Event Buyers Live – Review
Luton Who? No Luton Hoo. It’s an actual place and it was the destination for this years event buyers live. A country manor house hosting a few hundred event professionals was the background to this meet, eat and learn format.
It’s a two day event that no doubt left the participants craving the weekend. With two full days of appointments for suppliers and attendees, plus several sessions and a dinner in the evening it’s certainly not “time off” from work. It is a challenging couple of days which I decided to experience for just one day; that’s a speakers prerogative.
As well as a challenge for participants this is an exceptionally difficult format for the event organiser and it’s where a bit of meeting design comes in to play. The attendee’s brain is not a tape recorder and more is often less. On both points the events team at Stand Out Magazine had obviously done their homework.
Unlike similar hosted buyer appointment shows attendees had some white space. Meetings were compulsory of course but they were relaxingly spread out across the day with most attendees having happily met with eight or so suppliers. One participant attended my session after an hour off. This is rare beast at these high frequency meeting formats but these ‘white space’ slots had been deliberately built in by the events team and to good effect. Attendees arrived engaged and relaxed for the content with space in their heads to soak up the information.
And it was all about the content
I was able to attend three sessions and all were fantastic. The opening keynote was great and led me to write a blog post while having a coffee straight after: I felt an impulse to spread the belief that a debrief is something exceptionally important for planners.
The two other sessions were hosted by event managers. The Open’s event manager’s sessions was fantastic and a wonderful case study on how to really get over the barriers when introducing technology. The Great North Run’s event manager and the Group CEO from Big Cat had an inspiring session discussing mass participation events.
I facilitated a round table session and so much came from it I’ll write a post next week summarising our conversations and advice. But back to the review.
Creating an enjoyable environment is the key to making this format work
The layout of the space for meetings makes a big difference to how attendees and exhibitors feel and approach these meetings. This was almost the perfect layout for the 1.2.1s. Nice and informal with a continual buzz of chat in the background. I only had one meeting and the layout, furniture and space worked well. My advice for other similar events is to go as informal as possible. Avoid anything that creates a barrier between attendees and exhibitors, so that’s no high tables or any kind of shell scheme. Event Buyers Live has set the bar.