Margaret Launzel-Pennes Forms Pop Experiential

July 19, 2021

The first time Margaret Launzel-Pennes worked on a virtual trade show, it was still a year or two before Y2K became three infamous characters. In the more than 20 years since that groundbreaking endeavor, technology has changed (particularly in the past year) but the idea of bringing communities together regardless of distance is nothing new, Launzel-Penne says.

It’s that kind of experience and knowledge that Launzel-Pennes hopes will help her new company, Pop Experiential, stand out among a crowded field of event companies. She isn’t going solo — not by a long shot — and is as prepared as anyone can be to assist organizations shifting to a new way of doing business.

As part of the founding team at Total Brand Experiences, the Los Angeles-based Launzel-Pennes helped put together 70 virtual events since 2020. “It wasn’t much of a culture shock to pivot” to virtual for the veteran planner, whose impressive resume includes vice president of worldwide events at Herbalife International and vice president of corporate events at C2 Montreal.

In other words, being cutting-edge is not new for Launzel-Pennes. She is already knee-deep in planning revolutionary new ways to bridge the gap between attendees. “Everybody's saying we can't network on a virtual platform and we found that not to be true,” she said. We've had some tremendous success using some really inventive technology.”

Teaching the industry just how to connect audiences will be a case in the veteran opening a “new school” way of thinking. Pop Experiential is developing a college campus set-up for BMC’s Exchange event this fall. The platform is built around a virtual student union, with doors opening to general sessions, education programs and networking events. The idea, just as it is on a real school campus, is that you can find the right time and place to participate in the event.

COVID-19 was an ugly way to create a beautiful future for events, the Pop X CEO explained. “Our industry hasn’t changed in a very long time,” she noted. “There's a big opportunity that hasn't been really tapped into in terms of how you deal with millennial culture — they don't learn the same way [other generations do].”

Pop X’s team consists of young event producers for precisely that reason. They are part of a team with extensive and varied backgrounds that allow the company to assist with associations and brands on event production, content development, logistics management, venue sourcing and more.

There are several events on the books for later this year and next year. Some involve medical groups who place an emphasis on safety, while others are for other types of businesses more focused currently on engagement. Their timelines and paths to in-person events are different, giving Pop X a range of vantage points for the post-pandemic world.

“It’s like you are an archer,” Launzel-Pennes said. “You have different arrows for different things. Our quiver is really full.”

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Partner Voices

As event professionals and destinations adjust, adapt and evolve in these uncharted waters, it is imperative that substantial resources be put in place for all of the people responsible for planning and executing trade shows, expositions and conventions. An example is Mohegan Sun, which built an industry-leading, COVID-19 Resource Center with a combination of pictures from recently held successful events (the property reopened on May 1, 2020) along with several widely available and informative documents, such as an evolving operational framework: