Organically Grown Event Tech Live Challenged The Critics and Won
Organically Grown Event Tech Live Challenged The Critics and Won25-Oct-2018
By Allie Gardner
A little more than six years ago, Adam Parry, a self-proclaimed “tech guy,” noticed a void in his industry. While technology was completely transforming other industries in the UK, the events industry seemed mostly to be living in the dark ages. Recognizing that event technology could be a new area of exploration for Event Industry News, Parry’s online magazine, he began writing articles on the subject. Readers responded indicating an industry-wide appetite for event technology.
Parry and his partner began to think about who was doing the best technology work, but in those early days, all event technology and verticals were lumped together—mobile apps for exhibitions were discussed alongside robots for festivals, for example—and it was difficult to parse through all of the options. He also noticed that the flashiest of tools were getting attention while other less shiny, but hugely effective (bottom-line changing) tech was left lurking in the shadows.
His quest to expose this growing sub-sector of the events industry led Parry to an idea for the Event Technology Awards. The original plan was to accept entries in a few categories and throw a party, but the interest surpassed expectations. There was a flood of entries with many people asking for details about the ceremony. Parry, a risk-taker, responded to the demand with a more formal awards presentation, which today 29 categories of technology.
Convinced of the interest in creating a broader awareness of event technology from the technology companies, Parry and his team began planning a conference and exhibition to determine the interest level on the event-planner side. They solicited content from a number of tech providers, some of which were Event Technology Awards participants, and launched an event featuring educational presentations on three stages.
The response to the event, which they named Event Tech Live, was surprising. An anticipated audience of 60 ballooned into 150 planners and event marketers from major companies interested in technology from a variety of verticals—exhibitions, festivals, outdoor events, and corporate meetings.
So, Parry asked the only reasonable question a risk-taker asks: why not more? Why only 150 when there are thousands in the industry? His inquiry led to the evolution of Event Tech Live with an intention to break down as many barriers as possible. He was not without his critics.
Attendance at Event Tech Live is free. Parry and his team select content based on the most current topics of interest, gauging demand via Event Industry News and other sources. He is deliberate about drawing in experts from across multiple industry sectors, convinced that cross-pollination adds to the vibrancy of the event and the industry. “Why can’t the exhibitions learn from the festivals? Well, actually they are, aren’t they? The festivalization of exhibitions and events is what we talk about quite a lot and why can’t festivals learn how good exhibition organizers are at selling?” he says.
The diverse programming is popular with event technology providers. Many suppliers are already engaging across verticals and prefer one event to multiple events in different sectors. Furthermore, some suppliers are steeped in a particular vertical but through Event Tech Live may be able to engage participants in other sectors and with whom they wouldn’t otherwise be able to connect.
Diversity has been crucial to growing the event. Event Tech Live attracts a wide variety of attendees that enjoy learning from peers in other verticals. It appeals to companies looking to invest in or acquire European startups and established tech providers. But also, keeping the conference, so “open” creates a natural fluidity that mirrors the global technology industry in general.
Economically, there’s good news for Parry’s event. Technology budgets are growing. In 2017, conference participants estimated that they would spend 67 million pounds on event technology. Budgets will increase this year to as much as 72 million pounds. It’s continuing to expand, Parry explains, as the trend is to layer technologies on top of each other to maximize results.
Parry, always thinking about the future, continues to think about how to do more, and the exhibitors continue to invest more. His objective is to drive relationships for the next 10+ years and provide an event that’s valuable to attendees and exhibitors, strengthens the community, and improves the industry.
The growth of the two events has been organic. Parry used an online platform to gauge interest and then engaged those interested through a live event, the Event Technology Awards, which led to Event Tech Live. Last year, 1,620 visitors from 47 different countries with backgrounds in agencies, brands, event management, and production, and who collectively organize 30,000 events annually, attended.
Event Tech Live produced alongside the Event Technology Awards will take place this November 7th and 8th at London’s Old Truman Brewery. Now in its fifth year, what began with three stages and 150 people has grown to five stages over two days. It will feature 100+ suppliers, a startup platform and competition (Launchpad) and over 50 presentations. Organizers expect 2000+ attendees. Plus, all content will be captured and made available at no charge after the conference.
“I never envisaged Event Tech Live getting to this point. There were some naysayers right at the start who said, ‘it won’t last a year. It won’t last two. You know, this is silly, you’re just going to get swallowed up by other events that are more well established.’ But the event still stands on its feet,” Parry says.