Cyber Security For Events: What Event Planners MUST KNOW

Cyber Security For Events: What Event Planners MUST Know!

In the past, event producers and planners never really gave cyber security for events a second thought. Chances are, you've made a long list of things you need to take care of before the big event arrives.  

When you're planning a new event we need to not just think about the physical security of the event. Cyber security for events must be paramount on your event planning check list.

In this episode of the Only Successful Events Show, April Iannazzone interviews event technology expert Brandt Krueger. Brandt share why event producers must be concerned and exactly how to protect not only your business but you attendees!

Watch or listen below now...


Subscribe & Download To Only Successful Events Show

listen with your favorite app for podcasts:

iTunes logo with black background Event planning podcast White text says available on itunes
event planning podcast Button that says available on stitcher and a stitcher logo
event planning podcast Button that says available on spotify with a green spotify logo

Here's why as event planners and producers cyber security it is not only our duty, but our responsibility!

You may assume that your vendors and partners will take care of cyber security measures themselves. You might think that you're protected "well enough." After all, you might not have faced a direct security breach in the past, and you're confident that you're not in immediate danger of a breach at this next event either.

Unfortunately, you could be in more danger than you think.

During this interview we'll take a look at many of the dangers associated with your latest event, how hackers can take advantage of that information, and why you need to prioritize security at your next event. 

Cyber security has, over the past several years, become increasingly important for people in a variety of industries - including event planners. If you're not paying attention to cyber security for events, you're also failing to protect your business and your attendees. That lack of cyber security could, in fact, end in catastrophe.

Man smiling with a bald head , pink and blue background with text overlay that reads what event producers need to know about cyber security for events

As an event producer, is cyber security for events on your radar?

1. Events Hold a Treasure Trove of Information for Hackers

Event planners have access to a wide range of information about their attendees, vendors, and partners... and it's all stored on systems that are, unfortunately, all too easily accessible for hackers. They clearly list executives within each company, the titles and positions of specific event attendees, email addresses, and phone contact information for everyone attending the event--not to mention access to hotel reservations, itineraries, and even payment information. 

All of that information needs to be protected. Hackers can quickly use that information to formulate deeper attacks on your attendees and the companies they work for, including putting together sophisticated phishing packages that could make those businesses incredibly vulnerable. 

2. Your Platforms Could Be Vulnerable

What platform are you using to register your event? What about the payment platforms used by your business or other vendors at the event? All too often, event planners simply assume that their partners will have the security they need to protect their attendees in place. After all, they prioritize cyber security, right? 

Not always. In fact, all too often, the platforms you take for granted are vulnerable in unexpected ways. Worse, the vulnerabilities in those platforms could leave your business open to equal risk. Not only are you posing a substantial risk for your clients, you could be opening your own doors to the potential for a breach, which could, in turn, spell disaster for your business. 

As event planners, we have to start changing our mindset around #cybersecurity, because we are responsible for gold. And the gold that I'm talking about is our attendee’s data!  #eventplanning #eventtech #cybersecurity @brandtkrueger

Click to Tweet

3. A Hacker Can Ruin Your Event (And Your Reputation)

If you let a hacker into your systems - especially if you aren't taking the right measures to protect your attendees - it could quickly spell disaster for your business. A hacker can ruin your event in the blink of an eye, bringing down your systems through a denial of service attack, holding your data hostage in a ransomware attack, or even freezing your payment systems and making it impossible for your event to operate smoothly. 

After the event itself, a cyber attack can leave your business struggling to repair its reputation. Attendees may be reluctant to attend your events in the future when they've been impacted by a breach in the past - and even if you make it clear that you're going to take steps to improve your security in the future, your event attendees may not want to take the chance. 

Don't let your cyber security fall through the cracks when you're planning an event and don't miss out on attendees who could help make your event a success. 

Full transcript of interview on cyber security for events...

AI: (00:08)

Hi guys, and welcome back to the only successful events show. Today we have on Brandt Krueger. I have him on today because I want to discuss a topic that most people don't even think about when it comes to events. 

