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David Sonntag
CEO
13 Sep 2017

Life of an Event Prof: #NatBookFest Breakdown

Last week, we wrapped up one of our flagship events, The Library of Congress National Book Festival. It was our eighth year managing this event, and while we’re veterans, we’re always looking for new ways to accommodate a bigger audience and out-do ourselves from the year(s) before. With an expected 100,000 guests and a couple million more viewing the livestream at home, we couldn’t afford to disappoint. Plus, our mantra is, “Yeah, we can handle that”.

It’s true that the majority of the blood, sweat and tears goes into the planning leading up to our events. But we’re still on our feet the day of, making sure everything runs smoothly. It’s a small part of what we do in the event management business, but this is the day in the life of one of our event crew members: NatBookFest livestream style.

5:00 AM
Wake up call. Suit up, festival style. Means we get to wear a Decibel t-shirt today.

5:01 AM
Two shots of espresso, hold the sugar, hold the cream.

6:00 AM
Pile in the crew and Uber over to the the Washington Convention Center. All the gear from the day before is still in place. Grab checklist.

Radios charged. ✔
Power bricks charged. ✔
Boot up the laptop. ✔
Get to work. ✔

7:00 AM
Call time for second wave of crew. Find a place to order 30 breakfast sandwiches from – STAT.

7:30 AM
Overheard on Radio: Where’s Waldo? Seriously. Someone lost the Where’s Waldo costume day of the event. Waldo could not be found. If we made this up, you wouldn’t believe it.

8:00 AM
Quick team meeting. High fives out the door.

8:30 AM
It’s show time. Book lovers start filing into the convention center.
Set up camera for timelapse, because who doesn’t love a good time lapse.

9:00 AM
Reading Cat in the Hat to test captions for livestream. Appropriate for the National Book Festival. AV and livestream team at the table, in position for the first keynote.

9:30 AM
It has been confirmed from a crew member on Floor 2 of the venue. Waldo has been found.

10:00 AM
Start first livestream of the day. David McCullough takes the stage. People from all over the world are giving shout outs to the popular two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.

11:00 AM
Bring our AV crew lunch. With an all-day livestream, they can hardly get up for a bathroom break. Extra dessert for their dedication.

11:30 AM
Celebrity Sighting #1: Found Waldo.

12:00 PM
If it’s 12 PM, and we’re eating our third meal of the day because we’ve been up since 4. Is it lunch? Dinner? Who knows, but every meal is now called a dinner break.  #EventProfProbs

1:00 PM
Our team member, Chris, is leading the team in the most steps, so far. 7.1 miles.

2:00 PM
Escalator stopped? No problem, we take the steps.

2:30 PM
Insert fourth cup of coffee.

3:00 PM
People start lining up for Condoleezza. Two hours before she’s scheduled to speak.

3:30 PM
As heard over Radio: Our crew requires back-up at the lines for the Condoleezza book signing. Send in reinforcements.

5:05 PM
Condoleezza Rice takes the stage. 2,500 people make for a packed house. No surprise there.

6:00 PM
While Condoleezza is speaking, there’s still book signings and children’s stage activities going on. Some of our crew is at those stages making sure everything is running as planned.

7:00 PM
Final livestream wraps up.

7:30 PM
Start counting livestream stats. There were over 60K views and reached over 1.2 million users who weren’t able to attend National Book Festival, but were able to watch their favorite main stage authors. That’s how we handle that.

8:00 PM
As things wind down, we sneak a spot at the Teen Poetry Slam. Every year, this is a team favorite. Those kids are talented beyond belief.

8:30 PM
National Book Festival comes to an end, crowd piles out. Dismantle begins.  

9:00 PM
Counting more livestream stats, giving our client updates, uploading last minute photos, and wrap-up meeting with the crew. That’s a wrap.

10:00 PM
After a group selfie, we head out to Ebbitt Grill for a post-game dinner and a few well-deserved drinks from P.O.V. We couldn’t have done any of it without our awesome client, Library of Congress, our hardworking crew who flew in from all over the country, and the sponsors that made #NatBookFest possible. Cheers, NBF 2017.

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