August 1, 2017
In the world of events more often than not all the hard work, stress-filled moments and long hours go totally unnoticed. In one way is very satisfying to come across as the professional swan gracefully gliding above the water while underneath frantically paddling… But it is more satisfying to be noticed for all your hard work.
This year Events Man is up for 2 Esprit Awards! The Esprit Award ceremony will be held in Calgary on August 11th. Both awards are for the same event but in different categories.
The first award is:
“Best Social Event (non-wedding) (Over $ 75,000 USD”
The event was “Passion” a private celebration for a very special lady. This event pushed boundaries taking guests on a whimsical and sensual journey of food and frolics. We brought in the best entertainment from around the world, engineered complicated structures and wowed guests with details and unforgettable experience.
The second award is:
Best Team Effort (Over $150,000 USD)
We had over 25 companies and over 200 cast and crew on this event and I cannot say enough about how wonderful and professional the team was. (although I tried in this blog post).. A few of our key players were also eligible for “Best Team”.
Connie Riley, CMP, CSEP
ILEA Chapter: Orlando
Central Pacific Consultants Ltd
ILEA Chapter: Hong Kong
Sur Un Volcan
ILEA Chapter: Hong Kong
ILEA Chapter: Hong Kong
ILEA Chapter: Hong Kong
The Esprits are worldwide event awards judged blind by some of the top live event industry experts in the world. Our competition includes some of the best events from New York, London and the Middle East. We are very honored to be nominated and listed along side some of the best in the world.
March 9, 2017
ILEA Hong Kong and MISE Macau met up in Macau’s Cotai Strip for an educational and unforgettable backstage tour of event spaces in Studio City and City of Dreams. The event was curated by ILEA Hong Kong’s Director of Education Vincent Ng from 1+1=11 productions and took 20 lucky event professionals on an experience they will not soon forget.
The tour met up in Studio City at the hologram, a 4-dimensional technical marvel that displays a mix of advertising combine with a sound and light performance every 15 minutes. Our hosts, the very helpful and knowledgeable Roy Yan and Nyon Lam from Melco Crown escorted us to our first venue the Studio City Ballroom.
The Studio City Ballroom and labyrinth of breakout rooms is a great space for a large group wanting a bit more exclusivity then nearby ballrooms can provide. The Grand ballroom can seat 1600 for a banquet, the adjoining pre-function space and event garden make for a nice pre-event cocktail. There are many breakout rooms for storage, offices and green rooms. The ballroom décor itself is typical ballroom carpets, high ceilings and thankfully no major chandeliers to get in the way and plenty of rigging points. One of the most appealing thigs is the car sized lift the delivers straight in to the back area making it ideal for auto launches and large props.
From the ballroom we moved to the Studio City Event Center arena a 5000 seat concert hall with VIP boxes and vaulted ceiling. The space is perfect for a pop concert or Amway style briefing for their sales teams. From there it was onto Pacha Night Club the decadent club found in 10 different cities around the world epitomizing club life. Pacha Macau is available for private bookings on weekdays.
The tour reached new heights and got a bird’s eye view of Macau from the Golden Reel. This modern Ferris wheel is situated in the figure 8 in the top of the building. The ride was gentle and was interesting to look out of the construction site that is the Cotai Strip. From there it was onto the Batman Dark Flight Experience . Not for the faint of heart this ‘ride’ starts slow by setting the scene of Wayne Enterprises talking about some of their latest inventions. It all starts to heat up when the joker attacks and guests are moved into the other room to board the ‘bat plane’. Once strapped in, the mechanics of the theatre style seats lift you high up and close to a giant screen where the graphic animation twists and turns in a virtual reality that cause a serious case of giddy imbalance. The few that didn’t like roller coasters were wishing they stayed outside in Starbucks, the rest laughed liked children in a playground. After a big thank you to our friends at Melco Crown the group boarded the shuttle over to City of Dreams and the Grand Hyatt.
When it comes to making guests feel special The Grand Hyatt really get it. They understand it is personalized attention and the small details that count. We were greeted in the lobby by the head of marketing and the hotel manager who took us up to the Salão Do Teatro function room to meet the rest of the team.
