XP Fronts 2024: Shaping the Future of Experiential

Our collective longing for connection (coupled with the fact that live experiences are getting better and better through innovation) has never been more apparent than during last week’s XP Fronts. From May 21-23, 2024, we gathered the gatherers who dream up, perfect, launch and house the world’s most incredible experiences at the first-ever experiential upfronts, in partnership with C2 Montréal.

The industry had never had an agenda-setting meeting of the minds like this before. It was time to gather senior-level experience makers, creatives, bold brands, visionary venues and interesting placemaking destinations, all in one place. This gathering shaped the industry’s future and helped attendees find their next collaborators, learn from each other, and plan what’s next on their experiential agendas.

Just as we suspected, it was an inspirational and wildly creative event. 

Together with C2 and dozens of industry leaders, creatives and ringleaders, we unpacked the future of this booming industry, unveiling what’s new and next. If you’re feeling serious FOMO or wish you could transport yourself back to Montréal’s Grand Quay, here are the top stage moments from the inaugural XP Fronts: The Future of Experiential:

XP Fronts host, Abbey Londer

Comedy is my escape. And like many of the experiences of people on this stage, and I’m sure in this audience, what we do creates an escape. The events, the festivals, the conferences, the experiences — this salon, right — they give meaningful, tangible, cultural, real-life experiences that are irreplaceable.”

— Abbey Londer, Chief of Staff, Netflix Is A Joke Fest

Aamna Jalal (left) and Fri Forjindam (right)

“Women are more likely to go to events and experiences than men. Fact. If you’re a parent and a woman, you’re even more likely to go to an event. So for us as storytellers and creators, this has to be considered in our operational plans, it has to be considered in our creativity, it has to be considered in every single aspect that women are consumers who need curated and intentional experiences.”

— Aamna Jalal, Head of Global Business Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, Superfly

The experiences of the future are going to look at culture as a critical tool in attracting new audiences. And not just leaning into it, but redefining it in a compelling way.”

— Fri Forjindam, Chief Development Officer and Executive Creative Director, Mycotoo

Felix Lajeunesse (left) and Leah Rubin-Cadrain (right)

I think of storytelling in terms of creating the conditions for an audience to feel present in the experience and then compelled to shape their own story within those parameters.”

— Felix Lajeunesse, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Felix and Paul Studios

“One thing I learned from my appreciation of art is that beauty isn’t always perfection. I really take to heart this idea of wabi-sabi, this aesthetic of honoring the imperfect, and the broken, and the transient, and taking that in as part of my concept of beauty. And so I’m challenging myself to use AR, not just to soften the edges of the world and create a smoothness and a sameness, but to actually enhance the reality, and sometimes that’s the spiky bits.”

— Leah Rubin-Cadrain, Head of Creative, Arcadia Studio, Snap Inc.

Bjarke Ingels in conversation with Fast Company’s Amy Farley

“Now with AI, we are getting inundated by beautiful imagery that has no anchor in reality. So I do think that analog, and the imperfections of analog, is becoming a new kind of luxury.”

— Bjarke Ingels, Founder And Creative Director, BIG 

Mikhael Tara Garver

“For 25 years, I have been saying, ‘Hey, this experience thing over here, I think it’s going to matter. Y’all pay attention. Over here, the weather’s fine. We’re doing something. And actually, we can include technology. We can include many narratives. We can include collective experiences. We are building a field big enough for all of us.’”

— Mikhael Tara Garver, Founder and CXO, Culture House Immersive

Jay Rinsky (left), Dylan Thuras (center) and Vivian Hunter (right)

We built a platform, which effectively took ugly, complicated infrastructure elements and stripped them out, allowing us to tell stories in a highly detailed design environment throughout.”

— Jay Rinsky, Founder and Chief Creative Director, Little Cinema

We are a company that was born online to get people offline. And a large part of what we exist to do in terms of getting people offline is to tell travelers, okay, don’t go to this place that is actually packed with other tourists where you’re going to have a terrible experience. Go here. It is an incredible place that, in fact, not enough people go to, and it needs your support.”

— Dylan Thuras, Founder, Atlas Obscura

Live events are the greatest classroom for unsuspecting students to learn valuable lessons. And in our case, it’s a really important one. It’s protecting the planet.”

— Vivian Hunter, the founder, Ascendance Sustainable Events

Lesly Simmons

“Creating this experience has taught me that, now more than ever, gathering is what we all need, and gathering with purpose is really what we all need. We’re here today because we believe in the power of creativity and experiences, and it all starts with inspiration. I was inspired by a photo. What’s the spark of inspiration that can move you to change the world?

— Lesly Simmons, Founder, The Dollhouse Project

Michael Barclay II (left), Ron Goldenberg (center) and Ariel Foxman (right)

Experiential is 3D storytelling. So we’re world building in the way that we’re telling stories in our environment, in our programming, in our planning, from the minute details all the way up to the big extreme installations that we build.”

Michael Barclay II, Executive Vice President of Experiential, Essence Ventures

“When we think about world building outside of Brooklyn, we think about how we can take what makes Brooklyn Brooklyn and bring it to other markets around the world, so that they can experience it in a way they otherwise couldn’t.”

Ron Goldenberg, Vice President of International Marketing and Innovation, BSC Global

“When we first got to Boston and I said, oh, I’m working on Seaport, there wasn’t a single person that didn’t say, oh, it used to just be parking lots. There’s nothing there. That was the one expression of this neighborhood that every single Bostonian had. And in order to erase the parking lots, we leaned into memory and association.”

— Ariel Foxman, Vice President of Brand and Experience, Boston Seaport

Erica Boeke (left) and Randy Weiner (right)

My calling in life is bringing people together and giving them a sense of belonging and community. Connecting them in a way that leaves their hearts warm and asking, ‘When are we going to get together next? When are we doing this next?’”

— Erica Boeke, Founder and CEO, XP Land

“I was doing Midsummer Night’s Dream, but I figured out we could do it in a club for free because I grew up in New York City. So we did The Donkey Show and it really — I swear to you — started out as a very traditional version of Midsummer Night’s Dream. But then I was like, ‘Wow, we’re doing Midsummer Night’s Dream in a club. Why don’t we just extend the clubbiness of it?’”

— Randy Weiner, playwright and theater producer

Join us in XP Land. A community for experiential creatives and experience-makers, brand leaders and IP-owners, space stewards and venue visionaries — all of those in the business of epic gatherings and live, immersive storytelling.

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Experiential Is Everything

XP Land is for experiential creatives and experience-makers, brand leaders, and IP-owners, space stewards and venue visionaries — all those in the business of epic gatherings and live, immersive storytelling.