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 Productions: Can you tell us how you got into the event industry and what you career path has looked like?
Bodil Rosenhagen: 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.
SFP: So you've pretty much seen it all. What is an axample of an outdated practice that's still being used in the event spave today?
BR: The most outdated practice I still see is people using spreadsheets to manually track presentations at events.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.
SFP: 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 is over.
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.
SFP: 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.
SFP: What was it like going from your business program into the hospitality industry, and what did you learn 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.
SFP: What do you enjoy about the event industry, and what keeps you coming back for almost thirty years?
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.
Come back next week for an interview with Director of Strategic Operations, Jeremy Jenkins, to hear more on how Silver Fox has embraced digital transformation to innovate and drive the event industry forward.