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4 Tips for Engaging with Bloggers When Promoting Your Event

4 Tips for Engaging with Bloggers When Promoting Your Event
Jenni Izzo, Senior Account Supervisor at Linda Costa Communications Group

Technorati’s latest Digital Influence Report showed that “consumers are turning to blogs when looking to make a purchase.” In fact, 31 percent of consumers say the personal blogs they read influence their purchasing decisions – ranking higher than social media outlets. In the blog world, influenced purchases are typically electronics, personal care and clothing – but this statistic also applies to event attendance and ticket sales. For many blog readers, reading a positive review of an event is like hearing it first-hand from a trusted friend. Here are four tips to keep in mind when engaging with bloggers to drive event awareness and attendance.

 1.      Think local. When deciding what bloggers to engage, consider location first. To drive event and festival attendance, you’ll need to think locally. You can use the same geographic parameters as you would with traditional media. Blogs, by nature, often have national readership – so look for bloggers who have a local focus. Some of my favorites include Central Florida Top 5 (Orlando) and My Other City By the Bay (Tampa).

 2.      Research. There are more than 152 million blogs on the Internet. That’s a lot of options! One of the most important steps for meaningful blogger engagement is to identify those who fit your event and brand. If you’re hosting a family festival, focus on family and parenting bloggers. If it’s a fitness-based event, you’ll want to target health bloggers. However, be aware that there’s a lot of cross-over, and the best way to gauge whether a blogger would be interested is to …

 3.      Read multiple posts. Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a blog by its header. Read the “About Me” page, as well as the most recent posts. Is there anything that resonates with your event or festival? Look for comments about planning a summer trip, being excited for the fall, looking for something new to do. Would your event fit in amid the current topics?

 4.      Clearly define the offer and expectations. Once you’ve selected the blogger(s) you’d like to work with, clearly define what you’re offering and what you expect in return. Is there an exclusive preview the blogger can attend? If you’re providing complimentary tickets, state how many. If your end goal is a great post about their experience, provide a clear timeline. For example, if the goal is to drive ticket sales, you’ll want to be sure the post happens in the proper timeframe.

Working with bloggers can be an excellent way to increase event awareness and help generate buzz for ticket sales and attendance. When handled correctly, blogger engagement can be the first step in developing a strong relationship with a valuable brand advocate and influencer.

Jenni Izzo is a Senior Account Supervisor at Linda Costa Communications Group, a PR agency based in Central Florida with a national presence. Her specialty is connecting influential bloggers with organizations and brands nationwide.

Reducing Food Waste at Events

Reducing Food Waste at Events
Meegan Jones, Author, Sustainable Event Management


Food waste is the unfortunate by-product of many events. It occurs through the mishandling of food, through over-supply and under-eating.

Food waste at events is waste of resources, of time and effort, and of course, of money. It costs to buy the ingredients, pay the staff and then to dispose of the waste. Food into landfill is a major cause of landfill methane emissions, a global greenhouse gas emissions contributor. Food waste at events also contributes to startling global food waste statistics, estimated at 1/3 of all food produced being lost or wasted.[i]

Here’s a quick checklist from book Sustainable Event Management: A Practical Guide (, of actions you can take to avoid or reduce food waste at your event:

Food service:

  • Serve less food. At conferences do people really want to be stuffed full?!
  • Avoid over-catering. Accurately estimate the volume of food required considering the number of attendees, the event type and timing of activities or breaks.
  • Accurately brief caterers & food stalls. Communicate honestly the likely event attendance to caterers and food vendors.
  • Don’t overbook. Ensure you don’t book too many food stallholders considering the likely event attendance.
  • Attendee appetite. Understand if attendees may bring their own food and adjust communications and logistics accordingly. Ensure an even spread of types of food options that are likely to appeal to your attendees, so that no individual food stallholders are less attended that others, leading to food waste.
  • Pricing. Ensure pricing of food does not lead to lower sales volumes than anticipated.
  • Communicate. Inform attendees what food will be available and at what price. Ask for dietary requirements in advance to reduce wastage and satisfy attendees.
  • Food Salvage Planning. Have a food salvage/re-distribution program in place. Request caterers do not uncover/open/serve all food at once, so that if over supply has occurred, the perishable food has been handled correctly for donation to food salvage programmes.

