Interviews with Planners - Claus Raasted
Claus Raasted's professional title is Larp Guru, and he and his company specialize in spectacular live action role play events for an international audience. When he is not doing those events, he is active in the meetings industry, promoting new ways of looking at meetings from an experience design mindset. He's also got a past in reality TV, but these days, who hasn't?
What is the best advice you have ever received as a planner?
If you don't get the core experience right, details don't matter.
What is the most unique location you have ever planned an event at? What was great, what was challenging?
Czocha Castle in Poland is a pretty wild location. Working with a 13th century castle brings its own set of challenges with. The pipes were frozen, so we had no water on the 3rd and 4th floor. There were drunken locals down by the lake, who were trying to get into a fight with our participants. Some attendees decided to be amorous in the castle towers. It was definitely one of the more challenging events.
What advice would you give to someone entering the business today?
It is easy to get caught up in production values and details. It's not what makes or breaks a great event. It's just easier to spot.
What do you see as the most challenging aspect of being a planner, and how do you overcome that challenge?
I think that the major problem that our industry faces is that technology has created new ways of interacting, and we still cling to the old and tested. Why do we still love the lecture format, when that lecture could be filmed and distributed digitally, letting audience members interact with the speaker (and each other!) onsite instead of just sitting passively and listening to something they might as well catch on YouTube when it suits them? This sort of conservative thinking is bogging us down.
How do you think our industry will evolve in the next five years?
The role of the physical meeting is changing. We are learning to use the new digital tools at our disposal, and that of course changes everything. But perhaps most profound is that we are beginning to create new social rules and mechanics for meetings, to make them better. Gamification, theatrical influences, and experience design are rearing their tiny heads and poking at the dragon that is the industry. In five years, they'll have bitten in deeply, and we should look forward to that!
What makes you successful as a planner?
My ability to focus on the core and not get swamped by details. My adaptability and massive experience. But most of all, my deep-seated belief that a polished plan is not necessarily a good one.
In your opinion, what is the best and worst industry trend of the year?
Best (Mini) Trend: Introducing Social Mechanics.
Worst Trend: Believing that taking people's cell phones away solves things.
What is the best industry book that has helped you as a planner?
Open Space Technology: A User's Guide by Harrison Owen.
What is the one tool/item you can't live without on a daily basis as you go about your planning job?
Smartphone (but that's uninteresting).
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