Upon entering the space we saw four gorgeous tables set up with full settings and some of the most beautiful show plates, striking linens and colorful centerpieces. The second half of the room was laid out for a presentation in a large horseshoe. Each place had a digital name plate for each guest. Each guest was paired up and seated next to a Grand Hyatt team member. Each guest’s place had a small gift of a very classy branded usb and a phone accessory. After coffees were served the group was then presented with a large screen presentation giving an overview of the hotel, guest rooms and the capabilities as well as their current MICE special offer. Upon completion, very dramatically, with the flick of a switch, the screen disappeared, the lights went down. As ‘mission impossible’ music beat loudly the whole wall slowly began to raise. Flashing intelligent lights moved back and forth, smoke poured out and slowly an open kitchen with live chefs was revealed. We were then invited to a standing buffet with a wide array of sandwiches and teas and coffees. The hotel team expertly moved among the guests chatting with each and answered questions about the hotel and its’ possibilities.
After the cocktail, we split into two groups to have a look at the rest of the function spaces. The Grand Hyatt’s main function areas are mostly all spread across one floor and feature a wide variety of flexible spaces of varied sizes. The flexibility of the spaces make it suitable for most any function from a multi-track conference to a grand wedding for up to 1300 guests. The neutral colors also make it easy to create your own branding and styling. Rooms like Salão Do Teatro have built in sliding decorative curtains in red and beige as well as oriental design room dividers. We also took a look at the tent by the poolside a semi-permanent structure for up to 300 guests perfect for special events and weddings. We were then personally escorted to our next stop the highlight of the tour, The House of Dancing Water show and backstage tour.
If you haven’t seen this Macau show, it is a must. One of the most technically beautiful shows in the world designed and produced by Franco Dragone’ who created some of Cirque du Soleil’s most spectacular shows. If you have seen it, go again, over the years they have tweaked the storyline to create more continuity and flow making it more theatrical and fitting the motorcycle stunts into the story better. After being wowed by the show we were met by one of the creators and show manager Anna Robb who took us backstage to give us a peek into exactly how much goes into creating this incredibly complex and technical show.
The custom built theatre is six stories high with two stories underwater for the pool and moving equipment. The show features almost 100 performers and 100 backstage crew including a team of 30 divers, plus full band, riggers and full technical department. The performers are all multi talented and cross trained to be able to take on most any role in the show. They all learn how to dive, aerial acrobatics, gymnastics and dance, once joining the show there is a 6 month training before talent is fully integrated into the show. Anna Robb took us through some of the safety aspects that are incorporated noting that most were brought in as part of the show and not required by law. Their rigorous and professionalism and attention to detail have so for paid off with no major incidents and very few dark nights due to technical faults.
The wow factor of the show in doubly compounded by a first hand view of what is going on behind the scenes. The high energy show has so many moving parts and is so interconnected that at any minute one mistake or mechanical failure can cause the whole performance to stop. Anna who had just called the show we saw pointed out the pressure of calling a show so complex, “the show is about an hour and a half on average I have one que every fifteen seconds” often those ques have a person dangling on the end of a rope, one missed que or wrong call could mean catastrophe.
Anna is an amazing and dynamic person before joining Dragone’ she looked after the Sydney Opera House and worked on LOVE, Cirque’s Beatles show in Vegas. Her passion for the industry and connecting people is infectious. Anna latest project TheatreArtLife launching in April of 2017 should do exactly that.
ILEA Hong Kong was very lucky to be supported by such great partners in this event. Many thanks go out to Melco Crown, Grand Hyatt and City Of Dreams for making this event possible.. We look forward to going back.
November 28, 2016
ILEA Hong Kong has been working to engage event students enrolled in the city’s masters and PHD programs as well as offering insight into the event industry for undergrads. Since the appointment of Professor Brian King, Associate Dean, School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University as an advisor to ILEA Hong Kong in student integration we have started to create suitable educational activities and bridge the divide between academia and industry.
