I recently attended the Professional Beauty Association (PBA) event, ISSE, the International Salon and Spa Exposition. And what an exposition it was. Disclaimer: I was there experiencing the event as part of an assignment for which our firm was hired. I’m not writing, however, to talk about that. I want to share what I think is a big insight for anyone who has ever attended or hosted an event.
Here it is…fun!
Yep, I had fun. Not just “work-fun”, but real fun: happiness, levity, authenticity, humor, great energy, and the feeling that I wasn’t working.
Let me describe why. First, it’s because of how people felt when they were there. This event is hosted for professionals in the beauty industry: hair stylists, makeup artists, nail artists and technicians, salon owners and the hundreds of companies serving this industry. They are, by nature, creative, artistic, entrepreneurial and, from what I experienced, mostly fun people.
They enjoy their work and the customers they serve, and they love the joy and confidence they provide to the people for whom they perform their craft. They also get very tired from standing on their feet or being hunched over all day. It can be exhausting to hear the stories, dramas, and heartaches that their customers share each and every day. But on balance, they really enjoy their work.
So part-one of this formula is having an audience that wants to be there, one that is there to learn and to see their peers in action, and to find out what’s new and what’s next. And they are there to buy: supplies, tools, and anything you can imagine to run their businesses and do their jobs.
The next part of the magic is a vast array of industry suppliers, vendors and distributors that know how to market and sell. I’ve been to hundreds of trade shows, but this one was over the top: music, demonstrations, fashion shows, competitions, giveaways galore, open bars, food trucks, theatrical performances…you name it. This industry has energy. I saw some of the best salespeople doing demonstrations that were inspiring to watch. It was the best of an infomercial, technical demo and stand-up comedy routine. And people were buying.
OK, now for all of you who work with engineers, architects, physicians, scientists, agriculture or aviation executives, or the hundreds of other professions that may not seem to have as much creativity, emotion or fun inherent in their work, think about it.
Yes, the professional standards, intensity, accountability and “seriousness” of your industry may differ from the beauty industry, but…people are people are people. Everyone wants to love their work—to find meaning, joy, intrinsic value—and to serve others in some fashion. Think of how well trained, precise, talented and professional you want someone to be who is wielding scissors, a razor blade and chemicals near your face, eyes and skin. Someone you count on to make you look good and listen to you, and someone many of you interact with 20 or more times a year. It’s a pretty serious, intense and accountable job if you ask me.
So why can’t your event have more fun? Do you think you’ll get complaints if there is too much laughter, joy, happiness, selling, buzz and energy at your event? Will a fun environment be viewed as unprofessional? Will an old-fashioned board of directors look through their spectacles and see too much excitement? Who says you can’t have fun, joy and happiness, just as I experienced at the event for the beauty industry?
Three of the most significant human motivations are a sense of belonging, enjoyment and recognition. Large conferences, trade shows and conventions that create a sense of connection and belonging, recognize everyone in attendance as important and give them a personal reason to be there in a way that is enjoyable, fun and alive are events that we all want to attend.
How much is in your budget for fun? Who is in charge of fun? If you asked your audience, one by one, how much fun they are having—I mean real fun—what would they say?
All of us learn more, feel more connected, buy more, sell more and are more productive when we’re having fun. Who among us is too professional, too serious or too important to have fun, especially at an event that is designed to inspire, educate, engage and advance our careers and our profession.
Bring on the fun…