As Vibration Group prepares to introduce new concepts and venues to the events market, Simeon Aldred, group strategy and creative director, talks candidly about life, business and being out of his depth
Did you always know that you wanted to work in events? What was it about the industry that drew you in?
I trained at music collage in London as a trumpet player. While I was doing my degree in music and after graduating I was introduced to the events industry through necessity really, to make ends meet between shows and gigs. It was like a different world… the market was controlled back then by the caterers; they controlled the supply chain to all the biggest events. I found it intriguing.
Does what motivated you at the beginning of your career, remain your motivation today?
Not really. My motivation was basic: to pay my rent. Twenty-five years on, I am motivated by a whole other set of creative priorities.
What have been the biggest lessons you have learned?
I think as a person, when I was starting out, I never really thought much about what made my clients tick, what their motivation was. I think I cared too much about the win rather than why they were doing what they were doing. As soon as I started treating clients as individuals with personal goals and motivation, we started really trading and growing to the scale we are at now. We learnt how to partner and collaborate rather than just supply.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice what would that be?
Be kind and tell the truth. That’s hard to do constantly and be a human, right? But it works, and the sooner you learn this the quicker your plans will happen.
What projects are you currently working on?
One of our businesses – Venue Lab – is expanding rapidly and we have three new venues opening next year: one in Shepherds Bush, one in Greenwich and another in Tottenham. All of which are large-scale and new concepts in the market.
What are you doing in the events industry that is new or different that we perhaps haven’t seen before?
I think we are leading the way in the transformation of spaces. There has been a culture of warehouse and temporary events for a long time in the UK, but I guess what we are doing differently is investing long-term in these spaces and putting millions into making them safe and real as long-term culture destinations.
How has the Vibration Group, and your role, developed over the years?
I used to be CEO of the group, but I was well out of my depth when we went past £30 million! Simon Tracey now leads the group. I still remain a principle shareholder, and now lead the strategy and creative across all our businesses.
What’s your view of the current events marketplace?
I think we all need to be as agile as possible – micro trends are washing over us and for us to flex is going to be the key. Keep your eyes up and make sure your product, offering, or service is bang up to date and flexible. If your eyes are down looking at what you are offering today, you might fail very quickly in this new world.
What does the future hold?
Placemaking will be a trend that many will profess to be specialists at. Street food will evolve from markets into multi-pulse seven-day a week halls and stores. The High Street will be a massive opportunity for our industry, as there is a rush towards leisure as shopping habits change and traditional, middle market retailers fail and there will be a massive shrink back to quality in festival land as the market rebalances after massive growth – only truly great IP in festivals will survive.