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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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Despite only opening in summer 2015, the quintessential New York steakhouse restaurant Smith & Wollensky has already established itself on the high-end dining scene in London. However, it has also attracted a wealth of different event organisers seeking to take advantage of the art-deco styling and location within The Strand’s grade II listed Adelphi Building.

In an exclusive one-on-one chat with the Talking Events podcast, the restaurant’s Operations Director Nathan Evans discusses the subject of hospitality and how it differs from fixed operations and temporary ones often found at events. He talks about both the hospitality extended to customers, and also the way that staff working in the hospitality sector are trained, developed and treated.

Looking at the venue itself, Nathan also talked about the scepticism among some organisers as to whether a restaurant can be utilised as a temporary event space. He also points out the way the restaurant was conceived as somewhere that could be adaptable.

“We’ve had events that have brought in dance floor, celebrity DJ’s, LED screens and more. Flexibility is so important. Within London there are not many restaurants of this scale. We have 15,000 square feet available, so throughout the design process I constantly had ideas and questions relating to its use.”

One of these ideas related to the private dining rooms within the restaurant. These are found in most high-end eateries, but in this case some careful planning went into the design and layout.

“On the whole, if private dining rooms are not booked they are losing vital revenue. At Smith & Wollensky, London, both of the private dining rooms that are annexed from the main restaurant have huge doors that fold completely back, allowing them to be extensions to the restaurant or events space rather than them being separate entities.”

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Two of London’s – and indeed the world’s – most famous sporting venues have spoken the Talking Events podcast about the ways in which they have adapted and evolved to cater for the demands of modern event organsiers.

Nick Kenton from Lords Cricket Ground and James Lee from Twickenham both highlighted the diversification within the events industry and how organisers are taking a far more invocative approach to sourcing and selecting an event space.

Joining them was James Anderson from Arena Group, a company that has worked with both venues to deliver temporary elements that have been designed to supplement the permanent infrastructure.

One such project was the Ashes Club that was erected for the England v Australia test match in 2015, which accommodated an additional 200 hospitality guests per day.

“The shift for Lords came in 2005 when the catering operation was brought exclusively in-house”, said Nick. “That prompted a change in staffing infrastructure, which has allowed the venue to push itself out there more than it ever used to.”

The construction of temporary hospitality structures was further examined by James Anderson, who said that the practicalities of them are obvious. 

“If we look at Cheltenham as a good example, I would guess that it makes 75% of its annual revenue during the Cheltenham Festival week. We build the longest triple decker in the world for that event. The course could simply not afford to build that size of permanent venue and then have it sat there for the rest of the year, so it makes complete financial sense.”

James Lee added to that thought, saying:

“As James says, the opportunity to partner with companies like Arena makes sense in the right circumstance. There is a requirement for both: using the permanent space we have but supplementing when necessary. It’s very much about how we engage with our event clients to understand their objectives.”

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In a special one-on-one episode of Talking Events, James Anderson, commercial director of Arena Group, talks about the rich history of the company and the way it has evolved to become one of the biggest names in the modern event industry.

From its beginnings in 1765 as a sail and rope maker – including supplying the hangman ropes for the tower of London – Arena Group now works in some of the UK’s most prestigious locations, including the Henley Regatta, Lord’s Cricket Ground and Twickenham.

During the conversation, James highlights why supplementing permanent venues with temporary structures makes financial sense, and also how it may help venues to research and develop their long-term infrastructure.

“Britain is known for its overlay industry”, James told the podcast. “By that, we mean anything that can be put in on a temporary basis to facilitate major events, be they sporting, music or otherwise. Our experience has taught us how to do things to amazing standards, which has led to us working across the world and continuing to develop the global reputation that many UK suppliers have.”

He also looks at how the internal fit-out of structures has had to adapt to cope with the modern demands of the end-user, and how open spaces are being transformed in to event venues by the level of expertise now available in the structure industry.


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There is still a long way to go before people really understand what works well as a live-streamed event and what doesn’t, according to a senior YouTube UK representative. David Thorpe was speaking on the Talking Events podcast about the ways in which organisers are turning to live streaming to enhance their events.

 “The great thing about live streaming is that it’s a global medium”, said David. “You’ve got such a big audience that is potentially interested in what you’re doing, that organisers should be thinking on that level and not just on a local level.”

 Organisers were also advised to better plan the way in which they will deliver a live stream and how that will integrate with the overall event strategy. James Wilkinson from Streaming Tank told the podcast:

“The thing we try to push to organisers is to not just think of live streaming as a bolt on to their events. If you’re not planning for their needs in advance then you’re missing a trick. When we’re working with a client for the first time, the first worry is always that if they live stream,

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