Events should suspend reality to create brand stories and memorable moments—this is heart and soul of the events industry according to Stu Katzen, owner and creative director of Eventify, who says says event planning cannot be dictated by the 'fear factor'.

In light of recent international terror incidents, Katzen's view seems even more pertinent. We recently sat down with the Sydney-based event professional to gauge his thoughts on how the industry has evolved.

What are people talking about?

Relevance, engagement and ROI now dominate event planning and events seem far more serious than they used to be. This is due to a number of factors, including safety concerns. I recently read an article that stated no event is safe anymore. Add to this recent incidents and you understand the fear factor.

Events need to be 'sticky': Pico
Events need to be 'sticky': Pico
How association partnerships create win-win results
How association partnerships create win-win results
Editor's Blog: A word on creativity
Editor's Blog: A word on creativity

What saddens me the most about this, is that it takes away some of the magic and let’s be frank, what we do is all about storytelling and suspending reality for a while. If we can’t do this—and events become too focused on ROI and health-and-safety legislation—the future is pretty dull. Bring back the confetti!

How are suppliers responding to heightened security concerns?

Sadly, we are currently living in a world that is predicated on fear. The tendency now in events is to play it safe and ensure limited liability. There are workplace, health and safety (WHS) procedures, public liability, and other insurances and most venues now require an onsite or pre-event induction. Everyone is looking to cover themselves and mitigate risk at all costs.

The result is a default setting of “no”, especially from venues. There seems to be a fear that if a square peg is not inserted into the square hole, things will go wrong and bad things will happen. Yet our industry is designed and predicated on exactly the opposite. As event creatives, our job is to think outside the box and create spaces and experiences that are different.

Stu Katzen, Eventify

What does ‘experiential’ mean to you?

Experiential events don’t simply show the audience a product or service, but transport them to another reality or space—it’s all about ‘touching’ guests with an experience. Last year, I worked on a series of events inside a newly built train tunnel, prior to the rails going in. The event offered many challenges including how to usher guests inside the space—26 metres below ground level.

The solution was to create an intricate arrival procedure that ended in building a special lift on-site, and then walking through the tunnel to arrive at the event space. What I loved most was the look of joy and surprise when guests entered and instead of concrete and metal, saw a carpeted space with stages, bars, food stations and intimate lounge areas.

Your biggest challenge?

The need to remain relevant and competitive in an ever-changing marketplace, which has led to the constant reinvention of Eventify as an agency.