My EIBTM Barcelona 19th to 21st November
It was that time of year again when a massive chunk of the events world comes to see me (kind of). It’s great for Barcelona to be able to welcome one of the biggest event industry shows every year and it proves that Barcelona is a hospitable and exceptionally welcoming city. Almost everyone I speak to during EIBTM looks envious when I tell them that I am able to spend so much time here. I am as lucky, as EIBTM is, to have such a great home.
A big part of this year for me was meeting up with old friends. This networking aspect is central to the enjoyment of our industry shows. I loved the fact that the welcoming reception and the EIBTM Club Night are unashamedly about having fun. And much fun was had.
The term networking is very loosely appropriate for these occasions and they are much better for it. This year I took the opportunity to stand next to the Manneken Pis who I first met in Brussels when I was 9. I had a drink with the new MPI UK Chapter President Miguel Neves and I met up with Mobi_EM who I very poorly remotely guided round IMEX Las Vegas. And of course there were many others who were more camera shy.
3 days is tiring
This was the first year in three that I didn’t attend every day. Three days on any show floor is hard work. It’s tiring for exhibitors, visitors, speakers and of course the organisers. And thinking of the organisers I imagine that it is impossible for any environment to remain fresh over three days and it must be especially so for a show of this size. However there is no doubt that these large events are as tired as they are tiring. Please, please, please be more creative!
EIBTM this year undoubtably made a big play to beef up the content and there was a bewildering amount of sessions. There were 150 sessions alone on the “knowledge planner” Add to this sessions from suppliers in the various zones across the show floor and there were maybe 250 sessions…
I’ve mentioned in previous blogs (including this one: WHEN LESS IS MORE ) that I do not believe having so many sessions is the best approach for our large exhibitions. But they continue to do this: and after EIBTM my views haven’t changed. I sat in a few bad sessions and was thankful that they weren’t busy. And I also sat in a few great sessions and felt sad that these ones were empty.
No doubt EIBTM 14 will have even more sessions. Like those infernal adverts for the number of blades on razors I wonder: when will it all end?
So if I believe packing the exhibition with content (be that bad, average or good) isn’t the answer to adding more value then I probably should say what I think the answer is?
Create an atmosphere
I don’t think there is much doubt that content attracts people to attend the event but I wonder if it really attracts people to spend time on the show floor. And tell me if I am wrong, but this is an exhibition right? I think there is a better approach.
What did the organisers and the exhibitors do to create an atmosphere or an environment that is sticky? What was happening that attendees would flock to, enjoy, experience or participate in? I think the answer was the same for EIBTM as it was for IMEX and probably will be at CONFEX (which is under new management): not much. I really think this is a shame.
I do believe that the big shows are missing a trick. I wish someone would try and create an experience rather than just a plain old simple event. I wonder if the undoubted effort that goes into curating 200+ sessions could be better used in creating the things that make great experiences. Well who knows, maybe next year…..or maybe there is a new event on the horizon that will create an atmosphere, and will in the end, have these big shows asking: #whostolemyaudience?
Keeping things social
During EIBTM we ran a little get together via Twitter. We left a few of the IML guys in the pub and headed for some Tapas. It was a real international feel will #supereventprofsINT from Slovakia, UK, Denmark, Australia and the US. EIBTM does incredibly well in attracting visitors to Barcelona from all over the world and the city owes EIBTM a lot of gratitude.
Stand up and stand out
An exhibition should be about the stands. I spent a few hours down one end of the hall with the #eventtechs and it was interesting to see that there were a few more stands in that area this year and the innovation zone looked fantastic. It was good to see quite a few new companies who were keen to get in front of the visitors.
Almost every attendee I spoke to who visited the tech zone commented on the number of mobile app companies. I think there were possible 15 or so? Just imagine trying to choose an app just from those exhibiting! And that is maybe one of the biggest challenges for our big events. With so many stands how does the average visitor (and I am certainly no more than average) remember all the differences? And as for the exhibitors; how do they genuinely remember faces and facts from 68 x 1.2.1 meetings over three days. Just thinking about that could make you tired.