This week we sat down with Bodil Rosenhagen, Silver Fox’s
Director of Event Services, to hear how her career has developed, what’s
changed during her thirty years in the event field, and how Silver Fox is
helping to shape the future of our industry.
Silver Fox (SF): Can you tell us
how you got into the event industry and what your career path has looked like?
Bodil Rosenhagen (BR): I started my event industry work in Germany, working for
Microsoft, HP, and Zenith Computers. I did all of their big fairs like CeBIT
while I was studying European business. I joined Silver Fox 15 years ago and
have had the pleasure of managing hundreds of events–big, small, and huge.
SF: So you’ve pretty
much seen it all! What is an example of an outdated practice that’s still being
used in the event space today?
BR: The most outdated practice I still see is people using
spreadsheets to manually track presentations at events. That worked years ago,
but with events becoming larger each year, and the trend we’re seeing of
multiple smaller events being combined into a single large event, we’re now
asked to manage thousands of presentations per event. At that volume, when
you’re using a manual system like spreadsheets to keep track of presentations,
you’re going to make some errors.
I also still notice some companies opting to use their
internal teams to manage their events, which tends to strain them because it
isn’t their area of expertise. It makes sense—it can be hard to take the leap
to trusting an external partner with something as important as an event—but
ultimately, there is a huge network of highly skilled event companies,
including Silver Fox, which are specially equipped to bring a level of focus
and expertise that you just won’t get from an internal group.
SF: Can you give an
overview of what Silver Fox specializes in and how we’ve embraced technology to
lead the way in this new event services era?
BR: Silver Fox specializes in creating beautiful presentations
for our clients, which support their message and allow them to connect meaningfully
to their audience. When we’re onsite at events, we manage a large volume of
keynote and breakout presentations, making real-time updates, pushing the
latest version of each deck to the right room at the right time, and collecting
and formatting presentations for post-event distribution to attendees. In a
nutshell, we ensure that speakers have the best and smoothest experience,
knowing their presentation is where it should be and that it’s in good shape,
and that attendees can access the content and continue to learn after the event
A few years ago, at a Microsoft event, I remember having
conversations with other vendors about digital transformation. We started looking
at ourselves and seeing how, even though we were working in the digital world,
we still did many things manually. That thought sparked a lot of great ideas. We
ran with it and created a software which has eliminated a lot of the manual work
and makes us one of the top industry suppliers out there.
SF: Event services largely operate behind the scenes, and Silver Fox has long been a leader in
onsite presentation management. What are the best practices that Silver Fox provides
that are often overlooked?
BR: In the last few years we’ve really focused on automating
redundant procedures. For instance, an old best practice onsite would have been
to bring running shoes and a USB drive, to get each presentation to the correct
breakout room on time. We would literally be running from one end of the
conference center to the other to get the files to the right places. Now, we’ve
developed a system where we can push presentations directly to the breakout rooms
from our workroom, via the cloud. Not
only does this save our staff some fatigue, but it makes us more available to
work with presenters face-to-face and provide the best possible customer
service. And like I said before, with events combining and scaling up, this
kind of automation is becoming more and more essential. Trying to manage the
heavy volume of decks manually just won’t be feasible going forward, so we are
excited to be ahead of the curve in this way.
SF: What was it like going from your business program into the hospitality industry, and what did
you learned about customer service through those experiences?
BR: While I was studying European business, I decided that I
would do an apprenticeship in hotel and restaurant management, with the idea
that I would get a masters in European tourism afterward. I did an
apprenticeship in a hotel with 38 rooms and 98 employees. The hotel was built
in 1358 and had been in family ownership for over 150 years. When he first
hired me, the owner of the hotel said to me, “You will hate every minute you’re
here.” And I don’t know how many times I cried during those two years, but it
was the best training I ever had. From learning that every guest likes to hear
their own name several times a day, to what to do or what not to do while
you’re on a telephone call, and how to interact with many people who
(especially in an establishment like that) thought they were the crème de la
crop, it was an amazing education at the beginning of my career.
SF: What do you enjoy
about the event industry, and what keeps you coming back for almost thirty
BR: I think it’s amazing how the event industry has changed
over the years. What we’re doing these days has evolved so much, compared to
what we did when I first started with Silver Fox fifteen years ago. I love that
I have clients every year, every month, who are completely different from each
other, and it never gets boring.