Meeting Martin: I was an eventprof, and I never knew it

Without really making any effort at all, this blog seems to have received one or two positive reviews. As a result, I was asked by a senior member of Mash Media to share my perceived bloggy-wisdom with a new starter, so that they might follow suit and share their adventures from the events industry on one of our sister titles.

A humble request indeed, but when I sat down to begin my sermon I quickly realised that I had absolutely no idea what I was talking about.

No, really. I didn’t start blogging about the events industry because I considered myself a fountain of knowledge; it was the exact opposite. If my editor is a fountain of knowledge, I am blob of ice cream on the pavement, crawling with ants.

And here I was, confronted with an aspiring journalist, tasked with giving her some pointers on the industry.

My first thought was that I was a blithering idiot, but then words of mild comprehension began to trickle out. Before too long I burst forth with all manner of sentences, with varying degrees of intelligibility.

Rather than passing the baton of wisdom on, it soon became clear that what I was actually doing was talking to myself.

The industry, I said, was massive, but run by a comparatively small pool of people. And that, I continued, was quite difficult to get your head around. To make it even more complex, most people don’t even realise they’re part of it.

When I said this back to myself – the new starter by this point edging nervously towards the door – I laughed.

It’s true, though, isn’t it? The events industry is worth some £40bn to the UK annually, yet you could get all the decision makers together in a hotel bar and still have space for their spouses.

By way of a case study I present to you myself. Reflexive pronouns aside, between the ages of 15 and late-20-something I worked at a kart circuit in Surrey and then another kart circuit in the United Arab Emirates. I considered myself a part of the motorsport industry, and in a large part I was. But I was mainly an events director and venue operations manager, dealing with clients who wanted to go karting, from kids’ parties and stag dos to teambuilding days and corporate events.

I was, without knowing it, an events professional. For 13 years, I didn’t even know.

There are two possibilities: either I was a dope, or the events industry had failed to tell me I was part of the club. Think of all the glitzy parties I missed out on. I could have been gorging on peach and peacock at the Savoy with Liz Hurley and the Duchess of Cornwall. Instead, I was guzzling pints and Pot Noodle on a park bench with Gary and Wayne.

Do I feel cheated that for 13 years of my life I was an event professional and never knew? Not really, but it would be a shame for other young people to have the same thing happen.

Recently I was at an extravagant event that was bursting at the seams with sass and sin, and a friend pointed out that, in essence, this was the entire UK event industry – as in the decision makers.

I see, I said stroking my chin sagely, but where are the eventprofs of the future?

Where indeed. How many young people are working in small (or even big) venues or agencies up and down the land and are completely oblivious to the fact they are part of something huge?

It doesn’t matter if they’re serving suspicious-looking canapés to people who’d rather they weren’t there or fixing go-karts in an unheated death trap of a workshop, they’re part of it.

But how on earth do you let them know about it?

At this point I would love to say that I have a solution, but I can’t, because I don’t.

So in lieu of anything meaningful I will change the topic completely. You may remember a couple of weeks ago I wasted 1,200 words of your time moaning about my cheap shoes. Well, I ended up taking them back to the shop and replacing them with a pair that may or may not have cost £49.99.

They have caused equal misery, and no amount of massaging or hot water has been able to soften them up. This serves me right, because what I did was pick the second-cheapest option off the shelf in the shop purely on the basis that they were there.

What I should have done is research them. Online reviews are everywhere these days, and while everyone has different feet, you will at least get an idea of quality and longevity. Sadly, and much to my surprise, there are not many shoe reviews on the internet.

I am looking for brown brogues, not mahogany and not tan, somewhere in the middle, with laces and a wide tongue that runs all the way across the bridge of the foot. The sole must be black, and the sharp edge on the leading edge of the heel blunted so it doesn’t split my calf in half.

It’s a very specific request, I admit, but if anyone can help I will be grateful.

There’s a moral in there, somewhere.

Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard is the Deputy Editor at Conference News. Formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

Martin Fullard


Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard is the Deputy Editor at Conference News. Formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

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