We’d Give the Conference an A-

Takeaways from the Insights Association’s Southwest Chapter’s Virtual Vegas Conference

Our Founder, Brad Larson, was a featured panelist at the IA’s SW Chapter’s Virtual Vegas Conference in March. To support him, a few of his employees including Mary Lea Quick, V.P. Client Services, and Ryan Luciani, V.P Account Management – were invited to attend. Following is an interview with them and their impression of the event.

Interviewer: “Was supporting Brad the only reason you attended this event?”

Quick: “Prior to Covid, I attended several in-person events every year, often in ‘sales mode,’ to work in our booth, network, etc. For a change – and in addition to supporting Brad – this was more of an educational opportunity for me… looking for a few nuggets to help me do my job better.”

Luciani: “The same goes for me. I’m relatively new with Ironwood, so I’m not yet a booth worker for us, having spent the past 25 years in the project operations world. This was all about education for me.”

Interviewer: “OK, if education was the goal, how did the event do in that category?”

Luciani: “I really enjoyed several of the sessions, most especially the presentation from the Las Vegas Raiders. Access to a panel of season ticket holders allows them to instantly test messaging, new products & services and ideas in general. Drilling down and identifying different needs of fans sitting in different areas of the stadium is cutting edge and provides them with real-time, actionable data. The level of outreach was enlightening and inspired me to think about some new possibilities within our own firm. I was also really drawn-in by the opening session about the Las Vegas Food Bank.”

“If there was another topic that stood out for me, it was the panel discussion at the end – wrapping our heads around what’s on the horizon and what it might mean for the research industry. Investment preferences while diverse clearly favored new sample sources & AI learning to augment current research services. The common theme here was to remain flexible in testing new/improved methodologies, but there is still a fair amount of uncertainty on long term traction."

Quick: “In addition to the Raiders’ session, I also took away a number of ideas from the session by Microsoft on file storage and organizing research data and reports for ease of access across an organization. It wasn’t your typical ‘research’ session, but really interesting, nonetheless.”

“The other thing that happened is that we were able to get a few of our Project Managers to join us for a few sessions. And what really struck me about having these relative ‘conference newbies’ there is that they got to see, first hand, the impact we can have as a research agency. That what we do for our clients really is important. I think they all left feeling a little better about what we do for a living.”

Interviewer: “Aside from the primary educational track, what did you think of the other aspects of the Conference, for example, the break-out sessions, the planned social activities, etc.?”

Quick: “Understandably, these sorts of opportunities to ‘network’ just fall short… and it’s not the organizer’s fault. Zoom is a great tool, but it will never replace looking someone in the eye, shaking hands and chatting at a networking event. So, as much as all event organizers try to replicate a cocktail party or the booth experience of a live event, they just aren’t that effective.”

Interviewer: “Does that mean you’re done with virtual events?”

Quick: “Absolutely not! While I might not have the chance to schmooze very much at these events, they are great for learning… for listening to experts share their ideas and perspectives. And this event fit that bill… kudos to the IA’s Southwest Chapter leadership for putting together a well-organized event and bringing in a terrific lineup of speakers. I will definitely be going to more. But I do look forward to in-person events coming back, too. “


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