You know, we're very worried about cybersecurity when it comes to our credit cards when it comes to entering our information online, but we really don't think about it as event producers or event attendees. 

So I definitely wanted to have Brandt on. I know he's been very vocal in education around cybersecurity. So first before I just keep rambling, welcome to the only successful event show Brandt.

BK: (00:47)

Hi. Well, it's a pleasure to be here.

AI: (00:49)

Can you give us a little bit about your background? How'd you find yourself in AV and in events especially?

BK: (00:59)

Sure. So I've been in this crazy industry that we do for over 20 years now. I started fresh-faced out of college working a hippie guy that was doing audio for corporate events, but, my real career started when I started working for an event production company out of Minneapolis.

I worked for them for about 18 years in various capacities, including setting up events, working in the shop, building sets and props, custom things like that.  But there was always kind of a techie band and that's part of just who I am. I've always had kind of a techie band to everything that I was doing.

I was literally the guy running in and being like, have you heard, you can now put five CDs into a single-player and you can hit shuffle and you can get jazz all night long without having to go out and change the tape.

So definitely always looking at our events from a technological and cyber security for events standpoint.

 how can we use technology to improve our events? We were very early on with that company doing interactive games, trade show booths that had computer games in them that I was literally coding in flash and running in the background. 

When I left them, about five years ago now, all on good terms, to go out on my own, I was still kind of continued to go forward doing both consulting in technology and audiovisual services, but also as a technical producer.

So the technical producer, the short answer is that person on your team who's kind of a little techie, it helps you get your AV bids and things like that. A lot of people have that person on their team, a lot of people don't. So that's kind of where I'm at now.

Still very much in the audiovisual and production world. If you can't afford a full production company, maybe you just need a guy that can get you three or four AV bids lined up and make sure you're getting the best deal and then be there on-site to make sure it all goes off. Well, I'm your guy. That's kind of how I got to where I am at the moment.

AI: (03:07)

I'm so glad you just explained that a little bit deeper for me because I wasn't sure if you were the full company that we would hire, but that makes complete sense and definitely a lot of our listeners could use you as a resource. 

So I know that you have won some big awards in the industry, 2019 trendsetter from meetings today magazine, one hundred most influential people in the event industry.

So you've been here for over 20 years at the same location for 18 years. You know your stuff.

Before we jump into the meat of this, I'm curious, what made you after 18 years leave and start your own thing? That’s a big jump from being an employee to an entrepreneur?

BK: (03:53)

It was, it was a big jump and believe me, there was some serious conversations with my wife that weekend. We kind of made the ultimate decision. The long and the short of it is like I said, I'm still on good terms with that company. I still actually do show calling for that company. So I'll be the guy on the headset calling the cues for them on a lot of their major shows. They're a good client in mine. 

So the short of the story is that it was a fork in the road. I had been doing podcasts and speaking at conferences and things like that for a few years at that point. They wanted me to head up a new department and it was going to be like a content creation department.

so it was going to go from being on-site and calling shows, helping set up and being that part of that onsite environment as well as the podcast and the conference and all that kind of stuff.

Going from all of that to sitting in a dark room, creating PowerPoints for nine hours a day. And, you know, I do enjoy that work. I do enjoy creating content and things like that, but I wasn't ready to commit to that.

And if I did commit to that, I was going to have to give up the podcasts and all of that kind of stuff like cyber security at events.

So there was no way I could get five years down the line and go back to that moment in time. My social network, my social capital at that point was at an all-time high. if I got five years down the road of not doing podcasts and not doing conferences and things like that, there was never going back in time to that moment.

So that was really what kind of crystallized it is, it’s now or never to go out on my own. Man, that is scary stuff. It's scary stuff. Like I said, it was a subject of many intense discussions around our house.

AI: (05:34)

Did you always have the entrepreneurial gene or was it kind of, you were in that fork in the road where you had to make a decision or was it always inside you?

BK: (05:44)

I would say it came later in life. I was perfectly content, and I wasn't unhappy working for the company It was funny though. Only a few months later, my wife looked at me, she said, you seem so much happier now. And I wasn't unhappy in my old job in any way, shape or form.

