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It’s Not About Us featuring Sarah Hatter

Released on MARCH 29, 2024

If you’re Tony Stark hosting your own expo, a huge production, outrageous budget, and big personality as a keynote speaker is entirely expected. Attractions, autograph sessions, celebrity sightings – that’s all part of the experience. While you may not see Iron Man at an industry event, you may very well see actual celebrities (from this universe) on stage welcoming attendees. Those appearances pay into the six figures depending on the profile of the celebrity.

But some industry events are different. They’re typically smaller and are focused on learning, networking, and community. These events abstain from keynotes while attendees imbibe peer learning. As in-person industry events make a comeback, you may find yourself wondering which type to attend. Sarah Hatter, Senior Director of Community & Events at PartnerHero, has been hosting live events in multiple countries for over a decade and she joins Next in Queue to share her thoughts about how to evaluate all the events vying for our attention and money.

We discuss:

  • Importance of Community
  • Evaluating Events
  • Considerations for Event Attendees
  • The Impact of Celebrity Speakers
  • Different Types of Conferences
  • Content and Experiences at Events
  • Upcoming ElevateCX Events

Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn


Music courtesy of Big Red Horse


Rob Dwyer (00:02.346)
Sarah Hatter, you are Next in Queue. Thank you for joining me. How are you?

Sarah Hatter (00:07.75)
I'm excited that was such an intense countdown because usually it's like you know three two one or whatever this was like I feel like I was cutting in a movie like five four like launching a space shuttle so this better be good with all that anticipation is what I'm saying

Rob Dwyer (00:25.09)
I mean, we're going to turn this into a movie, but before we got started, you already judged me, kind of made fun of past decisions that I've made in my life.

Sarah Hatter (00:33.998)
God, I wish we were recording during that moment so other people could understand my shock. But listen, I also don't wanna, I don't wanna insult our listeners too, who might also have to use Microsoft Teams in their workplace. If that's you, I'm very sorry. I was just telling Rob how sorry I was that he had to endure that, right? I was very compassionate. My judgment.

Rob Dwyer (00:39.091)

Rob Dwyer (01:02.029)
You were being very judgmental. I feel like you're being very judgmental. And that's OK, because it just is.

Sarah Hatter (01:05.082)

Sarah Hatter (01:09.646)
It's okay.

Rob Dwyer (01:14.266)
I need to introduce you though. I mean, we got the name, but you go by the CX Maven. You are the founder of Elevate CX and what was it? Six or seven months ago? You joined forces?

Sarah Hatter (01:17.867)

Sarah Hatter (01:24.452)

Sarah Hatter (01:32.15)
Yeah, about six months ago. Mm-hmm.

Rob Dwyer (01:36.094)
Yeah, it was like, Wonder Powers Unite or something like that. And now you're with PartnerHero, Senior Director of Community and Events with them, not the first person from PartnerHero to be on this show. So welcome. That's who you are.

Sarah Hatter (01:41.964)

Sarah Hatter (01:46.06)

Sarah Hatter (01:56.282)
Uh oh.

Sarah Hatter (01:59.394)
Can you hear me? It says reconnecting in the app. We might have to cut this out. I'm so sorry, but.

I was getting a little interference there. Yeah, so Elevate CX was acquired by PartnerHero in September, 2023. Seems like an age lifetime ago already, about six months, which is great. You know, we were at the, I think, 11 year mark, 12 year mark, just wrapped our 42nd event. So it was time to move onward and upward into bigger, bigger things. So thank you. Yeah, we've done so many events all over the world.

truly withstood COVID. Our community kind of hung in there for that. We got back to doing in-person events in 2022. And here we are again, still at it.

Rob Dwyer (05:03.794)
I'd like to hear when the idea of community really kind of resonated with you and made you want to do something around that.

Sarah Hatter (05:17.334)
That is a very, very interesting question because it was not the reason we started Elevate CX. It was not the reason why we started our events. Community didn't come.

for quite a while because even when I started, we started in October 2012. I had a partner at the time, UserVoice, we were doing this conference together called UserComp, and the idea was let's get our friends together who do support in a room and empower them and make them feel good about their jobs and make them understand how important their jobs are. And we were just like, let's just do it for a day and see what happens. It'll be fun. We'll give everyone together.

