Access has been writing about the events industry for 23 years – and even with our elephantine memory, that’s a hell of a lot of years to cover…

Chris Tofu, Continental Drifts

UK festivals are now the best in the world

“When Access All Areas first started, there were a few festivals, a feeling that they could be the new ‘Holiday Camp’ and on the whole concepts like sponsors, boutique camping and world class chefs in a field were yet-to-be-thought-of ideas. With tiny steps across all the UK festivals and through communicating, sharing and mass pilfering ideas, we’ve reached the admirable position of being the best in the world. The Holiday Camp concept was lost years ago, as so many festivals are central to the cultural and social life of a majority of the youth of the UK. 23 years ago there were tribes of people making free festivals way beyond all licensing and authority. Commercial events were cold and unfriendly experiences for punters. One can hardly imagine where we’ll be in another 200 issues.”

Chris Haywood, Topher

A platform to share best practice

“Firstly, congratulations to Access on the 200th issue, hard to believe it’s been 23 years. Since the first issue, the industry has increased in professionalism and Access has been ever present in showcasing how the industry delivers against customers’ increasing expectations and the innovations we have adopted to achieve this. It has provided a platform to share best practice, news and challenged a few misconceptions. Here’s to the next 200 issues.”

Kevin Thorborn, Mojo Barriers

More integrated security

“Over the past 23 years, we’ve seen a change of attitudes from event organisers placing more importance on the crowd barriers they choose. People understand the product more and there is a much more integrated approach with security, health and safety and production all working with us from the beginning. There is now a deeper understanding of site layout and barrier designs, plus how the music genre, audience demographic and the actual science behind the barriers effects audience safety at events.”

Chris Johnson, Shambala Festival

Pushing boundaries

“It’s inspiring to see the proliferation of festivals in general, and the creativity that audiences are increasingly expecting – it’s keeping the UK festival scene world leaders. Back in 2005, when Shambala was firmly on the map, there were only a handful of festivals that were coined as ‘Boutique’. Now the diversity in programming an experiences which the term represents is common place at UK festivals, and the boundaries are being pushed in every direction.”

Toby Bennett, GL events Owen Brown

A more professional industry

“Its difficult to sum up 23 years of amazing events across the UK and to track how far we have come. But overall, I think we’ve become a lot more professional and respected industry. We’ve always been a responsible industry, with high standards of implementation, but we’re also now better than ever at selling our worth. As an industry we’ve attracted more brand sponsorship, encouraged more businesses to buy into the sector, and shown the tangible results of what we do to those that finance us. This means our worth as an industry is higher than ever.”

David Hornby, Why Not

Some things are still the same

“A great deal has changed over the years since Access was first published.  The world around live events has gone digital and social, making the access, pardon the pun, to customers easier for organisers! In the UK London has hosted the Olympics and Scotland has emerged as a wonderful setting for some amazing events and continued to grow its International Festival to be the best in the world. I think it more interesting to think about what has not changed. We still have major issues around secondary ticketing and ticket-touts have gone online. It’s still incredibly hard to get past the red tape and restrictions to make great experiences happen. In some ways, it’s even harder now.”

Mark Davyd, Music Venue Trust

Hard times for small venues

“It’s been a tough time for the grassroots music venue circuit in the last 20 years, with many of the iconic names that make up the UK live music scene disappearing from the map. A recent groundswell of popular opinion has caught the attention of the UK music media, which has in turn resulted in the music industry identifying this as one of the key areas that needs support in the coming years. The opportunity is there to take advantage of that and work together to deliver a truly world class touring network for breaking and emerging artists.”

Graham Stephenson, AEV/Business Design Centre

The Olympics showcased UK events

“In the 23 years that Access has been in print, live events have become a highly professional and successful industry. The Olympics in 2012 must have been the largest live event held in the in UK in last 23 years, with many AEV member venues at the heart of the whole spectacle, it showcased venues, organisers and suppliers working together to deliver an amazing experience. It once again demonstrated to the world our capability to deliver world class events.”

John Cochrane, De Boer

Supplier-client bonds are stronger

“Over the last 20 years, innovation and strong supplier-client relationships have proven time and again to be the key to successful events. Our recent survey amongst 100 senior event professionals showed that over 80 per cent of participants highly valued their suppliers’ breadth of experience and technical expertise when it came to project delivery. At De Boer we are proud of our long-standing partnerships with clients and suppliers, and we are looking forward to our 10th appearance at The Farnborough International Airshow.

Graham Crisp, GT Trax Ltd

A rise in environmental awareness

“One subject that has grown in prominence is the rise in the importance to address environmental issues. Championed by such organisations as Julie’s Bicycle and Powerful Thinking, an increasing number of event organisers, and in particular festival managers, are engaging in best environmental practice by using recycled material in their infrastructure, low carbon emission products for power and in the general recycling of waste products. The number of environmental awards supported by the Event Hire Association, the Festival Supplier Awards, the Showman’s Show and the Event Production Awards has reinforced this.”

Eric Janssen, Intellitix

Big Data is big time

“Technology has seen huge advancements over the years and we’ve witnessed a shifting of attitudes towards RFID technology. RFID has broken into the mainstream with events of all types and sizes turning to cashless payment technology for its proven benefits in enhancing events. Over the years, ‘Big Data’ has also become important for event organisers, allowing them to leverage the wealth of data and audience insight gathered from RFID technology to continue making improvements to their events and tailoring content to specific audiences.”

Will Poole, Troxy

Social media changed everything

“Having been in the events industry for almost as long as Access All Areas, the biggest change is in how we communicate both internally and externally. Back in the day, I remember memos, faxes, pigeonholes and the post. There was no email, no social media and very few mobile phones. I did have a computer on my desk, but with the exception of a diary management system, it didn’t communicate with any other computer or the outside world. I think it would have been 1998 when I first sent an email from my desk and it changed everything about the way I worked and cut out paperwork considerably. At the same time I also had my first mobile, which I could ring people, send a text and play Snake! Again, the advances in mobile technology have transformed the industry. Who would have thought 23 years ago of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – social media has changed how we communicate with our customers and attendees beyond recognition and will continue to do so.

Andy Gregorek, Gorilla Marketing & Events

Sustainability across all sectors

“Congratulations on the 200th issue of Access, a must read for the live events industry. An industry that continues to deliver bigger events, in a safer way, since the first edition was printed 23 years ago, they are produced with an eye to their sustainability in both environmental and commercial terms. Live events now push the boundaries of what’s possible, to deliver amazing experiences, never standing still. And Access is there at the heart of it all.”