Festival and Event Insight
Last week ILEA Hong Kong organized a tour of the Clockenflap Festival site for students from Edinburgh- Napier/ HKU Space Tourism and Festivals program, Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts and Hong Kong Polytechnic event management program. The tour was led by Martin Haigh, the man in charge of sponsorship for Magnetic Asia. Magnetic Asia is the dynamic Hong Kong born innovative group behind Clockenflap, Ticketflap, Your Mum and Neon lights festival in Singapore. Eight years ago when faced with the challenge of creating a music festival in a city with no infrastructure or support for large music festivals, Magnetic Asia decided to invent and create the services they needed to make the largest and most cutting edge festival in Hong Kong and now are branching out in Asia.
Our tour took us around a frantic hustling and bustling event site with final day preparations running everywhere. Martin explained the surprise turn in the weather (massive downpours) had forced them to bring in truckloads of gravel and sand to fill in the site where drainage was not available. He also discussed to logistical issues in dealing with four separate landlords as Clockenflap was the first event to actually use the whole of the harbor front space. Students were also enlightened hearing about the challenges of choosing suppliers in a city where no one supplier was large enough to handle the F&B of catering to crowds of 60,000.
Leadership and Guidance
ILEA president Robert Rogers CSEP was recently a guest attendee representing industry for the University of Hong Kong School of Continuing Education and Edinburgh Napier BA (Hons) in Festival and Event Management Academic Committee meeting. The program is relatively new in Hong Kong and one of the only that has a major focus on the events industry. We look forward to working with them more to create well rounded graduates with a solid foundation in what it takes to put on an event.
November 22, 2016
My wife I often asks why I spend so much time and effort with the International Live Events Association (ILEA)? What do I get out of it? After a recent large very successful event I did for a private client, I took a look at how I managed to put together such an incredible team… Quickly realized most of them came from ILEA.
July 24, 2016
Esprit Award 2016 Nominee
I am pleased to say we have been nominated for another award! This time for our work with Asia Brokers Charity and our production of the FABBAs.
“Best Event with a Legacy”
The Fund Managers, Asian Bankers and Brokers Awards (FABBAs) charity fundraiser that has been a premier event in the Asian financial sector’s social calendar for over 13 years. We have been involved since the inception and each year taking on a bigger role.
For the 2015 FABBAs we were executive producer managing the sponsorships, auctions, volunteers and live production. The FABBAs is a time when most of the region’s major international financial institutions join together to give back to their local communities. The FABBAs were founded by Asia Brokers Charity, a small group of industry professionals who recognized that, beyond the ups and downs of their companies and careers, many people struggle in much more difficult situations, lacking resources and choices. Asia Brokers Charity has lead their industry for over 13 years supporting a wide variety of amazing causes that transform the lives of disadvantaged people around Asia and beyond. We are proud to be associated with this event and even prouder our work is being recognised.
April 22, 2016
I recently had the pleasure of facilitating a discussion of leaders from the Asian event industry on our future and where we were headed. We met at the Chinese Club of Hong Kong, the bastion of business since 1897, illustrious past member included Dr. Sun Yat Sen and most of Hong Kong’s major business leaders over the years. The Club’s understated elegance hasn’t changed since 1987 but you could still feel the plans made here by Sun Yat Sen and his cohorts, the friendships established, the handshakes of business and mega deals done. The Chinese Club of Hong Kong was the perfect venue for ISES Hong Kong Annual Leadership Dinner. This year’s topic “The Asian Event Industry – What, Where, When?” focused on new potential markets, questioned some of current ones and looked at what we can do as leaders to guide the industry.
This years’ invited guests were more diverse than the past. previous years’ focused mostly on world wide agencies with offices across the globe. This year brought in a more Hong Kong focus with event owners, industry disrupters and managers of large scale sporting events as well as the agencies and independent planners.
Invited guests included:
Rob Williams, Asia Media Search –
Robert is a headhunter for the events industry providing talent for media, event and marketing companies.
Robert Rogers CSEP, Events Man
Robert is an event designer and producer who specializes in vip management and hi end luxury events for the corporate and private world.
