Category Archives: Trade shows

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

Tips from a local to enjoy Barcelona during EIBTM


It’s that time of the year again.. it’s EIBTM time! EIBTM has always been my favourite industry trade show: it’s an event that’s close to my heart, I always find value in their networking and educational activities, and it takes place in my hometown, Barcelona! If you’re travelling to EIBTM next week, don’t miss my tips to make the most of your trip. Be it the first time you visit the city, or your 20th, I believe you’ll find something interesting here!

At the airport:

Barcelona’s airport is quite large but modern and efficient. It’s easy to find your way around, security lines are quite quick (I’ve never had to wait for longer than 6 or 7 minutes) and there are many services that you can use. If you’re on a budget, I recommend eating at Pans & Company. The shop is located behind Burberry’s (at the left of Zara) and has many sandwiches, salads and pastries that are good and much cheaper than at the other airport restaurants.  If you don’t mind spending a bit more, you may like the new Illy shop with the famous Italian coffee and some food. The bar is located next to the A gates (on the left side of the terminal, usually a bit far from most departure gates).

If you have time to spare, I recommend having a look at Natura shop, it’s got interesting presents and souvenirs. Finally, the wifi is available for free but only for 15 minutes, and the signal is rather poor (for better quality, you may use Skype credit for example, or a subscription service like Boingo). If you, like me, spend time working at the airport, know that in El Prat it’s hard to find sockets, so bring the batteries charged!

Terminal 1, Barcelona-El Prat airport

Terminal 1, Barcelona-El Prat airport

Getting to the city:

When you arrive at the airport, you can take a taxi or the Aerobus to the centre (a return ticket costs 10,20€). It leaves every 5 minutes or so from both terminal 1 and 2 (during off-peak times there is less frequency). You get to the final destination, Plaça Catalunya (Barcelona’s main square) in around 30 minutes, but it stops at a couple of places before too.

One word of caution here: beware of taxis.. even the licensed ones (which are the ones you’ll find at the airport’s taxi stop). If they know you’re a tourist, they may take you on a lounger route! It’s happened to me a few times (I don’t have a strong Spanish accent, so people often think I’m a foreigner). The way to avoid this is to check in advance what’s the quickest way to your destination (perhaps ask your hotel, or ask me!) and tell the driver that’s the way you want to go. And don’t let them fool you! Having said this, most taxi drivers are nice people. Also, beware that not all taxis have credit card terminals, so if you don’t have cash, ask in advance if you can pay by card (or ask the driver to stop at an ATM machine, I do that often!).

Getting around the city and to EIBTM:

Taxis in Barcelona are not expensive  (if they don’t take you on a longer route than necessary!) but if you’re going to be using the metro (which it’s quite efficient) or public transport in general, I recommend you buy a ticket with 10 trips (called T-10). You can buy them at any metro or train station (but not on buses, for example). Bear in mind that the closest station to EIBTM (Fira Gran Via 2) is not a metro station but a train station (from Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat). You can take the train at Plaça Espanya, there you’ll see plenty of signs to EIBTM. The same T-10 allows you to take both the metro and the train.

The weather is quite mild, but depending on the year it can be much warmer or colder, especially now that the weather is all over the place (just 2 weeks ago people were still going to the beach, while now we’re wearing winter jackets!). It doesn’t rain much, but you should bring an umbrella just in case.

If you’re into running and jogging, the 3 most popular public spaces to go to are the Diagonal avenue (especially towards the two ends), the Montjuic mountain and the beach (especially the Mar Bella or Vila Olimpica beaches).

Running in Diagonal Avenue

Running in Diagonal Avenue

Places to visit off the beaten path:

There are many events parallel to EIBTM, but if you want to do something on your own, you can try going to Rambla del Poblenou for a real Ramblas feel (the original “Las Ramblas” is the biggest tourist trap in Barcelona). Here I recommend going to Can Recasens, a favourite between locals: stunning venue and delicious (and quite cheap) food. However, I strongly recommend you to book in advance. Also, beware that they do 2 shifts for dinner: at 9pm and at 11pm, so you can only go at those times. Just in case you don’t know yet, Spaniards tend to have dinner quite late, from 9pm onwards. But it’s such a touristic city that you won’t have problems having dinner earlier, in most restaurants.

The Rambla del Poblenou

The Rambla del Poblenou

Can Recasens

Can Recasens

Entrance to Can Recasens

Entrance to Can Recasens

Something I also recommend you to do is going to Mirablau (for coffee or cocktails) or Mirabé (for dinner). They are next to each other, sitting on top of the Tibidabo mountain, and both offer breathtaking views of Barcelona.

View of the city from Tibidabo

View of the city from Tibidabo

Another option is to try the new El Nacional, in the middle of Passeig de Gràcia (the well-known boulevard filled with luxury shops). It is a huge venue with different spaces that offer all kinds of options to eat and drink quality Spanish food. The place is strikingly beautiful too. However,  the queues to have dinner may be long (I waited for over 30 minutes).

If you are looking for Spanish tapas, there are obviously many places to choose from but I usually go to a chain called Taller de Tapas, there are quite a few in the main areas. One of the most acclaimed restaurant for tapas is “Cal Pep” in El Born (a beautiful district not far from the centre), but it is extremely busy (and closed on Sundays), so be aware (it’s a bit pricey too).

A nice experience is to have a cup of hot chocolate with churros at one of the cafes in Petritxol street, a small street parallel to Las Ramblas. All cafes are quite similar, just choose the one you like the most!

Xurros with chocolate

Hot chocolate with churros

The Sagrada Familia may be very touristic, but it is worth paying a visit if you’ve never been (and if you have, maybe too, as it may have changed!). Finally, if you have half a day left, you may want to visit Sitges, a picturesque coastal town just 30 minutes away from Barcelona (you have to take the Renfe train at Estacio de Sants station). It is one of the most beautiful towns in Spain.

Sitges

Sitges

If you have any questions or would like other tips, please ask me! And if you do visit some of these places, please share your experience here.

See you at EIBTM!

 

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!

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