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20 Years in Review – Leadership Interview

Leadership Interview with Al Manji and Robert Styka

Quest AV celebrates 20 years in business; we sat down with Al Manji and Robert Styka to reflect on the two decades of leadership, learning lessons and highlighting the company’s growth that has established their now duly recognized success as a Trusted AV Partner in the events industry.  

Humble Beginnings 

Al shared the humble beginnings when his father, in 1986, started the family business that offered computer rentals and parts. Quest AV’s product and service solutions evolved as the business needs evolved, and the service solutions developed based on what clients requested. The demand for projectors, laptops and technical support grew from computer rentals and forward towards event production services.  

Overcoming Challenges through Collaborations 

In the earlier start-up of the business and even now, there are many challenges that Quest AV leadership faces. “It was challenging to hire the right people, keep up with industry changes and impacts, and ensure that we invested in the right technology to stay relevant for our clients.” What helped them navigate the challenges was having industry leaders whom they worked and collaborated well with. To this day, behind the scenes, there are a lot of cross rentals, referrals, and support with other event production companies. Especially when the events industry is in the peak season, there is always a need for more equipment or talent to service the scope of all the event productions that our clients trust us to find the solution to support. 

Early Hires  

Robert Styka started as a freelance contractor, and after working on a few event production projects at Quest AV, Al knew his technical and operational experience would help set a more sustainable foundation for our company to grow. Robert joined as one of the first full-time employees at Quest AV and has been invaluable as our General Manager since then. As the operations and logistics were better defined, we were excited to onboard Noel Lising as our first sales account executive. With Noel’s in-depth knowledge of the av event industry, he knew where to find the leads and opportunities to grow our clientele base, and together with Al and Robert, they sold, won deals, and produced essential client events that have enabled the revenue and strength as a profitable company. Soon after, Quest AV was excited to have attracted Kevin Terry, a creative and seasoned account executive, to join the team, and his portfolio of loyal clients followed him to Quest AV.  

Relevant Technology 

Throughout the past 20 years, the audio-visual technology has evolved. Al and Robert shared that the early decision to identify and invest in the right technology that could set them apart was a high-risk investment.  What they did invest in early in the market before other event production companies and allowed them to attract the attention of larger corporate clients was their earlier adoption of LED Screens that offered higher quality and more creative visual presentations. Today, Quest AV is still well known for its top state-of-the-art equipment that sets them apart from others. It continues to be focused on having a pulse of what emerging technology is out there and which ones would be most relevant for them to adapt that empower them to better service our clients with innovations that improve the event production experience and quality.   

Leadership Style Changes 

From the beginning, sleeves were rolled up, and leadership was significantly involved in every aspect of the business operations, sales, service, and production. As a small family start-up company, we listen to our client needs, value our team members’ expertise, and make fast decisions that help us adapt to top innovations and changing technology needs. Now celebrating 20 years, our leadership style is still infused with our family values of respecting and valuing the contributions of all our team members’ expertise. We still have an open-door policy allowing for feedback on new ideas to improve our processes to be shared directly with Al and Robert, and decisions were made relatively quickly. Today, the difference is that we are not a team of 5; we have over 35 full-time team members and over 250 freelancers supporting our event production experiences. Both Al and Robert are very accessible and have empowered team members in their roles to make the right decisions for the business. With a bigger team, Al and Robert are getting used to letting go of control and being less hands-on. Trusting the team members they have carefully hired has made the extended leadership team contribute to the success of Quest AV. Years of accumulated success have also levelled Quest AV to receive multiple industry and business growth and excellence awards.   

Recognizing Success and Giving Back 

By 2011, 8 years into our event production business, we recognized that we were enjoying a stable and profitable business. As a reflection on this success and our humble beginnings – we wanted to give back to our community to support in a meaningful way. This is when we started our annual fundraising event called Quest For Awareness. Each year, our team selects a foundation that is important to us, and we raise funds and awareness for the foundation. It’s a fantastic feeling to give back and show our support to foundations like Pancreatic Cancer, Lung Cancer Canada, and Mental Health Foundations. 

We look forward to continuing our Quest for Awareness program for many years.  