Malcolm Loudon, VenueHub
Malcom is a founding partner of venuhub.hk a new web portal that connects event spaces with planners.
Sam Shei, Showbiz Creation
Sam is a stalwart of the Hong Kong event industry providing management and production for corporate events in Hong Kong as well as running several venues in the mainland.
Beatrice Remy WRG
Beatrice heads up the WRG Creative Agency Hong Kong office. WRG provides branded experience around the world with offices in Europe, Middle East, Asia and the US.
Sophie Fleming and Elle Bradstock, Q&Co
Q&Co is part of the worldwide Quintessentially Group and provide brand experiences to the luxury sector.
Melvin Byres, HKRFU
Melvin is the event manager for the International Hong Kong Sevens, Hong Kong oldest and largest annual sporting event.
Vincent Ng, TEDx Wanchai
Vincent is the curator for TEDx Wanchai one of the largest TED conferences in Asia. He is also the co owner of 1+1=11 event production company providing modern team building and audience curation for events.
Justin Sweeting, Magnetic Asia
Justin is cofounder of Clockenflap festival, Neon Lights Festival in Singapore and instigator of Yourmum and Ticketflap.
Prudence Lui TTG Mice Asia
Prudence is a long time journalist specializing in MICE and events markets.
We began our conversation with 2 dishes, Crab with meat baked in Portugal style and Dried Black moss with Vegetable and the question:
Currently the markets for the event industry in Asia is in state of flux. What markets do you see changing and how, which do you see as emerging or up and coming?
All agreed the luxury market in China had dropped. Thoughts on the causes were mixed, partially because of the corruption crackdown, economic worry and less spending but also because the Chinese attendee was changing. They are becoming more educated. They now tend to value the up close and personal experience. They understand the difference of being a VIP guest and simply attending the spectacles and giant galas that have been so prevalent in the past 10 years. Also possibly as the luxury market comes under scrutiny these events are needing to show more ROI which can be more easily measured in a smaller setting.
Singapore as a city was noted for their welcoming support for events, potential government funding as well as value added service. Several lamented they wished Hong Kong government was so helpful when it came to event and conference support.
Taiwan, Philippines and Japan were noted as potential venues but with limited markets. New hotspots for incentive groups and adventurous types were Myramar, Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos but was noted it was ‘in the jungle with no support or spare lightbulbs for equipment.
Fried Peeled Prawns with Stir-fried Cockles / Pea Sprout fried with Crab meat
What changes do you see for the Hong Kong market in the coming two years?
New competition coming into the market was lauded as being a great help within the public events market by helping to create a stronger scene for live music and events. On the private and corporate market some frustration was expressed with new comers with no overheads or experience undercutting more established firms with un workable pricing.
Technology was seen as having a major effect for the industry with disrupters like Ticketflap creating waves in the market with more affordable ticketing and RFID technology. The recent explosion of startups across the region was seen as having a positive effect by suppling useful new apps and potential new clients. For the longer term there was some talk of Internet of Things and how this may influence the delivery of events as well as how government support for the startup community could hopefully lead to a new ‘dot com’ era.
Sweet Corn Soup/Steamed Dry Scallops in Fuzzy Melon
Do Asian politics have any influence on the event industry / market. What recent events are you seeing impacting your planning?
Much ‘off the record’ was spoken about frustrations in dealing with government departments in Hong Kong. There was a general feeling that on a higher level the Hong Kong Government has some great ideas and really wants to support the industry however it falls flat when it comes to delivery and implementation. Initiatives such as the Mega Events Fund, MEHK were mentioned. The major frustration was the lack of support for venues and the difficulty in booking public space. In addition the refusal to address issues surrounding the noise control ordinance were compared to an ostrich with it’s head in the sand. Singapore and Macau were both noted for having a more helpful system that sees value in the industry and wants to help it to thrive. It was noted that there were no studies available on the revenue generated by the events industry. One of the group said they were commissioning their own study in their sector so they would have the information to present to potential sponsors.
