Category Archives: New technologies

LeWeb a.k.a. the playground for adults: a meeting design case study


A few months ago, I read an article at the Event Manager Blog that said that conferences are the perfect playgrounds for adults. Well, I think LeWeb couldn’t be a better example of that. This was my first time attending this conference (thanks to Conferize who gave away 1 ticket!) and it’s been a truly fascinating experience. I not only learned a lot about the latest technology innovations and met countless of serial entrepreneurs, but also came away with many meeting design ideas.

I believe that LeWeb does many things very well. For starters, it was an almost flawless meeting – despite being a 3,000+ conference, with hectic schedules (some presentations only lasted for 5 minutes!), there were almost no delays and no technical or logistical flaws (that I noticed). It felt more like being in a TV set instead of a conference! In terms of meeting design, I observed quite a few things:

1. Branding: you only need to look at pictures to see their logo all over the place. I’ve probably never seen a logo so many times in a conference. They’re very good at including LeWeb image and colours everywhere, especially close to the stage. So, the logo was inevitably in most of the pictures that were taken. I think that many times, especially for corporate events, we forget about that. But branding is so important if we want to create buzz around the event and build a community! I also loved the design of the stages: lots of mirrors, textiles, sofas and lamps – simple but very classy.

LeWeb logo all over the stage

LeWeb logo all over the stage

Elegant decor for the second stage

Elegant decor for the second stage

2. Impactful beginning: when I do presentations about meeting design, I always say that setting the tone during the first 10 minutes of a conference is key. I’ve experienced it myself many times – if you want your audience to interact, start by asking them to do something. That will set their expectations. At LeWeb they got this right too – they started with a guided meditation for everyone (the auditorium was packed). It was followed by an interview of one of the keynote speakers over breakfast – Loic Le Meur and the speaker were literally having coffee and eating a croissant – simple but caught my attention.

IMG_20141209_100126IMG_20141209_095554

3. Really dynamic presentation formats: I thought they did a great at combining speaker presentations (no longer than 20 minutes each), panels and interviews. Most of them were actually Q&A panels and interviews, which are very engaging but I don’t see them that often at conferences – and I don’t know why? Besides being engaging, it gives people the chance to ask questions, but also it’s the perfect solution to having a speaker that hasn’t got the best presentation skills. However, I did miss not having time for reflection nor roundtable discussions… but with thousands of delegates, would that work? (To LeWeb’s credit, there were a few small roundtable discussions and workshops running in parallel. I attended a couple of them and they were great). I should also point out that, even though there were over 3,000 attendees, most of the time there were only 2 main sessions going on at the same time. I’ve been to many conferences with far less people and many more sessions. I believe LeWeb’s approach is preferable: many psychological studies say that when we have too many choices, we are often less happy (because of the so-called FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out). Someone told me that at SXSW they have up to 56 sessions in parallel, which is outrageous, although they do have 50,000 delegates. In my opinion, having 2 or 3 choices is enough, so kudos to LeWeb!

4. I missed more facilitated networking – obviously networking is one of the main reasons why people go to LeWeb, but there weren’t any formally structured activities to help me meet who I wanted to meet. So I probably lost many opportunities. Yes, I know you can contact people over the event app but it’d have been nice to have recommendations based on similar interests, for example. Also, most of the sessions had a theatre style seating, which made it difficult to meet people as well.

Main room

Main room

5. The moderators were just GREAT. They used many moderators throughout the 3 days, but the one I saw more often was Loic Le Meur, LeWeb’s founder. He did such a good job at keeping our attention, controlling the time, asking interesting questions and striking a good balance between his questions and the audience’s. I also noticed Loic’s ability for really listening to the speaker and reflect on the content. Unfortunately, that’s not something so common between moderators and facilitators. Perhaps it’s because of his mindfulness daily practice?

6. Well-curated content. I’m not an expert in the topics (mostly technological innovations and start-ups), but I understand the conference is really well thought-after (let’s not forget, though, that the conference fee is 2.500€! I wish I’d had that budget when I was curating conferences!). Nevertheless, hats off to LeWeb for designing a programme that had a perfect flow and mindblowing content. The speaker presentations were also quite consistent in terms of quality, dynamism, attention to slide design, conciseness.