Surviving a Global Crises 

Covid hit the events industry hard, and we did not escape the industry red alert as events shut down soon after the March 2020 announcement. For us, it was going back to square one and looking to our team for creative ideas to help us survive the lockdown period. We faced the need to furlough staff members and reduce the pay % just so the business could stay with the bare minimum until the industry was ready. Kevin Terry and our Technical Director Nicholas Persaud came up with the idea to convert a part of our 20 thousand-square-foot warehouse space into a state-of-the-art Hybrid Studio. We quickly adapted and learned how to manage virtual and hybrid event production and could house many recording and live-streaming events in our studio safely. The adaptability of our team to not give up, find the right creative solutions quickly and be able to offer our hybrid studio to clients set us apart and helped us succeed.  

Future of Growth & Engagement  

It’s exciting to have reflected on the past 20 years, and we are confident that we have all the right attributes as a company to set our company up for continued growth in North America. One of the many exciting things we have done better in the past year is to be better at sharing what we do through more intentional social engagement and marketing plans. We’re thrilled to have Connie Cay-Santos as our Senior Director of Growth and Engagement Strategy, where she leads our sales and marketing team. We’re invested and dedicated to our clients and thrilled that Alfred Park, our Director of Event Strategy, has positively impacted how we prepare for our event production plans in the past six months since he joined us. We have many exciting programs to empower how we best service our clients in Canada and the United States.   

What’s Next 

Our future is bright, and we continue healthy business growth within the Live Event Production. We’re excited to continue hiring great talents who align with our core values and contribute to our success. Our competitive edge is our people and agility to adapt to innovation and industry changes to create magical event experiences that make lasting impressions.  

What to Innovate with us?  

Contact us for a discovery meeting to see how we can offer you a creative audio-visual solution for your upcoming event.  

Join our Team 

Check out who we are and the positions available for passionate technical event professionals: Join our Team

MPI – The EVENT E 2.0 Highlights

 

Connie Cay-Santos, our Director of Engagement Strategy, had an exceptional experience attending FLIP the SWITCH, The Event 2.0. Check out the energetic video recap if you want a glimpse of the Event. We capture the essence of the recent gathering.

The Event E 2.0 focused on challenging the industry to rethink how we operate and plan event experiences.  This goal was accomplished through curated content and an impressive lineup of speakers across the three-day event. Firstly, fantastic delivery to all the speakers, and a huge thank you!  Most importantly, we congratulate the MPI Chapters from Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa and all the dedicated volunteers who worked tirelessly to organize, execute and ensure the event’s success.

