A bi-monthly newsletter for event organizers in the tech industry.
December 12, 2018
Recently I attended the IBTM World conference in Barcelona. It’s 3 days of talks, networking, and a massive expo hall for event professionals from around the world. I spoke with hotels, venues, DMC companies, representatives from various countries, event suppliers and more. Needless to say, I lost my voice at the end of the conference and caught a bit of a cold, which is why this issue is late. My goal was to connect to event suppliers in the cities that AT3 Connections will be launching in 2019 and I was very pleased with the entire conference, albeit ready for the comforts and quiet of my home. At the end of it all, I scheduled some time to be a tourist in Barcelona to see the sights and learn more about this beautiful city. Two days just wasn’t enough time, so I’ll be scheduling another visit in early 2019 to do site visits, meet with suppliers and continue my tourist journey. Until then, I present to you a few highlights I found in Barcelona for this week's newsletter. We’ll catch you again in a couple of weeks, but there’s a nice little holiday between now and then, so I’d also like to wish you a Happy Holiday season full of love, laughter, family, friends, and the making of many wonderful memories!
Warm Wishes & Happy Planning!
THIS WEEK: HELLO BARCELONA!
BARCELONA:Tech, History, & Tourism
What's not to love about Barcelona? The hospitality of its friendly and welcoming people, the amazing cuisine, moderate climate and beautiful architecture and history. On this trip, however, I may note that I did use my jacket each morning and evening, with temperatures around 10 degrees celsius/46 degrees fahrenheit. The days were warmer, with still a slight chill in the air, but I was surprised to have needed a jacket at all.
It was my first visit to Barcelona and honestly I should have planned a bit better and allowed for at least two extra days to be a tourist after the conference. But I had a day and a half and it was just a teaser and I didn’t see a quarter of what I wanted to. With such little time, I decided to jump on the City Sightseeing Hop-on/Hop-off bus tour, which turned out to be a great idea. I had a flight to catch that evening, so unfortunately I didn’t get to avail myself of the full day of the tour. There were also three routes available, so I would recommend buying the two day pass. I was excited to be in Barcelona and even managed to check another European Christmas market off my list, held in the Gothic District - one of the stops of the tour.
The tech scene is growing rapidly, with this beautiful city ranking number 4 in Business Insider’s 2017 Leading Innovation Hubs in Europe list. It’s exciting to see the various conferences and events popping up around the city, with a flourishing and ever changing startup scene. Mobile World Congress and ITBM World are among the many events choosing Barcelona to host their events. With plenty of hotels, restaurants and destination management companies available (not to mention, once again, the great weather), it’s an ideal choice!
So next time you’re planning an event in Europe, perhaps a look at the Catalonian capital of Spain may be in order!
If you chose Barcelona for a past tech event, we’d love to hear your thoughts!
VENUE VISIT: Poble Espanyol
While in Barcelona, I was encouraged by my Airbnb host to visit the nearby Poble Espanyol. “Taste the Spanish soul in a unique, peaceful space in Barcelona. Strolling around charming plazas and streets made of selected historical architecture, you’ll feel the richness of our heritage.” That’s what I read on the website. Great! Sounds like a good way to spend an afternoon. I was not disappointed! From the time I arrived, there were so many details to admire and some I might have missed if I rushed through. Poble Espanyol had its beginnings back in 1923, with its doors opening in 1929. With a long history in the years to follow, Poble Espanyol was refurbished and opened as the cultural exhibition it is today.
As I walked through the main entrance, my first thought was focused on food, as it had been some time since breakfast. I walked through the grand entrance and found a little cafe that boasted the sign: "We make coffee better than George Clooney!"
Of course, I had to test the challenge, but really, I’d never had George Clooney’s coffee, so
how could I compare? I chatted with the man
who ran the cafe and said I was looking for a light snack, so he suggested a Spanish omelette, which was the perfect way to start my visit. We chatted for a bit and I mention this because this because the friendliness was typical of everyone I encountered there.
