10 minutes: Stefano Duchi

The general manager of Giochi di Luce tells Sound & Stage how 2014 was the company's best year to date
Stefano Duchi
Stefano Duchi

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With 2014 being its best year yet since opening in 2010, Giochi di Luce is making a big impact on the event production scene. General manager, Stefano Duchi, took the time to sit down with Sound & Stage to tell us more…

S&S: How long have you been in Dubai and what brought you here?
My first visit and my first event managed in Dubai was in 2005, a dealer convention for the Italian division of a big German multinational corporation. The Burj Khalifa was under construction and they chose Dubai as a symbol of the future becoming present.

After that I came back in 2009, when Giochi di Luce decided to open the Middle East branch. Between 2010 and 2012 I was only in Dubai for specific projects, but from 2012 I moved permanently to Dubai, as the business for the company was growing rapidly.

I have been the general manager for almost one year, whilst previously I covered the position of head of sales and production department — first for Giochi di Luce Italy and then, from 2012, for the UAE branch.

During my long past experience as key account and productions manager I had key role management in some of the biggest events Giochi di Luce have been involved in, both in Europe and the Middle East: Corporate events, 3D mapping shows, opening and award ceremonies, product launches and fashion shows for the biggest international brands.

S&S: Tell us more about what your company offers to the industry and how do you deliver on this?
Giochi di Luce is an events production company and offers a wide range of services including lighting, video, audio installation, content creation and stage design, specialising in advanced technological applications such as 3D mapping, interactivity and out of standard video projection. Always up to date in terms of new products, the quality and the client satisfaction are extremely important for us — we invest in long-term partnerships with our clients.

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S&S: What do you think of the state of the events industry as it stands in general right now?
Dubai is a mature market, it is still growing in terms of volumes but also in term of quality and new product/ideas demand. On the other side, as with all the mature markets, the pricing is extremely important, budgets are reducing, but not the expectation of an above the standard delivery.

It is an event hub, where some of the most innovative and challenging event happen, and this is still drawing the most important event industry players, making the competition harder, but extremely stimulating.

S&S: How does Giochi di Luce try to stay ahead of the competition?
First of all clients ask for innovation, new ideas to make their event memorable and outstanding, and this need to be combined with high quality, and obviously the right price. Combining these values is really important for us, for the everyday client management, but the most important is our flexibility, we want to be partners and to walk with them all the way to the event completion. We have a lot of returning clients, so this approach is well appreciated.

S&S: Do you find that clients prefer to use one company to provide the full technical requirement of an event, or do you see a trend towards picking and choosing different production elements from multiple companies?
The trend seems to be going towards full service companies. This is probably because the pre-production time for events is strongly reducing, there’s less time for complicated supplier coordination, so clients are preferring to have as few a points of contact as possible.

Obviously this is related to the trust that you are able to build with your customers. On the other side, especially for some big and challenging projects, we are chosen just for our excellent service, choosing the supplier just for the point of strength.

S&S: What has been the most challenging event Giochi di Luce has done recently and why was it tricky?
One example of a challenging, but extremely exciting, event we have been involved with is the Ferrari California launch — a small scale event in term of number of attendees, but extremely prestigious for the brand involved and for the location (DIFC). The client asked us to develop a 360-degree 3D mapping on the car itself, but due to complicated venue management, we received the go ahead just one week before the show. Also, due to the particular position in the venue, we were allowed to work just a few hours per night. The only solution was to recreate the same set up and the testing on the car as well in our premises, to reduce the time for alignment and content testing on site. At the end the show was really successful, even with a rain shower just before that.

Aside from the mentioned event, one of the biggest challenges facing companies like ourselves in the Middle East is the fluidity of events, both in terms of logistical changes such as venue or date but also requirements of the client adapting in short time frames. A particular challenge is when you are producing content for the client in a short time. This means as a company we have to have a high level of both organisation and flexibility to avoid any loss of quality or profitability.

S&S: Are there any specific trends at the moment with regards to what clients want for their event? If so, how are you catering to meet this need?
New technologies and technological applications, interaction, new ideas. Trend or not, this is what our clients are always asking for their events, small or big budget, small or large venues. And for this we continue to invest in new products. But not just that — we invest in developing new applications, putting togeter people with high technical backgrounds alongside others with creative backgrounds.

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S&S: Has the business seen any notable market growth over the past year within particular areas?
Giochi di Luce closed an outstanding 2014, the best year yet in terms of turnover, net profit and events achievements since the branch opening in 2010. We have been able to take all the opportunities that a rising UAE market gave us, but maybe also to go beyond focusing us on reliability and innovation. We also had a great increase in events across the wider Middle East region, especially Saudi Arabia, where I see a growing dynamic market, and where the demand of high quality standard events is developing.

S&S: How do you adapt to the summer months in this region? Does the business start to shift in another direction?
The event market in general is quite seasonal, and in the Middle East more so than in other places. Summer is the low season for the UAE, but last year we had good business anyway, more than expected. I see something moving — more activities during that period and events going on — so maybe its a good opportunity to extend our season.

S&S: Does GDL have any further plans for investment or expansion across the region coming up during 2015?
Yes, we are working on the opening of our new branch in Saudi Arabia. Our turnover is growing there, and it is the right time now to localise equipment and personnel in order to make Giochi di Luce quicker in responding to our clients, and also to gather more of the opportunities that are becoming available in that rising market.

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