By the end of that first day, we knew that we were going to do more events.

which was really not in my agenda. I was a consultant, I was traveling the world. I had six or seven employees at the time. We were doing customer experience consulting for SaaS companies. So this was a sort of, it wasn't even a side hustle, like the events thing. It was just sort of a thing that I happened to be good at doing. I happened to be good at presenting and producing events. So why not, right? We did our second event, I think in New York in 2020, or excuse me, 2013.

And then we just kept doing them. And along the way, somehow, probably around the 2014, 2015 mark, we realized that we had this really incredibly robust Slack channel or Slack community. Every time someone would buy a ticket to an event, we'd throw them in the Slack community, say this is where we're going to talk about things. So we kind of by accident created what this community was about. The flip side of that is, even in my career, I was realizing I was going in and consulting

Sarah Hatter (06:59.888)
large scale companies, airlines and banks and giant entertainment industries. And every single time I'd go in and do these like pep talks with their support teams or their customer experience teams. It just felt, everyone just felt so downtrodden. Everyone just felt so unseen and so looked over. So to have someone come in and say, hey, you're important. You're actually like the nucleus of this company and you can do great things and you know, you are empowered and I have vision for you.

I think it just changed a lot of people's perception about their roles in that frontline service role. And we had the power to do that back then. I mean, this is 10 years ago in the SaaS industry and the startup industry, we were breaking every rules, disrupting everything. And, you know, Jeannie Bliss is great, but she's great for her niche. And this wasn't it. So we really soon after, I think, our

Third or fourth year doing events, we realized, we can really harness and tap into the community of attendees that we have, not just for future speakers and classes and master classes, but to connect people, how important that is. I mean, that's really the big function of community, is to connect and support each other. To say, I see you, you're like me, I know your job, I can help you. To say, we need to hire in someone to do this job and they want me to put it on Indeed and we're just gonna get thousands

people who aren't qualified, well, here's 3,000 people who aren't qualified. Let's start there. So yeah, I mean, it's, now it's great. We're in...

Gosh, 15 years since we started something like that, since I started working in consulting in CX and there are so many communities out there for people. It's niche communities too, which is great, for D to C markets or B to C or the people that are working, you know, like with GD Bliss and call centers and BPO markets and all that stuff. So it's been great to see how.

Sarah Hatter (08:55.982)
communities have evolved in the past few years. But I also have to be really transparent and grateful just to say that our attendees of our events built that community just by being present, being there, stating their needs and showing up for each other. I really wasn't a giant part of that other than just giving them a place to be and helping kind of fence it in a little bit, right?

Rob Dwyer (09:18.526)
Yeah. I wonder if you can tell me about kind of the journey of how the events have changed over time. I mean, you've been doing events for more than a decade now. And we've had this pandemic in the middle of that. Like, tell me about that.

Sarah Hatter (09:31.787)

Sarah Hatter (09:36.971)

Sarah Hatter (09:43.158)
Well, our events were always very simplified. And the first event that we ever did was really coming off the heels of me doing...

Probably 18 months to two years of speaking gigs as someone who would speak at tech events all over the world, I was just back to back to back. I think in one year alone, I was at 30 events. Most of the time, I was the only person talking about customer support or customer experience. Most of the time, I was the only person in the room who was interested in that. And probably 60% of the time, I was the only female speaker. Sometimes I was the only female in the entire room and that was Wild West too. We forget that that.

how close we are to those times, if you will. So I went into starting our event saying, I'm doing everything differently than what I've been experiencing. There's not gonna be any greasy pizza boxes and tote bags and shitty t-shirts, and we're not doing any of that stuff. We're really gonna focus on comprehensive, short, tactical talks, like Ted's style, real quick, on and off the stage. And my big thing, I think, I have like, usually have very simple rules about these events,

that I have absolutely never ever buckled on is no panels, no Q&A. We don't release the microphone wild to the audience for a lot of reasons. But that doesn't mean that we're not, we don't want people to talk about, you know, the talks that are on stage and ask questions and get to know people. So we facilitate that by having a lot of social time. When we started these events, we were going all out. We were, we were 400 people.

And then I think we got to a point where one time we had an event with 600 people in Portland, one day, 20 speakers, single track, nuts, right? This is just bonkers to even look back and think about it. And I think it was one of those events or maybe an event in San Francisco where we had multi tracks where we just had attendees say.

