Joining the judging panel for the Event Technology Awards 2018 is Abigail Dakin, Events Director EMEA at Time Out.
Abi heads up all things events at Time Out in London, Paris and Lisbon. When they aren’t writing about weird and wonderful events in the capital Time Out are putting them on, from floating cinemas on the Thames to cultural lates, via rooftop BBQs and Caribbean supper clubs. She grew up running around events and has a passion for putting on events in challenging heritage venues, from castles to museums.
- How did your career lead you to your current job?
I’m very lucky that events run in the family. My mum’s a large scale events manager so I grew up running around castles and marquees. I dabbled in some community development work with charities that gave me a lot of insight into working with communities and tight-knit teams on business development but then took the punt to start organising my own events. So via setting up Cosford Food Festival, working with Youth Dance England and (there’s a theme) running various events in castles, I got chatting to the right people at the right time and joined Time Out to develop their events business.
- What events have you been involved with recently and which is your favourite to work on?
Time Out’s Movies on the River event series, which I originated and managed with our global film editor, ticks all the boxes that events managers love – it’s creative, the audience love it, but it’s also incredibly challenging to pull off. Bringing that event from a weird and wonderful idea into reality was massively challenging and hugely rewarding. And I have a newfound respect for the Thames and maritime law!
- What type of event technology would you like to see improved or developed and why?
Event automation is really interesting. We’re in a really great position with the events industry that we’re not fighting automation, it works massively in our favour. Tools like Square Space and Hootsuite give small independent organisers the capacity to scale up and make their operation slick quickly, easily and at very low cost. On the larger scale of things, live, more nuanced feedback from visitors deserves a lot of focus. It’s hard to see anything taking the place of being out in your event, seeing how people are reacting to it, but I’ll be interested to see what facial recognition tech comes up with next.
- Is there a particular piece of event technology that has impressed or inspired you?
When we partnered with Ticketscript (now part of Eventbrite) to manage the ticketing for Ludlow Medieval Christmas Fayre it was a real eye-opener. We have around 20k visitors over two days, and the insight we were suddenly able to gain about how they experienced the event was gold dust. The combination of cracking how to get wifi to a complex site and then utilising the insight of their TicketBox solution meant we were able to move on in leaps and bounds to get to know our visitors more. It’s a very basic tool, but the first time we managed to make that work for us in a complex setting really opened my eyes to just how much richer your understanding of your event could be. And what a massive difference excellent Wi-Fi makes!
- What technology do you think is overhyped?
I’m wary of the hype around VR and augmented reality. In the right setting they can transform an event and be truly unique and creative, but without integrating it into the fabric and logic of the event itself I think we risk getting distracted from some of the more basic changes we can make to improve our events for our audiences. The audience should always be at the core of the event, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of going after a technology that ticks a box for a sponsor etc. but that doesn’t add to a coherent experience.
- What professional experiences can you draw on to judge the Event Technology Awards?
Working with Time Out people associate us with what’s happening now in their cities, and that’s no different with event technology. People are constantly reaching out to show us something new and exciting, and we’re always driven by wanting to show our audience something which they haven’t seen before. But as a small team, the focus is always on efficiency; it’s often the less glamorous technologies and the organisational support they allow which can make the most difference to the event as a whole.
- What are you most looking forward to as an Event Technology Awards judge?
Seeing the opportunities technology allows us to keep pushing the industry to evolve and adapt. Events can be a nimble industry when it wants to be and it’s exciting to see how people take those tools to create and enhance truly original experiences.
- Name one app you cannot live without and why?
WhatsApp. Group chats on WhatsApp have, with no exaggeration, kept some of our events afloat. Being able to share live video when there’s a challenge (and knowing who to call to chase when they haven’t immediately viewed it) is invaluable, immediate, and so, so easy.
Entries are open now until May 31, the ETA salutes the achievements of companies designing and delivering solutions across the gamut of live events, from festivals to exhibitions, brand activations to conferences. CLICK HERE for the categories and register to enter.
The awards ceremony returns to Troxy on November 7, between the two days of Event Tech Live 2018.