Senior figures from Government agencies, live event producers, promoters, creatives, and suppliers took part in the Event Production Show’s multi-stage conference on 1-2 March, at ExCel London.

The event kicked off with an opening main stage panel featuring LIVE CEO Jon Collins, Artichoke CEO Helen Marriage, Parklife co-founder Sacha Lord and Boomtown operations director Judy Bec. Among the key issues debated was changing consumer behaviour and the need to encourage young people back to events, with research having shown that more than 70% of 18-24 year-olds are more reluctant to go out since the pandemic.

Collins suggested the Government work with the events industry to help boost business by running a campaign similar to the Let’s Do London initiative that cost the Greater London Authority (GLA) £11 million and generated a £289m return.

An EPS audience poll, conducted by Vevox, showed that the majority felt the biggest threat facing the industry is a shortage of personnel, while 34% said slow ticket sales and changing customer behaviour was top of the list.

The huge scale of Operation London Bridge, which involved 12,000 stewards alone, and the unprecedented cooperation across agencies and companies was explored in a case study involving a panel including LS Events co-CEO Steve Reynolds, GLA major ceremonials manager Sophie Scowen, Arcadis’ Debbie Knellar, Sunbelt’s Geoff Fawkes and Westminster City Council special projects lead Katherine Eaton.

Reynolds said, “Discussing Operation London Bridge on the main stage at the Event Production Show gave us a platform to share learnings and give our industry peers a glimpse inside the epicentre of this unique  project. I was proud to tell our story and take a moment to reflect on what we achieved in the delivery of the State Funeral for HM Queen Elizabeth II.”

The conference also explored the future of creativity in events production, including the impact of the metaverse and the growing trend for “immersive events”. Having launched immersive “amazement park” Wake The Tiger at Boomtown’s Bristol HQ last summer, Boomtown’s site and operations manager Graham MacVoy said that preparations were being made to double it in size to meet demand.

A need for an overarching venue association incorporating and representing stadiums, arenas, theatres, clubs and grassroots venues was outlined during a venue sector session including Silverstone Circuits head of operations Lucy Hayes, Wembley Stadium head of event operations Paul Smyth and Outernet venues partner Kerrie Goldberg.

Among the many other topics tackled was the likely impact of Protect Duty and what the industry can do to prepare for it. Sustainability was also a key focus and among the developments discussed on a panel looking at licensing and updates to the festival industry’s Purple Guide was that a chapter is being written on sustainability by Vision: 2025.

EPS also saw key decision makers discuss issues including the evolution of event production technology, how to reach the fan of the future, sustainability, and a case study on the UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK festival that included the project’s executive director Phil Batty OBE.