Now, let’s delve into Connie’s ten highlights from her recent participation in Ottawa at this year’s MPI The Event E 2.0.  
  1.  Firstly, her tip is to be fully present and actively participate in all the available sessions.  By immersing yourself in the event and understanding what your colleagues and clients experience, including the keynote presentations, you can truly engage and make the most of the event.
  2. As a protip, we highly advised checking the attendee list to identify who will be present.  Sharing this information on social media and arranging meetings can enhance engagement and make interactions more intentional.  Additionally, signing up for exceptional pre-arranged experiences can add a special touch to your event journey.
  3. An important aspect Connie gained was the emphasis on creating a safe environment. Also, actively contribute to a solution that fosters a sense of safety in our industry events.  If a problem is shared, pay attention and act carefully to find a solution to create safer experiences for your attendees.  She expresses gratitude to Tim Mousseau for his impactful opening keynote. Also, he shed light on toxic behaviours and their potential to isolate individuals.
  4. Connie also highlights the valuable insights she gained from Jason Marc Campbell’s session on “Selling with Love.” This talk reminded everyone that we are all sellers, and our products and services reflect who we are daily.  The key to successful selling with love lies in caring about your customers, understanding their needs, and genuinely caring about the solutions you offer.
  5. The session led by Ashlee Livingstone shared a valuable 5-step process on setting boundaries. This process helped attendees practice identifying priorities, setting boundaries, effectively communicating them, and holding themselves accountable to these standards. Also, the step is to evaluate your boundaries, as some priorities and boundaries may change over time.
  6. Tachelle Lawson‘s session on DEI Strategy provided a deeper understanding of the actions required beyond mere conversation to drive progress in an industry that demands a well-defined DEI strategy.  Leverage market research to understand your audience demographic, what is important to them, and how you, as a company or event professional, will curate an experience that will be thoughtful to their needs.
  7. David Usher’s presentation on creative thinking left a lasting impression on the audience. Through powerful examples, he showcased how technology drives exponential disruptions. Also, he urged everyone to challenge themselves to be more creative in finding human-centred ways to move forward. One tip he shared was to schedule 30 minutes daily for creative thinking. In addition, you must set time aside to practice any skills you need to acquire.
  8. Kawtar El Alaoui‘s session on “Listening at Multi Levels” provided valuable strategies to become better listeners and speakers. Most importantly, The tips shared helped attendees centre themselves and be more present in conversations.  In the practical exercise of being an active listener or speaker for 6 minutes, answering the questions. “What breaks your Heart?” and “What gives you life?” it’s a great way to truly understand the person you are creating a safe space to share deeply with.
  9. Dorothéa Bozicolona-Volpe‘s session on employer branding shed light on leveraging social media to craft a compelling brand story. Also, how to deliver an engaging experience through the involvement and value of internal employees. She shared how our employees/ team members say to others is more valuable to how clients and potential future employees will value you as a prospective employer.
  10. Lastly, Courtney Stanley’s impactful closing keynote reminded everyone that there is still much work to be done in creating safe spaces within the events industry.  Most importantly, it emphasized the importance of understanding our values. And, speaking up when things aren’t right. Owning our story starts with understanding our core values. Also, standing up to amply what we believe in and who we care about.

Overall, we are delighted to see Connie actively engaged with our professional event peers.  Whether you attended the Event E 2.0 in Ottawa or missed out, industry professionals can benefit by being present at such events. They can build on their engagement with industry peers. If you missed the opportunity to connect with Connie and our team, feel free to reach out and send us a direct message to join the conversation.

Quest AV Would like to help!

If you’re looking to create an event experience to be remembered, we at Quest Audio Visual would love to help.
We provide expert event planning and event production advice, equipment, virtual streaming services, tech support, and more!
Contact our team today to learn more about our professional AV and event production services.

Get a Quote Now!

Diverse Talent and Roles within an Event Production Company

Event Production

The events industry is a dynamic field with diverse talent. It thrives on individuals’ creativity, innovation, and expertise in various roles within Audio Visual Production. From event owners who manage the overall vision and budget to project managers who coordinate logistics and technical leads who oversee audio, visual, and lighting components, each role is crucial in bringing event visions to life. 

A diverse range of skills is needed to successfully navigate the ever-evolving events industry. From initiators who come up with fresh ideas to innovators who embrace new technologies. Additionally, creative thinkers who bring unique perspectives, team players who collaborate seamlessly, tech enthusiasts who stay updated with the latest advancements, and detail-oriented and client-focused individuals who ensure flawless every aspect.   

Let’s dive into our different roles and titles within the event production.

The Roles

Event owners, also known as event planners, are the driving force behind the initial planning process. Most importantly, they work closely with clients to understand and execute their vision within the budget and timeline.  

Account executives, with their technical expertise and event planning experience. They can build trusted client relationships by offering customized solutions during the RFP, quoting, and discovery process. 

The labour coordinator is critical in securing the best talent for event production operations. They work closely with account executives and the operations team to schedule project managers, technical support, delivery drivers, set up and crew members. Additionally, they, internally and through freelance agencies, ensure the seamless execution of the event. 

Project managers are the lead interface between the client and the technical event production team. They take overall responsibility for the event, coordinating logistics, managing resources, and ensuring smooth operations.  

Event producers, with their cross-functional responsibilities. They also manage the in-depth details of the event program. Most importantly, including rehearsal time and serving as a single point of contact for the event team, presenters, and executives. 

Technical directors oversee and provide directions to the audio, visual, and lighting crew members during the event setup and production. The audio lead, also known as the A1, is responsible for setting up and operating the audio system, including speaker placement, wireless microphone frequencies, and soundboard operation. Meanwhile, the video lead manages the visual components, including projection, presentation files, video playback, and web streaming. 