Garoupa Fish in Pieces, Baked Farm Chicken
With Hong Kong in mind, What can we do as an association to nurture the market and what can we do to inspire others to take a more active role in shaping the industry?
The event industry in Hong Kong has grown phenomenally over the past 10 years. The International Special Events Society Hong Kong Chapter should be a voice for the live events industry and lead the way in developing best practices in risk management and in enhancing creativity. Continued dialogue within the industry is a key factor in making sure we grow the industry in a sustainable and positive way and ensure we all have a voice in that growth. ISES should continue leadership dinners and work on other ways to bring the industry together.
Fried Sticky Rice with Preserved Sausage, Mushroom in Stewed E-Fu Noodle
Closing and recap
I was great to see such a wide variety of Live Event professionals to come together to share common challenges and their visions of the future. The Leadership dinner will be held again next year and hopefully will be enlarged to allow for more discussion and a wider range of solutions.
Dumpling dessert, Fruit Plate
December 29, 2015
I work in the event industry and am very involved in The International Special Events Society. In our industry work and friendship often cross. Producing events is very similar to producing a theatrical play. Theatre people can tell you doing a production with a group is very intimate. You see a side of people that many never do. The emotional roller coaster of theatre often brings people together forming a strong bond not seen in many other professions. The event industry is very similar. We are a ‘super sub industry’ made up of individuals and small groups each in their own worlds until we come together to produce an event. The build up to the event starts slow, soon every day you are dealing with the same small circle of people, all working toward the same goal, communicating under stressful situations. In these situations, terms are negotiated, boundaries are set. Then comes the event when all the plans and thoughts come together in an incredibly intense situation. During these stressful times you get to see how a person reacts in many situations and often how they really are. This intensity creates valuable friendships that often continue long after the event.
I am not sure it works so well the other way around.
In normal situations friendships grow much slower. Meeting each other in the same social circle conversations often start as polite chat to find common ground and over time develop into engaging conversation. Boundaries are often found through a series of small test and often are not pushed far. What starts out as a like develops into a fondness. But in a work situation the dynamics change drastically. Many boundaries that were never tested suddenly become real issues. Friends who are normally light and jovial may be very different under the pressures of work and show a very different side.
10 things to remember when working with friends.
- Get it in writing
Having it in writing protects both of you and ensures everyone is clear about boundaries, remuneration and what happens if there is a problem.
- Take the time to explain the expectations
Make sure everyone understands just what is expected of all parties and the processes. It is easy to think we are ‘just doing it for fun’ or I am ‘helping out a friend”
- Take nothing for granted
With friends it is easy to jump to conclusions like “he wont mind” “it’s okay he’s a friend of mine”. Separate your friendship and ask yourself, Am I treating him different because he is a friend?
- Remain professional
Always be professional, don’t expect preferential treatment or share personal information about each other at work.
- It’s always personal
You might be professional but it is impossible to separate entirely. If you have a complaint or problem remember your friends too.
- Separate work and friendship
Sometimes you just have to turn one off and focus on what is important.
- Don’t be exclusive
We often gravitate towards people we like. Be careful not to exclude others.
- Be honest about issues
Got a problem? Say it don’t let things that bother you cross into other aspects of your friendship (or work).
- Do you really want to work with them?
Ask yourself is this something I really want to do? Why am I doing it? Are they the best option?
- Get it in writing
September 24, 2015
In a previous post I reported on my experience at ICE2015… Here is another version looking at the current gap between academia and industry…
Dr Livingston I presume? In my search for knowledge over the years I have had the pleasure to speak and attend many event industry conferences. ICE2015 was my first academic conference. ICE2015 International Conference on Events, “Making Waves in Macau” was a three day event organized by IFT (Institute for Tourism Studies, Macau). As a representative of the industry I was asked to give one of the keynote speeches. I was told attendees were to be a mix of teachers, professors, students and industry people. I arrived at the conference armed with my business cards for the opening night networking session. As I introduced myself to attendees I quickly realized this conference was not the usual business first affair. Most everyone I met were doctors and professors of event management and tourism from institutions around the world. They were from top schools in event management, places like Bournemouth University (UK), The Australian Centre for Event Management, Edinburgh Napier University, Griffith University, Rosen College in Florida plus professors from Turkey, Seoul and Taiwan. Talk revolved around family, first time in Asia, wonderful Macau etc. I only exchanged one card that night with a student from IFT about to graduate and looking for an internship.
