BARRY WAFER

FOUNDER AND DIREC­TOR OF EVENTS COM­PANY RIZER

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - Q & A -

My father founded a drama group in Dublin when I was a child and I re­mem­ber at the age of seven men turn­ing up in our gar­den with large can­vasses and paint­ing the sets. I re­mem­ber be­ing asked to do things like pull fly lines when Dad would be re­hears­ing and I think that’s where my in­ter­est sparked. I didn’t re­alise un­til later in life, though.

I stud­ied com­mu­ni­ca­tions but I was very much in the prac­ti­cal side. When I fin­ished uni­ver­sity on the Fri­day I ended up start­ing work on the Satur­day for a com­pany called Wind­mill Lane in Dublin. U2 owned the studios and I went straight into do­ing cam­era work for them and spent a lot of time in the mu­sic area. I re­ally I cut my teeth there, I was very much the ju­nior but I learned a lot about how mu­sic and vi­su­als worked to­gether.

In 2000 I came to Aus­tralia. I kept do­ing cam­era work but I re­alised I wasn’t a very good cam­era­man so I de­cided I would look for a job some­where else. I was on a bus from Mel­bourne to Syd­ney and I saw a job in a news­pa­per in a theatre in Syd­ney and I thought I’d give it a go. That ended up be­ing the State Theatre. They ac­tu­ally spon­sored me to stay in Aus­tralia and then when I set up Rizer our first con­tract was to take over the run­ning of pro­duc­tion at the State Theatre. That was 2003 and to­day we still run pro­duc­tion there where we have a sec­ond of­fice.

I love the idea of theatre and what I learned in my time in Ire­land do­ing cam­era work. I re­ally wanted to cre­ate a world where I could com­bine the theatre and cam­era work and I re­ally wanted to bring that to the events in­dus­try here. I’d been to a few events that didn’t have much go­ing on and I just wanted to cre­ate a bit of sparkle and piz­zazz. Rizer is an events com­pany in the true mean­ing of the word. We like to cre­ate events that peo­ple want to at­tend and with big mo­ments – we want to give peo­ple some­thing to re­mem­ber.

In 2012 we worked at the Olympics in Lon­don do­ing some hos­pi­tal­ity for Austrade and that was a key turn­ing point for us. Since then we have been work­ing with a lot of lux­ury brands be­cause they are re­ally try­ing to tell sto­ries about their brands and to cel­e­brate their art forms. When some­one’s got a story to tell, that’s where we ex­cel.

One of the great sto­ries we got to tell this year was be­ing in­volved with Bul­gari in Rome and the com­pany’s ren­o­va­tion of the Span­ish Steps. There are not many times in your life that you will get the op­por­tu­nity to shut down the streets of Rome and have 100,000 scream­ing Ro­mans with a 100-piece orches­tra and a hot air bal­loon tak­ing the silk off the steps – that was a pretty spe­cial mo­ment for us. There was ac­tu­ally peo­ple gasp­ing and cry­ing as the silk was com­ing off. And one of the rea­sons we do it is to see to the re­ac­tion of peo­ple.

With a lot of the lux­ury brands we work with, the re­la­tion­ship started with the Euro­pean of­fice. With Bul­gari, our ini­tial con­tact with them was through Rome. They were do­ing their 130th-an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions and we ten­dered for the Asia-Pa­cific event and were for­tu­nate to win it. It was held in Syd­ney and we did three brand events for them – the fi­nal one was at the Syd­ney Opera House and we had some Bul­gari fam­ily mem­bers there, they said they loved the event. They went back to Italy and two weeks later they called us and asked us to do their of­fi­cial birth­day party in Lake Como four weeks later. That was 2013 and we have worked with them ev­ery year since.

The spe­cial events world is pretty small and peo­ple talk ... re­fer­rals is a big part of our busi­ness. We have worked with Cartier, Chanel, Bul­gari, Pas­pa­ley, Range Rover, Audi. Out of all the lux­ury brands I would say we work with about 80-90 per cent of them.

We have four quite big events in Europe com­ing up in the first half of next year so we will open a Lon­don of­fice in the new year. We are go­ing to keep it small for the first six months but I think it’s go­ing to ex­plode af­ter July. We think Lon­don will be a good base purely from a sup­plier per­spec­tive. We re­ally want to bring over the DNA we’ve cre­ated here over the last 12 years and make sure we grow it steadily, so we hope to build from four to 12 peo­ple in 12 months.

We are go­ing to hope­fully take on two more mar­kets in the next four years: a New York base and a Hong Kong or Sin­ga­pore base. Our clients need con­sis­tency and they have asked if we could look at these mar­kets and for us we just want to take it a step at a time. We want to ser­vice Europe and Aus­tralia and then in four years we hope we will have the world’s largest bou­tique events agency.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.