Sarah Hatter (11:38.226)
it's getting too big. It's getting too hard to meet people. It's too hard to talk to people. And we were also in this really weird, not competition, but space with our sponsors where they were going to CCW events. You and I have talked about those events. Those events are massive and those events are just overwhelming. And their teams are coming back saying, we didn't talk to a single person. We spent 30 grand to sponsor one of the events to have a booth. We didn't get to talk to a single person. So sponsors were starting to look for smaller.

events. So I think right before 2020, maybe in like 2018 or 2017, we capped our audience at 200. We moved to a two-day schedule so that we weren't exhausting people with how much, you know, we were we were throwing at them. And from that we really were able to open up the schedule a lot more to have more of that social time, more of the downtime, to have less rigid schedule. I look back on those first events that we were doing and I don't know, I was a lot younger then.

That's the only answer for why I was able to do it have 20 speakers on stage from 8 a.m. To 5 p.m. Like that's nuts Don't do that if you're thinking about starting an event but yeah, we just decided let's go let's go really simple and There's been a couple events that we've done. We did an event in Sydney and Another a couple events in London to are we even capped it at a hundred people and it's just a different vibe

The smaller the groups, I think the more people actually meet each other, sponsors are getting really great one-on-one relational time. And for our sponsors too, they're not just coming to our events to sell product. They're coming to our events to build product, to ask the people who are actually on the front lines, who are doing these jobs, what is it you need? And you don't get to have that tension in conversation with people when you're just at a booth slinging business cards.

So, I mean, the changes, yeah, you're right, it's been 10 years, I could go on and on and on about things that have changed, but I think we're really at a really nice point right now, just saying like our prioritization is great content on stage from people that you recognize, people that you know, people that you trust, but also a lot of really curated social time for you to just sit and talk to people, get to know them, build relationships in person.

Rob Dwyer (13:33.123)

Rob Dwyer (14:00.018)
you brought up something that I want to really kind of dig into and that is there are lots of events, right? And events are coming back strong. Post, yeah, whether you call this post-pandemic or just post like we're just in a different space now, they are absolutely trying to come back. And there are so many options.

Sarah Hatter (14:08.354)
Mm-hmm. They are, they're trying to. They're trying to.

Rob Dwyer (14:27.55)
available to people now, I would say maybe more than ever. So I'm wondering, most companies have, number one, they definitely have a limited calendar, they probably have a limited budget, and they have certain goals, whether attending or exhibiting, sponsoring.

Sarah Hatter (14:28.364)

Sarah Hatter (14:41.696)

Rob Dwyer (14:53.006)
I wonder, what are some of the things that you would encourage people to use to evaluate an event in trying to figure out, do I go to this one? Do I go to that one? Do I go over here? Do I go over there? What are some of the things that you think are important? You've been to tons of events as a speaker, running an event, et cetera. So what do I do?

Sarah Hatter (15:15.15)
tons, tons.

Sarah Hatter (15:21.882)
I think the number one thing is figure out what is your goal going to these events. Is your goal to meet other people who do your job and to learn from them and to make those connections? Is your job your own career advancement? Is your job to come back to your team saying, I learned some amazing stuff, we're gonna start implementing whatever it is. Sometimes you'll find, I know we do on our website, there's little letters that people write, like convince your boss to send you to this, but you need to do that work on your own. What are you going to this event for?

company's paying for it. Look, I'm a huge advocate of just like taking the money and run, right? If they're going to send you somewhere, like buy a ticket, go. If you want to go to Vegas, go to Vegas, right? But when you're, when it comes down to like what these events are about, they're all so different. And you and I know like there's a lot of events that are just really, no one cares about the program.

No one's there for the talks. No one's there to see who's on stage, doesn't matter. It's just like, they wanna go, like South by Southwest is a really good example of that. Very, very, very few people that go to South by Southwest are planning in advance what they're gonna go see and what they're gonna do. It's so much like you're in the tidal wave of it when you're there, and you're really there for the experience. With larger events, I think you have more leeway for that. With smaller events, you've gotta think about the price point, you've gotta think about what the schedule is, who's going to speak.

who's what the topics are and how any of those topics are really relevant to bring you home to your team and from an event Producer standpoint, you know, I can say for myself we think Very deeply about how to present this information to you How do we get people on stage who are not repeating the same thing over and over and over? You know, I think even like five six years ago We got to an inflection point where I just I told people like we're not talking about getting a seat at the table anymore

We're already at the table, like I'm sick of hearing it. We need to act like we're at the table. We need to act like we own the table. Let's level up. And that was also a great time when our audience was moving up in their career and leaving some of that icy behavior behind or those like easy touch points behind. So now we're seeing people talk a lot more about mental health at the workplace. We're seeing people talk about how COVID and the pandemic, especially being on the front lines and support affected our jobs, how AI is.