The first morning was familiar conference content with a presentation from the main sponsor Macau Government Tourism Bureau who highlighted the important role events play in marketing of the city to tourist, incentive groups and conferences. This was followed by a very interesting panel discussion from the managers of MGM, Venetian and Grand Hyatt Macau who talked about the future of Macau and their wishes for a better airport and the lack of hope in the upcoming bridge from Hong Kong. All the speakers stayed for lunch and made a hasty retreat in the afternoon leaving me as the only industry professional in a jungle of academics. Always the explorer I waded in to see what they had to say and I struck gold in the form of content I have never experienced at any industry ‘educational’ event.
Academic conferences are an opportunity for professors, masters and PHD students to deliver papers on their latest research get some feedback from their peers before submitting them to journals for publication. Some had been working for years to complete papers on the latest findings in the field of event and tourism management. Each paper tends to focus on one subject or a single aspect of a subject. As is traditional in academic conferences they were given only 15 minutes to deliver their findings and then a short question and answer period. One of the biggest struggles seems to be summing up years of research into 15 minutes, luckily the conference was small with plenty of time to mingle so if you found a topic you were interested in you could corner the expert who was always happy to share the knowledge in depth.
Most of the industry conferences I have attended the lectures tend to be from successful event entrepreneurs telling their story and showing their portfolio. Though inspirational they tend to be thin on real content. The ICE2015 conference was overflowing with actionable and useable knowledge for seasoned event professionals. Some of topics and papers presented were for the academia like the workshop on “Future Implications for Event Managers in University Undergraduate Programs” delivered by Arend Hardorff and Dr. Marisa DeBrito of the University of Applied Sciences Netherlands. But for the working professionals talks like Dr. Hilary Du Cros’s “Fresh Art: Maintaining The Sustainable Creative Advantage of Repeatable Arts Events” brought great insight into how to keep those yearly events fresh and full of vitality. Case studies such as the evaluation of Aberdeen’s unsuccessful bid to become the UK ‘City of Culture 2017’, Insights from 25 years of the Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon brought insight into the marketing and creation of events for destinations. Practical specific studies such as ‘The Workings of Safety Advisory Groups for Two Major International Events’ provided in depth knowledge into the inner workings of world class event management.
As an event designer I was intrigued with talks on motivation and experience. Miguel Moital and Amy Bain presented some interesting findings on “Emotional Reactions to The Consumption of Prestige in Events” while Dr. Caroline Jackson presented ‘The Lived Experience of Popular Music Festival-Goer” and Professor Vern Biaett of Highpoint University in the US. Explained his work ‘The Emergence Of Organic Festivity Theory’.
I was marvelously inspired with big thoughts and deep insight. I was thankful for the quality of minds brought together in this one place and I wanted to figure out how to share this knowledge with the world. Armed with my discovery of the fountain of wisdom I set about investigating why most industry conferences pale in comparison to this academic one.
Sadly this cutting edge knowledge is not readily available to the industry for several reasons. First in the academic world you must publish your findings in journals to be relevant. The journals use an algorithmic software that searches for plagiarism by searching the net for similar word strings and gives each paper a ‘score’. If you score too high your paper is rejected. Often researchers will look at the same topic from different angles and write separate papers on different topics quoting themselves from previous research and sometimes result in a score too high to publish. If the research gets quoted too many times in too many locations it can result in too high of a score making publishing further findings more difficult. Another reason is we in the industry get so wrapped up in the business of events we forget the value of education. In a candid discussion with one professor who’s university had sent him to IMEX, he vowed never to go back to an industry conference again. “Everyone just wanted my business card, then when they saw I was from a university and couldn’t do business with them they were not interested in talking”.
