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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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On June 23rd, 2016 UK voters will go to the polls in what’s being described as the biggest political decision for a generation. Whether we stay in or out of Europe is now the subject of media campaigns by both sides of the debate, with each side offering vastly differing views of how we could be affected.

However, when it comes to the events industry, the only viable decision is to remain in the EU according to one industry professional.

In the latest episode of the Talking Events podcast, Robin Carlisle from Mobile Promotions says that there are simply too many benefits to event companies travelling around Europe to even contemplate any other decision. The company works with high profile clients to deliver brand activation events, marketing promotions, and event production, which regularly sees them travelling around the continent.

Robin thinks that the ease with which they can move around makes staying in an easy choice.

“Compared to way back when being in the EU has made life so much easier. Being able to travel across borders without ATA Carnets – which listed every item you were carrying – is so much better than the traditional nightmare that it used to be. Way back when you could easily loose a couple of days by being held up at a border waiting for stuff to be checked. I have been one of those that was in doubt, but from what I’ve read and what I’ve considered I’m now 100% in favour of staying in.”

Joining the same episode was Nic Howden from All Access Communications, who shared Robin’s view on staying within the EU. Nic told the podcast that a vote to leave could mean lots of small little barriers being created by countries that may be unhappy with that decision.

“I can imagine there being a few more little trip wires being put up. Whether it’s big businesses or small businesses, in the short-term life would be made a lot more difficult fairly quickly.”

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Consumers have become far more sophisticated with what they are prepared to receive, so simply bombarding them with email marketing is no longer a viable way to attract visitors to live events, so says a leading event industry communications expert.

Kursha Woodgate spoke to the Talking Events podcast about the challenges faced by organisers in a world where people have become far more savvy about what incoming communications they respond to and what message they are prepared to listen to.

“I think we need to get a bit cleverer about how we target people and how we find the people who are looking at any given event. Open rates for emails have been diminishing and there’s a lot of science behind email subject lines. What I’ve personally been using over the last 12 months are tools to help develop relationships over a longer period of time, helping to improve the chance of that customer opening an email when it lands.”

Kursha was discussing the subject of event marketing and the many tools and methods that are now available. In particular, she looked at ways to capture the valuable email addresses of potential customers by getting them to proactively hand over that key piece of information.

“Good content marketing starts with understanding your audience. Take time to create marketing personas and find out what content is relevant to them. The key thing is to give people valuable content, and that’s when they will willingly volunteer the information or email address that you’re looking for. Events create great content in their own right, so I think event organisers are actually well positioned to leverage content marketing in a better way than perhaps other organisations.”

In a one-to-one episode of the podcast, Kursha also looked at how campaigns are measured and the question marks surrounding the effectiveness of event marketing campaigns.

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The question of whether the landscape of event security has changed has been discussed during the latest episode of the Talking Event podcast. Referencing the terror attacks in Brussels, podcast host James Dickson asked guests whether the communication between stakeholders at events is up to scratch and whether the attacks have prompted a change in preparations.

 Joining the episode was Alex Leake from Carlisle Support Services, who told the podcast that various elements are becoming more commonplace as a way to ensure that all attendees are being channelled through the necessary ingress and egress points.

David Boswell from TSG also joined the podcast, highlighting the differing ways in which events have to deal with ingress and egress depending on the day or time of the event and how crowd demographics are being closely analysed to assist in the planning process.

This week’s episode follows up on the last week’s broadcast that looked at some of the controversial remarks made about TSG and the services that it now provides to the industry. During that episode, David Boswell also responded to comments that his company was ‘cashing in’ on the terror attacks in both Brussels and Paris.

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