7. As I said before, the logistics were flawless, even the wifi was excellent! I also liked the VIP seats that they had on the stage for press, bloggers, sponsors and speakers. If creating buzz around your event is one of your goals, why not offer to media and bloggers a table, a comfortable chair, a socket and a privileged spot? Another highlight was the exhibition and networking area: it was designed in a way that there were almost no “dead areas” and in between sessions the space was packed. A special mention as well to the food: the catering was excellent, and I could even taste Iberian ham and my favourite French meal, parmentier de canard!

Exhibition and networking area

Exhibition and networking area

Iberian ham at the Spain booth

Iberian ham at the Spanish booth

Parmentier de canard

Parmentier de canard

Finally, here’s a few cool predictions I learned about:

1. Healthcare apps will be the big hit in 2015, as well as crowdsourced /peer-to-peer services like Blablacar, airbnb or drivy. More and more of these startups will go public, and their funding and execution will dictate which start ups win.

2. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web (who was my favourite speaker) had mixed feelings about whether internet will remain neutral or not (the other scenario is that a few corporations and governments will control the information we access). He argued that “the robots are already here“, they are the corporations and in some of them, humans can’t apply for jobs.

3. Wearables will become ubiquitous and will make lots of data available. Some of the fun wearables or so-called “enchanted objects” that we saw are an umbrella that lights up when the weather forecast says it’s going to rain or a wallet that’s connected to your bank account, and it becomes harder to open as you’re running out of money.

4. Driveless cars are coming much more quickly than anyone realizes, perhaps in 5 years they will be mainstream, as well as electric cars. We’ll have different lanes for humans and robots.

5. The rise of the crowd economy: healthcare, corporate, transportation, utilities, cities, trucks, hospitals, police, university lectures – peer-to-peer sharing is now really everywhere.

6. In the future we’ll be able to use technology to “rewrite” the brain and to read someone else’s brain, and know if they’re saying the truth or not.

Truly astonishing stuff for a sublime conference.

As a closing thought: they say that Millenialls spend more money on experiences than on consuming products – so I predict that conferences will be even more on the rise in the near future, as others have also argued. They are the ultimate playground for those who are curious about the world and love meeting like-minded people.

Have you got inspiration from other conferences that you’ve attended? Would love to hear your meeting design ideas!

IMG_20141210_172032_1IMG_20141209_113027IMG_20141209_151109IMG_20141210_184119

Advertisements

EIBTM review: the trade show of a grown-up industry


So once more, another fantastic edition of EIBTM comes to an end. I’ve attended this show for the past 5 years, as a visitor, an exhibitor, a speaker and even as staff! (last year I project managed the Innovation Zone). This year though, it was a relaxing one for me – I only had to speak at one session and attend a few meetings. Therefore, I had time to wander around, go to some educational sessions and catch up with friends and colleagues. I have many takeaways from this year’s exhibition, but if I have to choose one word to sum it up, it’s MATURITY. I’m a relatively new comer to the meetings industry, but this year I could sense, in many ways, that meeting professionals are “growing up”. Let me explain it:

1. The first example of Maturity is EIBTM itself: this year, the trade show has gone back to the basics, slashing many educational sessions and focusing on its raison d’être, facilitating business connections. If there is less education, delegates spend more time on the show floor with exhibitors. This makes sense, and even more in this day and age, where we can find so much information online (some people argue that speaker presentations will no longer exist in a few years, since it’s all available online – I don’t agree though). EIBTM has also changed its name, in 2015 it will be called IBTM World. Personally, I find it a good move, this trade show is truly a melting pot of people from all over the world! The organizers can certainly be proud: there was an 8% increase in attendance (over 15.000 visitors!). I also spoke with some exhibitors who told me that, for the first time ever, they had closed deals on the spot. That’s certainly good news for everyone involved.

Loved the hustle and bustle of the show floor!

Loved the hustle and bustle of the show floor!

2. There is much more interest in the content side of meetings. The educational programme was overwhelmingly dominated by the topic of meeting design. I myself co-presented a session on it, we had a large audience and by the level of the questions that we were asked, I can tell most were not beginners. It’s as if meeting planners (finally) realize that they create valuable events when they focus on fostering education and networking, besides booking nice hotels. Also, the FRESH dinner (the place to be if you’re into meeting design) was the busiest ever this year. By the way, all sessions were livestreamed and made available on-demand here.

