We have the great pleasure of speaking to the one, and only, Julius Solaris today!
In this episode, Julius tells us his story. He talks about his career, virtual versus in-person, the future of meetings, and how to use the different social media platforms.
We are sure you will enjoy listening to our inspiring conversation with Julius Solaris!
Julius Solaris’s bio
Julius Solaris is the head of engagement at Swapcard. Before that, he was the founder and editor-in-chief of EventMB, which was acquired in 2019 by Skift, the largest and most influential travel media company worldwide.
He has been named one of the most influential individuals in the meetings industry by many magazines and media for the past ten years.
Julius has conducted some of the most ground-breaking research for the event industry, with over 3,000 events reviewed and 15,000 event professionals interviewed.
Julius’ analysis and reports have been downloaded by over 300,000 event professionals, and 300,000 more read EventMB every month. Over 50,000 event professionals have attended Julius’s events.
Julius has been a keynote speaker for events in 12 countries and for over 200,000 attendees.
Moving from Europe to the United States
Julius did a Marketing MBA in Australia in 2004-2005. At that time, blogging was the way to do things, so Julius started thinking about it. He returned to Italy for a year or so in 2007. While there, Julius decided to start blogging. The only thing he could write about was events because that was the only experience he had had since coming out of university.
The world of business events
Julius truly liked the world of business events, and it excited him.
He also had a passion for how social media and the new world of technology would impact the world of events. So, he started talking about that back in the early days.
After moving to London, back to Italy, and then back to London again, Julius moved to the United States five years ago.
Blogging as a business
Julius’s blog has always been the common thread running through all his moves. He has had some proper jobs while doing it. Then, in 2011, blogging finally became his business.
Organically driven to move
Julius feels organically driven to move constantly. He has a citizen-of-the-world mentality, so he loves experiencing new things. He moved to Australia and London multiple times and then to the US. He loved California and the west coast and wanted to move there.
Moving to the United States
Julius felt as if he belonged in the United States. His business also aligned with that feeling because he had clients there. He was also financially motivated to move to the US.
Julius Solaris shoots for the stars
Various options were available for Julius Solaris when applying for his US visa. He decided to shoot for the stars and apply for the “Alien of Extraordinary Ability” option. He was able to prove that he had achieved a lot within the events industry, and, much to his surprise, he received a Green Card. Now, after five years, he hopes to become a US citizen.
Selling his businesses
In 2018, Julius sold a software business that he owned.
Then, he sold EventMB, his travel media company. It was an extremely stressful business to run even though it kept growing. Julius decided to become a part of a larger organization, instead, to feel more secure and relaxed enough in his life to focus on doing the kind of work he wanted to do. Then, he started proactively looking to sell his company.
Julius Solaris’s biggest lessons
Julius Solaris initially had two unsuccessful closes when trying to sell his business. Those were major psychological setbacks for him, and the biggest lessons in his career as an entrepreneur.
Selling to Skift
Later, at a dinner, Julius got introduced to the Editor of Meetings for Skift. They became friends, and the editor later introduced Julius to the CEO of Skift, to whom Julius eventually sold his business.
Peace of mind
Julius left EventMB with the peace of mind of knowing that selling the business was the most logical thing for him to do.
What lies ahead
Julius is passionate about event tech. Now is an exciting time for him because this is the right time for using event tech in business and he has been privy to many conversations about what lies ahead in that area. For now, the interest lies very much in virtual. Hybrid is also there and will feature even more in Q3 and Q4.
People are postponing
People are postponing things as much as possible right now, with a fall-back plan to go one hundred percent virtual, if necessary.
Virtual is still the leader
For North America and Europe, virtual is still the leading option, by far.
There is currently an unprecedented six-billion dollar valuation for event technology.
A monumental shift
There has been a monumental shift in the area of virtual events. Now, people know that it is possible to connect with others on virtual platforms. They know that there is the potential for virtual events to become part of the B2B marketing structure of any company and operations.
Many of the previously unnecessary meetings will get replaced by virtual events in the future.
Sustainability will be top of mind in terms of all future meetings, now that we know that virtual and hybrid events work.
An inclusion piece for hybrid
A secondary role for hybrid events is as an inclusion piece to be built at the back of in-person events, as the digital aspect of those events.
A third dimension
There is also a third dimension, which is the one hundred percent in-person event. That kind of in-person event will never go away.
Julius feels that social media will make people want to go to in-person events, in case they miss out on all the marvelous things that are happening there.
People need to bear in mind that the requirements for in-person events are not the same as those for virtual events. Virtual events should be curated carefully to ensure that people do not feel as if they are missing out on anything.
Preparing for when things re-open
Independent business owners in our industry should plan on doing virtual events in the next few years if they want to make money. They will need to allocate the right amount of money for the necessary technology to do that effectively, and they should employ virtual event professionals to assist them with the production of those events.
Julius Solaris’s strategy for business owners
There is both an engagement component and a marketing component for business owners to consider if they want to be productive and successful on social media, according to Julius Solaris. A rule of thumb is to know where your audience is and where your customers are. You need to understand where things are coming from and invest in the things that are driving the most revenue or opportunities. You also need to create a list of priorities for all the different elements.
Owning your community
The next step is to understand that your events can be part of your marketing strategy. So, whether your event is virtual, in-person, or hybrid, the need right now is to put everything together in a community, within an overarching architecture that you own, as a new event owner. There, you can combine all the activations that you do, whether they are social media, an event, or a piece of content, under one roof.
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