Absolutely delighted to announce the ‘Around the World in 80 Events’ book, which is now available to purchase – welcome to the journey!
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The heading is spot on eh. ‘Around the World in 80 Events’ would have been an unknown thing. It would never have actually took off and probably cancelled halfway through – by now I would have probably have been stuck half way between Glasgow and India or probably walking home. Now after 8 months of being back we are seeing the events industry completely cancelled. I decided to write some blogs about these changes and add in my two cents. The next five blogs will be about different topics. Todays its just a general overview…
Two thirds of the global population were on lockdown. Only 30 countries/ terorities approx.. have not been affected due to in someways the measures put in place and also to the fact that the people of these remote places are adamant no one gets in. So let us talk about the impact events had on the spread.
A Champions League Match in Italy is reported to have been the biological bomb that spread the virus around Italy. Continuing this a conference in Scotland was seen to have spread the virus in Edinburgh at the end of February. Of course there was not only these instances but travelling in itself did change the whole scale of the virus. In late February a global events blog wrote the heading ‘Destination are being changed. Some will be avoided.’ This was before even a quarter of the world had any reported cases. When I travelled last year only four events out of the 80 I reported on had anything hygiene related mentioned or any hand sanitation units (outside of the toilet). The change in 2021 will be quite extraordinary. But what about the events that bring people to destinations – will they ever return? Will we see away fans of a football match being able to travel or will they have the fear? Overall I think it will probably be a mixture. Travel will for sure plummet and an up take in subscriptions to make in various countries sport that fans may travel to will see an increase.
Continuing with the crippled events industry we are noticing now a change in how stadiums and venues are being used. Entertainment venues have became hospitals. Stadium and Airport car parks have became testing facilities. Event cancellations of the weeks at the beginning of lockdowns became opportunities for some hotels and venues to ‘gloat’ on social media to feed those with nothing. Firstly, if your going to do it – do it – don’t gloat during a health pandemic (in my own opinion). It’s a very interesting spectacle when true colours are seen. Also, after the stock from the 400 covered meeting is gone – did hotels and venues then order in more to continue – some they did but some got enough likes to then furlough there staff.
Did you ever notice that the events industry in some countries came together better than others? New Zealand – a leader within the arguments they were putting forward. But in some other countries it was a secret society rather than a ‘what do we think’ about the future. In Belgium the Flemish tourism minister wanted the event industry to return but with major social distancing rules enforced. If implemented correctly and abided by – this can work. In America – well I don’t know and probably won’t even start.
Events are over as we know it. Period. But the part we are missing is – the consumers. Are they being spoken to? How will we gain the trust of the consumer again? That will be featured!
So in this quick short conclusive blog the events industry a major part of the world has seen a major loss. Guiding through some of the tough topics of events these blogs are not just for talking about the topics but delving in to something special!
I do apologise that there has been a slight drought in blogs. After my return I fell away from the habit of writing the blogs as I had no more events to write about. Then normality of life returned and took each second away which meant no more riveting blogs where written. So now I sit with the winter period of events almost over and I thought I would write from what was a busy and challenging three months…
Within the three months of return I have spoken at over 7 universities and institutions. Over 2,000 people have heard my story of “Around the World in 80 Events”. But more that – 2,000 have been given the chance to think about a journey that they can go on, which is more exciting. A chance to think about there adventure and chance to be different. I am very fortunate that my dream was achievable but I say every dream is achieved or else you would never have thought about it in the first place.
Climbing out a train I dragged my suitcase which was full of items collected throughout the trip. I laughed because I thought the days of worrying about what ways the exit were and getting caught in crowds was behind me. I was in Coventry – I had heard it was nicknamed the British Bahamas. This was the part of the adventure I had never fully scoped or planned and in a way the last 3 months have been nice like that. I fully am enjoying the “what if…” approach and dragging my bags off trains to places I have never been – well long may that continue. And even being told my train was cancelled for the second time in the year – LITERALLY – I had been to 62 locations in the world travelled nearly every 3rd day and this was only the second time for a cancellation. Madness.
Completing my first sold out public talk was – special. I was surrounded by peers, friends and importantly family who allowed me to say “I had a sold out crowd…” yes I had a few who couldn’t make it but the sold out crowd were treated to a spectacle and an insight into the just completed journey.
A whole crowd wanted to see me present with gusto and I gave it to them. It was a privilege. Being in the lecture room that I sat during my Induction was quite a journey and 10 years on I was now orchestrating something special. Now…need to keep that ball rolling.
Completing the first draft of the book has been special. It is full of mistakes but it’s the collection of 80 events that globally millions participated in 2019. Literally I estimated that 7.5 million people attended the events I attended. Four events alone had 4 million people! Amazing numbers and when you dive into this and look at the impact of these events and the impact of 7.5 million people can be mind boggling but shows the positive impact and change events can have.
So what’s next. Well, the blogs are back. I have 10 themes for the next 10 blogs. I want to write about some of the things I saw around the world and create a discussion. From transport becoming more sustainable, understanding cultural roots in some cities…and also writing about what it’s really like to stop after doing something that was a first. Next – the book. Let’s get that done. 5 emails a week will be sent to producers, tv people and Steven Spielberg to try and get “Around the World in 80 Events” as a documentary out…why not. What have I got to loose – I achieved the adventure so I may as well push it even further.
So get ready for blog after blog. Get ready for exciting news and maybe even podcasts – imagine listening to my voice through your stereo – wouldn’t that be hilarious…
The Pumpkin Festival delivered by Superior Events was my last event in Toronto. I was exhausted and could not wait to get to the event – because that was me. I had then finished and completed the first of its kind…Around the World in 80 Events. And how much more could I get a Pumpkin Festival in Toronto on Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend…
What was the event?
