12 Apr 2022

NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT: VSef appoints Stephen Knowles as CEO

VSef is delighted to announce Stephen Knowles has been appointed CEO. Stephen has over two decades of experience working with some of the most dynamic events businesses, including IQPC, Informa Markets (previously UBM) and CloserStill.

As a champion of the events industry, Knowles has extensive events experience, launching event brands into new markets and sectors. He is a trusted business leader with an eye for transatlantic opportunities. 

Stephen Knowles says,

“It’s a rare role that has the potential to make such a progressive and rapid impact on the global events industry as whole. I am drawn to problem-solving opportunities that make a real difference, and when the chance came up to lead the VSef initiative I couldn’t say no.” 

“When creating a must-have list for 2022, few leaders in the industry wrote ‘universal data format’ as a key objective.  However, when a ready-made solution, created independently and that resolves significant challenges for the industry and its customers drops into leaders’ laps, wide-scale change can happen extremely rapidly.”   

Knowles takes over from Mark Brewster who has led VSef since its inception in early 2021, and who will continue to serve as Chairman of VSef and CEO of Explori, the  event measurement business he founded in 2011.

Mark Brewster commented,

“I’m extremely excited to see Stephen take over the day-to-day management of this important industry initiative. For me, it has been an absolute honour to work with the industry so collaboratively to fix the big data problem. Stephen skills in scaling industry projects and events make him the perfect choice for VSef and I’m looking forward to seeing it progress in his hands.”

This appointment comes after the recent announcement of V2.0 of VSef which now includes a new set of API standards enabling organizers to pull their data from multiple platforms into their own system. There are also improvements related to language capabilities, exhibitor and sponsor directories, and customized data fields. 


If you'd like to get in touch with Stephen Knowles to discuss VSef email

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  • “The silver lining in the pivot to digital has been the data-rich environment we organisers now find ourselves in. But, we have a huge standardisation job at hand if we’re to benefit from this newly found trove of data. VSef/RSDE has been designed to solve this problem; to provide a single standard. I for one am looking forward to receiving data from different platforms in one format!”
    Dr Bariş Onay
    Chair of VSef
  • “As the global trade association for our sector, we know about the importance of unified and aligned data sets, and we are working to promote globally accepted metrics and terminologies. We recommend that every business events association joins us in supporting and promoting VSef/RSDE to their members as a collaborative way forward for our industry.”
    Anbu Varathan
    President, UFI
  • "At Grip, data democratization is at the core of our strategy in supporting organisers to move markets forward faster and providing greater value to exhibitors and visitors. We’re excited about being part of the VSef/RSDE initiative from the very beginning and making it easier for organisers to move data between solutions in the event technology stack will be crucial for gaining greater insight into events and their success."
    Warith Nassor
    Product Owner - Data, Integrations and Insight. Grip
  • "Data is the key to growth in the event industry. It helps organizers better serve their communities, create brand loyalty and create logical, long-term strategies. VSef/RSDE will make it much easier for organizers to collect the data used in making critical decisions without having to sacrifice customer experience and their technology stack."
    Robyn Duda
    Founder, RDC
  • "Our position on data is and always has been that it should be accessible, freely available, and owned by organisers, which is reflected in our Data Manifesto. It has been a pleasure to collaborate with Mark and the wider Explori team and we are proud to be early adopters of the VSef/RSDE initiative, which is an important step in standardising metrics and in allowing organisers to easily compare these metrics across platforms."
    Mykyta Fastovets
    CTO, Expoplatform
  • "We reside at an inflection point in the global events industry. Our immediate embrace of normalized data is going to decide the extent to which we define our value and fuel our growth. VSef/RSDE is an ambitious project that deserves universal support across platforms, organizers, and industry organizations. We are pleased to take these first steps with the VSef team and their growing partner community."
    Tony Lorenz
    SVP Strategy, Intrado
  • "The need to unite event data has been a topic of conversation at Event Tech Live and within the community for many years. It's fantastic to see the experts and advisors behind VSef/RSDE taking the mantle and moving this forward for the benefit of the whole industry. I am proud for Event Tech Live to be a founding member and look forward to helping drive this initiative too."
    Adam Parry
    Co-founder, Event Tech Live
  • "Data is a crucial issue in digital events and setting a framework for data standardisation and industry collaboration is key to future industry success. We are excited to be partnering with VSef/RSDE on this important initiative."
    Sophie Ahmed
    CEO and Co-Founder, Virtual Events Institute
  • “Now more than ever it is important to collaborate, share and connects minds for a better future of the exhibition industry. VSef/RSDE is a perfect example of collaborative knowledge!”
    Enrico Gallorini
    CEO, GRS Research & Strategy