Conference News April 2018 - Page 19

19 Show Review Quality comes out on top Hardy eventprofs battled the elements and the 'Beast from the East' to contribute to an innovative and informative International Confex 2018 rganisers of International Confex reported outstanding exhibitor and visitor feedback for the 2018 show, despite the show suffering from some of the worst weather conditions in 30 years. More than 5,000 eventprofs braved the snow to visit, take part in the conference programme and do business with the 223 exhibitors. “Despite us enduring the worst blizzards seen for 30 years, the majority of our exhibitors declared the show a success,” commented event director Liz Agostini. “The tone of the show was best summed up by one of our exhibitors, Speakers Corner, who said on Day 2 they had had three conversations before 11am, each of which were with planners with a full brief and budget in their hands. Others told me it’s one of the best Confex’s they have exhibited at,” Liz Agostini said. The weather, of course, took its toll, “but the general feel from the floor was that it was quality over quantity, with the show losing around 2,000 visitors from last year,” Agostini said. Association event planners packed out the association theatre on Day 1 and it was also standing room only for the show’s keynote, with Janet Street-Porter entertaining with her fascinating observations on life. A Day 1 highlight on the CN Pavilion was a lively debate on the future of hosted buyer programmes. Moderated by Robert Kenward, the #eventprofstalk session heard from a panel, including Johnny D. Martinez from Shocklogic; Adam Parry, editor of Event Industry News; Valerie Kosh from C-Wise and CN editor Paul Colston. The consensus appeared to be that the model needed to evolve to continue to be fit for purpose in the modern global events world. On Day 2, the CN Pavilion audience heard from Right Angle Events MD, and ex-DCI in the Metropolitan Police, Steve Gaskin, on the topic of ‘Securing your events – how to win customers by keeping your delegates safe against the threats of the modern world’. There were plenty of useful tips from the man who secured Buckingham Palace after Michael Fagan’s intrusion in 1982. And Confex heard how the experiential industry needs to do more to ensure it is using the right digital tools to track results, at a panel debate session, ‘Value 2020: Understanding the value of events’. “We've seen a massive shift in the past 10 years towards integrating digital into events and now it’s IACC benefits #eventwell on the agenda One show highlight on the CN Pavilion was an absorbing ‘pop up’ talk with #eventwell founder Helen Moon, who encouraged eventprofs to get fit for event purpose, both physically and mentally. Confex returns for 2019 at Olympia London, on 26-27 February. definitely become part of the mix. But we need to ensure that we are using tools and metrics that help clients understand exactly what their ROI is,” said Ru Barksfield from digital agency Big Bear X. Discussion touched on the difficulty in measuring its success beyond the use of surveys and anecdotal feedback. “We're often being asked to change behaviour and attitudes which is often the most difficult to measure. We need ways of knowing that we've changed mindsets,” said Phil Watton, director, TFI Group. While discussion touched on methods of assessing behavioural changes, the consensus was that strategy and creativity remain the key starting point for every event. The panel discussion formed part of the ILEA keynote sessions and was moderated by Unicorn Events' Hannah Luffman.