Camera operators, working closely with the technical director, capture the event on camera, ensuring that every moment is documented professionally.  

Lighting leads, or L1, play a crucial role in setting up and rigging the lighting system, ensuring the right ambience and spotlighted spaces for the audience. Also, they are part artists, riggers, and electricians, creating the perfect visual atmosphere for the event. 

The operations director plays a critical role in managing the logistics and inventory of event production equipment, ensuring that all required equipment is picked, inspected, and packed as per the event order and ready for delivery.  

The warehouse manager works closely with the operations director to ensure all equipment is safely inspected and secured. Therefore, they can prepare for upcoming events. 

What Do You Need For Your Next Event

Depending on the scale of the event production, different combinations of audio-visual roles collaborate and work fluidly together to ensure flawless execution. The creativity, innovation, and expertise of individuals in the events industry are the driving forces behind producing exciting events that leave a lasting impression on attendees. 

In conclusion, the events industry requires diverse roles in Audio Visual Production to bring event visions to life. With a team of initiators, innovators, creative thinkers, team players, tech enthusiasts, and detail-oriented and client-focused individuals, the events industry continues to evolve and thrive. As always, creating unforgettable experiences for audiences.  

The dedication and expertise of these professionals ensure that events are executed flawlessly, leaving a lasting impact on attendees and setting new standards for the industry. With their combined efforts, the events industry continues to push boundaries, deliver unique experiences, and elevate the event production world to new heights.  

So, are you ready to plan your next event? We’re ready to help and look forward to connecting you with our diverse team of talented individuals. They are all passionate about driving event success for our clients.  

 

Quest AV Would like to help!

If you’re looking to create an event experience to be remembered, we at Quest Audio Visual would love to help.
We provide expert event planning advice, equipment, virtual streaming services, tech support, and more!
Contact our team today to learn more about our professional AV and event production services.

Get a Quote Now!

Effective Communication is the Golden Key to Success

Effective Communication

When it comes to events, creating innovative event production solutions can be a challenging task for any experienced professional. Many variables must be considered, and robust checklists of details must be reviewed, coordinated, and communicated. We share our golden wish list of essential elements to create effective communication. Therefore, secure your collaborative success in making your event vision a reality.  

 

Golden Wish List of Essential Information:  

  • KPI & Smart Goals 
  • Event Vision and Experience Type (Virtual / Hybrid/ In-Person) 
  • Venue Space, Location, and Capacity 
  • Budget  
  • Event Dates/ Schedules / Logistics Program Flow  
  • Collaborative Partners and Stakeholders
     

KPI & Smart Goals 

All events have a set of key performance indicators that event planners and their stakeholders will use to measure the event’s success. Communicating your KPIs with your suppliers will ensure that recommendations and solutions are aligned and stay on track with your measurable goals. For example, your KPI requires sharing keynote content with accessible options for 1000 participants joining virtually. This vital information will lead your AV partner to recommend video recording or live-streaming options for your event production requirements and a virtual platform solution that can host 1000 participants to view online. 
 

Defined Event Type (Virtual / Hybrid/ In-Person) 

Share your goals and visions as it relates to the Event Type. We are in the burst of in-person events. We understand event planners still need event planners to create a more sustainable and accessible event experiences. These may require virtual and hybrid options. Share your plans and the event type. This will impact the recommendations on equipment or technology platform solutions needed to amplify your accessible and more sustainable goals. 

 

Venue Space, Location, and Capacity 

All locations and venue spaces create different opportunities for creating innovative experiences. When sourcing the ideal venue space, remember the vision, capacity, and event production space you need to produce your event experience. We highly recommend a coordinated site visit to include your AV Partner to walk through the event flow you envision. Therefore, help identify potential pain points and workarounds based on the architectural structures that a venue space may present.  We know the power of in-person site visits will significantly improve the visualization of your event vision and validate from the plans and compacity charts. A more accurate value is that you’ll also discover some surprises you will appreciate avoiding on the event day.
 