The audience at our session on Meeting formats

The audience at our session on Meeting formats

And this was the stage where we presented

And this was the stage where we presented

3. Tech start ups are no longer the “new kids on the block”. Event technology companies are getting bigger, booking larger stands, and more tellingly, no longer need to educate their customers so much. Now pretty much everyone knows what an event app is, understands that technology should be used meaningfully and is not so afraid of using gadgets and the venue’s wifi. American Express Meetings & Events said that in North America, hybrid meetings are on the rise (albeit flat in EMEA). Some of the new trends in technology are ibeacons and augmented reality, but in my opinion, for now they are just fancy technologies, with no real added value for event organizers just yet.

Having fun with augmented reality at the Innovation Zone

Having fun with augmented reality at the Innovation Zone

View of the Innovation Zone

View of the stunning Innovation Zone

4. Event planners are becoming experts at using Social Media. Obviously we’re all still learning and there’s much room for improvement, however, I think we’re in high school now! If you read the latest ebook from Event Manager’s Blog, which was released during EIBTM, you’ll see much more sophisticated information and case studies on using Social Media networks at events. Therefore, we are moving from beginners to advanced users. Still, when I asked a panel of so-called “Social Media experts” about the role of bloggers, most said that they didn’t know any MICE blogger. Well, I think it’s time to look at how other industries are taking advantage of bloggers and use those strategies for event and destination marketing. By the way, some interesting data here: most of the Trip Advisor reviews are positive (the average is 4.6/5), so there is no need to be afraid of social media reviews!

Finally, thanks to the Meeting Design Institute (and all the sponsors of the Video Corner) we recorded a video that explains what The Conference Goer’s Blog is all about. You can check it out here.

Did you go to EIBTM? What was your experience of the trade show? Do you agree with my conclusion that the meeting professional has grown up? And if you read my previous blog post on Tips from a local to enjoy Barcelona, please share what your experience was!

Energizing break at the Innovation Zone by Magdalina Atanassova

Energizing break at the Innovation Zone by Magdalina Atanassova

The impact of virtual meetings: can we have some common sense, please?


This week I’ve come across to a very interesting article that I’d like to encourage you all to read.

Thought leaders of the meetings industry, such as Corbin Ball, give their views on the future of events, mainly talking about the changes brought about by the Generation Yers and the technology innovations.

Basically they claim that virtual events are an opportunity, for those event planners that want to embrace them. And, in case anyone had any doubt, they reassure us that face-to-face meetings will continue having its prominent place.

And I’m wondering, if hybrid meetings are the meetings of the future, aren’t the event professionals going to have to be more focused on meeting design and  experts in technologies? If not, who else can perform these tasks?

Any thoughts?

Share it


Impressions from IMEX’10


I’m back from my first visit to IMEX, in Frankfurt, one of the biggest trade shows of the events industry. I’ve been sponsored to attend it as part of the Future Leaders Forum, a joint program between IMEX and MPI for students.

It’s been 3 extremely intense days with lots of seminars, networking, receptions, and parties. I’m going to briefly talk about my main impressions and learnings:

– Although the show is clearly (and predictably) still dominated by the hospitality and tourism industry, it was great to see the TechTap booth. Members of the Meeting Support Industry showcased their latest products, such as the Spotme device.

– Attending the Future Leaders Forum meant that I got to see many seminars on the latest trends on events. No speaker mentioned the concepts of ‘meeting design’ or ‘meeting architecture’. Nonetheless, I was pleased to see that actually many sessions were connected to it: yoga to improve attendees’ energy, the relevance of personality types and cultural differences between delegates, or the measurement of ROI.

– Generally the industry is optimistic about the future and predictably, some of the trends announced are increased importance of CSR and ROI measurement.

– During the Meeting Architecture dinner, I had the chance to experience for the first time a new gadget called Poken. And I LOVED it and I’m convinced that if it reaches its tipping point, it’s going to be on everybody’s hands soon. Basically it allows to exchange digital business cards, sending all the information to a website. I will talk more about its features in another post, because I think it deserves it!

One curiosity, it turns out that on average, 50% of the population are introverts, and the other 50% extroverts. Guess what’s the proportion between event professionals? 9 out of 10 are extroverts! Perhaps not very surprising, but still I found it interesting.

Now, anyone else here went to IMEX? What did you like most? Would love to hear your comments!

Share it