So I would say definitely came later because early on I started with them when I was twenty-two and it was, well, I think I'll do this for a couple of years and just see how it goes. And then, you know, five years later it's like, well, okay, that's a nice number I can reevaluate after, I don't know, five, six, seven, eight years and just see if this is what I want to keep doing.

You know, I'm still looking, I'm still not sure about this business, this event business, you know, it's kind of a lot of weirdos and stuff and I just kept doing it.

 I think a lot of it is because I do love the industry and because I did grow to really appreciate it as it is and cyber security at events.

And then later in my career, as I said, when I left after 18 years, I'd only been doing these podcasts and conferences and things for maybe only five years at that point. So one of my biggest professional regrets, I'll just throw this out on the table right now. One of my biggest professional regrets was not networking in the industry earlier in my career.

I didn't start doing it until I was in my late thirties. And I had been working there for 15 years. I discovered this whole world of these amazing people that do what we do, you know, on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis. And so many incredible friends in the industry since I started doing that.

 I know I've kind of rambled off what the original question was but this is a really important point to me. That was the entrepreneurial thing that I think that's what's helped drive it, right? It’s meeting people who've done it before. I was so lucky that when I did go out on my own, I had fantastic friends already that had been consultants that had been freelancers. I've got so much good advice from them that I didn't feel like I was really doing it on my own.

AI: (07:49)

I love that and I just want to point out something to those of you that are listening because I have run into a lot of people where if they are going to network with somebody in the same industry or the same field, for instance, like wedding consultants, for whatever reason, they don't want to help each other out. 

I've just seen a lot of that happened where I really want you to expand your horizons a little bit, not just network with other people that compliment your business, but network people that are in doing the same thing as you. You never know when they have an extra job they want to hand off or they have a resource that you need and vice versa. A

Really there's enough business for everybody. So definitely make connections early on and with everybody. 

So thank you for sharing that story. I want to jump into a little bit of cybersecurity. Why should us as event producers worry about cyber security for events?

Well, and this is, this has been, obviously it's been in the news a lot over the course of the last year, but this has really been passionate in mind for several years now. It drives me absolutely up a wall that we still have venues, airplanes, and hotels that don't have a password on a wifi. 

You know how it started because, you know, they didn't want to deal with people coming down three o'clock in the morning. And at this point though, people know how wifi works, right? You know that some wifi networks have passwords, some don't. 

We get it at this point. We know how it works. So it's inexcusable to me that we're still having open wifi networks. And I want to be really clear about what I mean about that.

BK: (09:37)

Cause this is kind of the kernel of my cyber security at events journey.

it's not logging in and then gaining a hotel slash screen that says, what room are you in?

 That's not a password, that's not security. It's not logging onto the conference network and I'm being asked, okay, what conference are you in? Please enter a password. No, that's not putting a password that's not entering security. 

So if the first thing you hit isn't that iOS pop up or your phone pop up saying pack into the network password. If that's not the first thing you get, that network is insecure. Just going in and putting your room number or putting a meeting code or something like that is not securing your network. 

it's way better than it used to be. But back when I first started getting into this stuff, you know, even five years ago, um, Oh almost nothing other than banking transactions was using this higher security level, Using the HTTPS.

BK: (10:31)

it's only been through a concerted effort of Google and others that have really promoted this idea of HTTPS everywhere. So it used to be, if you were on those wifi networks, you could just read everything in plain text. I mean, unless it was a banking transaction, you could see emails flying back and forth. 

You know, you could see people posting Facebook messages, you could see everything in complete and utter plain text. Now again, it's way better than it used to be, but it's still inexcusable at this point that you wouldn't. 

So this is what I like to think. So, this is my, this is my big soapbox moment, so forgive me for droning on a little bit. But you know, even if you know your password is one, two, three, four, five, and even if you print that password on every single piece of paper for your conference and it's in the app and it's on the toilet paper in the bathroom.  it's everywhere. 

Even if you put it everywhere, that's still more secure than not having a password at all because it just turns on basic level encryption on the actual access points and in the wifi connection itself. 

