A Look Back at a Year of Innovation and Growth

As we stand at the beginning of a new year, we are pleased to reflect on the extraordinary journey we undertook together in 2023.

This reflection dives into the dynamic transformations and strategic shifts that defined our collective efforts throughout the past year. In the face of accelerated expectations and a rapidly evolving events landscape, we not only met challenges head-on but strategically adapted our role, positioning Shepard as a key partner in delivering exceptional experiences.

Our successes are not merely the result of individual accomplishments, but a genuine testament to the collective contributions made by our outstanding team, valued customers, and trusted industry partners. We deeply appreciate the collaborative spirit that defines our industry, and it is through these shared efforts that we have been able to rapidly grow and succeed.

With that appreciation, we step into the new year with the continued goal to be the service provider that customers want to work with, to create a workplace that people want to work for, and to be partners that others want to work alongside.

Stepping Up: The Growing Role of General Service Contractors in Events

Amidst the dynamic resurgence of events, industry expectations have shifted, presenting us with an opportunity to better serve our customers through heightened creativity and an enhanced commitment to service excellence. Frances Maestre, EVP, emphasizes, “Throughout the years, we’ve witnessed a steady evolution in the role of the General Service Contractor. What distinguishes the current landscape is the heightened emphasis on delivering excellence across all facets, in particular with strategy, creative, and service.”

I firmly believe that, now more than ever, our responsibility as a GSC is to serve as a strategic partner to our customers.

Frances Maestre, EVP

Steve Margos, at the helm of operations for Shepard, echoes this sentiment, “Our focus this year wasn’t solely on volume; it was about stepping up to meet heightened expectations in creativity, service, and efficiency. Our role as a service provider expanded to cater to the growing needs of our customers for more comprehensive service in all facets of event production. I am proud to say our team rose to the occasion. We stepped up because we knew our customers needed more, and we were equipped to deliver.”

The true success story lies in the people of Shepard and our team’s ability to rise to the challenge, showcasing our adaptability and commitment to customer satisfaction. “Our people at Shepard are our greatest asset. When tasked with getting more creative, providing more service, and working faster, they simply did. Their dedication and ingenuity are truly the driving forces behind our success,” notes Kevin Bird, CEO. Moreover, this achievement was fortified through the continued prioritization of our Blue Diamond Customer Service Program. As the landscape evolves, we remain passionate about staying true to our ethos of putting service first. “In an ever-changing industry, our commitment to service remains constant,” remarks Steve Margos.

Designing Experiences: The Power of Creativity in Events

Mood-setting lighting and directional cues fostered a more immersive experience at the 7-Eleven Experience

Experiential design has taken on a significant role, reshaping the way attendees engage with various types of events. From trade shows to corporate gatherings, there has been a noticeable shift towards creating greater immersive experiences. At Shepard, our mission is to go beyond traditional service provision by collaborating with our customers, understanding their visions, and working together to bring them to life.

In 2023, experiential design and creative strategy played an instrumental role in supporting our customers, as seen in our collaborative work on events such as ServiceTitan’s Pantheon. Our approach for that event reimagined the expo floor experience, utilizing non-traditional materials to create a new and enhanced atmosphere. This innovative design philosophy was extended to other notable events, including Printing United—a TSE-recognized top 100 event—ONS, BBcon, and more. Creative design seamlessly wove through these experiences, activating brands on the show floor and offering additional sponsorship opportunities for our customers, all while enhancing the overall experience for attendees.

Our team of designers and strategic thinkers actively contributed to enhancing these experiences, working alongside our customers to achieve their goals. Our design philosophy revolves around collaboration; we partner with our clients to understand their unique needs and aspirations to craft experiences that truly resonate with their targeted audiences.

As we look ahead to 2024, our team is poised for the continued emphasis on experiential design. We stand as collaborative innovators ready to bring fresh ideas and strategies to the table. The experiences we curated this year exemplify the boundless possibilities with our creative teams in the mix.

Tech Boost: Accelerating Business in Events Through Data and Innovation

In the fast-paced world of event production, the acceleration of business has become synonymous with embracing technology and leveraging data. This year has seen a remarkable shift with technology helping to expedite the planning process. It serves as an extension of service, providing greater insights to enable show organizers to make data-driven decisions. At Shepard, we are witnessing technology permeate every stage of event production. What was once confined to the pre-planning phase now extends seamlessly into the actual experience and beyond. In 2023, we experienced an immense amount of growth in this sector, growing our solutions network substantially with companies like Sessionboard and Bear Analytics. We also made significant investments in our technology suite to enhance the user experience for both our associates and end customers. The use of data to drive decision-making has become paramount, allowing us to navigate the evolving landscape with precision.

From planning logistics to personalizing experiences, our teams have harnessed the power of data to inform how we do business.

We’ve transitioned from standard event planning to data-driven precision, every move we make is purposeful, aimed at enhancing the overall experience for our customers.

Kevin Bird, CEO

Audio-visual elements have also taken on an enhanced role, particularly with the strategic use of immersive lighting and audio. These elements serve as a seamless extension of experiential design, creating an enriched and engaging atmosphere for attendees. Furthermore, digital signage has evolved into a standard component of events, due to its versatile ability to display captivating and dynamic content. This shift marks a significant enhancement in event curation, promising more interactive and memorable experiences for attendees.

LadyTitans lounge area at ServiceTitan's Pantheon
Immersive lighting at ServiceTitan’s Pantheon and USITT (below)

Changing Faces: New Energy and Expertise in the Event Landscape

This year witnessed a notable transformation in our industry, marked by the emergence of a new generation of event professionals and the inclusion of experts from outside the industry. The diverse faces now shaping the event space, reflecting varied experiences and professional backgrounds, have significantly enriched our industry. The influx of fresh faces not only brings new perspectives and opportunities, but also underscores the heightened need to adapt and evolve. This wave of new talent and expertise presents an exciting opportunity for us to provide enhanced support and education to exhibitors. Acknowledging the antiquated exhibitor processes within our industry, we are dedicated to simplifying and streamlining this experience. Anticipate more exciting developments in 2024 as Shepard takes the lead in supporting exhibitor success.

Bold Moves: A Year of Trying New Things and Redefining Event Success

In 2023, experimentation unfolded across all facets of our business—from customer service to exhibits, design, operations, creative strategy and beyond—highlighting our proactive approach to venturing into uncharted territories in response to the evolving needs of our clients. Reflecting on the year of bold moves, Frances Maestre emphasizes, “We didn’t just react; we initiated. It’s about anticipating client needs and daring to offer solutions that redefine what’s possible.”

Success is not about staying comfortable; it’s about embracing discomfort and turning challenges into achievements. This year was all about trying new things to drive further innovation for our processes to better support our customers.

Steve Margos, COO

Shepard is a full-service event production company. We design, develop and manage trade shows, corporate and other events throughout the U.S.