EIBTM 2014 – Review

This year’s EIBTM was the last one I attended as a Barcelona resident, well who knows, at least for a few years anyway. Now that I am back living in Scotland I will no doubt continue to attend this exceptionally important show and next year I look forward to reviewing the event through the hosted buyer experience: I am sure this will give me an interesting view of the show. But for now, this review is as a “normal” trade visitor.

EIBTM 2014 in numbers

Taken from C&IT post EIBTM article:

15,000 – meeting professionals from around the world attended the show

3,000 – exhibitors from 150 countries

4,000 – hosted buyers from 71 countries

50,000 – appointments matched

25,000 – number of additional hosted buyer appointments made

25% – rise on the number of pre-scheduled appointments made last year

6 – glasses of Leffe drunk by William at the Live Group stand before 6pm on the Wednesday which he would later regret

Impressive numbers!

Some of the hosted buyers in the exclusive hosted buyer lounge

My EIBTM – the exhibition

As ever the destination stands and the hotel areas were packed. Thousands crammed on and around these stands each day. I passed the small stands, the medium sized stands and the large ones and all were busy with what appeared to be one or many of the 50,000 matched appointments taking place.

My Home Stand

The view from the London stand to my new home stand

It was a bit quieter away from the destinations. The further away from the central staircase the more obvious the space between stands become. I spent a bit of time in the tech area and it was certainly less crowded than the all singing all dancing destination stands. I know the EIBTM team are thinking about how to make this area more of a hub with more traffic. Certainly the investment in the Innovation Zone (below) shows there is a desire to improve this space. It was interesting through that Cvent took a space in the middle of the hall (away from the tech area) and I wonder if more of the Tech Companies will follow this wisdom in 2015. That will be a challenge for EIBTM as it looks to cement this tech zone.

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The rather beautiful looking Innovation Zone

One area I really liked was the small Sustainability Zone. It has a very nice feel to it. Everyone who was there seemed to have been “pulled” rather than pushed to the area. The layout was very good and of course made use of sustainable material and the small seminars were well targeted and well received. I think this is an area which could be developed in the years to come – especially as we see sustainability creeping back on to planners agenda.

A rather chilled sustainability area

My EIBTM – the education

The educational programme this year looked in much better shape than previous years. In my review last year I highlighted that “less was sometimes more” when thinking about education at these types of events and it looked like the EIBTM team wisely shed a lot of sessions. It’s still a meaty amount and plenty of variety was on offer. I actually couldn’t get a picture of the whole programme on my phone; here’s Wednesday’s offering:

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Reed I believe, have a strong desire to improve the educational content at their shows and as their flagship show EIBTM will, I hope, demonstrate that in 2015. One area to look at for Reed – and for every other show which tries to do this exhibition and learning balancing act – is the learning environment. It was good to see an attempt to soften the spaces used in one of the education areas but definitely few marks for practically encouraging the type of environment the “conference architect” would have wanted; the balls and cardboard seats simply created more distance and less connection between speakers and audience. Also using CatchBox (a throwable mic) can be a great way to enliven debate but when it’s thrown by the facilitator across the room and smacks an attendee in the face its way past meeting design: more meeting declined.

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My EIBTM – the added extras

For many EIBTM is the reason to visit Barcelona in the closing weeks of November but it is the dinners, drinks, meetings and networking that take place alongside that provides a large amount of the value. I was lucky enough to be hosted by ExCeL at the beautiful ABaC restaurant on the Tuesday evening and ACC Liverpool at the Hotel Neri on the Wednesday and it was great to add this element to my last, as a BCN resident, EIBTM. So thanks again guys!

I also attended the Meetings Leadership Summit on the Monday evening along with 200 senior event professions at the quite stunning Sant Pau Hospital (handily €4.20 in a cab from my old place in Barcelona).

EIBTM into 2015

There seemed to be a huge amount of business taking place on the show floor and elsewhere across the three days. Add to this hundreds of satellite events, dinners and meetings taking place and the EIBTM event becomes a monster of a show for our industry.

Like most monsters it’s hard for them to be nimble and pretty but everything tells me that EIBTM is here to stay and will continue to be the largest and one of the best gatherings of event professionals in Europe. EIBTM is perhaps too big to be particularly innovative but I would suggest it can still do many things differently and better. However I would suggest that there is little requested change from the thousands of happy suppliers who see a very busy show. The same pace for change could be said about the hosted buyers with one commenting to me “the registration process was infuriating” before adding “……..I can’t wait to come back next year”.

As a simple trade visitor it was a great experience and it is a great show.

With this clear demand from suppliers and visitors the event will continue to bulk up. However even the bigger events can improve and innovate.

After three years of living in Barcelona I am looking ahead to 2015 and being based in Edinburgh but it will be great to head back to Barcelona in 2015 and EIBTM in particular and see what difference a year makes.

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