Food Serviceware:

  • Reusable. Use washable & reusable crockery and cutlery rather than single-use disposables.
  • Reduce packaging. If it must be served in disposables, go for less-waste options such as a serviette rather than paper plate for ‘finger foods’. Serve pizzas on trays not in pizza boxes, don’t put lids on cups and take-outs if they will be consumed immediately.
  • Avoid landfilling of disposable serviceware. Use disposables that can be recycled or composted.
  • Bulk it up. Use bulk dispensing for condiments, rather than single serve sachets or sauces poured into little containers. Encourage caterers and food vendors to purchase their ingredients in bulk. Using large 2 litre cans rather than lots of small cans for example.
  • Take back the tap. Provide tap water not bottled water.
  • Reduce boxes. Encourage caterers and food vendors to receive their fresh produce in re-usable boxes, rather than single use disposables such as foam boxes. There are many services available that have take-back/exchange for delivery boxes
  • Cleaning. Use washable cleaning cloths rather than paper towel disposables

[i] Global Food Losses and Food Waste:


Meegan Jones is an event professional, trainer, consultant and writer focusing her work developing sustainable management solutions for live events. She is the author of "Sustainable Event Management" - the indispensable one-stop guide for event professionals and event management students who want to adjust their thinking and planning decisions towards sustainability, and who need a powerful, easy to use collection of tools to deliver events sustainably.


Festival/Event Direct Spending and Economic Impact: Going Beyond the BIG Number

Event Direct Spending & Economic Impact: Going Beyond the BIG Number
Jarrett Bachman, Ph.D., Director of Research and Collin O'Berry, Director of Operations, Looking Glass Strategic Consultants

The economic impact that festival and event productions have upon local communities can be profound. In the industry, the focus is often on ‘Direct Economic Spending’ or ‘Economic Impact Assessment’ in reference to the figure that represents the amount of money produced by a festival or event. In this article, we will explore attendee spending and economic impact assessments to highlight the processes and benefits of conducting this type of research.

Oftentimes, the terms ‘Direct Economic Spending’ and ‘Economic Impact Assessment’ are used improperly. The difference between these two measurements is subtle in text but monumental in meaning. Direct Economic Spending refers to the total amount of money spent in a city or county as a result of a festival or event. The total amount spent per person for different types of attendees (most often residents and non-residents) is calculated and extrapolated for the total attendance. An Economic Impact Assessment is far more detailed. Essentially, it starts with Direct Economic Spending numbers and traces how money flows through and impacts the community as it is spent and re-spent.

Conducting a Direct Economic Spending assessment provides information about spending across a variety of segments. Spending in categories such as retail, food and beverage, lodging, transportation, and entertainment is collected. Questions related to the spending inside the festival grounds versus the community-at-large can also be part of the analysis. The end result is determining how much the average person spends across various segments within the festival and community. Additionally, information collected concerning length of attendee stay and number of days attending the event is beneficial for multi-day productions. Further analysis can be performed based upon geographic distribution of attendees and other relevant attendee demographics.

Going a few steps further, the calculation of an Economic Impact Assessment involves the summation of the Direct Economic Spending as well as the Indirect and Induced effects. Indirect effects examine the effects of the re-spending of the direct spending within a community. Induced effects are the changes in economic activity from household spending of residents in the local area. The use of a multiplier to assess the magnitude of the secondary economic effects (Indirect and Induced effects) is often a source of much controversy and often of misuse. This type of analysis is complicated and is often completed by skilled practitioners using Regional Economic Models such as IMPLAN.

While obtaining the total direct spending at your festival and event is a vital number for the community, it has other useful applications. Which areas are bringing attendees that are staying in hotels or are spending the most money in your community? In what area(s) of the production is the most money being spent and by whom? Is there a difference in spending between returning patrons and first-time attendees? What are the spending breakdowns within the festival grounds and/or throughout the community? Obtaining these figures can prove beneficial to organizers in a variety of ways.

So which approach is best for your festival or event? For the vast majority of productions, Direct Economic Spending is the best option. Determining Direct Economic Spending is a cost-effective way for budget-minded festivals and events to get an indication of how much money is being spent in a variety of categories as a result of their productions. Economic Impact Assessments are typically best suited for larger productions with larger budgets that have the need for far more detailed information. In either case, when determining the impact of your production upon the community, utilizing the services of a reputable, third-party research firm provides actionable data that can be valued for both the production and the community at large. When understood and properly employed, reliable information provides tremendous event production, tourism, and economic development potential.

