2022 – what’s next?

Well 2022 is almost over. This year I have worked in Abu Dhabi (physically) and online in the USA, Australia and France. I have completed an events portfolio assessment ( or program) for a local authority (also called a local council). They had little understanding of events and it was an ‘eye opener’ for them. An example is below, where I explain the simple economy of a public event. In plain speak, if they have 20,000 people at a festival and they spend on average $50 each at the event, then the event economy is a million dollars.
Name one business in the local area that turns over a million in one day?
Where does that money go?
Well, as a surprise to the local authority (council and Councillors) , it walks out the door via the vendors and suppliers.
In financial terms, all they have done by putting on their festival is stripped money from the locals.
Here is a simple diagram explaining it. Also if they don’t have events ( that was their first solution) then the locals go to festivals outside the region and spend that money.
The solution is simple: have lots of events and festivals and analyse the “spend”.

Leakage of money from the local area due to festivals and events
Leakage of money from the local area due to festivals and events

Fear Maths no longer

Don’t like maths or math? I hear this all the time from students, friends and colleagues. I am enthralled by mathematics and I am now going to explain to you how it works.

First: why don’t you like it. My theory is that at school you “did” arithmetic and geometry. You did not just learn it. It was explained in terms of apples and sport and stuff of the playground. Even fractions made sense: sharing an apple equally. It was tested daily in the playground.

Then the minus numbers (negative numbers) occurred. There was really nothing that corresponds to this in real life. The teacher could never explain it and you had to just believe it. From then on, arithmetic was faith. The negative number was your first introduction to the imaginary MATHSWORLD.

 Let me explain complex mathematics so you will no longer fear it.

The diagram takes you through it. There is a real problem. The problem gets translated into maths language using symbols. It is then transferred to MATHSWORLD. In MATHSWORLD the problem is solved using rules that have nothing to do with REALWORLD, where you live. It is then translated back into a solution in the real world. That is it.

You will never understand MATHSWORLD. In fact no one really does. Not even mathematicians. They understand part of it. But not all. It has become so complex and specialized. Now with the computer proofs, parts of MATHSWORLD may never be understood.

An example of this is what are called imaginary numbers. They don’t exist except – yep – in Mathworld. But engineers use them all the time. It is the reason your aeroplane keeps flying. Engineers have a problem, they translate it into imaginary numbers, solve it in the world of mathematics, come back to reality and keep the plane flying.

So you can relax.

Is an event safer than the surrounding area?

Tat’ese: driving up the side of huge dunes, Saudi Arabia, Hail

As I was writing the Safe and Healthy Crowded Places Handbook a statement came up a number of times at the meetings. “ an event has more injuries and therefore needs have more medical services than the surrounding area”       “The event site should be as safe as the neighborhood”

I know that is a vague, feel good statement.

Do they mean the surround area with the same number of people? Which is the argument from equivalence. I never found anyone with figures on this. In my limited experience my events were always safer, with far less incidents over the equivalent time span. It is a bit of a puzzle. Maybe I chose the wrong neighborhoods 🙂 Has anyone seen any figures or study on this?

Ideas for Pittsburgh

One of the event concepts

This year, 2018, in Wheeling West Virginia, the second year class at the Event Management School proposed events and festivals for Pittsburgh. The students are highly experienced event organisers, managers and coordinators from around the USA and Canada.  They formed teams to look at one aspect of Pittsburgh – in this case the troubled neighbourhoods.  Using their vast knowledge and experience and the project/risk management taught at the School, they put together proposals for the city. Detailed concepts, marketing, project and risk plans. Including site plans, schedules, resources lists and budgets.

Where did they come form? here is a sample

Burlington, Vermont; Wilmington, Delaware; Keller, Texas; Dayton, OH; Shoreline, Washington; Washington, DC; Greenbelt, MD; Raleigh, NC; FRUITA, Colorado; Lexington, North Carolina; Missouri City, TX; Westfield, Indiana; South Riding, Virginia; Augusta, GA; Eagle, ID; Richmnond, Virginia; Centerville, Ohio; Augusta, GA; Newport, Rhode Island; Yankton, South Dakota; Herndon, VA; Detroit, Michigan; Florence, KY; Lynchburg, Virginia; Addison, TX; Richardson, Texas; Clinton, MD; Gibsonton, FL; Murphy, Tx; Gilbert, AZ;


Another event concept. Completely supported by all documentation.

Liberia – events and festivals

 The UN will downgrade their base in Monrovia, Liberia soon and they need to prepare the local staff for life ‘after the UN’. Events and festivals are sorely needed in this country after years of civil war and Ebola.  I assisted by training the locals in event management. Did it work?  – see the video..

Wordle of key techo terms

“Where Might Technology Lead Our Events in the Future?”