In the future I hope we see more crossover with academia. There is a wealth of treasure in the education they are happy to share. In the meantime I have discovered a secret goldmine and a wealth of information from my new friends.
September 17, 2015
Over the years I have had the pleasure to speak and attend many events industry conferences. ICE2015 was my first academic conference. ICE2015 International Conference on Events, “Making Waves in Macau” was held early September and organized by IFT (Institute for Tourism Studies, Macau) I was asked to give one of the keynote speeches. I was told attendees were to be a mix of teachers, professors, students and industry people. I created my talk confident that I would be able to impart a bit of working knowledge and maybe inspire a few people. I was scheduled for after lunch on day 2. Day 1 as I introduced myself to attendees I started to get a bit nervous everyone I met were doctors and professors of event management and tourism from institutions around the world. Everyone was from top schools in event management, places like Bournemouth University (UK), The Australian Centre for Event Management, Edinburgh Napier University, Griffith University, Rosen College in Florida plus professors from Turkey, Seoul and Taiwan. I started to wonder just to wonder just what I could teach them.
Day one opened with a presentation from the main sponsor Macau Government Tourism Bureau who highlighted the important role events play in marketing of the city to tourist, incentive groups and conferences. This was followed by a very interesting panel discussion from the managers of MGM, Venetian and Grand Hyatt Macau who talked about the future of Macau and their wishes for a better airport and the lack of hope in the upcoming bridge from Hong Kong. After an amazing lunch things got very interesting.
Academic conferences are an opportunity for professors, masters and PHD students to deliver papers on their latest research get some feedback from their peers before submitting them to journals for publication. Some had been working for years to complete papers on the latest findings in the field of event and tourism management. Each paper tends to focus on one subject or a single aspect of a subject. As is traditional in academic conferences they were given only 15 minutes to deliver the findings and then a short question and answer period. One of the biggest struggles seems to be summing up years of research into 15 minutes, luckily the conference was small with plenty of time to mingle so if you found a topic you were interested in you could corner the expert who was always happy to share the knowledge.
The ICE2015 conference topics and papers presented were widely varied with some incredibly useful for practitioners and others more useful for academics. Some of the papers delivered for academics included a look at event graduates early career paths from Lei Weng Si and Loi Kim Ieng of Institute for Tourism Studies, Macau as well as workshops on future implications for event managers in university undergraduate programs delivered by Arend Hardorff and Dr. Marisa DeBrito of the University of Applied Sciences Netherlands.
On the practitioner side there was a fountain of useful facts and inspiration. Case studies such as the evaluation of Aberdeen’s bid to become the UK ‘City of Culture 2017’, Insights from 25 years of the Mt. Kinabalu International Climbathon, and practical specific studies such as ‘The Workings of Safety Advisory Groups for Two Major International Events’ provided in depth knowledge into the inner workings of world class event management.
For me as a designer I was more intrigued with talks on motivation and experience. Miguel Moital and Amy Bain presented some interesting findings on “Emotional Reactions to The Consumption of Prestige in Events”. In their talk they showed some of the positive and negative emotions generated by prestigious events. Positive ones being feeling spoilt, lucky and proud. Negative ones coming mostly from the fear of missing out, regret and embarrassment of not being a part of it. Meanwhile I was taking mental notes on leverage prestige for the marketing of my gala dinners.
I was particularly taken by two papers. The first was the research done by Dr. Caroline Jackson on ‘The Lived Experience of Popular Music Festival-Goer”, Caroline interviewed dozens of festival goers about their festival experiences both good and bad. Through these she brings up the concept that in defining event experience it is both good and bad that create the experience. We tend to focus only on the positive aspects however it is the bad side that make the highpoints so much stronger. This concept makes me wonder as an event designer should we design lows in our events to make our highs better?
The other very interesting research delivered was from Professor Vern Biaett of Highpoint University in the US. Who is working on ‘The Emergence Of Organic Festivity Theory’. Vern explored onsite behavior of attendees at community festivals looking at their activity patterns. Noting that social bonding and social capital during passive events were limited to friends and family. When content shifted towards the more physical and emotional there was a direct increase in social capital created in every group. Vern believes that as our ‘Experience Economy’ progresses event designers and planners need to work on stronger sensory programing in order to compete in the event market. This is something I feel I knew intuitively however it is nice to have the language and reasoning to back up my crazy and fun ideas when I present to my clients.
