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An Interview with Encore’s John Rissi

John Rissi
SVP, Customer and Industry Relations

Over the past year, event professionals have watched with great interest as two major players in audiovisual, production and event technology came together when PSAV acquired Encore. In January PSAV announced that it would begin operating under the Encore name to align its portfolio of companies under a master brand. This move solidified the company’s desire to unify operations and build on its ability to offer total solutions to event planners and hotel partners. And the new Encore has clearly moved beyond traditional audiovisual services.

Encore is introducing this new brand during an unprecedented moment for the meetings and events industry, where technology platforms, long term vision and a keen sense of where the industry is headed are necessary for survival and recovery. We sat down with John Rissi, Encore’s Senior Vice President of Customer and Industry Relations to talk more about the new brand, the long term impact of technology and hybrid solutions, and Encore’s forecast for industry recovery.

The merger of PSAV and Encore brought together two of the biggest names in event technology and production services. What makes this combination special?

PSAV began as a presentation services and audiovisual company more than 80 years ago. Since that time, the company has grown to become the world’s leading provider of event experiences. Today, we do much more than provide audiovisual services. Through organic growth and strategic acquisitions, our offerings include a full suite of creative, production and technology solutions for all meeting formats. That includes in-person, virtual and hybrid.

The acquisition of Encore created the perfect opportunity to create a master brand for our family of companies to unify under, and adopt a new name that conveys the breadth of our offerings. Encore is a powerful, relevant and well-regarded brand in the meetings and events industry.

When you talk about that master brand, what does the new Encore represent?

The new Encore brand is centered around the idea of transformation and the belief that meetings and events have the power to transform. When people come together with a common purpose, ideas are formed, relationships are built, and new possibilities emerge. Events of all types, whether they’re hybrid, virtual or in-person, are still important in our digital world. They not only connect and inspire audiences, but they inspire change and action.

As a global team of creators, innovators and experts, the companies in our portfolio have unified under the Encore brand to transform meetings and events of all types into immersive, collaborative experiences that deliver real results as well as connect and inspire audiences.

The new Encore is a major consolidation in the event industry. What can customers expect from the new brand?

Our customers are facing a changed world and are looking for partners to help them create new hybrid, virtual and in-person meeting solutions. This new brand strengthens our ability to tell the story of our expertise and ability to deliver end-to-end solutions for the entire event planner journey.

The new Encore unifies our company and enables us to more effectively meet the evolving needs of our customers. We’ll be able to leverage scale and tap into an expanded network of resources, which in turn make it easier for customers to do business with us. And, we’ll deliver a consistent experience anywhere in the world our customers want to be.

The pandemic has been devastating for the events business and we’ve seen a lot of pivots and innovations. What changes do you see sticking?

What started as a quick pivot to virtual events in the early stages of the pandemic quickly shifted to hybrid. Hybrid is here to stay. It’s very much part of how events will take place and how people will meet. And Encore’s hybrid solutions are designed to deliver a seamless experience for in-person as well as remote attendees and can scale for any type or size of event. We have the expertise to help ensure the right mix of solutions, technology, creative and production support is available to increase engagement, which is still top of mind.

As the industry leader, we’re also working to educate our partners and clients on how they can continue to meet. We created our MeetSAFE™ guidelines to help the live event industry safely adapt. As things begin to reopen, event planners need to understand how to safely and responsibly host events. Our MeetSAFE™ guidelines were developed with four key areas in mind: event design, room layout and traffic flow, technology enhancements, and cleaning guidelines. They include a series of meeting formats, technology solutions, and other recommendations that offer paths for how the event industry could re-open during the early phases of recovery.

Hybrid solutions are pivotal not only to us as a business, but also for re-starting an industry that needs our support more than ever before.

We’re all trying to read the crystal ball and project the recovery of in-person events. What’s Encore’s forecast?

We know people have a strong desire to come together through in-person meetings and events. The last year has taught us that personal and professional connections are incredibly and increasingly important. People need to understand the possibilities that exist for them to come together to solve business challenges in a forum that enables them to work on the things that are most important to the success of their business.

Encore has produced thousands of in-person events in the second half of 2020 and we expect that to continue to grow as people become more and more comfortable being in public places for them.

But again, one thing is clear – hybrid events are here to stay. As much as we hope in-person events can return sooner than later, we expect the hybrid format to continue for some time.

Are you expecting different recovery paths for social events, business events, conventions and trade shows?

Yes, based on a survey of 2,100 meeting professionals, the recovery path for events and organizations is different.  Our research shows that internal meetings, training, small board meetings and small meetings of less than 50 people will recover first.  Large conferences and conventions with exhibits, tradeshows and incentive meetings will lag behind.


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Lawrence Leonard

Lawrence Leonard, CAE, is the Executive Director of the National Association for Catering & Events. With nearly 25 years of experience, Lawrence has developed a deep understanding of the power of associations and the dynamic and complex events profession.

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