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In part three of a special series looking at rigging and lifting, the Talking Events podcast returns to the home of Blackout to discuss a newly launched apprenticeship scheme specifically for riggers.

The development of the Trailblazer apprenticeship in Live Events Rigging has been facilitated by the National Rigging Advisory Group and some of the leading rigging companies within the industry. The apprenticeship will provide the best information, experience, advice and guidance, allowing candidates to first gain and then demonstrate their competence. 

Joining the podcast to discuss the topic were Plasa’s NRC Manager Paul Riddiford, Technical Director of Unusual Rigging Robin Elias, and Blackout’s Human Resources Manager Adelaide Johannsen.

This episode follows on from ‘Up in the air parts 1 & 2’, which have discussed the National Rigging Certificate, the new National Event Lifting Certificate, and also the National Rigging Conference.


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Augmented reality and virtual reality platforms are moving on at a rapid pace. More and more mobile devices are being launched as ‘VR ready’, and as the technology becomes more accessible it is inevitable that consumers become more accustomed to using it.

For our industry, the obvious effect of consumers becoming more accustomed to using it is that organisers will also become more aware of how to incorporate it into their events. Discussing the subject of virtual reality on the latest Talking Events podcast was CEO and Co-Founder of MetaVRse Alan Smithson.

Alan joined the podcast on the line from his headquarters in Boston, USA. During the episode, he highlighted the significant advancements in hardware that he thinks will open up the marketplace and make virtual reality more accessible at all levels. 

“Wind back just a couple of years and the cost of producing VR content was quite prohibitive. Despite having the mobile phones and related headsets to access it, the content itself couldn’t be produced fast enough to satisfy demand. Fast forward to now, and you’ve got off the shelf cameras like the Samsung Gear 360 and Nikon Key Mission 360 that are VR ready. You literally film it, stitch the footage together on your computer using software that comes with the cameras – or even on your phone – and post it directly to Facebook. We’ve come a long, long way in just a few years and the tools are now trickling down to the prosumer and consumer level.”


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Alex Patriquin, founder of Event Geek, joined the Talking Events podcast from his base in Boston, USA to discuss the company’s unique project management software and the inspiration behind its creation. 

Having worked for several startup companies in a digital marketing capacity, Alex’s role quickly evolved to include the planning and running of events. It was this experience that prompted him to think that a new solution for project managing events was perhaps needed within the sector.

“Event Geek is project management software for events. As someone who was responsible for running over 50 events a year with a $1 million budget, I struggled to find a project management tool that was completely designed for my needs as an organiser. Before we even wrote a single line of code we spoke to over 150 event planners and marketers in order to find out what tools they are using and what their frustrations are. This allowed us to create something that we knew would have synergy with potential customers when it was eventually released.”

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In the second episode of a three-part special, the Talking Events podcast looks at the subject of rigging and working at height.

Recorded at the offices of Blackout in south-west London, part two looks at the newly created National Event Lifting Certificate (NELC). The qualification was created to serve the training needs of event professionals that may need to raise equipment off the ground, but who themselves don’t actually work at height.

Joining the podcast to discuss the topic were Plasa’s NRC Manager Paul Riddiford, Technical Director of Unusual Rigging Robin Elias, and Blackout’s Human Resources Manager Adelaide Johannsen.

The NELC has close ties to the National Rigging Certificate, which was discussed in part one of the series. The qualification was also set to form an integral part of the Rigging Conference, which took place during the 2016 PLASA show at London’s Olympia.

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In a special series recorded at the London HQ of Blackout, the Talking Events podcast welcomed experts from the world of rigging to discuss several of the key topics set to affect the industry. 

Plasa’s NRC Manager Paul Riddiford, Technical Director of Unusual Rigging Robin Elias, and veteran rigger & rigging trainer Eric Porter all joined host James Dickson to discuss the National Rigging Certificate and the forthcoming Rigging Conference.

The 2016 edition will be the 7th time the conference has formed part of the PLASA show, which this year will be held at London’s Olympia. During the podcast, the guests discussed the merits of the National Rigging Certificate (NRC) and what it has brought to the profession since its introduction. They also discussed why it was brought in and the assessment process that riggers go through in order to gain the certificate. 

The episode is the first of a three-part series that will look further into the world of rigging, including the new National Event Lifting Certificate (NELC) and the launch of a brand new national apprentice scheme for trainee riggers.

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Media 10’s Rob Nathan joined the Talking Events podcast to discuss the growing reputation of The Cake & Bake Show.

Acquired by the company in 2014 from the show’s husband and wife founders, the consumer event has already benefitted massively from Media 10’s investment in marketing and branding. 

During the podcast, Rob looks at how his team are able to translate the explosion of interest in baking into ticket sales by using social media channels as a rapid route to market.  

“Baking has become cool”, said Rob. “Everyone is looking to do it, and for us it’s about tapping into those elements at the right time. The popularity of the Great British Bake Off on TV has prompted a new interest in the subject, and played a big part in helping the show grow prior to our acquisition.” 

Rob also talks about the amount of marketing content that consumers are exposed to and how vital it is for events to get their message across quickly and clearly.

