Thursday, February 08, 2007

ASE February news

What’s in a name? Or more to the point, what’s in a web address? Sydney on Sale has now become the Australian Events Expo and when those words are run together in a lowercase web address it is just too easy to read it as australian event sexpo. Now I know the organisers are looking at expanding the market, but…

They have come up with a very clever logo though combining champagne flutes and searchlights.

Where will it end for Staging Connections? The corporate takeovers are continuing unabated with Bytecraft Entertainment the latest target. Bytecraft Entertainment is the lighting and effects services arm of Bytecraft, which also runs an ATM and poker machine repair and maintenance business, known as Bytecart Systems.

Bytecraft is currently owned by Tattersall's, the Victorian based lottery and gaming company who bought out the minority interests in Bytecraft in 2005 for a total investment reportedly worth $39 million. It paid $12.9 million for a 75 per cent interest in the entertainment business, according to its last annual report.

And speaking of Staging Connections, some people within the company have been feeling that they are getting a bit of stick in the media (who, us?) so industry legend and SC employee Jon Smith has kindly written an insiders view for us – check it out below and feel free to respond.

Julius Media College is expanding on their well regards technical production courses to launch an Advanced Diploma of Venues and Events (Music Management) on February 19th. The college, at Rydalmere, was the first accredited institution to pick up this new qualification which is entertainment based, unlike the traditional slew of hospitality and sports based events courses offered across Australia.

Other courses run by Julius Media include technical production; sound light and video; and the college offers skills recognition assessments for people already working who need a formal qualification. More at

Summernats is perceived as a festival of booze, burnouts and babes. It is however a very successful event that has been running for 20 years so, now that I am based in Canberra I thought I should go along. I did and then I interviewed the man behind the event, Chic Henry – the interview is in our Event Talk podacst section and can be downloaded as an mp3 file or you can read the transcript.

And the great event movie thunders on. Kenny is about to open in the UK. Talk about flushed with success!

AIME is on next week in Melbourne, I’m sure I’ll catch up with many readers there – please say hello. Then give me a week or so and I’ll have social pix and reports on the AIME events online.

Staging Connections – the inside story

by Jon Smith – Creative Services Manager – Staging Connections Melbourne

There has been a fair amount of media surrounding Staging Connections over the last twelve months. While I can understand that a company as large as ours is always going to be a talking point I am somewhat amazed by some of the things that have recently been written about us.

While it is true to say there have been many changes at Staging Connections over the last 12 months, it has remained very much business as usual for the majority of staff. During this period we have expanded our Australian operations with offices in Fiji, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai and while some staff have left a lot of talented people joined our team.

As a current employee who has been at Staging Connections on and off for 15 years I can honestly say that I am continually amazed by the passion and dedication of our staff and crew. While there may have been ongoing changes at senior management level our staff have remained focused on delivering high quality events and I believe our standards are better than ever.

Contrary to popular belief it is a great company to work for - with great clients, great staff, a wide variety of projects, heaps of career opportunities, and most importantly a fun place to work. While some staff have left as a result of change many leave for other reasons – in our industry with the stress and hours we hours we work there will always be a fair amount of natural attrition. We actually encourage staff to what’s best for them – most leave on extremely favourable terms and are welcomed back when the time is right - that’s why so many are returning as I did a couple of years ago.

I’m not alone. People like Bill Kneebone who was with SC in Victoria and SA as General Manager for over six years is now working within the ETG SC Chinese operation; Fraser Watkins is back as Sales Manager at Staging Connections in Melbourne and then there’s Nigel Taylor returning to head up the sales team in Sydney, just to name a few. Our senior management team now includes highly regarded event specialists such as International Creative Director Paul Kenny who’s worked on many large scale sporting and corporate events around the world as well as Philip Black who is Director of Venues, Keren Southgate – Director of Business Development, Rob Vass – Director of Sales, and Nic Allum our Director of Communications.

So there is already a substantial amount of IP within the business and with the calibre of people like Bill Kneebone, Fraser Watkins and Nigel Taylor returning to Staging Connections our experienced event team is once again in a league all of its own.

It seems that as long as Staging Connections remains such a palpable force within the local events industry we will continue to be the focus of criticism from certain sectors of the industry. It has always amazed me how positive our clients are yet how negative the industry is towards us. How come the majority of our staff are well liked within the industry but as a whole the company is despised?

People come and go – that’s a fact of life. But from my perspective most of my colleagues are really excited to be here, and work on all the great events we do every day. Yes as an organization we are continually trying new things and implementing changes - some have worked others have been less successful. What is most encouraging is that as a company we are embracing change and we are prepared to take some risks in order to grow and improve.

The fact is as a company, Staging Connections puts its money where its mouth is. Just look at how much we have invested in becoming an RTO and how far we have developed our internal training systems. Under public company ownership and with the total support of our management team we continuously review our systems and processes and train our people to make sure that our service delivery is the best. There is a real atmosphere of collaboration. And our recent acquisitions only strengthen the company and provide more opportunities for our staff.

Our board is extremely positive and encouraging and again contrary to popular belief they view our staff as the companies most valued asset and I can personally add that the future looks really bright – there has never been a better time to get on board as we continue to develop and grow through the passion and commitment of our Management and staff.

Some will tell you we are loosing business but I can tell that we are winning more and more new clients every day. You only have to look at some of the very large events we are now working on to understand that although we are seen negatively by some parts of the industry, in the marketplace we are still considered to be leaders. And again while the industry has had mixed reactions to our new branding, it has been very positively received by our clients.

So while many might scoff about the branding we are still delivering what we promise, creativity, service, and reliability.