Neil Fagg, founder of Stand Out magazine and event manager of Event Buyers Live, chats getting into the industry, the big event and the future.
Neil Fagg is a consummate and highly respected event professional, whose impressive achievements include the creation of one of the events industry’s finest publications – Stand Out Magazine, and the VIP networking show for event professionals, Event Buyers Live (EBL).
Eight Ray Music has been attending EBL for a few years now, even providing entertainment for last year’s gala dinner. It’s an event that connects and creates business for all who attend and that is, in large part, thanks to the work Neil and the team does.
As you can imagine, Neil is incredibly busy. EBL 2017 has just concluded and the night before this interview was conducted Neil was partying at The BRIT Awards!
Fortunately, Neil was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule for this interview and it’s a truly compelling read.
We asked Neil to share everything from his favourite event and predictions for the future of the industry to his advice for aspiring event professionals. Read on for all Neil’s answers!
How did you get into the events industry and Stand Out Magazine specifically?
Before the creation of Stand Out magazine, I worked in direct marketing for live events and also other B2B sectors. After a while and from chatting to friends and industry professionals, I noticed a gap in the market for reporting on the live events industry. From there, we set up Stand Out. We are incredibly proud of what it has become and how it continues to grow.
What’s the focus of Stand Out Magazine?
Stand Out magazine is a publication for event organisers, brand managers and production specialists. We deliver editorial content that highlights event production and practices that “stand out”; only focusing on bringing the most creative and inspiring stories from across the industry to our readers.
Tell us a little about Event Buyers Live, how did the event progress from Standout Magazine?
Event Buyers Live is a VIP networking event for event professionals. We have pioneered a unique 25-minute meeting format between event organisers and suppliers who actually want to meet each other and have pre-selected one another prior to the event. This means that real business gets done, rather than the more formulaic industry events, which suppliers can often find frustrating and out-dated.
As the event has become part of Stand Out, we have only seen it grow in success. We are lucky, as the magazine has been going for 13 years, which has given us the chance to cultivate a great reputation and a lot of contacts – so we only invite the crème de la crème to the event. This means that year after year we are attracting more VIP industry specialists and more business is being done on a larger scale, the ripples of which can be seen across the industry.
Are there any EBL success stories you’re particularly proud of?
To be honest, there are too many to be specific. Sometimes, I will read a story on our website, or our editorial team will receive a press release, and it will be about two companies that attended Event Buyers Live, which have come together to do something spectacular. It’s one of the best feelings in the world when that happens. However, I can say that several contracts are being drawn up of the back of Event Buyers Live 2017, which only concluded a fortnight ago. Please do review our testimonials via eventbuyerslive.com
You’ve worked with Eight Ray Music for some time now, what do you make of the work the agency does?
It’s always a privilege to work with Eight Ray Music. Like us, they know how important is to continually deliver quality and that is reflected in the wonderful artists it adds to its roster – always recruiting talented, forward-thinking performers. As a company, our communications have always been pleasant and the company works hard to ensure that its clients’ needs are met time and time again. I cannot recommend them enough.
What are the biggest trends you expect to see in the events industry over the next couple of years?
The events industry is always a step ahead the curve and I think in the future we will see a huge emphasis on more live activations as a method of marketing. It’s become the norm for brands to push the boundaries of experiential to attract the most traction on social, and I predict we will see more elaborate examples of this; not only in the capital, but further across the UK too.
I also think the industry is fed up of secondary ticketing sites, such as Viagogo and SeatMeIn. Near enough every day more news emerges about their malpractices and I think the industry will put a lot of pressure on the Government to make them illegal. Event organisers want to feel that after putting in all the hard work to producing their events that at the end of the day, their audience will have a seamless and utilitarian way of purchasing tickets.
You must have attended some truly exceptional events, any that you particularly stand out?
Last night, I was fortunate enough to attend The BRITS with our magazine editor, Caroline. Maggie Crowe OBE, the event’s director, came to Event Buyers Live to give a talk about her work and the audience loved her; following the event she invited us to attend The BRITS. Needless to say, the magic within the events industry is alive and well. Not only were the operational logistics seamless, but the stage set, technology and creative was some of the best we’ve ever seen. The stand out moment was when Ed Sheeran announced Stormzy as his surprise guest and the crowds went crazy; the atmosphere was unbeatable. Of course, it was also equally satisfying watching Caroline going mad for Robbie too.
What advice do you have for people aspiring to work in events?
I always say, “when you stop learning, that’s when it’s time to get out”. The same ethic can be applied for those starting out. The best advice I can give is to put yourself out there and soak up as much education as possible. The Government is introducing a new apprenticeship levy in May this year, which means more apprenticeships will become available within the industry – utilise them. We’re a very friendly industry and we always love talented young people, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and ask for work experience. Also, don’t forget event planning has been voted as the 4th most stressful job – don’t go into this lightly…but if you do, take things with a pinch of salt and have broad shoulders
What does the future hold for EBL and Stand Out?
Well, although it may be vague, each year we come back bigger and better. Whether that’s the growth of the event, and we do intend to grow, or the growth of our magazine, with has seen our sales and editorial team expand within the last year. Everything we do, we do as a reflection of the industry and also for it.