Looking Glass Strategic Research provides objective market research and economic impact studies for the Festival, Event, and Tourism Industries. Studies are conducted solely based on academically-accepted social science research methodologies, allowing for unmatched data accuracy and reliability. Delivering far more than a simple report, their team analyzes data from many geographic, economic, demographic, and qualitative characteristics to maximize client return on investment. Connect with the Looking Glass team today for more information about their innovate approaches to festival and event research.   

Jarrett Bachman, Ph.D., Director of Research   |  [email protected]   Collin O'Berry, Director of Operations  |  [email protected]


IEG Briefing: Sponsorship's New Benefits

IEG Briefing: Sponsorship's New Benefits

IEG has long been recognized as the industry leader in all things SPONSORSHIP so when their Senior VP, Jim Andrews sends out a new briefing I always take the time to really put aside all distractions and study its contents. The company's insights into everything from valuation to sales strategy help keep companies large and small "in the know" when it comes to their sponsorship programs. Their latest briefing does not disappoint!  Here's what Jim has to say about what you need to consider when considering benefits to offer to potential sponsors:

"It’s time to change the conversation about what rightsholders can offer prospective corporate partners.

The only way for sponsors and properties to establish meaningful partnerships that deliver real results for both parties is to move beyond the standard assets that currently comprise most sponsorship offers.

IEG’s new briefing spotlights the seven critical sponsorship benefits that sponsors should require and rightsholders must provide if they want to find success in today’s marketplace by connecting with audiences, consumers and customers."

CLICK HERE to view the full article and download the briefing.

5 Tips for Creating Actionable Event Surveys

5 Tips for Creating an Actionable Event Survey
Lanie Shapiro, Owner, TouchPoll South Florida

There are many good reasons to survey the attendees at your event. Often, the priority to plan and implement a survey can fall to the bottom of your list, leaving it to the last minute with little time and attention to create an effective data collection program. Here are five tips to help you:

  1. Begin with the end in mind.

What do you need  to know? The first step is establishing an objective. There can be multiple objectives but objectives and goals should be clear from the start. Do you need to attract higher value sponsors? Do you need to retain your current sponsors? Do you want to expand your event to include a spinoff event or additional element? Do you want to demonstrate the economic value of your event to the community? Are you not sure where to best spend your marketing dollars? Do you need to apply for a grant, gather feedback, or collect emails for post event marketing communication? You might say "Yes" to all, but there must be some kind of hierarchy of objectives in order for the final report to deliver what you are setting out to accomplish. 

2. Decide the best way to collect the data.

 There are plenty of options. What works best for your event?

 Onsite/ intercept survey -  Capturing the data while onsite at your event. This method involves gathering the data at the point of experience. Feedback and ideas are fresh in the attendee's mind. This can be through a stationary location at your event, roaming the event and approaching people, or both. Paper surveys, mobile devices or tablets can be used. The key advantage to on site surveys is that results can be immediate.  Unforeseen issues may be revealed and quickly corrected. At a recent event, it was found that there wasn't enough directional signage to find the event, so additional signage was strategically placed upon discovering this attendee-reported issue.

Post event survey- This can be accomplished through an email survey, mail out or telephone survey. For these methods, you would need contact information and in some cases, permission to contact. These are generally not advantageous for public events for these reasons: it's "after- the- fact" and once people leave your event, they are onto their next thing and responding is most likely at the very bottom of their to-do list, if at all. Also, results can take longer, perhaps weeks due to sending, then a reminder and by then you've lost the opportunity for fresh follow up offers, press releases and timely data for sponsor recap reports.

3. KISSER! Keep It (a) Simple Survey (with) Relevance!

 Remember, you are asking them to give up part of their leisure time by stopping for a survey. The key here is the shorter, the better. A survey that takes under two minutes to complete is about all most people are willing to give you at public events and festivals. All too often, a survey is treated as an in-depth inquiry more suited to a focus group. When designing a survey, focus on the "need  to know" versus the "nice to know" questions. Keeping the "need to know" front and foremost is key to developing an effective, efficient and concise survey.  

