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  • Writer's pictureK+H Connection

Flourish Flashback: How the Gift Card Industry's Most Innovative Conference Started and What's Next

Updated: Oct 8, 2019

Episode Transcript

Please note: Transcripts are computer generated.


You're listening to the flourish and a flash podcast with the Flourish team Dez, Holly, Kristen, and Erika

Holly Glowaty 0:17

Hello everyone and welcome to flourish in a flash. And today, Flourish in a Flash is going to become a Flourish Flashback. So, we're really excited because we are launching ticket sales for Flourish 2020. And so we thought it'd be fun today to talk a little bit about, you know, how Flourish started, where we've been and where we're going. So, you know, I don't know if Kristen, you want to kick it off with a little bit of where flourish has been? Or maybe where it started. I think that's a good place to start.

Kristen Thiry 0:51

It's interesting, we used to attend a lot of industry events, and we still do, but there was one in particular on, you know, called the All Payments Expo or Prepaid Expo. And it was really the only show that was dedicated to talking about gift cards and what we call branded currency. And we were at another industry conference that happens in about, you know, the fall, October timeframe. And we were all wondering and chatting about when the Prepaid Expo or All Payments Expo was going to happen the following spring, and nobody had heard anything. And it was kind of one of those things like, Okay, well, when are we going to all get together next, because typically, the show in the fall that we were at is our last show for the year. And we were all kind of wondering what was happening? Well, we come to find out that it is it wasn't meant to be produced again. So it was just sort of fortuitous, Holly and I happened to be talking to somebody else from the Omaha Chamber of Commerce of all places. And as you guys know, Holly is from Omaha. And I claim she has a beacon that attracts people from Omaha to her.

Holly Glowaty 1:57

You're born with it if you're from there.

Kristen Thiry 2:00

Yes, I do believe this. But they were looking to bring a show to Omaha. And it kind of attract the same audience to Omaha, you're like, well, maybe this is just, you know, the stars aligning, and you know, fate telling us, this is what we should do. So we put feelers out there and kind of said, if we produced a conference, to kind of take over that time slot in the spring, when All Payments Expo normally happens, you know, would you attend. And so we produced our very first Flourish Conference in April of 2017. And the rest is history. So that's kind of how we got started. It was it was just kind of a whirlwind of events like trying to plan something, we signed our agreement with the hotel that hosted us in 2017, on December 31, of 2016. So we literally had four months, not even, you know, to plan our event and get everything pulled together. And honestly, I think I just like maybe have amnesia about that experience. Because I don't remember it being like, well, I remember being crazy. But like, I don't know how we did it without the help we have today.

Holly Glowaty 3:05

I think you didn't know, I knew what was coming. Because I had done events, like in a previous life. And I think there's no way to prepare someone for like the insanity of putting on an event until they're in the middle of it. And then it's like, what, what were we thinking on this timeline?

Kristen Thiry 3:24

100% What were we thinking,

Holly Glowaty 3:32

Well, and that's the thing, though, it was, what was so interesting about the first year was, I think Kristen and I really had a sense of what had been missing from the marketplace in terms of content related to gift card loyalty and promotions, we'd go to all these like payment focused events, or you know, anything with finance. And we were just constantly left out of the conversation. So it you know, it wasn't like, our audience was being quiet about an either, right. like everyone's saying, you know, we need to learn about these issues. Can we talk about how we improve this? Can we get together and come up with some solutions? So we had a very vocal interested audience from the beginning. And that's what's been so exciting about the producing the show the whole way along, obviously, we moved it from Omaha to Chicago, just easier flights for people. And, you know, easier for an international audience to get to us. But it really, you know, beyond that, I mean, we we've kept the same focus, how do we grow the branded currency community in a really meaningful, thoughtful and always actionable way? So in our first year, our focus was on partnerships, and how to create profitable partnerships, because a lot of our industry is all about that. Right? If you're selling in b2b or third party, it you have a processor, someone helping you with fraud. I mean, you need good partners. So how do you create those that was really the focus of the content? And then year two was around innovation. Right?