“I often equate our marketing to the adverts that are on the escalators of the London Underground, which have about three seconds to get their message to the reader. When we plan our website pages and any form of communications, it’s vital that we put the key information on and make it obvious. People often underestimate the power of starting a day and a date, but it gives it that immediacy. We’re in a cluttered market and we have to cut through.” 

The 2016 show runs in both London and Manchester and for the first time will welcome Argos as its headline sponsor.

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SignUpAnywhere is a brand new tool that has been designed to help event organisers capture customer information quickly and simply.

In the latest episode of the Talking Events podcast, Director Jesse Baines discussed how the product works and the benefits he hopes organisers will feel from using the system.

“The service is not a native app, it is a web-based service. This allows customers using any type of device the opportunity to use it. However, once it’s installed it feels like a native app. Along with the ability to store information locally so that it can be used offline, it also has the benefit of customers being able to make changes via a web-interface and ‘push’ it on to any user logged into that account.”

Jesse also explained how the system is configured to integrate with services like Mailchimp, and the ability to customise the signup form with graphics and branding to reflect the type of event being run.

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Back in May the Talking Events podcast welcomed International Live Events Association (ILEA) board members Kevin Jackson and Alistair Turner to talk about the handover from Kevin to Alistair of the association’s presidency. 

Chatting to the podcast on the 34th floor of London’s Shard, the respected event professionals reflected on the achievements of Kevin during his tenure and the thoughts of Alistair as he prepared to take the reins. They also talk frankly about the change of name from the International Special Event Society (ISES). 

“The name change was a big thing for us”, Kevin told the podcast. “We shared three-quarters of an acronym with someone we didn’t want to be associated with, but I think it’s much bigger than just changing the name. The change from ‘special’ to ‘live’ better reflects the work we’re doing, and for me, the move from ‘society’ to ‘association’ is far better suited to our world.” 

Talking about the handover of the presidency to Alistair, Kevin also gave a succinct assessment of how he thinks it should work. 

“You really need to have an incoming president that really understands knows where you’ve been and is going to come in with their own ideas but also continue to drive that momentum.” 

Discussing how he hopes to continue the work done by Kevin, Alistair turner explained that he was keen not to change too much. 

“As a board – and under Kevin’s guidance – we’ve got into a really big habit of talking about growth: the growth of the industry and where those growth points are. What we’ve tried to do is represent this pointy end of the industry that’s trailblazing at the moment. When Kevin talks about the new membership that we’re now getting, it represents this end and the creative content that they produce.” 

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The demand for better quality beverages combined with the requirement to eliminate glass from event sites has seen one events business go from strength to strength.

Guesting on the Talking Events podcast, Event Wine Solutions’ managing director, Paul Scaife said that his business is experiencing a ‘pull’ into more events as a result of customers demanding better quality wine. The company specialises in sourcing high-quality wine and bottling it in full-size 750ml recyclable plastic bottles.

“A statistic from the Association of Independent Festivals states that 50% of customers don’t go to festivals for the headline act. This shows that they are seeking an experience rather than a specific artist, and that includes food and drink. Thus far wine has lagged behind the rise in better quality food at events, but people are now looking to replicate a restaurant dining experience during a festival weekend. When people buy wine in a restaurant they get a full-size bottle, but until we came along the consumers only choice was single-serving plastic bottles. What we do is give them a full-size bottle, and a quality of wine that was previously not available to temporary event organisers.”

Paul also spoke of the need for organisers to address the hospitality elements of their events as a key way to improve profitability.

“I think there is a big untapped market within events and certainly, a better way for events to increase revenue. Having entered the events industry from the outside, I’ve observed that there’s a lot of talk about safety – which is critically important – but not as much talk about revenue. When I was elected to the council of the National Outdoor Event Association (NOEA), my mandate was to try and link some of my bar operator clients with NOEA to discuss how to create a more profitable industry. We’ve all seen festivals fall by the wayside despite being previously successful, so there’s clearly an opportunity to look at hospitality levels as a way to improve the bottom line.”

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Technology is now intrinsically linked to our lives and daily activities. So has the term ‘event technology’ become too broad a term to accurately describe the services available to event organisers?

Jamie Vaughan from Eventbase joined the Talking Events podcast to discuss the topic and to look at how technology is being deployed in cross-genre scenarios.

“The term ‘event tech’ is far too generic in my mind. The tech that affects events now comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, and at all touch points. It occurs at the point someone first finds out about a particular event, right up to the point where you touch it at registration. It also includes lighting, audio/visual, which is all relevant but very, very broad. I think that maybe someone should take the responsibility to re-categorise some of this into component parts!”

During the podcast, Jamie also highlighted how the fundamental elements of certain technologies can be deployed across different types of event, citing some of the shows that Eventbase has worked on. 

“Events are all about communities coming together, which means you’ve got a common interest. The trick is to ensure that you are engaging those communities on the right level. So, for example, we do the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. At this event, there’s obviously a lot of music content within the event app that we provide. At a film, festival there will be trailers and movie content. At an innovation event, it’s about networking. The point is, we align the content around the specifics of the event. However, when you boil them all down there are actually tremendous similarities between them all.”

We would like to extend our thanks to HeadBox.com and the Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, London for their help in obtaining the venue we used for recording this series of podcasts.

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