So that's my little soap boxy thing of how I started to get into cybersecurity. Um, it's just the fact that it's such a simple thing that we can be doing to protect our attendees data.

AI: (11:46)

I love the people that say I have nothing to hide. You know, I don't care if my stuff gets out there. 

You actually do have lot more stuff that you don't realize.

There's a lot of information that is on your phone that people can get without cyber security at events

So it's definitely something I’m glad you went on your soapbox because it's something that people are like, Oh no big deal. We're just going to log on to check Facebook. But there's a lot more information in there that people can see.

BK: (12:16)

Well, I think what you've just teed up, the second most important points, of what we're talking about here when I start talking specifically about events. So yeah, you've got stuff on your cell phone that you might not want. 

Maybe I don't have something to hide, but I wouldn't want someone to get to my credit card information. Something like that, you know, but no big deal. Someone gets into my cell phone,  what are they going to do? See pictures of my kids? No big deal.  

But we as event people have to start changing our mindset on cyber security for events. We are responsible for gold. And the gold that I'm talking about is our attendee’s data. So when we start thinking about events,  especially corporate events where we're talking about the kind of access to data that the planners and the planning team have, the registration team has.

BK: (12:59)

We're talking about first name, last name, home address, flight times, spouse names, kids' names, title, you know, email address. All of these things are gold to a hacker because what they can do then is if you could figure out, okay, who's the CEO, who's the CFO, here's their home number, here's their flight time. Okay, great. 

Then you craft an email coming from, you could grab an email coming there that looks like it's coming from the registration company or you craft an email looking like it's coming from the CFO saying, Hey Cindy, I see that you're coming in on the three-fifteen flight. I really needed to take care of this wire transfer. It's going to be going through right while you're in the air, can you please just click on this now? 

Okay. We're used to a little bit of those kinds of fishing things, so that may be a red flag. Okay. Wire transfers. You know, you never asked for wire transfers, but how's this one?

Mrs. Jones, we see your landing at four fifteen on the Delta flight 1787 we're arranging the transportation to get you to the conference. Can you please click here to verify that's the time you're coming in. We'll make sure that the limo was standing by. That's a little bit more, okay. I might click on that. Right? Especially when they've got that level of detail.

AI: (14:12)

I know that people are listening now and are like, who has time to go and do all of this stuff and arrange and orchestrate all of this in the backend. People are doing it, people are doing it every day.

BK: (14:23)

So we are not the targets. Our attendees are the targets, the companies we represent. 

You know, and as we start, as events started to take this trend towards being, you know, marketing activations and things like that. There's a lot of big money for a lot of big corporations being spent on meetings and events.

That data, that access to that gold of, who, what, where, when, how, is what the hackers are looking at for. Target wasn't hacked directly, they were hacked through like an HVAC vendor. You know, home Depot wasn't attacked directly. They were attacked through their point of sale system. 

So likewise, it's not that people are going to go in through the front door of IBM, Microsoft, Google or things like that. They're going to come in at the side door. We're the side door to that information to getting in getting in and hacking those companies.

AI: (15:14)

Wow. So as an event producer, we go to a venue, they give us the meeting code for the conference room. Can we request a password? I know it's our responsibility to take care of our guests.

Most of us have thought everything's completely fine. Everybody's doing it anyway. This is how it's always been done. But now we need to open our eyes and know that it's our responsibility. How do we take the steps to make sure that our guests are protected?

BK: (15:50)

Yeah. So step one is to acknowledge the problem. When we're going through the steps of recovery or anything like that, we always have to acknowledge the problem. So step one is what we're doing here, right? We're raising awareness. We're saying, Hey, look, folks, this isn't the job of some nerd down the hall. 

We all need to start taking responsibility for the cyber security at our events. 

Just like we do the physical security of our events, right? We're hiring physical security people to be hanging out. It depends on, you know, the level of the guests, the level of the executives that are going to be there. 

Same thing. So how important is that data? How important are the people that we're talking about? So step number one, yes, let's absolutely get that wifi password on there. That's just like, for me, that's table stakes, right? That's a basic level thing that we've gotta be doing in our events. 

