Couldn't make the Australian Event Awards and Symposium? Catch up here!

The 2017 Event Award and Symposium was all about Events, Technology and the Art of the Unexpected, and boy was it all unexpected! With a big 2.5 days of event fun, read all about our learnings below.


(...and these stupid acrylic nails). The night began with a fake MC (poor Emma Hollingsworth), an obliging model appearing on a rather unimpressive stage and missing pages of her script (meanwhile I was trying to read my badly-produced program, which was printed around the wrong way), before a spectacular real-reveal with the help of fireworks unveiling a much more impressive and significantly larger stage at the other end of the room. The opening act, string trio Maske quickly took to in an explosive start to the night.

The real MC (thank God), award-winning actor, producer and director of theatre, film and television, television host and radio announcer Cameron Daddo led the night perfectly.

At dinner, the Undercover Tenors from popped out of seemingly nowhere (who knew one of the backstage crew had such a beautiful voice) and had the crowd singing and waving napkins along with their operatic songs.

Another highlight of the night was Thomas Staunton from Major Partner Sold Out National Event Management providing a hilarious and charming delayed reaction after announcing that the winner of their category, Best Charity or Cause-Related Event was La La Land, continuing as seriously as ever, before bursting into laughter and high-fiving Cameron Daddo as one of the night's final unexpected moments hit home.

The 2017 Lifetime Achievement Recipient, the ever-entertaining (and extremely accomplished) Ignatius Jones, held the room spellbound as he urged the industry to keep pursuing new heights.

Finally, the who's who of Australian rock music comprising members of four different iconic Aussie rock bands played the night out to a crowd-pleasing thunderous end.

And just like that another Australian Event Awards was all done and dusted. No doubt many of those attending the Australian Event Symposium appreciated the Bloody Mary Breakfast which kicked the event off on Thursday morning (I’m still not sure I can do vodka for breakfast).

See the full list of event award winners.



Two days of the who’s who of events in Australia (including our own MD Linda Tillman). Session included two-hour in-depth groups on Crowds and Security, focus groups on just about everything creative and major plenary sessions hearing from the best including Bobby Galinsky to Penny Lion.

There are so many sessions and take outs for me that I could write a novel, so here are my top 5 in no particular order: (unexpected, right?)

Bobby Galinsky - 'I'll see it when I believe it' + Failure

Bobby spoke about one thing very strongly; stop fearing failure! Events will only be successful if you're fearless of failing.

We all make mistakes that we think are fails that are just steps to our Everest (but don't look down. Just keep the path!).

He said, 'Events are experiences that anchor you in with others. It's the magic of the event that will make a difference. And because it’s an experience, it's ok if it f***s up! See the thing is, you didn’t fail. You’ve just found a million ways that don’t work.' (paraphrasing from Thomas Edison…no, he wasn’t at the Symposium).

Bobby gave us ideas about visualising an idea to create it. He suggested to visualize what you want and then you can do it; making it a forward memory.

He said we need to act on a great idea within one minute of thinking it. I dream my painting and then I paint my dream (Vincent Van Gogh said that one).

Oh, and make sure you’ve seen the Dallas Buyers Club.


Aldo Raineri – Crowd Security and Safety

Aldo spoke in an in-depth session about Crowd Behaviour, Security and Safety. He straight away threw a bombshell by saying the standard Risk Matrix is not suited for Crowds and Behaviour.

Risk assessments are subjective. When the same person writes and implements a risk management plan, there is generally no issue. However, handover of this plan is an issue. My perceived risk will be different to someone else’s perceived risk. He suggested we need to look at the audience and site to assess risk, assess ongoing during the event, design risk profiles for each spot and design crowd behaviour profiles.

He went on to explain you need to consider the following elements of a crowd:
Crowd Density - how many
Crowd Dynamics - movement
Crowd Behaviour - how the crowd behaves in emergency situations

There are three phases of a crowd; arrival, departure and during the event in which you need to consider the design and management of the whole travel of a crowd.

Some important (math) elements:

  • 5 people per square metre is cosy
  • 3.5 people is capacity to stay in low risk
  • 7 people – maximum static density (still)
  • 4-5 people – maximum dynamic density (movement)
  • 80-82 people per metre per minute – flow rate
    (I was so excited by this math!)

Lyndon Terracini - Be Different

Lyndon spoke about the courage to be different. Don't take the easy way out. Your event needs to be on brand and in line with the culture of the place and you can do an 'old' experience a 'new' way.

He told us to ask 'Why do the locals stay? Why did they leave?' Visitors care about our place and we need to tell the stories of our place.

He also said to use Netflix; watch Field of Dreams.

Josh Lemon - Cyber Security

Josh: 'Let’s freak everyone out by hacking the Commonwealth Games website'

Josh took us through the ins and outs of cyber security for events (which blew my mind!).

Cyber attackers can have different motives. This is the key!

Activists that made a move into IT. Not motivated by money and are great at social media marketing. These people hack into websites and emails to get their message out. They are not generally organised and have no consistency in their branding (I guess we’ve not seen a marketer become a hacker yet…).
These groups target Government, Sponsors and Media Broadcasters of the event. They do this to raise media attention to their cause.
If these groups attack you, they create a denial of service. This means they send a lot of junk traffic to the site which takes it offline so legitimate traffic cannot view the website (lots of cyber jargon through this session).

What should be an Obvious Tip Number 1:
Watch your photos in back of house areas.
Don't release sensitive information like Wi-Fi passwords and IP addresses.

CYBER ATTACKERS 2: Cyber Espionage/Cyber-crime
Make fake identical clone websites to collect money and personal info through online forms such as ticket purchases. These groups use secure https sites by purchasing an SSL certificate (I guess they are not as cheap as we were lead to believe). Google and your antivirus will consider it a safe site and voila; they have your details. These groups are also known to hack into online records (Mailchimp, Instagram etc) and release it on social media as a ‘victim list’. They can also sell these lists to other Cyber Attackers to assist with junk traffic!

An if all of this is not scary enough, radio frequency can also be hacked! (I’m starting to feel the fear)

How to protect your event
However, all is not lost. Josh gave us some practical things to do:

1. Use a password manager to make sure ALL of your passwords are different (LastPass, 1Password)

2. Check out ‘have I been pwned?’ (google it)

3. Use 2 Factor Authentication and/or get a Yubi Key (I bought my Yubi Key while sitting in the session)

4. Use Akamai, CloudFlare, Cachefly to protect your website (and now I’m beginning to not understand)

5. Engage a professional company to monitor brand abuse

6. Prepare for the worst and have a tech risk management plan

7. Be familiar with the data breach notification laws. Lawyers should be involved with this.

8. If you have issues (hacked, breached etc), make sure you share this with others


Panel Session with Peter Rix, Lena Malouf, Meri Took and Ignatius Jones

Research, research, research is absolutely critical to keep creative! Make sure you reflect and do research, then leave it and the creative solutions will come to you.

Sharing knowledge and supporting each other in this industry is important.

Make sure you are working with people who you trust!

Reinvigorate your event each year so people don't say, it was the same as last year, so I won't go next year.

Claire BatchelorComment