Innovato and growth. Um, so yeah, that's what we, you know, we focused on that, like, who was doing interesting things that how are they growing in the space? And so what was fun was, I think we actually started to look a bit more outside of our industry, we always have, but I feel like last year, you know, we are not last year year to you know, we did we really looked for those kinds of partners and and started that conversation a little more boldly, I think, in the second year. And then year three. So last year, was the art of branded currencies. So we wanted to really look at who's doing it. Well, who has created it sort of an art for our industry, not even beyond just, you know, the obvious designs, but like, Who's created something elegant within our industry, created interesting opportunities, even transformed gift card into something new. So that was last year. And then in 2020, we're looking at the future of branded currency. So where are we going? What should we do to prepare for that? What innovative things are on the horizon? And we think it's perfect timing for this topic, because there is so much happening in our space, like, when you look at things that aren't, you know, for instance, EMV, right, so everyone had to change the point of sale, they had to accept chip and pin in a card. That means there's all this new technology at point of sale. It's not someone's like, analog cash register. Now, there are still some of those out there. But the exciting thing is, is so many retailers have up to their technology game. So what does that mean? Like? What's the opportunity around that? And I know, I could riff on this, but I'll let the rest of the team chime in. Because the future of is kind of, I think, pretty exciting as a topic.

Kristen Thiry 7:12

Yeah, we are definitely very excited to be putting a bunch of content together regarding the future of branded currency. And, you know, we've got some some fringe topics for you as well. I know one of the topics I've been talking to, you know, Mitch Brody, for example, on the the cannabis industry and how that intersects with branded currency, you know, that's becoming more and more, you know, popular, like legalized in more and more states. So how do we make payments? How do we facilitate payments for that space, specifically, using branded currency, so excited to kind of talk about some of these additional topics that are really starting to intersect with our ecosystem as well, and how we can help other ecosystems with their payment pain points, that that only branded currencies in the end position to do. So very excited to talk about some of those things. I know, you know, last year, we talked about crypto and blockchain, and I'm sure those are going to continue to be popular topics at Flourish this year. You know, how you talk about point of sale systems, you know, ecommerce platforms and how they're integrating branded currency, and making it easy for the merchants who use their platforms to offer gift cards and loyalty programs in talking about some of those topics, as well. So we're definitely very excited to start really digging into the content and developing a great agenda for you guys as, as we do every year. So definitely look for updates on that, and our speaker list as we as we start putting all that together in the coming months.

Holly Glowaty 8:48

Mm hmm. And, Erika, I know you have been basically hitting up our hotel like once a week at this point on site visits and things. So I don't know if you want to talk about what's exciting about you know, where we're hosting the conference.

Erika Frey 9:02

Yeah, sure, we are going to be doing it at the Radisson Blu. It's a great open venue very different from last year, but in a good way. It's going to be a unique space, lots of room for sponsorship opportunities, and just movement for everybody to you know, collaborate, get together have meetings and stuff like that. So yeah, I don't know, it's it's going to be a whole different unique experience compared to last year. And I mean that in a good way, it's going to have a different vibe, and there's going to be a lot of space of room for everybody to mingle, which we're really excited about.

Holly Glowaty 9:37

Yeah, I know Dez. I mean, one thing that you really helped us develop has been this podcast, and, you know, a lot of the media channels that have come out of Flourish. So I don't know if you want to talk a little bit about that. And you know, what that means for this audience going forward as well?

Desiree Wiercyski 9:55

Well, I think what's really exciting is the fact that flourish as a brand, is very responsive to our audience, like the conference, you guys mentioned, conference was born out of will what's happening, we need the space. And then at the other, like more recent conferences, it's been well, it has to be more of a conversation that we want more information on regular cadence and everything, which is how the podcast started. And as we're leading into flourish, 2020, really just going in with a unique strategy to help kind of continue the conference experience and, you know, give people different points of reference and ways to interact with the content, that not a lot of not a lot of other events are really doing. So it's going to be it's going to be fun, it's going to be interesting and different. And I'm really excited.

Kristen Thiry 10:48

I love doing new and different things. You know, I think I do agree with both you and Erica, and Dez what you were saying, you know about the space and about some of the approaches we're taking, you know, while The Gwen was lovely last year, the one thing I'm looking forward to is not waiting for an elevator to get up and down five flights. So definitely will be good there. We're looking to really activate the space in new and different ways. And, you know, really highlight what everybody is doing in the industry and showcase all the great new tech, everybody's producing and services. So very excited about all of that. And just to spread the message a little bit more than this one isolated event. And that's what you know, does was really speaking to is really making sure that we're getting content out there and sharing, you know, industry news and updates and things that are happening, things that our partners in the industry are doing, you know, with the broader audience on a more consistent basis. So definitely, if there are topics that you're interested in both like to participate in the podcast you were looking for, you know, we're always interested in in podcast guests if you have something new and interesting to say, as well speakers at the event. So definitely let us knowif you'd like to participate.