You absolutely should ask and they absolutely should be able to do it. It shouldn't be an extra charge in my opinion. Right? Well, a lot of savvy planners are already putting in, Hey we need you to include wifi for all of my guests and all that kind of stuff and you're not going to charge such as part of the RFP.

I would throw in private secure wifi, you know, just add an extra set of words in there to make it go. The next thing I want to bring to your attention around cyber security for events - we have to do is we'd have to start being responsible for our own data. So as we're looking at things like registration platforms and event apps and other technology, you don't just write the password down on a sticky note and hand it to the temp staff that came, to help out with your event that day. 

Make sure that you're paying attention to who has access to the information. How is it being transferred? Use a password manager. That's like my number one. Well, I've had a lot of number one things in here I can't keep calling them my number ones.

My other equally important suggestion is to have a password manager on there the help with cyber security at events. 

AI: (17:39)

Which one's your favorite?

BK: (17:41)

I use LastPass. There's a lot of them out there. Don't use a free one. So you get what you pay for. So use a paid service. That's kind of a good advice for all of your technology needs is chances are if you can't figure out how they're making money, they're making money off of you. 

So be sure and use a paid service. Last pass has been vetted by security people. I can't say that I know, but security to people that I trust that are out there in the industry. The biggest question that people ask about password managers is what happens if the password manager company gets hacked? Last pass Does not store your data in a way that they have access to. So, if you lose your password,  they have some ways of like printing out temporary passwords that you can stick in a safe somewhere, but if you lose the password, they're like, sorry.

I mean someone could literally walk in and steal the servers out of the room and not be able to access your information. So, that's called trust no one encryption that’s the best way to do it. So even government actors, subpoenas, thieves, whoever you might want not to have that data, would not be able to get it.

 So that's definitely the one that I can recommend. A lot of people are good with dash lane and couple of other ones as well.

AI: (18:55)

So we watch who we're giving the passwords to.  If we're writing one down, we're watching who we're giving to, hopefully, we're using last pass or another service like that. We're asking for a private secure network.

Is there anything else that we should be worried about with cyber security at events?

BK: (19:13)

Yeah, I mean, so my buddy will Curran who owns endless events out of Phoenix area and  New York area. He and I do full-on hour-long sessions on this to be fair. Believe me, if you keep asking me, I will just keep giving them to you. So just a fair warning on that. So that's definitely one. 

So I would say another one that often gets neglected along the same lines of just paying attention to who has your data is I can't tell you as an AV person the number of times that I've just been handed a flash drive with a PowerPoint presentation on it with like sensitive financial information on it. 

I do have some like high-end clients that are really bossy about having a secure flash drive and you have to punch in a code and stuff like that. And have asked their, vendors to sign off on data retention policies. 

But still the vast number of times and the vast majority of events that I've worked on, it's like, here, here are all of our, predictions for how we're going to do next year and we're a public company and you know, that kind of stuff. 

So really just be careful, be thoughtful about the data that you're presenting.

Being a responsible event planner means caring about your attendees cyber security for events.  Be thoughtful about the fact that you're going to have, however many hundreds of people in the audience with a camera in their pocket that could potentially take pictures of not just embarrassing stuff like horrible skit that's gone wrong, but also financial information. 

You know, I think we tend to think more about the embarrassing stuff, but you know, that could be embarrassing as well if you're saying, Hey guys, we've had a terrible year, how are we going to deal with this? 

And then, you know, somebody takes a picture of that slide with a graph going straight down and then that gets tweeted out somewhere. So just being careful about your company's information as well. If you're a private entity like that.

AI: (21:00)

And you know, I really love that you are using the phrase be thoughtful. The reason why I'm bringing this up again is because most people don't think about this. I've been doing events for Oh, 18 years at this point. And we have a lot of different speakers and most speakers just have the same flash drive. They stick it in their computer, they give it to the, you're right, the AV people. And it's the same one that they're using for everything. 

So maybe they have a kid's project on it, maybe they have their budget, whatever it is. Yes. For the most part, we want to say that we trust the AV people too. But it’s be thoughtful about every little piece that you do and what you're doing. 

