This week we interviewed James Morgan, an event producer and marketer for nearly thirty years. As well as a lecturer at the University of Westminster, London, he is also the founder of Event Tech Lab, a partnership community for event technology start-ups, developers, event professionals and investors.
1) You've got an impressive background in brand and event marketing combined with advanced academic credentials. Can you tell us a bit about how your path has taken you over the past three decades from your start in the hospitality sector to your current role as an expert consultant in event design and technology at James Morgan Associates?
It's been quite a journey. I started working in hospitality running a popular bar on the Kings Road in Chelsea. Part of my job was to produce events on the quiet evenings. I was approached by a PR agency to work in their marketing department just on events — producing restaurant openings and experiential activities for their drinks clients.
When that business folded, I decided to do much the same myself and started my own brands marketing agency for food, drink and restaurants. A major part of what we did was launched new products through live marketing activities.
The job demanded long hours, eating out all the time and lots of networking. It sounds glamorous but after a few years it took its toll on my health, so I decided to take a step back from the business and go back to study again.
Within eight years, I completed a degree, a masters and PhD. Soon after graduating, I was offered a tenured academic post four days a week. This was ideal as I could still consult and work in the events industry. This arrangement facilitated the continual flow of updated industry knowledge that I needed to pass on to my students.
Soon after I started working at the University of Westminster in London nearly four years ago, because of my interest in technology, I founded the Event Tech Lab. Today we have over 40 companies from around the world as partners in our technology community.
2) What's the biggest challenge you face in your work?
For teaching, it's about how to continually provide millennials with engaging learning experiences and having to reinvent content in an interesting and memorable way. Being exposed to the newest developments in event design production and technology in the Event Tech Lab helps a lot with this challenge.
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3) What types of event-related technology do you use or interact with?
Besides social media—Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, We Chat and Twitter—PowerPoint is my friend, as is Botsify, a self-service simple-to-use chatbot maker for Facebook Messenger I use for my students' Q and A's.
4) What do you see as the biggest trend(s) in events this year, particularly in relation to event technology?
It's definitely the adoption of more AI enabled platforms, from chat bots to personalization algorithms. This technology is only going to become more ubiquitous in the next few years to the point where it will be an expectation that AI should be powering a lot more of the functions we perform at work and in our personal lives when using the internet or digital devices.
5) If you could give event planners / marketers one piece of advice, what would that be?
There are never bad ideas, just better ones. So don't be afraid of contributing.