After a very insightful and long first day I retired to my hotel room to reframe and rewrite my talk. I thought with this audience I had to move away from event management, tricks and tips that practitioners can use to make their events better to insights from the field and what we need from the new generation. My keynote “Creating Experience- The Backstage Machinations of Motivating Humans” evolved overnight to became more of a TED talk on event experience and human dynamics. As rehearsal was limited I fumbled and stumbled in a few places during the presentation and finished a bit early but the talk was generally well received and everyone certainly enjoyed the magical special effects as well as the artistic slides. I still feel very honored to have been asked to present to such a learned group and although I may not have taught them much hopefully I inspired and entertained a few. I look forward to adding all the new insight I learned from the ICE2015 Conference and presenting this talk again.
May 22, 2015
ISES Hong Kong gathered industry leaders for a roundtable discussion and dinner entitled “Creativity in Thought and Leadership”. In attendance were thought leaders from Jack Morton, Uniplan, WRG, MCI, Mega Events Fund, Creative Technologies, Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, TEDx Wanchai, Teambuilding Asia as well as creative independent planners and designers Factor 168 and Eventsman. The conversation was led by visiting ISES International President Kevin White. Photos courtesy of Piet Defossez
The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club provided an amazing setting and fantastic menu. ISES provided the questions. Each course had a different topic based creativity and how as industry leaders we can help nurture the creative side of the event industry in Hong Kong.
With Creativity in mind, what are the gaps in the industry right now?
Scottish Salmon Confit, Grilled Langoustines, Arugula and Fennel Salad, Spiced Mango and Citrus Salsa
What are you doing to close these gaps now?
Cèpe Mushroom Soup, Truffle Oil
What do you think will be the gaps/challenges as we move forward?
Char-grilled US Prime Rib Eye Steak, Eggplant Compote, Port Jus
Recap & Closing
Caramelised Banana Cheese Cake with Berries, Passion Fruit Sabayon
Freshly Brewed Coffee or Gourmet Tea
The conversation quickly blossomed and as good conversation goes it took many twists and turns. A few of the more controversial statements included:
“Creativity is feared by clients”
“Current Asian industry Awards are not legitimate, most are simply popularity contest or pats on the back for advertising”
“Most clients (direct person in charge) have no engagement in the event or the guests experience, their only worry is ‘Does their boss like it’, ‘are they on budget?’, and keeping their jobs.”
It was generally agreed some of the main issues facing creativity in the Asian events market is the ability to charge for it. Most clients don’t see the direct value in the creative side so the costs get transferred to more tangible items and lumped in as ‘management fees’. It is very difficult to charge for ‘the invisible’ and more so in a culture that doesn’t value creativity. Meanwhile we are seeing more often clients relying on the agencies to provide content for the event in the way of speech writing, power points and show craft. So hopefully clients will begin to understand that art direction and show craft take years to master and have intrinsic value in the event sphere.
Another reoccurring element of the conversation was the importance of trust. Creativity can only thrive in an atmosphere of trust whether between client and agency, agency and vendor or freelancer and in-house staff. Building trust is time consuming yet is one of the strongest influences on outcome.
The group also discussed how we could work together to take the industry forward. Some suggestions included getting an agreement on best practices for lead times and somehow get that information to clients to make then understand the time required to research and create an effective proposal. There was also a call for more advocacy for the event industry. There is a need to help government to understand the benefit the event industry brings to the city in both revenue and culture and hopefully cut the red tape to allow some truly spectacular and creative event to thrive in Hong Kong.
The dinner gave the ISES Hong Kong board a deeper insight into what the association needs to do to truly represent its’ industry. Since the event the board has gone to work planning for the coming year putting together educational programs and showcase events that will highlight the brightest and best of our industry. We look forward to more discussions in the future.