Cause I don't think people, until today, honestly, not that I would do it, but I wouldn't think twice about it if I didn't have a new flash drive around and I had one, I would probably be like, okay, just go to that file. So like the little points like that are gold to me.

BK: (21:59)

Yeah, I know. I know someone in the industry who actually treats flash drives as disposable. She's like, I don't want to back just take it. She doesn't want to mess with getting a virus or something like that being sent back via flash drive. And that's absolutely a thing. 

So I think the biggest thing is what we've already talked about there and what you just hit on as well as, again, just raising that awareness that Hey, it’s all of our responsibilities. It's not the responsibility of the vendor.We need to be asking these questions.

So you need to ask your AV company, what's your data retention policy? 

You know, what happens to these laptops after it's done? Do they just go on to the next show or do they get wiped? 

And that's a double-edged sword too because I've also been in a situation where I've had someone come back to me and be like, Hey, is there any chance you've got that PowerPoint that we used last year? 

Umm, I shouldn't, but let me check and see if it happens to be in this folder marked old where stuff gets thrown off the desktop. That kind of thing. you know, you just have to be, if you're going to ask your vendors to get get rid of stuff, then you also have to be much more vigilant about making sure you get a copy of it before it goes away.

AI: (23:01)

Absolutely. And also that's a question that I've never asked either and I've spoken at many different things and produced many events.  What do you do with the content after or data after? So thank you for all of these little tips.

I want to know what you think about third party versus in-house AV with cyber security for events.

because I know that a lot of people, especially in the thought leader industry or the people that are producing conferences for themselves, they really almost always get brought into the hotel AV or the venue AV versus bringing in their other person. And I just want to hear your thoughts on that.

BK: (23:41)

Well, that’s another one that I could literally talk for an hour about. So what's funny is  I mentioned Will and the way that he and I started speaking together as kind of a duo was that we did a presentation called AV SmackDown in house AV versus third party. 

And the original idea was that we were going to get someone from in-house AV and then he'd represent the third party. And I'd be kind of the neutral referee down in the middle. With all of the acquisitions that have been going on, the mergers that have been going on, it became more and more difficult to actually get people to speak on the record as a representative of an in-house AV. And I totally get that. And these are big companies involved with big wallets and big lawyers behind them.

BK: (24:27)

So you don't want to be, you know, Mr. AV guy getting busted because you said something stupid in a conference presentation. So for me personally, I believe that there are pros and cons to each model. So for me personally, I believe that there is a time and a place for each model.

That each model has its pros and cons. And so that's what kind of we were trying to flush out in this presentation. The pros of the in-house is that it's easy. Right? It’s there. It's all in one master bill. It all goes together. They know the space intimately. They know, okay, the third plug from the left, you got to go over and jiggle the cord a little bit because that's a little loose, you know, all of the quirks and intricacies of the venue that going to know, cause they're literally there day in and day out.

The disadvantage that everybody knows is cost.

The actual costs of the in house provider tends to be more expensive and that's pretty easy to explain away as well because it's convenience, right?

So you can go to the lobby bar at the hotel, the little lobby store, and you can buy, you know, a candy bar and it's going to be like eight bucks, right? Why? Because it's convenient. It's there. It's the same with the mini bar in the room. Right? So you know those gummy bears just look amazing at about 11 o'clock at night after a couple of beers and they're $9. 

And you know what? It'll go on the master bill and no one will even know that is there. And it's just fine. It'll be fine. It's because of that convenience that you're paying for that, you know, paying extra for that service.

BK: (26:06)

Now, where I do get frustrated is when you get locked into that. You know, there's nobody forcing you to buy that candy bar in the lobby store. There's nobody forcing you to buy those gummy bears. You're just as able to go out the front door or walk down the street, go to seven eleven and buy a pack of gummy bears, right?

So I get really frustrated when venues lock you in and say, you have to have to, have to, have to use the in house AV. Well, can I pay you a fee? No. Can I buy you out? No, you have to use the in-house AV. 

