Home' Spice Magazine : SPICE AUG 2016 Contents Despite his yearning to be a professional golfer, Peter Jones
discovered his knack for events when he got his first gig
working for his Dad.
He said,“I was 16 and got a job over the school holidays work-
ing for the Moomba Festival,” he recalls.“The lure of $25 per week
was too much at the time. I can remember on the first day some-
one saying, ‘You’re going to help out with the parade’ and I went
from there. One of the other bonuses was the opportunity to drive
the Moomba Queen around, but that’s another story. If I look back
now, that was the start of being involved with the events industry,
almost 40 years ago.”
Jones, who has a Bachelor of Economics with a Major in Market-
ing, knew he would end up in some form of creative industry.
“Being a doctor or engineer was not for me. I spent many of the
early years working in advertising agencies but in a promotional
capacity so I was always doing something different. It was only
after getting retrenched from an incentive company that I decided
to go it alone after lots of encouragement from friends. You kind of
Spice caught up with Peter Jones
from Peter Jones Special Events
about the trajectory of his rock star
career in event management.
learn as you go but it’s all worked out so far, even though I’m still
learning every day,” said Jones.
When it came to starting his own business, the late David Grant
provided some key advice. He told Jones to,“always sound like you
know what you’re doing and tell them it will be great (then worry
about how you’re going to do it later) and put your name on the
company as people will trust you more. They are also more likely
to remember you rather than that person from X event company”.
Jones says that he took his advice and has never looked back.
“My first gig as PJSE was a rock ‘n’ roll themed party at the
Grand Hyatt. What I remember most is a Harley Davidson coming
in with Elvis on the back singing. The rest is a blur but I’m sure it
was a good night as I got paid and they employed me again. Since
then I’ve done over 1,300 events which is something I’m very
proud of,” he said.
Highlights of Jones’ career include working with people such
as Cadel Evans, John Farnham, Dawn Fraser and Meat Loaf, and
observing the leadership skills of people like Michael Gudinski,
Neale Daniher, Ron Walker and Carrie Bickmore.
As far as inspiration goes, Jones says that he is always on the
lookout for new ideas.
He said: “This year I will have been to both the Superbowl and
the Olympics, purely in the name of research.You see so much
more live from the experience, rather than watching it on TV. Then
I can come back and say, ‘This is how it could work for your event’.”
The ‘special’ part of his title, in addition to the style of events, re-
lates to Jones’ special skillset which is,“keeping every event going
in the right direction and ensuring things don’t go off the rails. I
was once described as the glue that sticks all the pieces together
and that’s not a bad description”.
He says the flipside of this is putting out the fires.
“Maybe I should think about going for the Secretary General of
the United Nations – can’t be that much harder than looking after
the AV and styling teams on an event,” he laughs.
When it comes to industry evolution, Jones says,“These days
it’s all about social media, the client’s brand, the guest experience
and doing it all in the safest and most cost-effective way.You know
something is good when you get told your event is trending. I’m
still not exactly sure what trending really means but I just smile
and say,“That’s good”. I’m just happy if they say well done, pay the
bill and employ you again next year.”
So is it as glamorous as it sounds? Jones says,“After the school
drop off and a cappuccino, it’s really meetings, meetings and more
meetings. Doesn’t sound all that glam but it’s what we all do. I also
attend every event we do – give or take a few. So between those
and the various industry events, you can be out quite a bit. I’m a
lot more selective now than I was 15 years ago, otherwise I’d never
be home. I’m also getting a bit old now to be out past 10.30pm on
a school night.
“I spend my time thinking about everything from who is going to
perform at the AFL Grand Final, Melbourne Cup and the Australia
Day Celebrations, just to name a few. It never ends as you are always
working on the next event and the lead up time is often over 12
months. I’m currently looking at a date for a dinner in July 2020.”
When asked if he foresees a career change, he firmly declines
“All I can say is that there is never a dull moment in this busi-
ness and you’re only as good as your last event. When I started,
my parents used to ask ‘When are you going to get a real job?’, 25
years later I’m still looking for one. Maybe one day I’ll find one.“ n
50 Spice August 2016
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