Budget  

Be transparent with your event production budget plans. This is where effective communication is key. This will enable your supplier partners to provide recommendations within the scope of the budget. Above all, share your budget. In addition, your trusted AV partners will creatively provide solutions that work within it. We all know that the higher the budget, the more creative and high-tech the options you will have to choose from. We also know that presenting unrealistic options to a budget plan will defeat an effective event project plan as well. Kick-start your RFP experience by sharing your real budget, and your Trusted AV Partner will do their best to recommend and provide creative audio-visual solutions that will work. This also helps reduce the number of times you’ll have to go back and forth on a proposal.  

 

Event Details/ Schedules / Run of Show 

Event professionals are praised for their innate ability to pay close attention to and the coordination of the infinite details at play in producing flawless events.  There are many behind-the-scenes actions, team members, and moving parts. Here, it is vital to share early and have a communication cadence when effectively sharing the event details, schedules and Run of Show. In many cases, the Run of the Show will coordinate all the event details, technical support, and setup requirements to make the event production a reality. Share as much detail as possible throughout the planning process, as every change may have a domino effect over the other program elements.  

Other Partners and Stakeholders  

A large-scale event production often involves multiple stakeholders and supplier partners. It will be essential to share a list of the event partners and what they are responsible for during the event planning process and during the event production days. The different partners will need to understand who the various partners are so they can use effective communication, collaborate, and support each other with a focus on delivering a great event production experience for the client and their guests.

For example, AV companies must communicate with the venue conference team for live events regarding the setup, storage, access to the event spaces, and any labour policies in handling specific actions. For hybrid events, AV production companies must collaborate and share with the virtual platform team. This is to ensure that the streaming connection points are tested and working correctly. There may also need to be a coordinated technical rehearsal between the AV company, the virtual platform, and the speakers so that everyone knows what is happening, what they need to do, and how to do it.   

In summary, it is widely acknowledged that effective communication is crucial for successful partnerships and collaborations, particularly in Event Production. At Quest Audio Visual, a team of passionate technical event professionals with a strong reputation for building trust with clients. We consider communication to be the key to our success in flawlessly bringing event visions to reality. 

Quest AV Would like to help!

If you’re looking to create an event experience to be remembered, we at Quest Audio Visual would love to help.
We provide expert event planning advice, equipment, virtual streaming services, tech support, and more!
Contact our team today to learn more about our professional AV and event production services.

Get a Quote Now!

Hybrid Events Explained – What Exactly is a Hybrid Event?

Hybrid events are curated event experiences designed and organized for both in-person and virtual attendees. Rather than two separate events, they are a singular event that delivers two connected experiences.

Hybrid events are the new, on-trend way of events for both speakers and their target audience. Whilst, not exactly a new thing, they are becoming more widespread as one of the best ways to reach a wide target audience at affordable costs. Using all perks of live streaming technology, hybrid events succeed in creating a totally different way to deliver information and gather lots of people simultaneously, regardless of travel or location.

This article will teach you everything you need to know about hybrid events. You’ll learn what hybrid events are, their benefits and read about the best examples.

What Exactly is a Hybrid Event?

A hybrid event is a blending of a conventional event with a virtual event and its technologies so that participants can choose how they would like to attend. Such events deliver the same quality and calibre of learning and communication as traditional face-to-face conferences for a fraction of the cost. Leveraging the conference room experience, this multichannel conference experience is designed to deliver world-class learning and networking opportunities at your office or any other venue you choose. By choosing hybrid events, attendees can choose how they would like to attend a meeting: by dressing in their best suit and appearing in person or wearing their most comfortable pyjama and watching on their laptop or smartphone screens.

Hybrid Event Benefits

As it was mentioned, hybrid events are a hot topic in the event marketing industry. However, what makes people love them? Let’s see which benefits can hybrid events bring to their hosts:

Audience growth. The more people you reach – the more people discover your brand. The fact that these events combine key elements from various event types gives an excellent opportunity to satisfy every person expressing interest in the event.