That's where it gets excessive to me, especially with all the mergers and acquisitions going on starts to feel, an awful lot like anti-competitive going on there. And then again that’s me coming from someone who doesn't have a dog in this hunt, you know, whatever metaphor you want to use, I don't care. I want to use whatever service is going to be best for my clients.

AI: (26:57)

My favorite is when you have to use their company, but then they want to charge you a minimum set of hours for so many people when they're really just plugging in one thing. Working with a lot of convention centers, they have a mandatory, so many people that you have to use for so many hours, even if it's just half an hour worth of work. 

So that's one of my biggest frustrations. The other thing as on the event producer side, there's definitely a time and place we want to use the hotel AV. Like if it's just a simple meeting and you just need a projector and some sound around the room, or if you're just flying in for the weekend and doing a quick workshop. 

I'm all about repurposing your content and when you have someone masterful in the back of the room and you can do different angles the quality is just so much better. 

Everything is better for future use. Depending on the type of event, that's how I feel.

BK: (28:02)

Oh, you're not wrong at all. I mean again, that's what I mean there's pros and cons to each model. So if you're just doing a one-off event, you know you're never going to be doing it again, you're never going to reuse that footage or maybe it’s just for archival purposes or something along those lines, or breakout sessions, you know, where we record it. And if it turns out great, if not no big deal, it's not mission-critical stuff. 

But if you're an event that's, you know, the same event every year in a different location with big-time players, you know, it's a awards recognition event or something along those lines where it's the same executive and you want that AV team to develop a relationship with those executives, make them feel comfortable, help them with their PowerPoint presentations, all of those kinds of things.

You know all of that value add stuff that  a  good solid AV team. It's not that they can't do that, but you get that with that traveling, being able to move with them, you get that consistency from event to event. 

So those are the trade-offs, right? Is as is that kind of ease of use and it just all goes on the master versus, you know, the consistency and I don't have to worry about the crew from year to year, that kind of thing. But pay for that, you pay for that convenience.

AI: (29:16)

Absolutely. And truthfully, I love,  not the convenience of having the venue AV, but the convenience of having an AV team that has worked with me on past events. If they know April is going to get mad that she's recording all this video and her hair is over here and I know, you know, she said something about that last time. Or make sure you're standing at this part of the stage when you're doing this part of your offer, things like that. 

So I love the convenience like you said, of building that relationship. I do use hotel AV quite a bit when I'm flying for the weekend, need something quick and dirty and just get it done.

When I'm producing something big, I need my team for cyber security at events.

BK: (30:02)

You've got your GoTo team. Yeah. Yeah.

AI: (30:04)

So what are some of the things that people should look for when they're looking for an AV company?

BK: (30:13)

Whew, that's a tough one. Cause it depends on what your priorities are, right? So, you know, a lot of times I've met plenty of these clients where their priority is budget, budget, budget, budget, budget, budget, and also budget. Um, you know, so they're frequently looking for the cheapest as opposed to the ones that are going to deliver the most value. 

I've also had plenty of clients where that they see that, they see the unmeasurables, they see the intangibles, they see the value of the people, they see the value of the personalities. There are the little things of not charging you for every roll of tape that gets used. You know, just knowing I've got a box tape, you know, whatever. Whatever you need, you know, go ahead. Not getting fussy about the little stuff. So I'm always looking for partners.

BK: (30:59)

I mean, it's a word that frequently gets overused in our industry. It's like, no, we're not partners. You're hiring me to do stuff. But I do, you know, I do definitely try and look for partners, ones that I can say, Hey, this one, I got no budget. What can you do for me? 

And then on the next one, I'll try and catch you back and mean it right. You know, not just be constantly chiseling for price. But Hey, you know, literally this one, I've got nothing. What can we do to fit within this budget? 

And then the next one that comes along where I've got a little bit more, you know, I'll try and get it to you and work it all out so that it truly is a partnership, is a relationship. meet the people, you know, that's one of the things I was talking about in house versus third party AV.

One of the funny things to me is that nobody ever requests references for the in-house AV and cyber security at evets.


