This week finds me in Texas. I’m here to spread the good word of PEX Network with a few speaking engagements, including a keynote at a client’s iNNOVATE conference.
My relationship with events is, to put it politely, storied. For one thing, the parent company of PEX Network is IQPC, which has been running business events for over 40 years. PEX Network supports many of these live events which have become regular fixtures of industry calendars across the world, as well as hosting online events with an equally wide reach. In a previous job, I used to book talent for corporate events (IQPC was in fact a client) and it was while in this role that the 2008 financial crisis changed everything.
The day after Leaman Bros collapsed, I was at a black-tie function with a comedian who had been booked to provide entertainment. I will not name the comedian, as they did not do very well, and it was certainly not their fault. The event was for the construction industry, and they were too busy thinking about what the future held to listen to jokes (which, by the way, went on to win a prestigious comedy award. As I say, not the performer’s fault).
Back at the office, the next few months proved to be something of a petri dish for how the events industry was going to be affected by the crisis. Entertainment budgets were slashed; and businesses that had the money were nervous about the optics of spending it – particularly on something as outwardly frivolous as a comedian at an awards bash. At the time, unflattering newspaper stories detailing how much celebrities were being paid to tell jokes seemed to come around every couple of weeks.