We started this series with the goal of highlighting the expertise and advice of some of the most interesting people throughout the production world. What I love about this next conversation, is that this individual has dedicated his life to building a community around event technology. I not only love the specificity of it, but I also love that there is a community of people out there that cares about this stuff. And this guy cares so much that he has built his career around bringing everyone together around that topic. Now that is someone we can learn a ton from.
Meet Event Tech Live Director, Adam Parry. He has the exact traits of the person you want building an event technology community: Part Nerd, Part Troublemaker
LET'S SET THE SCENE
One of the things I really appreciated about my conversation with Adam Parry of Event Tech Live, is that you can immediately tell the guy is freakin' scrappy. And given what he's focused on (i.e. building community around technology), I knew he'd have some really valuable insights for all of us.
So for the interview, I wanted to concentrate on:
- Why it's so important for all of us to help build this community.
- What it takes to engage your attendees year around and why it's so important.
- What he sees event teams struggling with the most. I loved his answer.
- Why it's important to make some mistakes and break things every now and then.
- His career advice and more.
You ready to jump in Adam?
Yeah sure. Fire away.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a town called Sheffield - in England. It was famous for making steel and cutlery and stuff. It's kind of dead center in between the two coasts.
So what was fifteen year old Adam like?
Partly a nerd, partly a troublemaker. When I was in high school, I kind of flirted between the cool kids and the nerds and never really settled with one group. I think that's why I'm in the profession that I'm in, why I love doing what I'm doing.
So, you're calling the event pros nerds and troublemakers?
Oh and around that time was my first foray into technology, computers and programming. I actually got excluded from high school for hacking the computer lounge and putting pornography on all the screens.
That's one hell of a foray my friend. You should put that on your resume.
Hah. I'm not sure people would be impressed by that, but that was at fifteen.
And now if your friends had a few pints in them, how would they describe you?
I tend to be the one that's not quiet, but I'm by no means the loud mouth or anything like that. I'm full of crap trivia and useless information. I'm generally the one that's coming up with facts and stuff like that from different random things just to keep conversations sparking and flowing.
Sometimes to build an event technology community you have to gets your hands dirty.
And if you were a bit toasty, what would you be drinking?
Rum and Coke - spiced. Probably an El Dorado. If I can get it. If they're struggling for a good rum like an El Dorado or Diplomat, then it's back to the good ol’ Bacardi.
So correct me if I am wrong, but you have like five jobs, right?
Predominantly three roles.
Hah. My "three roles" are Editor and Director of Event Industry News and Commercial Director on Event Tech Live. It was a project of mine to launch the Event Technology Awards and it's one of those things that's very close to my heart.
Event Technology 101: Learning how to embrace media and having a year around content strategy is critical. d
[If you ever need any help coming up with ideas on how to execute a content strategy, we're happy to share ideas]
If you weren't working in the event world, what would you be doing?
Somebody asked me this the other day. “If you were to retire now, what you do?”I'd like to become some kind of mentor or support network for companies that are trying to start out, grow, or gain more growth. One of the things that I really love doing is trying to help other people succeed in business. I do it with friends and things like that. I think that’s what I’d be doing. But by no means do I think I'm any kind of Richard Branson. I just enjoy seeing a business grow and developing it. Putting things in place, tweaking it and streamlining the process.
Do you guys feel pressure to use the latest technology for Event Tech Live and the award shows since that's what the conference is about?
Yeah, I think we do. I think there's an expectation on Event Tech Live for people to almost engage with the event as a showcase and that comes with extra pressure from exhibitors as well. I can probably say that we've been approached by every single exhibitor at the event to use their platform in some way at the event. It's really a very difficult thing to manage because you don't want to upset any of your stakeholders. You want to try and be fair about it.
One of the biggest challenges this year is working with multiple suppliers to get them to integrate with each other so there's a more seamless experience from an attendee point of view, and an exhibitor point of view. So yeah, it's huge pressure.
What's one thing do you think most event teams are struggling with right now?