“Looking Ahead: Where Might Technology Lead Our Events in the Future?”

a summary of the panel discussion, October

The panel met at the International Festivals & Events Convention in Kansas City September 2014. It consisted of:

  • Dale Eeles – Vice President of Development, Las Vegas Events
  • Bill Flinn – Executive Director, Pasadena Tournament of Roses
  • Chris Haigh – CEO, Festival Transaction Services
  • Aaron Pederson – Partner & Technical Director, Saffire Events
  • Marcello Vergara – President & CEO, Propaganda3
  • William O’Toole: Panel moderator

The panel members were all highly experienced in this field. They had current on-the-ground practical experience as well as the theory behind the use of technology.

The members of the panel all agreed that this rapid development of technology and the related IT will continue at a pace.

The main part of the discussion concerned the cashless event and the monetization of the new use of technology.  The panel members were concerned that the new technology has taken money from other areas of the event. An example is the various forms of webcast from an event and phone recordings, which may reduce attendee numbers and loose possible TV broadcast funds. At this stage the panel felt there was no viable way to charge for this.

The prepaid event card

The second major issue was the cash card or prepaid card. The advantage of using prepaid cards is the complete control over the onsite economics. Transactions are easily tracked and the data can be mined for all kinds of useful information. The sale of consumables on site that need to be replenished immediately, such as beer, is one example.  The attendee fills the event prepaid card at the start of the event and any remaining money can be used after the event at other participating retailers. . It was the general consensus that the prepaid event card is the immediate trend.

The question was then why not use the mobile phone as a ‘paycard’ using QR code  technology. This introduces an extra ‘level of failure’ as the attendee’s phone needs to be linked with their bank. These wifi or phone connections are a problem on site and even the use of COWs ( mobile Cell site On Wheels) does not solve it at this time.

The panel used to term “integrity of the wireless connectivity” to describe this situation. It has to be faultless if the merchants (vendors) are to use a cashless system.  The normal failure rate expected by us all in normal day to day wireless connectivity can not be tolerated when merchants are involved at an event.


Connectivity and the shared experience

Wifi is now mandatory at events. It enables the attendees to have a new world of shared experience. This means for the event manager that the integrity of the Wifi connections is vital and the ability to work during times of maximum use i.e. capacity planning.

The silent disco was successfully tried by a number of the panelist and audience members at their events. They were surprised by its popularity. In the silent disco, each member of the audience has a headphone and the music broadcast to the headphones. There can be different channels so that the audience members can chose their music ‘station’. Surprisingly there are as many people watching the people dancing in silence as there are dancers. The spectacle is an extra attraction for the event. In one case the event company charged entrance fee for the silent disco and in another case it was free.

Other topics

Other topics mentioned were the use of video boards to increase sharing the experience and the influence of Reality TV on events.

One of the more surprising innovations is the use of robots at events as members of the audience. Instead of attending the event, you hire a robot to ‘attend’. The robot narrowcasts to you from the event and you give the robot instructions on what to do  – such as “cheer”. This means you and friends can ‘enjoy’ the event from your own lounge room.

Gamfication was only mentioned, but it is looming trend for events. The various audience experiences at an event are developed into digital games with rewards.

In summary the discussion was short, intense and covered areas of real practical use. Although the cashless event took up much of the discussion it demonstrated how technology has impinged on traditional ways of making money from an event. The festivals and events industry have seen the enormous mistakes of the book and music industry and do not want this to happen to events.

Ferry disaster and cancellation of festivals: Korea

The terrible tragedy of the ferry disaster in Korea is a timely lesson for event professionals. Remember the Bahrain Dhow sinking in 2006 when 58 people died. This was at an event. The event was a celebration of the completion of a major construction. The court cases are still continuing 8 years later. In 2012 some of the survivors were awarded compensation after one prolonged court case.

The facts are starting to emerge in the Korea tragedy. According to the New York Daily News. the ferry had a registered limit of 987 tons of cargo. But it is reported that they could have been carrying over 3000 tons of cargo. They said they only had 150 cars on board. But the rescue team has found at least 180 cars.

The report continues:

“Prosecutors also detained three employees of the ferry owner who handled cargo, and have raided the offices of the ship owner, the shipping association and the register.”

As well all major events and festivals for one month in Korea have been cancelled or postponed.

“A South Korean music festival featuring The Cure, Nine Inch Nails and Stereophonics has been cancelled in the aftermath of the country’s tragic Sewol ferry disaster.”

The events cancelled include marketing events and other corporate events as well as public festivals.

The formal lessons in this for the event professional are understanding and using: Duty of Care principles, Responsible=Manage+Control, Reputation Risk, Consultation and Embedded Risk Management.





Event School in Wheeling West Virginia

This year’s event school went very well. The participants were divided into three teams. Their task was to present an event and its project plan to the Memphis committee. Memphis is looking for new events. They decided on the event and at the end of the four days gave their presentation. The three events were: Flying Squirrel Team: Dr Martin Luther King Dream Walk Hoary Bat Team : Memphis in Motion Vole Team :  Urban Festival It was excellent work delivered by event professionals. I was particularly interested in the Urban Festival in its original for of “Steam Punk” as I had never heard of it before. Now I know! BTW the teams were named after local native furry animals of West Virginia.