Legacy Member Q&A: Peter Berliner
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Peter Berliner is a veteran of the entertainment and events industry, having worked on all sides of the industry, as a concert promoter, manager, and agent, and for over 40 years acting as a major provider of entertainment to the corporate, convention, and special event industry worldwide. As the founder and president of Innovative Entertainment, he has taken the company from a local talent agency to a major force in the special events industry on a worldwide basis. His motto is to treat the artists, our clients, and our vendors with respect that leads to long-lasting positive relationships.
ILEA: Looking back over the course of your career, what has been the most influential factor that has shaped the direction of the events industry?
Berliner: There is no question in my mind that the internet is the most influential factor that has shaped the direction of the events industry. Prior to the world wide web and email people communicated by telephone, fax, and prior to that, US mail. Proposals were needed in days, not hours; people spoke on the phone and got to know each other, not by email, which is one-dimensional. When Federal Express came into being what we needed next week we now needed the next day; when the internet came into being it caused us to need information right now or by end of day.
The ability to advertise products and services, and the ability to find products and services is primarily done number one by word of mouth and number two by the internet. We rely mostly on recommendations from within our company or our trusted partners and then by going online when looking for products and services. Our reach is global on a regular basis. We work regularly throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, with occasional events in South America and Africa.
ILEA: What is the one piece of advice you wish you had at the beginning of your career?
Berliner: The one piece of advice that I did get that I still stay with is that “there is always tomorrow”. You can’t do it all in one day, and you need to stop and smell the roses. This is not in such a stressful world that is a life and death situation and we must keep a level head and not make ourselves so stressed that it affects our health or family. As Type A personalities and perfectionists that most of us are in this business we must take the time to step back, take a deep breath and be focused on what is most important.
The second is, learn to say no when something does not make sense for you or show you in your best light. Do not try to be all things to all people.
ILEA: Looking forward, what do you anticipate will be the most significant trend to shape the future direction of this industry?
Berliner: Our industry being a service industry is very volatile and the future will be determined much by the “value add” that the suppliers bring to it. If the market continues to have a need for what you have to offer, you will survive. Those that bring the value add to the industry will remain as long as they can continue in this way, however, those that don’t will be phased out of the industry. Much like the travel agency industry the need for many services is becoming an online ability to order and is phasing out the middle man. Everything from wedding dresses, linens, florals, etc. are available online. Those that are in danger must reinvent themselves to be a “value add’ and not just a commodity that can be phased out. Think about your creativity; are you creative? Do you have intellectual property that is a value add to our industry, whether they be design ideas, speech writing, lighting or sound design, entertainment production, overall event planning ability, dmc services? These are just some of the “value adds” that are important to our industry that at least theoretically should thrive in the future.
ILEA: What does it mean to you to be considered a mentor or leader in this space?
Berliner: Having been mentored and taught by some of the best in the world I am lucky to be in a position to help others come up through the ranks in our industry. Many people in my own company came into the industry with no experience and have become leaders on their own. Some have joined as seasoned professionals and have been able to collaborate to further the careers not only their own successes but the successes of those around them. I find that I am able to teach the values that I will not compromise for anyone; Collaboration and honesty are the most important things I can offer to people, and I feel I have been able to communicate that to the newcomers to our industry….unfortunately not everyone gets it, but those that do, are very successful.
ILEA: Please describe the value of being a member of ILEA and what this has meant to your career.
Berliner: I’ve been a member of ILEA ( formerly ISES) since the chapter began in San Francisco in 1991. I have been able to form long lasting partnerships that have grown both in business and friendships. I’ve given and gained educational information that have led to successful relationships that have been decades long and continue to flourish.