Sarah Hatter (17:40.692)
affecting our jobs, heavy topics, not just here's a great way to create a tagging taxonomy. Like that's not what we do.

If that is where you are in your career, you need to find a conference that offers you that kind of content. Really good career development for someone who's an independent contributor now, who wants to be a manager for the first time. We're a little bit beyond that kind of stuff, but that is great for you to know whether that's what you're looking for, I think. The worst thing, I think, for me is to go to an event or to get excited about an event, and it's just sort of like,

This is just a dumb event. I'll give you an example of this, and this is so dorky, but you're a dork, so you'll love it. I went to this event one time at the Morgan Library. It was Tolkien Week, and as you can tell from all my accoutrement here, I'm a big fan of the professor's work. So I had gone to this event where...

It promised, you know, a couple of speakers who had written books about the writings of Lord of the Rings, etc. And it was, it didn't end up being that it ended up being a bunch of dorks in a room together reading somebody else's like essay about

talking, right? And when you get to that point where you're just like, I could have done this better. I have more knowledge or I know more about this. It's just so frustrating to not have that need met that you're really excited about. And I think sometimes we get stuck as event producers, we get really stuck on the flash of things. The flashy sponsor or the flashy party or the flashy speaker, the keynote speaker or whomever it might be without thinking like, what are they gonna say on stage? I've certainly done that.

Sarah Hatter (19:22.516)
go on stage and say stuff that I'm like that's not good at all. Like that's a really dumb way to look at the world, but go you. So I think it's really important I think for attendees as well to be in charge of their destiny if you will at these events. Who are the speakers? How are they relevant to me and my career? How are they gonna be relevant to my team and what am I going to get out of this? I think that's the best way to really find something that fits for you.

Rob Dwyer (19:54.314)
You were talking about that Tolkien event and it reminded me of the story I saw about this Willy Wonka event that got put on that made headlines.

Sarah Hatter (20:04.598)
the best thing that's happened in events in 2024. That entire event, and I was a deep diver into what, because I'm like, how did this happen? How did this happen? Right? That whole event was created by AI. Every single thing, every single bit of that was AI, which to me was fascinating. But yeah, you would have been completely disappointed if you brought your kids to that event.

Rob Dwyer (20:31.938)
Yeah, a beautiful disaster is what that was.

Sarah Hatter (20:34.798)
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I mean, I've been at events before that promised to be, you know, a top tier tech event of the century and had 12 people in a room to watch me speak. Not even 12 people who wanted to watch me speak, just 12 people.

Rob Dwyer (20:50.682)
What's up?

Rob Dwyer (20:54.27)

Sarah Hatter (20:55.742)
So, you know, it's hard. I understand that it's hard, but I also think having an ethos about what work you're putting out into the world, which I certainly do. I am very opinionated about the work I put out into the world, really helps create something that is going to speak to the most amount of people. That's the goal.

Rob Dwyer (21:15.802)
Speaking of speakers, I want to talk about speakers for a moment. In particular, keynotes, right, headliners. How should I as a potential attendee or vendor look at big names that...

Sarah Hatter (21:19.32)

Sarah Hatter (21:26.334)

Rob Dwyer (21:37.394)
Everyone has heard of being at an event. Like, what does that mean for me? Does that mean there's going to be a lot of people there? I'm going to get a lot of business as a vendor.

Sarah Hatter (21:48.27)
Are you talking about celebrity speakers? Or do you just mean like, headliners? Maybe. Um, gosh, you are just making me go hot take express on this, aren't you? Um, Six or seven years ago, god, first of all, I hate to break it to you, but 2019 was five years ago.

Rob Dwyer (21:52.194)

Rob Dwyer (22:10.966)
Well, it was.

Sarah Hatter (22:11.802)
So it really was. So when I say six or seven years ago, I'm not talking about 2013, okay? I'm talking about 2018. It might feel like it, but I'm just giving you contextually where we were in time. I had spoken at an event with the CEO of HubSpot and he was fantastic. I met him and his wife and he invited, he said, we're actually doing an event. Do you wanna come Martha Stewart speaking? And I remember thinking like, what?

