skillshare, lunch, social hour, writers meetup, photographers meetup, filmmakers meetup, language courses, excursion, yoga, etc. “The idea is to choose events that fit the characteristics of your coworking space and your members,” said Vitto.
Next, Vitto addressed the question, how do you organize events? At Hubud, at the beginning of the year, they usually try to define 3-5 key messages that they would like to communicate to their members. The theme of the event relates to the keywords. For example, in 2016 their key messages were coworking, co giving, community, education and green. So, for the education, they organized Fuckup Night, because it helps people learn about the challenges they may face, how to overcome them or to avoid them. Vitto also suggests creating guidelines to make it easier for you, as well as for the next person who takes over your role. He stated, “You have to try it out before you write it down, but sometimes some obvious things come up such as and right away you just add it to your guidelines, for example, all your speakers need to bring their laptops.”
How will people know that you are hosting an event? There are a lot of tools that you can use, Vitto shared some of the tools they use at Hubud, starting with Facebook. Because of their transient community, most of them are connected through social media, which is why they always post their events on Facebook. They even have a Facebook group, where they communicate the types of events that will happen, and the time and location. There are many instances when people don’t see the posts on Facebook and keep scrolling down. An excellent way to counter that would be to print out the schedule for all the events that you will host and post the agenda all over the coworking space. He also mentioned Eventbrite, although, on the expensive side, it provides the opportunity for those who are not near to buy the tickets, and it also helps to promote the event. Vitto also emphasized the use of MailChimp for data collection; so, next time you host an event, make sure to get all the attendees email addresses, after you can always use that information for marketing purposes.
Moving on, how will you decide who to assign the task of organizing the event? If you want to hire an event manager or community manager, Vitto stresses the fact that the person should ‘love people’ and ‘be an extrovert.’ He shared one of his personal experience, and it went something like this, when Vitto was studying in Holland, he could not get a job due to lack of qualifications. However, when he went to Bali, someone saw and said ‘I want to hire you because you are interesting;’ they then did a personality test which revealed that Vitto was a super extrovert. Therefore, nowadays when hiring someone, he looks for a person who wants to try something new and just wants to do it. So, you should be looking for someone who is young, caring, an extrovert and most importantly, that person should be able to make the event a priority. Of course, it is not only the event manager’s responsibility, from the front desk to marketing to communications, everyone must rally together to make it happen. From his experience at Hubud, Vitto advised, “When you are transparent to your staff, about finance and everything, everybody understands why they should work hard to get things done.”
Lastly, he talked about whether you should monetize events or not. A couple of years ago, Vitto was asked the same question at a webinar, to which he answered no. However, his perspective and answer have changed since then; in the end, the revenue that comes into your coworking spaces comes from your members. But, not skillshare, as it helps people come to your space and grow your community, so sometimes you can make it free.
That was the end of Vitto’s talk to the audience, and also the article, however, I would like to include a neat analogy he made during his presentation which was aimed to emphasize the importance of planning with events.
“Cold Beer. If you come to a party and the beer is not cold, it means your event sucked. It takes about 2-3 hours for the beer to be chilled. You have to think of every step including what kind of experience you want people to have when they come to your event.”