Examples of not keeping it simple are: too many open ended questions where the respondent has to think or recall too much, too many possible choices in the answers, wordy questions, unclear questions, vague answer choices, as well as using jargon.

Open ended questions are important for gathering great ideas and constructive criticism. You or your staff may not see the event from an attendee's vantage point, so open ended questions are a great way to gain valuable insight to the actual experience of an attendee.

Another consideration is anticipating who the possible respondents may be and keep it relevant. For example, do you know if many are from out of town and you are asking them about local media? This irrelevancy quickly disengages the participant and creates the feeling that this survey is not valid or a waste of time for them.  There are ways to engage the participant through the survey. One way  is to branch different groups to specific questions geared for them like non-residents, young adults, etc. You want the respondent to come away with a positive feeling that they've been a help to your event. Just like baby-proofing a house, get into the mind of the user and you will create an effective and (yes) fun and easy survey for them to do.

4. Incentivize.

An incentive gives people a reason to take the time to stop and do your survey.  An effective incentive is one that is good, but not TOO good!  For an onsite survey, you can offer a small promotional item, an enter-to-win, or both. There needs to be a delicate balance between what is motivating enough but not a reason for people to come back to you time and time again, sometimes disguising themselves, just for the free gift.  For an online survey, the enter-to-win can be very effective.

5. Use It ...or Lose it!  

Now that you've spent the time, effort and (many times) money to implement this survey project, what are you going to do with the results? Review your objectives. Meet with your staff and agencies to review the results. Perhaps you need to use some of the information in a sponsor recap report, or include some key findings in your marketing materials. Here's a list of possible uses:

  • Make improvements for your next event
  • Create a new sponsor and vendor marketing piece highlighting some of the data
  • Enhance your sponsor recap report
  • Include pertinent data for your grant applications
  • Realize new opportunities such as a spinoff event
  • Evaluate some of the event activities you are currently doing
  • Email follow up offers from sponsors and promote your next event
  • Review your marketing plan and overlay it with some of your findings
  • Share some interesting results with your stakeholders, supporting agencies and community

 An effective survey takes some effort in planning and execution, but once you have the elements in place, results can have an immediate positive impact on your event. 

   Lanie Shapiro is the President and Owner of TouchPoll South Florida, a survey company. Lanie earned a B.B.A. degree in Marketing from Hofstra University and has over 20 years experience in the field of advertising, sales and media research. Her background includes extensive experience in radio, television and magazine advertising, as well as planning and executing promotional programs, sponsorship sales and activation. Lanie has served a wide variety of local, regional and national clients. Lanie serves on the Board of Directors for the Florida Festivals & Events Association. Click here to contact Lanie. 

Festivals & Tourism: Creating a Lasting Impact

Festivals & Tourism: Creating an Impact


It seems as though events, and festivals in particular, have always been a mainstay in cities throughout the world with some dating back centuries and drawing crowds in the millions. So what makes a festival successful? There are certainly plenty of factors to consider, but collaborative partnerships which help draw tourism and generate economic impact on a city seem to play a significant role. I love this article by Chad Kaydo, Editor at Large of BizBash and featured today on Governing.Com.

READ CHAD'S ARTICLE: Cities Create Music, Cultural Festivals to Make Money

What do you think creates an event with longevity? Do you consider intangible factors into your opinion of success? 

5 Tips for an effective Facebook Contest

5 Tips for Running a Successful Facebook Contest
Jessica Bybee-Dziedzic, Marketing Director, Saffire Events

Facebook recently announced that they’ve changed the requirements for running promotions on their site, making it even easier to administer contests for your event’s fans. They’ve removed the requirement to use a third-party app, and now allow entries to be collected via comments and “likes” on your page posts as well as using “likes” as a tool for voting on your page. With these changes in mind, here are 5 tips for running a successful Facebook contest.

