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Meet ILEA Chicago Member - Jonathan Schoenberg of The Wow Factor!


1.     Who/ what inspired you to go into event planning?

A long time ago, when my two oldest kids were small, I bought one of those cheap Little Tikes bounce houses for them. It ripped within 2 days and had me wanting to buy a commercial-grade unit instead. A day later, I saw a van for a small bounce house company pass through my subdivision . Realizing that I lived in a big new development filled with young families, that was my “a-ha” moment. I bought 8 different types of inflatables a short time later and Jiggle & Giggle was born in 2008. I quickly realized that inflatables were a seasonal business and started adding year-round attractions such as photo booths, arcade games, LED furniture, etc.  After being asked one too many times if Jiggle & Giggle was a porn website, I rebranded 4 years ago as The Wow Factor. It was generic and reflected the reaction people had toward our attractions, so it seemed lika perfect fit.

2.     Tell us one thing we might not learn about you right away?

I’m a seasoned airbrush tattoo artist. No tramp stamps, please!

3.     What do you love the most about what you do?

As a former ad agency Creative Director, I’m constantly thinking of new ways to modify, showcase or improve an attraction that people aren’t normally accustomed to seeing. I like things that are unique and make people say “Wow”! With a name like The Wow Factor, we can’t be vanilla.

4.     Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Niles then moved to Skokie in fifth grade.

5.     What is your event gone wrong horror story?

Years ago we did an outdoor festival for the first time and my contact wouldn’t accept the fact that the forecast leading up to and including the event predicted nothing but rain. Not a good scenario for the inflatable-heavy kids area. The client wasn’t interested in my “Plan B”, one consisting of smaller attractions covered by tents, because “it hadn’t rained on this festival in years” and she was “keeping her fingers crossed”. As you can imagine, the finger crossing didn’t work and the morning of was a wet one. After an hour of standing around and no break in sight, I sent my crew home and hung out solo a little longer. With people arriving and nothing for their kids to do at this rain or shine event, I told the client that I was going back to my warehouse, one nearly half an hour away, to pick up the tents and smaller attractions I had proposed earlier.  With my crew no longer available, I had to unload and reload single-handedly…during which she, of course, called to complain that I was taking too long (I wasn’t). I set up in crazy quick time and we made lemonade out of lemons. During take-down, which of course was nice and sunny, the client commented that maybe we should’ve stuck with the original attractions and waited out the rain. I bit my lip, thanked her for her business, and left.

6.     What made you interested in participating in ILEA?

I liked the fact that ILEA consists exclusively of event professionals from all segments and the caliber of clientele they cater to. This isn’t a mega group where you’re given 10 seconds to pitch yourself along with 100 other people. It’s quality over quantity. You don’t have to explain over and over what you do. ILEA people get it.

For More Information on The Wow Factor...