Monday, September 05, 2005

Thoughts of NOLA

It is now a week since Katrina ripped apart one of my favourite cities in the US.  
I have only spent a week in New Orleans, but I enjoyed it thoroughly when I attended The Special Event tradeshow in January 2001.  So here are a few random thoughts on the current situation based on my experience of the city.

New Orleans has two nicknames – NOLA (the LA is the abbreviation of Louisiana); and The Crescent City, derived from the fact that the city sits in a crescent loop of the Mississippi River.

The population of NOLA is around 480,000, about the same as Canberra and Queanbeyan combined and the similar to the Gold Coast. In common with the Gold Coast much of the city is built on reclaimed land.  Now image a cyclone coming in from the sea and flattening the Gold Coast like Tracy did to Darwin and all that reclaimed land flooding.

A lot has been heard about people being housed in the New Orleans Convention Centre and exhibition halls – this was the location for The Special Event.  To get an idea of the size of the exhibition halls look at the Sydney or Melbourne exhibition centres and then imagine them stretching for a mile, that is how big the NO exhibition centre is.  

So why am I so fond of a city that appears now to be a hotbed of anarchy? Well the CBD area of NOLA is one of the most cosmopolitan in the world, certainly in the US.  This is due to it’s history as a shipping port and because it was initially a French colony.  

The anarchy has come in from the poorer suburbs that surround the city, it is also the suburbs that have been most affected by the flooding.  Apart from Canal Street (named because it used to be a canal) the remainder of the CBD and French quarter has remained mostly above the flooding.

While in New Orleans I chatted to a guy in an information centre and he gave me details of his website where he published his photos, poetry and a monthly ramble about life.  His name is Leonard Earl Johnson and I’ve been reading his column every month since.  He sends an alert whenever his column goes online, on 28th August his email arrived with this message “Hurricane Katrina approaches.   This could be my last message out.   What better to say, at such a time, as I'm in love with this song: Main Street Blues - (mp3), Red Stick Ramblers.  Listen while watching Melanie Plesh's ten-cent slide show (below), and it feels like Berlin in the Twenties.   Or New Orleans the last weekend before The Great Storm.  LEJ”

A few days after Katrina hit I checked his site to look for news of my friend.  At that stage his friends were posting messages of hope, then on the 3rd a message was posted to say he had got out and was in nearby Hammond.  I commend the site for Leonard’s musings on his town and also for the messages on the forum with vivid descriptions of what was going on in the wake of the storm.

Some other links of interest

New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau  the definitive New Orleans website hosted by THE TIMES-PICAYUNE  - in particular checkout the webcam images frozen as the storm approached.

Student request

Hi there,
I'm part of a small group of students at university working with the not-for-profit organisation - Very Special Kids in Victoria.  We're currently working on a marketing implementation project with VSK as to the viability of moving their major fundraising event (the Piggy Bank Appeal - 1 month duration) from September to May or another month.
Would you be able to help us with some information or advice as to what is important information to research when moving such an event?
eg. where to find info on things like the IMPACT the move would have on various stakeholders - such as the general public or tourist levels in Victoria?
This would be very much appreciate

Saturday, August 27, 2005

work-life and travel-work issues in the events industry

I am student currently invovled in studying a subject that looks at
event management. As part of a discussion group we need to look at
work-life and travel-work issues in the events idustry. I was hoping
that you could provide me with some relevant information or point me in
the direction of where to find relevant academic literature in regards
to these issues. Any help you are able to provide will be greatly


Friday, July 29, 2005

SCEC loading dock a delight.

Did anyone else notice the attitudinal shift on the SCEC loading dock recently? After waiting in the queue to get into the dock it was such a delight to be greeted by helpful security, who could also smile. No longer the surly Neanderthals who have dominated this patch of concrete for the past 15 years. The security are now employed by SCEC rather than booked by the expo producer and they have obviously been briefed to be helpful rather than obstructionist.

Monday, June 06, 2005

RSVP arrives in Sydney

Sydney's latest trade show premiered last week at Wharf 8.
Anyone in the industry who is Sydney based could hardly have missed the PR blitz that proceeded RSVP.
The trade show focussed on event management, production and services. Exhibitors included caterers, florists, entertainment, technical services, staging and speciality venues.
The venue lent itself to the event quite nicely and there was quite a buzz over the two days.
The seminars accompanying the show were booked out a week prior and featured such industry luminaries as Meg Abernathy, Deeta Colvin, Belinda Franks, Ben Alcott and Tony Assness.
So what did you think?
We are interested in feedback from both exhibitors and visitors.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Event Management courses – are they worth it?

Over the past decade we have seen an explosion in the number of event management courses available around Australia.

This had led to many discussions within the industry regarding the worth of such courses.

At ASE we receive many requests asking for recommendations regarding courses along with the inevitable “how do I get into the industry?”.

We list whatever courses we know of in the event info section of ASE and suggest potential students get the information direct from the educational institutions.

As to how to get into the industry, I always suggest networking through industry associations, particularly as many of them have discounted fees for students to the networking events and conferences.

I have been particularly aware of a group of students who travel from Newcastle to attend ISES functions in Sydney and of the students who attended the recent MEA conference.

Another way in is for students to volunteer to work as assistants on conferences – the work is not demanding and they get a great opportunity to observe some well-run conferences and events from the inside.
But what do you think of the courses?

When hiring staff do you prefer a tertiary qualification or on-the-job experience?

We are particularly interested in hearing from graduates – what has been your experience? Did your degree help you to get employment in the industry, or might you have been able to get in without it?

Please post your comments in the forum and look for follow-up to your comments.

Friday, May 27, 2005

All Points of the Compass

I was serving in the RAAF during the latter years of the Vietnam War and vividly remember the bail out by the Americans 30 years ago last month.
I also remember the many (often colourful) characters from the many sides, including South Vietnam's last foreign minister, Charles Tran Van Lam.
So it was with interest that I watched the documentary “All Points of the Compass” which told the story of the Lam children who, during the war, had been sent to many different countries to be educated. Following the fall of Saigon the family did not return to Vietnam but stayed on to make a new life in the countries in which they were studying.
Therese Tran Van Lam settled in Australia with her parents who opened a restaurant in Canberra. She now works for the ABC in Sydney and was instrumental in the documentary being made – based on a collection of home movies made by her father.
Therese is married to Peter Miller – well known in the event industry as a corporate MC.
This got me thinking about “degrees of separation” and how those of us who know Peter are within six degrees of separation of George W Bush.
Me – Peter – Therese – Charles Tran Van Lam – Richard Nixon (with whom Charles negotiated) – George Bush Snr – George Dubya.
Scary isn’t it?
Peter and Therese have collated media stories about the documentary on his website – worth a read.
All Points of the Compass

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Introduction - How to use this forum

Welcome to the ASE forum where you can have your say on issues relating to the Special Events industry in Australia and New Zealand.

The rules are simple
· To respond to an existing blog just click on “comments” at the bottom of the particular blog and add your comments – we encourage you to use your name (or nickname)and not sign as anonymous.
· Keep your comments brief, to the point and relevant.
· Don’t swear or slander.

To add a new subject please email your comments to
We will then add it as a new blog.