Rob Dwyer (22:19.211)
right? Even though it might feel like it.

Sarah Hatter (22:41.414)
Isn't she in jail? Like thinking in my head, like what? And also like, I don't know marketing very much. So I'm just sort of like, why is Martha Stewart talking about marketing? But then I was like, maybe Martha Stewart learned marketing in jail. And this is what she's gonna like revamp her career. Maybe she's involved with HubSpot to like.

make it happen, right? No, she wasn't, she was just on a roster. And these companies reach out to every single giant company that has an in-house event or that sponsors events and say, here's our list of potential speakers, are you interested? And they pick one and then they market it. Come see Tom Brady talk about inbound marketing at HubSpot. Like, what does Tom Brady know about inbound marketing at HubSpot? He doesn't. But it gets people in the room and it ties him to that brand, right?

And then whatever money is spent on him, which I'm guessing is in the multiple six figures, right? Same with Martha probably. That is counted as a loss at the end of the year for that company on their tax returns. So it's huge benefit for them to spend that money to get a celebrity and then get the buzz about the celebrity is going to be here and then whatever. And I think it's just, it depends on what your goal is at the end of the day, right?

I could never go to an event like that because that's not my goal. If I'm gonna spend time to go to an event, especially related to my work, I need to learn something. I need to hear from an expert, someone who's done my job, someone whose job I want to do. I don't wanna do Tom Brady's job. I have no interest in his job, right? So I can't be like chasing him around. So I think that at the end of the day,

when you're making decisions like this to say, I'm gonna have a celebrity speaker, I'm gonna have this important person, I'm gonna give them a keynote spot, and I'm gonna use them as my advertising to get attention on my event, you're diluting everything else about your event. You're diluting the experience that people are gonna have, you're devaluing every other event out there in the same category as well, because you're drawing eyes away from that just because people wanna go see your celebrity. So, and I'm fine, it's not a competitive thing, it's just sort of like a,

Sarah Hatter (24:59.256)
It's not, you're not getting out of it at the end of the day what you want to get out of it. Other than...

A lot of eyeballs from people who aren't going to buy your product at the end of the day, right? I don't know. I mean, I just, I mean, yeah, it sucks. I also don't believe in keynotes as a thing. We don't do them at our events. We don't do... Everybody in the room is at the same place. Everyone's the same level. Everyone's the same human that comes in there. We have sponsors aren't, you know, delegated to some closet with like in booth land. We have that sponsors in the room with us.

Rob Dwyer (25:07.351)
Ha ha.

Sarah Hatter (25:33.632)
in the room with us. Speakers sit at tables with our attendees until it's their time on stage. They're accessible. And I think that is the difference between a community event, an event where people are peers, and people are there to learn from their peers, and an event that's maybe just a little bit more fun to spend your company's money on.

Rob Dwyer (25:58.502)
One could argue that today Martha Stewart knows a little bit about branding. Marketing, I don't know, but she certainly has figured out how to rebrand herself. So in 2024, perhaps she might be better equipped to deliver a message on marketing. I don't know, I don't know. But that... Yeah.

Sarah Hatter (26:05.638)
Yes, yes. She's figured it out. Yeah.

Sarah Hatter (26:19.798)
Who knows? I'd rather see Snoop Dogg. I would rather see Snoop Dogg. I gotta be honest with you. Like, that's one of the ones that I would pay money to go to, right?

Rob Dwyer (26:28.858)
I mean, why separate them? I mean, just get, if you got the money, just get them both on stage.

Sarah Hatter (26:33.444)
Exactly, exactly. That's right. If you're already getting the tax break, just get them both, right?

Rob Dwyer (26:40.758)
Right. Absolutely. So that's interesting. And I think people who have been to trade shows, maybe that's where we need to talk a little bit about. You talked about how your event is set up, but I think it's worth spending a little bit of time for people who maybe have never been to like a trade show or an expo to talk about how they usually

Sarah Hatter (26:56.895)

Sarah Hatter (27:06.05)

Rob Dwyer (27:09.442)
go and what they are usually like and how the floor is usually set up. Can you set that stage for us?

Sarah Hatter (27:16.338)
Yeah, let's do that. You can you can jump in here too and share some of your experiences. So if something if something has the word expo in the title, I'm a hard no. I'm a hard no. I, you know, I don't want to be around that many people. I don't want to stand in line for food. I don't, I'm not interested. Right. And this gets back to like my age. I'm in my 40s. I'm just I'm over that kind of thing. If there's a VIP line, yes.