I think it's tools to help them manage, deliver, and then ultimately save time and budget. That’s the one thing that costs event organizers and event teams the most is time. Whether you’re working with a third party, an agency, or client, their time is what they're charged for.
One of the things that’s really missing is tools like yours, (what you're developing at LENND), which are time-saving, full picture tools that allow multiple people within large teams or small teams in different locations to see whole event overview and manage the project. One of the things that costs the most amount of money are mistakes. If there’s less mistakes and less risks, then there's less costs, which means there's more time and the project runs smoother. That means either they can take on more work or be less stressed or even just make more money.
[Folks - I swear he is not on the payroll. :)]
What are a few things that you think events are just missing the mark on when it comes to digital media?
I think event organizers really need to start thinking about themselves as publishers. That's been a major key for us to being able to deliver an audience for our exhibits. Run a news section on an event website, start publishing information and articles about the sector that you're serving and ultimately then you'll generate an audience, you start to generate a community.
There's so much missed opportunity that doesn't take a huge amount of work, but can be really effective in building credibility around your event or your product or your solution, providing information that's helpful to the sector.
That leads into the second thing - I don't think event organizers are doing enough to support their community. Associations are probably a little bit better at it because they are a community in essence, but I don't think organizers, or event professionals, do enough to just in general help the community of the sector that they're serving without it being an event agenda attached to it.
Would you say it's important for any event to be producing quality content the entire year as opposed to just around the event?
Absa-freaking-lutely. Just because your event’s once a year, doesn’t mean that the industry stops. Business goes on, it’s 365 days kind of thing, and ultimately that’s where a lot of events go wrong and struggle to grow because as soon as it stops things goes quiet for them.
And in regards to content for an event, there’s two sides.
FIRST: there’s your attendees. You need your brand in front of them as much as possible by providing content and information. You want to keep engaging them as much as possible.
I 100% agree, because if you're not engaging them year around with quality content, you end up having to dig yourself out of a hole each year. Although I think it's important to keep in mind that the key word here is quality. And remember, your audience is the one who define what quality means. And it may not necessarily mean a bunch of expensive videos or beautiful photos from a professional photographer. It may something a lot more simple and easier to create than you think. But you won't know until you try and until you ask.
SECOND: you’ve got your exhibitors, vendors, sponsors, volunteers, etc. They’re a wealth of information and news. There’s updates on platforms and content which organizers should support in terms of making that content widely known.
If you were to give the keynote address at Event Tech Live, what would be the top points you would hit on?
FIRST: Don't be scared by technology. Embrace it. It might be that you've picked a good platform and it's not right for you because it just didn't work out the way that you thought it would, but that's not to say that you chose badly, it just means that it wasn't right. It's one of those things you're going to have to learn, but you get on with it and it should have some benefits.
SECOND: Would be to always make a small budget for something new. Try new technology, try new ways of working. It doesn't always need to be spent on technology, but it just gives you a budget to be able to freely play with without getting silly. I believe that's how companies grow and develop is with experimental budgets.
Event Technology Community 101: Recognize those that are pushing the industry forward.
What's the best piece of career advice you've received?
There’s nothing like good planning, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate it now that I’m older but, make mistakes, move fast, break things and don’t give up. I think so many people are held back by the fear of making a mistake. Don’t sit still pondering, just go out and do it.
In your work life now do you ever feel insecure about anything?
I don't really have any insecurities around my business because we adapt as things change and the industry changes, but it's work-life balance a little more.
I don't feel like I'm old enough and wise enough to impart wisdom but if I did, it would be to always take the time to consider if what your doing is making you happy. There's just not enough time on this planet to go through life being mediocre or unhappy. I don't think people take enough time out. They just head down, on with work, thinking “I've got targets to meet” or, “we've got to do this.”
Money's great, it's fine! Don't get me wrong, I've never seen an unhappy person on a yacht. That being said, life is about being happy. So, take time to check in on that.
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WHAT IS LENND?
Lennd is an event management platform helping production teams streamline their logistics and operations. We're currently in a private beta with some of our favorite events around the globe, but you you're interested in a demo add email HERE.