  • SET GOALS: As you prepare your Facebook contest, consider what you’re trying to achieve prior to getting started. For many events you’ll be looking to gain interactions on your Facebook wall including Likes, Shares and Comments. All of these interactions not only increase the awareness of your event as fans spread the word to their friends exponentially growing your audience, but they also have an impact on your site’s search engine results. If increasing Facebook interactions is your goal, then the new promotions rules will be perfect for you as you ask your fans to either “Like” or “Comment” on a post to enter for their chance to win. This will be especially helpful in the weeks leading up to your event as you create a fever-pitch of anticipation and excitement.
    However, if your goal is to increase your newsletter distribution and you want to collect email addresses as part of the promotion, you may still want to consider using a third-party app to help administer the contest. Keep in mind the more information you require the greater the barrier to entry. Requiring your customers to enter personal data will decrease your response rate, but that may be a calculated decision in an effort to collect more valuable data. Consider this tactic after your event is over and you’ve created even more loyal fans willing to take that extra step.
  • CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE – Think about “who” your event appeals to and how you’d like to attract that audience. This will be important when determining the prize package to ensure it garners a response, but it also may affect the times that you post about your contest. According to Zephoria, highest traffic on Facebook occurs mid-week between 1:00 & 3:00, while Thursdays and Fridays have much greater engagement; but you want to reach your fans specifically. Facebook has improved their reporting of data on your page, and this information should be utilized when running promotions. By clicking “View Insights” in the top section of any Facebook page that you administer, you will find a wealth of information regarding your posts and what your fans are responding to. The default view is the “Overview” tab but by selecting the “Posts” tab, and the “When Your Fans Are Online” option you’ll see both a chart of days of the week as well as times of day that your fans are on Facebook. You can also switch from “When Your Fans Are Online” to “Post Types” to see the response each post has received so you can determine the best type of post for your audience.


  • DETERMINE THE CONTEST TIME FRAME – In a recent study by Wisemetrics, a post had about 2.5 hours to reach 75% of its maximum impressions. However, Facebook has recently announced a new change called “Story Bump,” which pushes posts back into fans’ timelines if the post received a lot of interactions, giving your posts a slightly longer life span if your audience is engaged. This is great news for marketers as each “Like” and “Comment” entry to win increases the odds that even more people will see the post in their news feed. With this quick engagement, fans typically expect a similarly quick turn-around in results. Consider running a new contest each day in the weeks leading up to your event. A single post that asks fans to vote for their favorite attraction, food item or musician by the end of the day for a chance to win a prize package should garner a quick surge of engagement, and by continuing to run similar daily contests you’ll keep fans checking back to your page on a routine basis.
    For more in-depth contests that ask people to submit personal information, consider a longer time frame with multiple posts reminding users to enter to win, over the course of a week or two.
  • CREATE A PRIZE PACKAGE – As event and venue coordinators you have a unique advantage in having access to lots of things that people really want. Individual tickets, multi-day passes, VIP access, concessions or ride vouchers and merchandise are just a few options to consider that would come at a low cost to you with a potentially high return in Facebook fan engagement. Keep in mind the level of interaction you’re asking of the fan and let the prize package reciprocate their effort.  Asking fans to Like or Comment is quick and easy and the prizes can be smaller to reflect that. If you’re requesting more information, offer a larger and more desirable package to encourage fan engagement.
  • PLAN THE FULFILLMENT – This final step is often overlooked, but is crucial for maintaining your fan loyalty. Knowing how you will quickly deliver the prize to the winner will prevent the possibility of turning an elated Facebook fan into an angry Facebook fan. Consider the size of the prize, shipping or pick-up options, and timing of contest compared to prize’s expiration date.

With these new contest rules in place, engaging your customers on Facebook has never been easier.

Jessica Bybee-Dziedzic has a comprehensive background in online marketing, social media, account management and project planning & strategy. In 2007, she joined Wright Strategies, managing online projects for clients including KEEN Footwear, Nike and Frito Lay. Two years later, when a large rodeo approached Wright Strategies to develop a website, the company discovered a need for an “online solution” in the event and venue industry.  In 2009 they created Saffire Events: software developed to give events and venues a beautiful, interactive online destination, including content management, mobile, social, ecommerce, email marketing, texting and more. From 2009 through today, Jessica has played a key role in planning and developing how Saffire looks and how it works. She has served as the Senior Account Manager working directly with clients as they prepare to launch their new websites, and is now the Marketing Director developing strategy to help Saffire continue to grow. She received a BA in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master’s in Education from National-Louis University in Heidelberg, Germany where she and her husband were stationed from 2000-2002 as he completed his Army service. Prior to Wright Strategies, Jessica gained valuable experience in project and client management at a design agency. In her free time she loves to travel and experience other cultures (especially their food and art), as well as spend quality time with her family.

