Talking event strategy with RX chief strategy officer Peter Lindsay

Since joining RX as chief strategy officer in September 2023, Peter Lindsay has been on a whirlwind tour of RX, meeting new colleagues and attending events around the globe. As he catches his breath, we talk to him about RX’s strategic focus on customer value, data and digital technology, inclusivity, and sustainability, and about the enduring power and magic of live, face to face experiences.


Q. You joined RX in September 2023. What experiences have you have brought to the role of Chief Strategy Officer?

A. I spent the first eight years of my working life with Bain & Company the management consulting firm. As a graduate in my first job, it was a great opportunity to gain experience across a wide range of industries and projects, from top level corporate strategy to more specific assignments around pricing, reorganisation, cultural change and more. In 2014, I joined Telegraph Media Group where I stayed for nine years.  It was a time of huge disruption in the media industry, and as chief strategy officer I delivered two transformation programmes simultaneously, from print to digital, and from ad-led to subscriber-led. It was a bumpy ride at times, but an exciting and successful one. I then spent the next 18 months starting a new venture in the world of classical music, a long-held passion of mine, offering music-lovers without any experience of classical music a way into the genre through immersive live experiences. I am drawing on all these skill-sets – strategic thinking, entrepreneurship, relentless customer focus and the creation of magical events – to help RX write the next chapter of its success story.


Q. What were your first impressions of RX – it’s people and events?

A. I was immediately struck by the energy of our people. In my first couple of weeks, I was introduced to a wide range of RXers whose passion for and ownership of their events was quite remarkable. I was also encouraged by the directness and openness with which I was received into the business. In a strategy role is it important to build strong relationships and secure buy-in for strategic initiatives, and I felt immediately welcomed by people who were eager to speak to me about the problems and challenges they faced, and the opportunities that excited them.  

The first event I attended was the Cannes Yachting Festival in September, an event that is undergoing significant change due to major rebuilding work in the Port of Cannes. It was exciting to get stuck straight into that. I have also been to G2E (Global Gaming Expo) in Vegas, New York Comic Con, Big Data LDN, the Shenzhen Gift fair, Kormarine in South Korea, World Travel Market London, Paris Photo, ILTM in Cannes and, most recently the PGA Show in Florida.  

From all of them I have taken a strong sense of how important it is for our event teams that our customers come away feeling their participation was both enjoyable and worthwhile, not just a ‘nice to have.’

As organisers the onus is on us – and rightly so  ̶  to make sure that every RX event delivers more value for our customers, year after year. Relentless improvement is an important mindset for the next phase of RX.

And then supporting the value proposition we provide to customers are a few crucial things: a well-managed portfolio that is strategically sound, well-balanced and fit to take advantage of future opportunities; best practice capabilities in some critical areas such as sales, marketing, pricing, analytics, and so on; and an operating environment that supports effective decision-making, speed and an inclusive culture.


Q. Can you share some of the ways in which RX is demonstrably adding value for customers?

It’s imperative our events constantly innovate to keep our formats and content fresh, our customers engaged, and our events productive and enjoyable. For example, at PGA Expo the team delivered their first annual PGA Show Winter Jam, an after-hours concert experience featuring the award-winning country music artist, Jake Owen. It was an exciting initiative which gave attendees and exhibitors more opportunities to network, encouraged them to remain longer at the event, whilst also having a great time. Giving our teams licence to experiment with ideas like that is really important, as Hugh Jones (CEO of RX Global -ed) says: “It’s about taking those big bets.”

It’s been fascinating exploring the great work that is going into our digital and data tools across our events. Rolling out Colleqt to events such as PGA is a massive undertaking, and huge credit to all the teams responsible for making it happen seamlessly. This technology enables attendees to collect exhibitor and product information by simply scanning QR codes with their phone camera, in exchange for their contact details. In combination with Emperia, our badge scanning tool, we can significantly enhance lead generation, customer follow-up, and event ROI analysis, while at the same time reducing the need for printed materials and the subsequent waste.  


Q. Talking of AI, what does RX’s membership of RELX bring to the strategic development table?

A. RELX’s capabilities around data, data analysis and, increasingly, AI and machine learning are well understood, and we have an opportunity to draw on them in a number of exciting ways. We have leveraged RELX expertise and technology to develop the digital and data analysis tools which enable our customers to build their businesses by connecting face-to-face and digitally. We have a growing portfolio of big data and AI events, including Big Data LDN, Big Data and AI Paris, and Data Universe which takes place for the first time in New York in April.  Having access to RELX’s extraordinary data and AI expertise, insights and resources as we grow and sustain them is a huge bonus. In fact, RELX’s technology expertise cuts across many of the sectors we serve, and we see exciting opportunities to incorporate these capabilities across existing events.

Q. RX is developing a reputation as an organisation that is committed to diversity and inclusion. How does this add value for RX and your customers?

A. At RX we are constantly having to innovate and make judgement calls on how we can best deliver for our customers, and the more diverse the ideas we bring to bear, the more likely we are to succeed. One important trend we are seeing reflected at our events is a younger generation of business leaders and decision makers coming through with different perspectives and expectations. We need to make sure that the speakers on our conference stages reflect our diverse audiences, and that our marketing campaigns engage them and persuade them to attend. From a talent perspective we have made concrete commitments to support and improve inclusion and diversity globally, including through our talent acquisitions and development programmes, and through our Employment Resource Groups (ERGs) – grassroots volunteer groups of employees in local markets, who share common interests. They play a vital role in ensuring an inclusive environment where everyone at RX valued, included, and empowered to succeed.


Q. RX has recently announced the sale of some events. Can you tell us how this fits into your stragetic vision?
A. I think whether buying or selling an event, the first question we would always ask is, will RX be  ̶  or continue to be the natural home of that event? Being a good owner is about much more than having an event which is performing well in and of itself. It’s a question of strategic and cultural fit too. We don’t have a list of sectors that we objectively do or don’t like. It’s more a question of saying: where are we strong already? How can we build on those strengths either geographically, or by focusing on new vertical opportunities? Which sectors and events have the best potential for long term growth and how do the events in those sectors fit together to be more than the sum of their parts?


Q. What action is RX taking to deliver more sustainable events?

Sustainability is vital to every business and it’s essential that we play our role in pushing the economy overall towards its at net zero targets. RX is a signatory to the Net Zero Carbon Events pledge which commits all signatories to reach net zero by 2050 at the latest and to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. In fact, RELX, our parent company, has made it a priority to reduce its environmental footprint and in 2021 signed up to the Climate Pledge which commits us to reach net zero no later than 2040.  In February 2024 we will publish our Roadmap to Achieving Net Zero which sets out our pathway to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2040 and it is testament to our industry’s leadership that we are making real progress.

Q. What has your love of live musical performance taught you about the importance of face to face events?

A. Personally, coming out of Covid was an incredibly life affirming experience  ̶  discovering, in the context of so much technological advancement, how important face-to-face contact and shared experiences continue to be in all walks of life, whether work related, cultural, or spending time with friends and family. It goes right to the heart of what I love about live performance. The energy you get from being at a concert and sharing the experience with thousands of other people is not a million miles away from the sense of connection and belonging you get from being at trade show or Comic Con. Some of that value can be quite easily defined, some of it is hard to put your finger on, but it's really powerful, nonetheless. So yes, face-to-face is here to stay. And I think the fact that our events get to play a central role – to be the beating heart  ̶  for hundreds of industries and millions of participants across the globe, is amazing.