Holly Glowaty 12:00

Yep. Well, and I think the other thing to note is a little bit about how the event is going to flow. And we think we found a really great flow last year in terms of content, how our days are structured, and you know, we do have a few changes coming for this year. So, you know, for instance, this year, we are definitely keeping speed networking, we know that was a big hit with everybody. And some of my favorite comments were people who were like, you know, I've talked to so and so socially for years, and we've never taken the time to drill down and actually have a business conversation, and the things that came from that. But then of course, there was the opportunity to have new business and meet with people that maybe you've been having trouble getting a meeting with, you know. So keeping that we're going to keep the the association meetings, and we'll still have, you know, opening night party and industry night, you know, for the fun things. And then throughout the day, Kristen why don't you just talk a little bit about how contents gonna be shaped.

Kristen Thiry 13:01

Yeah, so for the most part, we're going to have content and focus mostly on Tuesday and Wednesday of the conference. And we will be doing some 101 level information on Monday as well. So definitely look for that. But for the most part will be kicking off with our keynotes and our opening remarks on Tuesday morning. So definitely look for the outline of the agenda will be available on the website here shortly. So you can at least see when the content blocks are taking place. But it will flow similar to years past where, you know, we have the the opening remarks and the keynotes in the morning on Tuesday, kind of having the breakout sessions throughout the late morning and afternoon. A long break for lunch. Because you know, that's a great opportunity for you guys to meet with your partners and your clients or go out and grab lunch, you know, with your partners and clients. So definitely want to keep that you know longer a chunk of time and back by popular demand, we are very excited to continue to offer Flourish in Five. And that's really your chance to showcase the new and interesting things you're doing. In the industry, we are very careful to always make sure that our content is not a sales pitch. And it is not about kind of shoving your product or service down people's throats. But this is actually one opportunity where people are very interested to learn what you're doing. And it's a short little speed, presentation style. So you have five minutes to tell everybody kind of what you're up to in those spaces are limited. So if you are interested in being one of the Flourish in Five presenters, definitely let us know, Holly has been talking to folks about that. So we're really excited to just have a bunch of great content, you know, it'll be dual tracks, it'll be you know, lots of interesting conversations from b2b, b2c, third party, like I said, some of these, some of these more fringe topics. But yeah, we're very excited to just really be building out the agenda and having lots of great content for all of you to, to participate in.

Holly Glowaty 15:01

Yep. And, you know, we really do take your feedback very seriously. So some things that we are changing for this year, for instance, will be starting with speed networking, we're going to open it with a reception, because we heard some of you would like a little liquid courage to start off those conversations, and we embrace that. So that's one change. And another change is that, you know, we're not going to be doing your traditional exhibiting anymore. You know, Erika and I have talked a lot about this. And just given the nature of this audience and how interactive we all already are, we have decided we're going to try to take a different approach to helping facilitate those meetings that you would traditionally hope to get from having a booth. So you're going to see some evolution there. And we think it's a much smarter way and a much more direct approach for everybody. So excited about that. And then of course, the sponsorship opportunities have totally changed, because it's a totally new space. So we have a lot of really fun, innovative things for you to check out. And so that everybody knows, sponsorships start at $3500. And then they go as high as you want. We have plenty of creative opportunities. And you know, it expands beyond the event, which is something new for us as well, we are now going to be able to offer you some really cool media packages. So we have a great audience you're listening, tons of other people listen, is subscribed to the newsletter. So we want to help you reach this audience year-round because the conversation cannot stop at our conference at the beginning of the year. That is no way to drive innovation forward. So we put together some really great media packages as well. So if you have interest, or if you have an announcement to make that's maybe not during the conference, but you'd like to build us in your overall marketing and PR strategy. Let us know these opportunities have grown beyond what they were before. And they're just giving the opportunity to keep reaching this audience even outside the the normal conference bounds.

Kristen Thiry 17:15

In order to stay up to date on the latest and greatest news from flourish. Obviously subscribe to this podcast but also subscribe to our newsletter. You know we have that button available at And that's where we really push out a lot of the information about all of these things. So make sure that you register or you you subscribe rather, to our newsletters that you stay up to date on when registration goes live and all these other great updates.

Unknown Speaker 17:44

flourish in a flash is produced by K+H Connection, a branded currency consulting firm, you can learn more about KH at And you can always find out more about Flourish and the Flourish Conference at or follow us on all of our socials on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn it's at flourishcon and on Instagram, it's at flourishcon

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