10 Questions with Adam Parry

10 Questions with Adam Parry

Graham Forsyth

Head of Marketing

Can you tell us a little about Event Industry News and its journey?

Paul Allott (co-founder) and I worked together on a print publication for festival and outdoor events. After a year, it dawned on me that across our publications, we had dozens of websites that were glorified registration forms and a lot of 'news' that didn't make it to press for various reasons. I set up my own fully digital news site, which ran for a year, and eventually started to get advertising enquiries. Event Industry News was born out of this, with Paul, but to be 'technology-led' and provide news to anyone anywhere, more importantly statistics and information to our advertisers. When I started tech in events meant AV–video and lights. So our idea for Event Tech Live was that we wanted an awards programme to give people proper recognition from both the supplier and organiser side to recognise what they were doing with tech. For the first couple of years, people thought we were bananas! Why is there a need for a conference dedicated to tech? So in 2013 we gave people what they actually wanted facetime with the tech companies, 60+ and two stages of content with an additional dedicated demo stage..

(It might seem like a silly question) Why did you feel the need for Event Tech Live, and another event for the industry?

Nobody else had done this. Previously, event technology was part of bigger shows, but often at the back of the room, and we felt it was too important a topic not to showcase in its own right. Because of the depth and breadth of what technology means to organisations, shoehorning that into another event is only really paying lip service. We wanted to give it its own space–and as I said, people said we were crazy early on. It's only really since the pandemic that we see other similar events.

As someone in a position to look across the industry, how do you think the events industry coped with the challenges of 2020, and what position do they find themselves in today?

For the companies who had invested in and embraced innovation and technology earlier, the 'pivot' was a lot smoother. I saw varying speeds of adoption and implementation. We had many questions early on, which we were happy to answer but were frustrating because they were questions that had been answered pre-pandemic. As an industry, we had an opportunity to be in a stronger position by investing in event tech much earlier. However, in general, I think the industry jumped and embraced technology to ensure they could still produce events in 2020, and I think the industry did well. I think it showed resilience.

Your audience is Event Professionals. How well do you think they embraced digital events from the sessions you've run or participated in?

I think they've embraced this well. I think everyone, on some level, sees the advantages of digital events. Traditional events are yearly or bi-yearly, so my question is, where is your audience when your event isn't happening? There's perhaps 260+ days where your audience is still part of your industry, but they're not at your event. I think people see the clear advantages, but I also feel there has also been some impatience with technology and people being quick to blame the suppliers and platforms when something goes wrong. The tech providers have had a lot to do over the last 18 months, iterating on their products, providing additional customer support, scaling teams, so as an industry, we should recognise the platforms that are still allowing us to run our events.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for Event Profs in the next 12 months?

First of all, bandwidth. Due to varying reasons, some teams from suppliers to freelance talent are skeletons compared to before. I think some of this talent will be hard to retain or replace. I feel we'll see higher rates of competition, with more options for organisations to deliver their events in differing formats, which may drive pricing down. Finally, I think about travel restrictions. The industry does rely heavily on open airports and unrestricted borders. I think people's enthusiasm for in-person events will be tempered by caution.

Can you tell us a little about your experience when working with Grip?

Grip has been a great partner for us. I get approached on a daily or weekly basis about utilising someone else's technology for our events. But there are two key reasons we work with Grip – the first is that Grip works really well for the style of event we're producing. While there are hundreds of virtual platforms, very few align with our type of event. The second is that our industry is about Software AND a service. The effort, support, transparency, result in open conversations and clear explanations, which means we understand Grip's strategy, and Grip takes the time to know what we're trying to achieve with our objectives and vision. We see Grip as partners to deliver our event and an extension of our team. 

Who would be your dream keynote speaker, and why?

If I could get anyone, on an inspiration level, then it would be a gentleman called Casey Neistat. He's a New York film-maker, came from a difficult background, but ended up making films for companies like Samsung. What he has is the ability to sell stories about anything and everything. I think that's what we do as an industry. Our events tell stories, or they provide a platform to tell stories. He was also an early adopter of YouTube, but where he inspired me was the 'Casey-style' that he applied to his vlogs in terms of how he shot and edited, and as event designers, we could learn a lot from him.

What's your best conference experience, and what made it so memorable?

I'm going to say Web Summit. The way they crafted and understood the value of everything that happens outside of their event is really impressive. The 'Surf Summit' allowed people to stay after the conference and had post-event activities. The 'Night Summit' really took over Dublin city centre, and the big brands like Facebook and Slack were taking over venues. They were one of the first to come out with the 'every day is different' concept. Rather than having a trade show where the exhibitors are the same over the three days, they had simple booths which changed overnight, new exhibitors each day, which kept the experience fresh. 

Is the future of events virtual, in-person, or hybrid?

The future of events is just events. We forget that events mean weddings and parties. The definition of an event is more than four people getting together. We might need to indicate the manifestation of the event, but I hope we don't need to define them further. The nice thing would be to see that every event has some way for people to engage. We need this from an accessibility and sustainability perspective. Going to events is relatively exclusive. It takes time and money. Digital allows more people to benefit and participate in events.