Rob Dwyer (27:21.292)
I can.

Sarah Hatter (27:44.982)
buying it. So an expo is just like that Wild West experience that we talked about. If they're using that, that means it's multiple rooms, multiple tracks, a shit ton of people, mostly selling you stuff. And they're going to pull out all the stops because they are charging for something, an event that size in Las Vegas, Orlando, Los Angeles, New York, which is our prime event centers for the big ones, minimum probably 50 grand.

So that company isn't just spending 50 grand on sponsorship, they're spending 50 grand on their booth space and then probably another 15 to 20 grand on their gimmick. Therapy puppies, hot dog cart, massages, right? Weird cool tech with the goggles that you put on and you touch things in the air. This is what they do. And so the whole point is to just wow people.

And then you go in, there's usually like a full day where it's just an expo day of all the sponsor booths. And you get your tote bag and you're just putting shit in your tote bags. You walk through, right? And usually every single person wants your email address. Every single person wants your job title. And you go back to your hotel and you just have automated emails from all these people. Right? They don't remember you and you don't remember them, but it's just spray and pray. That's the goal. Now content at these

is really iffy, depending on, again, whether they have like a celebrity or top tier speaker or something like that. But usually you're gonna get a schedule in advance that you have to go through. Like you are planning a family trip to Disney World. And it is, you gotta plug in your lunch breaks, you gotta find a time to nap because it's a lot. You're on your feet. Shop talk is happening right now as we are talking about this. And I'm already like muted every hashtag.

I don't wanna know, right? Yeah, it's like, these are big events and the goal of these events is actually not content. It's not to show an amazing speaker on stage that inspires you and makes you think differently about your processes. The whole point of an expo event or a trade show event, as they used to be called, is to sell you stuff. That's all it is. They make a deal with their sponsors, we'll get people in the room for you to sell to.

Sarah Hatter (30:07.986)
So that's that. A different type of conference, I can use Elevate as an example because I think that's a little bit more, we're a little bit more, seeing more of these pop up. We have a peer-to-peer conference, which is that concept I told you before of like speakers, sponsors, attendees, everybody in the room, we are peers. There's no one above us, there's no one below, there's no hierarchy, there's no popularity, everybody is there for the same reason. And our sponsors have a lot more freedom to,

talk to people, to meet people, to build those relationships, and to be a little bit less salesy, right? They don't wanna just overtly sell. They want to listen and learn. That's the whole point of it. We don't have celebrity speakers, we don't pay people to speak, we don't even cover their travel because companies should be using this as part of their marketing budget to send people to these conferences.

It is for a company of any size, a huge marketing cache for you to say, our head of support is so good at customer support that they instruct and teach other people how to do support at these conferences. That is great for marketing. So if it costs your marketing team $1,000 for you to travel somewhere and be on stage for 20 minutes, it's a good investment for them. But that said, you know.

I think Small events are more, typically more community oriented. Sometimes you'll find events that are like thematic, like our women's events that is just for women in CX, we have like a real niche kind of theme to that. Whereas other events like our Denver event coming up in September is 200 people and it's really focused on directors, managers, leaders, that kind of thing. Support Driven's Leadership event in March, they have another one coming up in October.

It's the same concept of like, we have a niche community here coming together, small, not small people, cut that out, small amounts of people coming together to have a relational communal experience. That's important. And the, you know, for us, the focus is really on education. The focus is on anything that you can take out from Friday afternoon, Thursday afternoon, you can take it back to your office on Monday and start implementing what you've learned. Or, you know,

Sarah Hatter (32:25.89)
just realize you need to burn everything down. Which is always, I feel like that happens to at least one person in the room every time they come to elevators. They're like, oh my god, everything is wrong. So yeah, I mean there's a lot in between. There's a lot of stuff that's like,

Sarah Hatter (32:43.766)
recently, I think last week or something that is kind of one of those hybrid events where it has an expo, but it also has content. And this is where it comes down to the responsibility of that attendee to really figure out what is it I'm looking for? What is it I want? Maybe I do need to just learn all the tools. Maybe I need to figure out what's up and coming. Maybe I do need to figure out how to implement AI and which one's right for me. So I should go into a room where there's 20 people building AI chatbots and figure out like which one works.

If that's what you need, then that's an important place for you to be in your career.