What: Toronto Pumpkin Festival
Where: Downsview Park, Toronto
When: Saturday 12th October
Let the story begin…
A giant pumpkin festival met my eyes as I walked past the Saturday market (which had over 400 inside stall holders – very exciting market – not that busy but interesting). At the end of the warehouse was a large orange inflated pumpkin which welcomed everyone into the area. Although there was the pumpkin there was nothing else really until you looked into the field and there sat more inflatable slides, mechanical rides and a pumpkin patch.
This event was aimed at families and from 10am they were trickling in with the excitement of pumpkins that were dumped into the middle of the field coming out of large wooden crates. The aim of the event was obviously to make money from the trend the now of “immersive events”. Families were allowed to run around the pumpkin patch and kids were able to buy a pumpkin and then decorate with some of the arts and crafts items that were provided on the tables.
I liked the whole idea – yes it was slightly chilly but it was great to see something that was simple. Giving people the opportunity to buy a small pumpkin for $3 and a large for $5 and then to decorate that’s a nice wee day out. Yes, then the add on to the event was the inflatables, the rides and the catering vans.
For me this was just a simple “throw up event”. It was free to enter and walk around but I think they missed a complete trick for creating a story. As I have been travelling I cannot express how much events are now packaged in some amazing ways that take simple event plans and make them journeys. It is needed. And for me this event missed that trick.
I walked around and just felt as though I was at the event to spend money rather than buying in to the event. But don’t get me wrong obviously this event company organizes similar events but sometimes step back and use the potential the event can have. For an all day ride pass it was $25 – so if you have 2 children, 2 pumpkins and a food – its easily over $100 dollars – that’s just basic pricing. However, this might seem a lot of money but if the Toronto Pumpkin Festival billed themselves as “THE BEST PUMPKIN FESTIVAL IN THE WHOLE OF PUMPKINVILLE…” And if they created a pumpkin village and something that people can get an experience from rather than just a pumpkin $100 would have been no problem its buying an experience.
I really think the event has so much potential. I could see what they were trying to do – but I think throwing it up was what was done.
Being my last event of course I looked at the event completely differently and critiqued it harder than usual. But now I have finished I appreciate the hard work that goes in to building a product and its something that is very exciting.
One thing to take away…
Pumpkins. Something that is associated to Halloween, autumn and thanksgiving. Using the symbol of a pumpkin can give someone a certain feeling and excitement. I fully believe that this festival has a nugget of gold but needs to create the packaging for it much better.
Attending two different shows on the same day I got to experience two opposite shows. One that had every over 60 tour bus audience attending and the other a more fun, socially charged audience who had been were ready to party…welcome to event 79 – Grand Ole Opry 94th Birthday.
What was the event?
What: Grand Ole Opry 94th Birthday
When: Saturday 5th October 2019
Where: Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee
Let the story begin…
It’s 3pm and it’s the afternoon performance. The crowd have an average age of 72 and the atmosphere is slightly flat. Actually not slightly – it just was. The show was one performance and performer who was a very well established name but there was no energy at all being received from the audience. As I glanced around a few of there heads had nodded off for an afternoon nap. I was very confused. But I realised something that I had been told earlier in the day. The one thing that the world of country music should be worried about is the demographics of the current audience. And I could see why. The future audience of country music was not in this room – that’s for sure. However, Grand Ole Opry did cater for this crowd in a way by the type of staff working where of there demographic, there was seats outside for those to sit while enjoying the pre-entertainment and thirdly – there was musical artist bingo. Excellent.
It was the 94th birthday of the Grand Ole Opry – so I thought there would be a bit more liveliness to the crowd at least. It all changed when we got to the 7:30pm showing. The place was full. There was no tour bus bingo to be seen and there was a whole different approach of customer engagement. It was party time. There was a fair amount of hustle and bustle in the air. And it was time to party. Everything about this performance was completely different. There was a host. There was a more up act. And importantly there was life in the auditorium. It felt like I was now in the Grand Ole Opry.
Before the show the pre-warm Up was all about “getting everyone up and out there seats”…those that know me will know you don’t need to ask twice for me to dance. I danced that hard I was picked out of an auditorium of 4000. Perfect. Instead of now just watching the show I was able to be part of it. I would be playing a game of “plinko.” A token that you then put into a game and win a prize. To cut a long story short. I won women’s jewellery worth $270– it just didn’t suit me. The game though didn’t have the “overall engagement” it could have.
Back to analysing the venue. The Grand Ole Opry is globally known to be the home of country music. On stage was some absolute legends of the Nashville music community. And it really was a celebration. Trace Atkins – who apparently was a country heartthrob – was on stage strutting his stuff and the female proportion of the audience were loving every minute. The program had some greats. Sadly I didn’t know any of the hits but watching the crowd – they were getting right in to the Grand Ole Opry spirit. It was alive. The venue felt like what you had seen on the marketing materials, videos and so on – buzzing with history.
Soaked in history the Grand Ole Opry has a certain Ora to it. It’s a great feeling walking through the doors. But as the show was finishing – I was worried because 4000 were leaving with then another 4000 coming in for the 9:30pm – it was EXTREMELY busy. From an events point of view they really do need to look at there overall event operations plans. I get it – it’s an Music institution but it’s also a venue.
One thing to take away…
There was cake, fan engagement, country singers galore. To be there was special and to understand the demographics was cool – but change is needed to keep this amazing place going into the future…