Broad statistics. It’s really hard to keep an eye on what everybody is saying and at which moment of a conference a person leaves it. However, thanks to digital tools, in the case of hybrid events, it’s really easy to track audience behaviour: what they write in a chat, what questions they ask and when exactly they close their browser tab.

Cost. It’s not a secret that hybrid events help save costs for both hosts and attendees. In the case of hosts, they can create even more hype around the event, cutting the number of tickets for in-person attendance, thus booking a smaller conference hall and still leaving lots of tickets for online attending. Speaking about attendees, they can avoid buying expensive plane tickets to attend the event of their dreams taking place in another corner of the Earth.

Conclusion

As you can see, hybrid events are the “next big thing” in the world of events. It isn’t just an extension of the traditional conference, seminars or workshop. These events blend elements from all three of these areas, resulting in something new and exciting for attendees. What would be next – nobody knows, but we can say for sure that it’s not the final result!

The Year of the Hybrid Event – 7 Things to Consider Before You Start Planning

vIn 2021, planning professionals understand that including a virtual element in your next in-person event will provide increased value and engagement to your varied attendees. However, to effectively manage all technical components into a hybrid package, it is essential to pair with an AV partner.

Onsite Support For A Hybrid Event

Integration of Virtual and Live Spaces

Combining virtual attendees with an in-person panel can elevate the hybrid event experience by creating meaningful engagement. Consider providing a mosaic of virtual attendees across an LED projection screen, allowing guests to inquire and interact with your presenters in real-time.

*Consider creating a custom set design to the exact specifications required for your production. A state-of-the-art production studio from Quest Audio Visual will allow you to broadcast your hybrid event against a versatile background that uses 2.6mm ROE Diamond LED panelsd&b V-Series line array speakersLED & intelligent lighting.

Set Design

Ensuring proper COVID-19 safety protocol with comprehensive health and safety measures along with thoughtful set design is a vital aspect to hosting any sort of event. With restrictions, guidelines and mandates changing weekly, keep abreast of the evolving landscape with a layout that compliments the need for proper spacing while looking fresh and inviting.

Content Management

Hybrid events provide excellent branding and marketing opportunities and the ability for topics and messaging to reach a wider audience than traditional, in-person affairs. And given that information can be shared across multiple channels, it’s essential to design your content as a slick and seamless presentation.

Keep note that providing unified graphics for in room screens as well as virtual content packages will offer branding continuity. Partnering with an A/V company will offer expertise creating a professional and polished look that is fully customizable to your specifications.

Virtual Support For A Hybrid Event 

Streaming Stations

Delivering your content via a live stream simultaneously across multiple channels is an excellent way to engage your attendees and core demographic. Having access to high-quality cameras and encoders that enable live streams, and tech support to maintain the integrity of your steam is vital for a smooth integration.

Virtual Trade Booths

Virtual venues offer a multitude of benefits, ranging from convenience to budgetary factors. Also, irtual trade show booths allow vendors to collect data and sales leads while addressing consumer inquiries instantaneously.

Virtual trade booths can be set up individually or centralized with specific time slots for each exhibitor to present to a virtual audience.

Pop-up Studios 

Whether you are producing a festive occasion or a corporate affair, it is essential to include leadership roles to introduce and guide attendees through your programming. With hybrid events, a portion of these elements will present in a virtual form. Incorporating a virtual pop-up studio into your hybrid production will allow you to assign virtual hosts for your breakout rooms as well as MCs who can address your virtual attendees.

Integration and Onboarding of Remote Presenters​

Knowledgeable and entertaining speakers add a dynamic component to any occasion. While preparation is always essential for a seamless presentation, speaker integration will involve more technical and intricate aspects during hybrid events.

Why fumble through the process when you can rely on A/V partner to assist in the remote onboarding of your featured presenters? In addition to providing a smooth live stream, they will work with your speakers to offer software support and pre-event equipment testing so that your panel will look and sound its best.

Contact Quest Audio Visual for Your Next Hybrid Event

Navigating through the technicalities of hybrid designs can be tricky, and as an event producer, you have much to consider. By pairing with Quest Audio Visual, you will receive expert guidance to add professionalism and polish to your hybrid event.

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