Rob Dwyer (33:20.362)
I think you just came up with an idea for an event for small people with unusually large feet. That seems like an event that...

Sarah Hatter (33:25.978)

Sarah Hatter (33:29.794)
Small people, yeah. Small people expo. But is it unusually large, are unusually large feet for small people, or is it globally these feet are unusually large, even if you're a small person? See, you gotta figure out what you're looking for there, Rob.

Rob Dwyer (33:31.862)
Yeah, small people, unusually large feet, circle doors, something like that.

Rob Dwyer (33:48.09)
Hmm, that's it.

That's a good question. I think if you're a small person with unusually large feet and you have a door that is circular, I think you qualify for the event. The details beyond that are probably not terribly important.

Sarah Hatter (34:04.542)
Yeah. Makes sense. Yeah.

Rob Dwyer (34:15.922)
I want to tell you, you know, I've been to some events, just to add on to some of the things that you're talking about, both as an attendee, as a vendor with a booth, and there is certainly an element of like scanning badges so you get contact information and people not really ready to have a conversation with you. It's just...

Sarah Hatter (34:35.199)

Rob Dwyer (34:42.13)
Maybe I'm here because I have to go to X, Y, and Z booths because I've got this little card that gets me around to all of the booths so I can win a prize. But I'm not actually engaged with anyone at the booth. I'm not paying attention to your brand or your solution or whatever you have to offer. I just want, just like validate my parking please so I can move on. It's that kind of interaction.

Sarah Hatter (34:55.791)

Sarah Hatter (35:00.274)

Sarah Hatter (35:11.39)
Or like the one that, what was it? It went viral last year that they had hot dogs at their booth, but you had to fill out a whole form to get a hot dog. I would have burned it down. I would have burned it down, like truly.

Rob Dwyer (35:11.518)

Rob Dwyer (35:27.194)
I don't know. Would I have burned it down or potentially provided false information? I don't know. I I'm not sure, but here's what I'm going to say. Some of the things you're talking about at some of these events, it sounds really cool, right? I mean, hot dogs and goggles and back massages like all of these are good thing. What's the question is, is that my purpose? Is that what I'm

Sarah Hatter (35:34.905)

Sarah Hatter (35:44.19)
Yes, if that's what you want! Absolutely! Absolutely. Keep in mind that- keep in mind if you want the- oh, go ahead.

Rob Dwyer (35:55.338)
spending my money on or my company's money on and does it make sense?

Sarah Hatter (36:01.626)
That's where I was gonna say when I was like feverishly interrupting you. Yes, that's the thing. Go ahead right now and look at the prices for some of these events, these expos that are going on. Some of them would be three thousand dollars for an attendee. Three thousand dollars for an attendee is ridiculous.

Ridiculous. And unfortunately, tech conferences set that tone 10, 15 years ago, because they were marketing to founders and startup leaders and people who had been invested in, who had other people's money to burn. So we set that standard. And when we started doing Elevate, the very first thing that I said at the time when we were pricing it, we were like, we didn't know what we were doing, but I absolutely knew that support teams did not have budgets.

I absolutely knew that they were not going to have budgets for a $1,700 ticket for an event, especially a one-day event, which we were one day at that back then. So that's another, another really important function of sponsors is that sponsors understand with their sponsorship of our event, they are paying for that event for us so that we can subsidize the cost to our attendees and get more people in the room. Think about like when you see all those expo booths and you see all the tickets.

ticket costs? Where's that money going?

Sarah Hatter (38:16.479)
Yeah, well, that's it. When we see the cost, we have to think about where's that money going, right? Our sponsors know transparently that they are a part of subsidizing our event for teams that are underfunded, underappreciated, underseen, all that stuff. Their education budget might be $500 per year. And this might be, they might not have a travel budget. They might be paying for travel out of pocket, right? So, yeah, I don't know. I mean, I look at some of those large events and I look at the prices and I just think that you are really creating a funnel of the same type of attendee, right? You are actually like matching yourself to a very particular type of attendee at that price point. So that's less inclusive than you think it might be in my opinion.

Rob Dwyer (39:12.43)
Yeah, it's definitely something that I think everyone needs to consider. I mean, there are lots of choices out there. I'm not going to say that any particular choice is a bad choice. I'll leave that up to everyone to make their own decision. But I do think it's worth having a true understanding of what the purpose of an event is, what value you get for your money, and what you can understand.

by looking from the outside. And you've given us some great insight into that so that people can decide like, yeah, I wanna go to this because I'm gonna get to do cool things and maybe or maybe I won't learn anything, but I'm really excited about putting on VR goggles. Yeah.