You know, You've got just as much reason to ask for references for in house if not more. So go to your venue and say, you want me to use in-house? Great. I'm going to need to see references. I need to talk to one person who has similar size group that you know that had a good experience. If they can't produce that, how can they force you to use their AV team if they cant producing one person that had a good experience out of the last year?

AI: (32:20)

I love that because again, you're sharing all of these things that most people would never even think to ask. So thank you for that. Because I would never think to ask,  and truthfully for me if I have to use it in house Ai, even if I was going to use it anyway, it's almost always a deal-breaker in my contracts just because there are so many things where they have the upper hand that AV should not be something that they have the upper hand in.

AI: (32:53)

Who is your ideal client? Who could I be sending you a ton of?

BK: (32:56)

I'm really liking this technical producer niche. It's something I've been trying to promote as I go into it. 

So for me, it's either the independent planner who you know is putting together their own team, right? So they usually have their associates that they bring in for a registration. You know, they’ve got maybe some ideas of what they want for a, but they're not themselves particularly technical. 

So I really enjoy being the person that you can just go here to all of the technical stuff, right? So let me get the bids for you. Let me line them all up. Cause that takes forever, right? Lining it all out, trying to do the apples and oranges and all this kind of stuff. Let me say, okay, I think we should go with these guys and here's why, you know, let me then negotiate on your behalf saying, okay that’s really expensive, what can we do?

BK: (33:42)

Let me say, okay, you don't need that equipment because that's ridiculous overkill. You don't need subwoofers in a breakout session. You know, and then be there onsite to make sure that it all goes well. When you're hiring a production company, that kind of comes along with the package. 

But if you're just putting together that small team. So, I would say, first of all, those independent, meeting planners and event planners that just need someone they can offload all of the tech too. But then also there's this other category of event planners and meeting planners that don't self identify as as meeting and event planners, which is tough because, right. They're not necessarily the ones that are going to be listening to this podcast or this show. 

So, you know, I'm trying to find ways of getting to the folks that are admin assistants, that they're marketing people. The ones that are just given an event, go here, plan this. And so they're the ones that wind up becoming de facto planners, and do a really great job in a lot of instances but aren't necessarily the ones that are Primus is what they went to school for or something along those lines and again, just need that techie person that they can hand this stuff off of.

BK: (34:57)

Then the third Avenue of that is people who've built up a show to a certain point. They know they want to take it to the next level, but again, they're not ready to hire a full production company to do it. They just need a guy that can.

 I just love that. I love that phrase because everybody's got a guy, I've got a guy that can get me that, you know. Oh, you need a guy that can get you that. Yeah, I got a  guy. So that kind of thing.

So yeah! I’m your guy for cyber security at events.

AI: (35:24)

I love it. I love it. I definitely think that there are some people that I do want to connect you with in general because I think one of the niches that might be good for you is the influencer space, the coaches, the consultants, the thought leaders that are putting on events that are perhaps hiring out the individual event planner who doesn't have you but needs you. 

So I think that might be a good niche too, for us to, to give you guys some business. Tell us where we can find you.

BK: (35:55)

Well, sure. I mean, I'm easy to find I’m Brant Kruger on all the socials. B R A N D T   K R U E G E R, So pretty much everywhere except Facebook because I've got reasons. 

But yeah, I'm pretty much all over the place. Be sure to check out the podcasts, that's something that I continue to enjoy doing so many years later. I'm on the event icons podcast, as well as the event tech podcast. 

So event icons is because the guy who won't sell it and then, event tech podcast is So that's where you can find me.

AI: (36:34)

I love it. So thank you so much for joining us and I hope to talk to you again soon.

BK: (36:38)

It's absolutely my pleasure. I've enjoyed it.

Guest Expert on Cyber Security for Events - Brandt Krueger

With over 20 years experience in the meetings and events industry, Brandt has spoken at industry events and seminars all over the world, been published in numerous magazines and websites, and teaches public and private classes on meeting and event technology and production. He provides freelance technical production services and is the owner of Event Technology Consulting.

Green background, man with a bald head, beard and glasses, smiling before his interview on cyber security at events

Brandy Krueger 
Owner of Event Technology Consulting

blue text that reads: #1 Event Planning Resource