In-Person Cannabis Events Are Back In Session With EventHi – Forbes
Nearly all industries were impacted by pandemic-related restrictions, but some might say that the events industry bore the brunt of it. Even the Tokyo Olympics were postponed a year. But the global events industry is remarkably resilient: Its size was valued at $1,135.4 billion in 2019, and is expected to hold steady and grow to $1,552.9 billion by 2028, despite those setbacks, ResearchandMarkets.com estimated recently.
EventHi is an event management and ticketing platform, built to support cannabis events without the discrimination organizers typically face. The timing could not be more prescient. Social distancing and mask restrictions have been lifted or eased in nearly all U.S. states. While it’s unclear if restrictions truly are over—for now, the world is mostly open.
In most cases, the wait is over for in-person cannabis events.
EventHi is considered to be the first online event management ticketing platform catering specifically to the cannabis industry, connecting people together offline. EventHi was founded in 2017—sprung from an idea that had been brewing in the head of Ali Fakhri, CEO and founder of EventHi, since 2014.
EventHi creates a safe hosting platform for cannabis events—often the target of excessive restrictions—creating a unique ecosystem that allows the organizers, attendees, and sponsors to connect in one place.
“Our mission and our goal was to simplify the process for event organizers who were hosting cannabis events and experiences,” says Fakhri. “Especially when it came to managing, promoting, and selling tickets and sponsorships for their cannabis-related events. EventHi provides a platform and a community where they feel safe to sell tickets and sponsorships and promote their events using a cannabis-friendly platform unlike all these other mainstream platforms who look at cannabis-related events as a prohibited event, prohibited transaction and prohibited merchant.”
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Mainstream event hosting and ticketing platforms, on the other hand, continue to shutdown or oppress cannabis, hemp, and CBD-related events. It’s all the same to them, regardless of whether an event falls under the hemp category as defined under federal law.
Abrupt removals of cannabis events cost money. Michael Zaytsev, organizer of the New York Cannabis Film Festival, for instance, ran into trouble in 2017 when his event was suddenly pulled on Eventbrite, and his account suspended—after doing business with the platform unscathed for years. Zaytsev, who is also a Forbes Coaches Council contributor, wondered if the uproar was due to a reference of CBD-infused popcorn at his event.
Fakhri recalls some event organizers who used mainstream event platforms for six times—only to be shut down on the seventh. They never know when their going to be taken out, in essence.
Mainstream event hosting platforms also force event organizers to remove any flagged words—which does nothing but block event organizers from being transparent or accurately describing their event, Fakhri quipped. Still, some cannabis events chose to stick to the mainstream event platforms.
On July 28, undercover agents allegedly walked the floor at the CHAMPS Trade Show in Las Vegas, looking for supposed delta-8-THC products, due to a new Nevada law. But a CHAMPS spokesperson stated that no arrests were made, and the hoopla was ignited by someone handing out an edible, which must be served by a caterer.
Some of the features EventHi built to stay competitive range from sponsorship proposal tools for organizers to create a marketplace for companies and organizations, medical verification access, an online merchandise store, and a review system which allows for sponsors and attendees to review cannabis events—clearing up a lot of the confusion between venues and organizers.
You’d be surprised how difficult it is to promote a cannabis event—just look at social media. Adding Instagram backup accounts for cannabis accounts is now the norm. Bess “Cannabess” Byers launched a petition against Instagram for targeting cannabis accounts. Algorithms on Facebook scour the internet for flagged keywords, often incorrectly. It’s a mess.
“Social media is only one hurdle of what the cannabis industry has to deal with,” says Adelia Carrillo, CMO of EventHi. “We have limited access to insurance, high rates for leasing and office rentals, any service you are needing for your business once you say its a cannabis business the rates jump 5x the normal price, and we have limited access to banking and those companies that do have a marijuana-related business bank account like EventHi, have to go through so much due diligence and annual audits to just be able to conduct business like normal businesses would. On top of that—people are still being put in jail for this plant and are sitting in jail for this plant for nonviolent offenses.”
Carrillo’s face is familiar to most people in the cannabis B2B community, after founding several networking projects in multiple states such as the female-focused Blunt Brunch.
The pandemic changed the cannabis events industry operates, somewhat permanently. When COVID-19 took its toll on the events industry in 2020, “EventHi quickly pivoted and put a focus on really keeping the event organizer community together through virtual meetings, Clubhouse events so that we could discuss, share and answer questions on how event organizers should prepare when it comes to the future of cannabis events,” Carrillo explains. “Many event organizers have changed their processes permanently—unshareable joints, disposable tips, the way food is served (i.e. less-shareable platters), increasing cleaning protocols, and more handwashing stations.”
In terms of immediate changes, Carrillo says she is seeing event organizers take a safer approach in lessening capacity or hosting outside events, looking at requiring vaccination proof, or working with venues to understand ventilation capabilities and removing ticket sales happening at the door.
“If anything, events organizers are making it a higher priority to become cleaner and safer, as 2020 has taught us the importance of human connection, but it also made the event organizer community recognize that things will have to change to make their attendees feel safe and comfortable,” Carrillo says.
Now that most states are beginning to reopen, cannabis events are beginning to come roaring back.
“We are already seeing that happen,” Fakhri says. “In Q2 of this year we saw a 182% increase in events compared to Q1 of this year. What is interesting is that we are seeing a change in our user data. Prior to COVID, attendees were purchasing tickets to large scale events and festivals, but now we are seeing a stronger focus on retreats, intimate gatherings, outdoor activities and unique experiences.”
The Clarendon Hotel and Spa in downtown Phoenix, for instance, billed itself as the first cannabis-friendly hotel in Arizona, with a six-course dinner event ticketed by EventHi. EventHi provides stress-free cannabis event promotion and ticketing.