Road to Interchange: Karen Zunkowski
Interchange Madrid is less than 90 days away, followed shortly by Interchange Nashville. So to celebrate, we’re kicking off a brand new podcast and blog series: “The Road to Interchange.”
The goal of the series is to pull back the curtain on Interchange and give you a sneak peek into the inner workings of this long-standing conference. We’ll talk to track leaders about content that is being prepared, also some featured speakers, as well as customers who have attended Interchange in previous years. From funny stories of conferences past, to information about what to expect at the upcoming Interchange events, this series is one you don’t want to miss.
To kick things off, we interviewed Ivanti Director of Global Corporate Events, Karen Zunkowski, a.k.a. the Interchange Queen. If you’ve been to one of her events before, you know how incredible she is at creating the perfect event experience. When we asked her about what she does, Karen said, “I try and create very cool experiences for customers, partners, and prospects who want to learn more about Ivanti.”
Here is the full podcast episode:
The Process of Planning Interchange
When Karen starts planning an Interchange event, she keeps the attendee needs at the top of her mind. It starts by picking a venue that considers space, hotel room rates, location, convenience, and timing.
Although the job of traveling around Europe to pick conference venues sounds like a lot of fun, it’s less glamorous than you might think. Karen’s European tours often cram four countries in one week, meaning she is spending most of the time in hotels and airports. What can we say, she does it for the people.
Once she picks a city and venue, she looks at the theme. The conference theme for both Interchange conferences is “Discover the power of unified IT.” We’ll focus on showing you how to apply our solutions in a unified way to achieve a stronger, more unified IT strategy. From there, each conference will have its own local feel as well.
Next, Karen focuses on each detail to create the perfect conference. One interesting aspect Karen balances is the expectations of a conference in Europe vs. the US. For example, snack breaks at a US conference often offer candy bars, whereas snack breaks at a French conference usually include wine and cheese (*currently making a mental note to go to more conferences in France).
To fit into cultural norms and truly help the conferences feel as local as possible, Karen leverages her own expertise, the best practices recommended by local agencies, and she taps into the knowledge of the many Ivanti employees all over the world.
Before 2018, Interchange had always been in Las Vegas, and there was never a European version. We started switching things up this year to give our attendees more options for convenient travel and participation. We’ll continue doing that in the future, alternating venues from the east and west coast each year and continuing to offer a European version.
Interchange Madrid is March 11-14 at the Madrid Marriott Auditorium Hotel (the same venue as last year). This venue was chosen for ultimate convenience. It is only 10 minutes away from the airport and the hotel room rates are reasonable, plus it is big enough to handle the growing numbers of Interchange.
We’ll definitely be including Spanish culture and food in this event, as well as European culture. What’s the one cardinal rule of hosting a conference in Europe, according to Karen? “Coffee all the time. All coffee, all the time. 24/7 coffee.”
Interchange Nashville is April 29-May 2 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, which is essentially a small city in and of itself. Seriously, you thought it was cool that Interchange Dallas had a waterpark this year? Well, the Gaylord Opryland has an even bigger waterpark (I guess what they say about everything being bigger in Texas isn’t always true). The resort has 16 different food outlets, a signature atrium, and a lake and river that you can take a boat ride through.
Nashville will have many “Music City USA” elements. Plus we’ll be serving some delicious local cuisine, so you can taste Southern favorites like Nashville Hot Chicken.
Why You Should Attend
Simply put, Interchange is unlike any work conference you’ve ever been to before. Karen puts on a rad show. You’ll learn a ton, get insight into product roadmaps, get a chance to network with your peers, get to pick the brains of our experts, and enjoy the local culture at the Interchange events.
Keep updated on the conference by visiting our website. And as a special offer, readers of this blog post can get a discount when you register for Interchange. For 50 Euros off the early bird price of Interchange Madrid, use code INTPODMAD19. For $100 off the early bird price of Interchange Nashville, use code INTPODNASH19.