Sarah Hatter (39:59.619)
Fright. Again, if your company is paying for it. Yes. Yeah, I'm down for that. I think that it again, just, it's about what you need and it's about what you're looking for. So be thoughtful of that. And there are a ton of events out there. There used to not be, and now there are. There's a lot to choose from. So you got to do your research.

Rob Dwyer (40:26.626)
Well, we would be remiss if we didn't tell people when Elevate CX, and you actually have more than one event. So can you just quickly run through the events for 2024, when they are, where they are, and how people can find them?

Sarah Hatter (40:43.312)

Sarah Hatter (40:47.335)
So we have three events coming up this year, which is typically what we do, two to three events per year. Our first event, May 31st and June 1st, is our Women in CX event, and that's in Austin, Texas. If you go to, you can see all of our events listed there. The Elevate Women event is, I think, a fifth time we've done Elevate Women, which we started back in 2018. Very excited for it. It's just a different tone, different vibe, really focused on personal and career development for women who work in CX.

I want to be clear too, that doesn't just mean people who do customer support. That could mean someone on a sales team who works for a product, you know, works on a product that's specific to CX teams. It could be someone in marketing for CX teams, learning, you know, who the community is and what their needs are. Or it could be someone who is managing or indirectly managing a group of people who do customer support or success. So it's, it's pretty broad. I think. Um, and then in September, September 26th and 27th, we have Elevate CX, which is

in Denver. It's our flagship event, 200 people, two days. This time we're doing about 15 speakers and a great workshop, which we had a lot of success with. Sunit Bhatt is running his amazing personal journey mapping workshop, which we love to do because we also know, just given our community and given our typical attendee, they are people who are looking for ways to improve themselves so that they can improve the lives of other people on their teams and in their families.

So his workshop has just been instrumental in helping people do that. Runs the cohort throughout the year through Elevate Community. So if you aren't able to go to that event, I highly suggest that you check out our Slack community so you can be involved in that. But yeah, with our third event is actually in London. We've unfortunately had to postpone it because one of our amazing sponsors was recently acquired by Zendesk, which is all the rage these days. So we're really hoping that we can push that out to the fall.

Unfortunately, I'm excited to get back to London. I know this, the CX scene is different there than it is here, but it's a really untapped market as far as like the kind of social events that we produce. So I'm excited to get back and try that hopefully in the fall. But please do check out and always, I always encourage people to apply to speak if they're interested in being on stage, if they've never been on stage, if they have a great story to tell.

Sarah Hatter (43:10.011)
This is the perfect audience for that, really. This is an audience full of people that were highly empathetic and sensitive and thoughtful and above all understand that humanity comes first. So it's a really, really great environment to be on stage for the first time.

Rob Dwyer (43:29.626)
but my hot dog booth is not welcome. Is that accurate?

Sarah Hatter (43:35.036)
No, I don't know. We always feed people at these events. That's where most of my money goes to feeding people, right? And so I'm very proud of that because we have really good meals and it's really great. And we are working on getting a giant group reservation for Casa Bonita in Denver. So first come, first serve on that for our attendees. But yeah, we have really good food, so don't worry about that.

I think the last event that we did, we even had mini corn dogs, which I think are superior to hot dogs. So there you go. Yeah. Oh, it was fantastic. I have to shout out this hotel. The hotel is sorry, I didn't mean to cut you off, but I want to shout out this hotel in San Diego that we were at Mission Bay. They had not just a hot corn dog bar, but individual dips.

Rob Dwyer (44:09.966)
They are superior. I am, and now I just need to go. Sarah, thank you so much.

Sarah Hatter (44:29.799)
that were custom for our group. And this was just for a snack. So I'm just saying we go hardcore at Elevate. Come for the talk, stay for the corndogs.

Rob Dwyer (44:39.098)
Hardcore hardcore into the mini corn dogs. I love it Sarah Hatter, thank you so much for being on Next in Queue everybody Go check out Sarah on LinkedIn go check out Elevate CX hop into the slack community and Tell her I sent you Thanks for joining. Have a great day

Sarah Hatter (44:43.894)

Sarah Hatter (44:50.575)
Thank you for having me.

Sarah Hatter (45:04.371)
Please do.