Your Early Resolution: Go Mobile

Your Early Resolution: Go Mobile
Four reasons to ring in the New Year with an app

It’s not too early to begin thinking about New Year’s resolutions. There are those tough ones that we know we cannot sustain for an entire year (am I really going to try and give up caffeine?!). Then there are others that are a slam-dunk. Like, going mobile.

When we usually consider resolutions, they’re mostly built around sacrifice. Adding mobile apps to your festivals and fairs, requires no hand-wringing and self-doubt. This is an easy one. Going mobile means adding a modern, compelling and engaging experience for your attendees. Apps are popular, and are here to stay. As a matter of fact, 110 billion (that’s right billion!) apps have been downloaded from Apple and Google to date. In other words, your attendees love apps, and they expect them, so it’s time to give them what they want. If you’re not yet convinced mobile apps are the way to go, here are four reasons why it’s time to make that early resolution to go mobile:

  1. Engage with your audience: Mobile is a great way to connect to your crowd in a new, exciting way. People check their smart phones an average of 150 times per day, spending roughly two hours per day using apps. When you deliver an entertaining, useful app, you’re giving your audience exactly what they want. You’ll be able to provide content leading up to, during, and after your event. One swipe of the finger will bring all the cool, pertinent information they want.
  2. Expand your reach: Remember that bit about people checking their phones all day? Well, they’ll be checking their phones at your event, too. When smartphone users are at an event, they love to share their experiences in a variety of ways, including social media. Comments, pictures, videos and more are shared instantly across several social sites. Your app will provide a gateway for user to instantly connect with their network of friends, helping you build your brand, gain new fans and increase the visibility and interest in your event. Even people who can’t attend your event will want to be there, and just might show up next time. Sounds like pretty solid, organic promotion, doesn’t it?  
  3. Award your attendees: One of the best features of offering a mobile app is that you can provide attendees with real-time access to important information, before, during and after your event. Whether that’s floor plans, interactive mapping, up-to-the-minute schedules, lineups, venue changes, start times, or weather updates, you’re providing a service they won’t soon forget. Sure, the old fold-out maps and schedule brochures are nice (until they’re worn out, or worse, lost!), but a mobile app, particularly a native mobile app, will always be available to you fans and will help them plan their experiences with more confidence. Instead of interrupting a performance or session to share important news, simply send out a push notification and all of your attendees who downloaded the app will be informed, in an instant.
  4. Satisfy your sponsors and increase your bottom line: Here’s the pitch for your sponsors: Attendees will always have your ad in the palms of their hands. As exciting as it is to reach your crowd with your own content, you’ll be able to drive additional value for sponsors and exhibitors with new advertising and messaging platforms. Advertising on mobile apps for events, concerts or festivals will help your advertisers connect with your audience as well. It’s not unheard of for event organizers to have the entire cost for the app paid for using advertiser dollars.

Mobile apps aren’t going anywhere, and they’re becoming more of an integral piece in everyone’s lives. It’s time to get in the game, and add a much-needed, modern flair to your events. It doesn’t matter what kind of event you're hosting, offering attendees a unique and memorable mobile event app experience will help you better connect with your audience, and your sponsors. So make an early resolution to amp up your events by going mobile and 2014 will be better than ever

For more information about mobile apps, and how other organizations are successfully folding them into their events right now, visit us at CrowdTorch.Com

Todd Rogers, Director, Mobile Technology at CrowdTorch by Cvent

With over 20 years of experience in technology consulting, engineering and product development, Todd Rogers is currently the Director of Mobile Technology for CrowdTorch by Cvent. CrowdTorch is a leading provider of mobile applications for consumer and social events. Back in 2009, Todd co-founded the company with his colleague Rick Solner because of their shared interest of simply attending festivals. This passion is what still drives the development of their apps today, including ones for the College World Series, Harley-Davison and Disney, to name a few.

Prior to CrowdToch, Todd was a consultant at SPSS, a company that was acquired by IBM in 2009 that specializes in finding and implementing new sources of competitive advantage through predictive analytics.  Before his tenure at SPPS, he was a sales engineering manager at Inquisite, a leading provider of enterprise feedback management web survey software. Todd earned a Bachelor’s of engineering degree from Vanderbilt University in computer engineering.