As I sat enjoying my afternoon snack, I was looking into a courtyard with a gynormous clear tent setup with greenery hanging all around. My event planner brain went to work with the events that could take place in that space. So once I finished my cappuccino (and yes, it was a pretty damn good coffee!) I continued my walk with events fully on my mind. Around every corner, I could picture the transformation of this space into something creative, educational and fun. I had to find out what kind of events they held here.
My delight continued as the sun began to set while I walked the village through the plazas and
streets. It was late November, so the Christmas decorations were already beginning to pop up. The lights were amazing and the view of the city below was impressive! It was too late to talk to someone in the office about events, so I decided to reach out the next day instead.
Yes! My questions had been answered. They do, indeed, hire out the property and have designated event spaces. From weddings and parties, to conferences and team building, the options are plenty.
What I love about this space is the overall ambiance...you’re in all parts of Spain in just one location with the dramatic and beautiful backdrop of the architectural beauty all around. The staff is ultra friendly and accommodating for even small requests, making you feel like a welcome guest. I look forward to using the space myself for a future event!
Take a look on their website for more information (of which there is plenty: photos, video, capacity charts and layouts) and then reach out to Eva Bargués at email@example.com with any questions you might have.
Photo courtesy of Poble Espanyol
SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT: Township Fair Trade Bags
My conference experience, whether producing, managing, or attending, almost always has me leaving with a bag of sorts….welcome bag, goody bag, tote bag, etc. I now have a nice little collection of tote bags from companies such as Demonware, NodeConf EU, Codess, Le Bouverie Museum, and DevSecCon, to name a few. From basic totes to drawstring bags, I have it all covered in my collection. So when I was at IBTM World, I was drawn to the booth of Township Fair Trade Bags and their display. Not only did they have the usual suspects among their collection, they also had a nice congress style bag, as well as a backpack and laptop bag. The great thing about this company is that they are free trade and environmentally friendly, as well as conscious of issues like gender equality.
They are a Social Enterprise focusing on women empowerment and ship over 20,000 bags monthly globally. If you’re in the market for bags of any sort for your next event, you might want to take a look at Township and have a chat with Jelena Milovic at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s so great to see a product we already use regularly working hard to make a difference!
FEATURED EVENT: IBTM World
If you’ve ever been to IBTM World in Barcelona, you know it is a beast of an event spanning
three days of talks and networking, with amazing face-to-face interaction. Just two weeks ago, over 15,000 event professionals from around the world converged upon Barcelona to make new contacts, catch up with old ones, share their products and services, and represent their cities. And what a three days it was! This was my first year attending, so I had no idea what I would be in for.
Talks covered everything from trends and metrics to strategy and leadership. The expo hall had over 2600 exhibitors from 141 countries, so you can imagine the amount of introductions being made daily. I tackled the expo hall by dividing it into two sections to be covered in the first two days. The final day was about re-visiting the suppliers I was most interested in.
At the end of Day One there was also a Welcome Party, with Day Two ending with a pick of Happy Hour events taking place at the individual booth spaces. And by booths, I mean huge, massive spaces big enough for dancing, performances, and plenty of food and drink. Keep in mind the expo hall is huge, so I had to choose an area to focus on, so I didn’t make it to all the possible happenings
Japan hosted a lovely happy hour with speciality foods from throughout the country, a brand new gin made in Okinawa (anyone who knows me knows that Okinawa is near and dear to my heart, so I was eager to go to this happy hour), a presentation about Japan and it’s offering for events, and many of the staff dressed in beautiful kimonos.
Scotland pulled in the crowd with a whisky tasting, a Gaelic dance lesson, and some bagpipe playing. Our amazing host, Roddy Deans of ReelTime, guided the crowd through the tasting with his Scottish charm and wit, played the bagpipes, and led us through the dance.
Next door, Ireland held a traditional music session, some Irish dancing and, of course, Guinness! The crowd joined in the singing and clapping, making for a very festive scene indeed. I previously lived in Ireland, so I saw a few familiar faces there too!
But I think the Happy Hour award definitely goes to Norway! Long after the other happy hours were over, Norway was going strong with a DJ costumed as a fox (?), guests were treated to an appealing clear cocktail (I didn’t try it, so not sure what it actually was) served in an ice glass. That’s right! An ice glass - and were given gloves to keep their fingers a bit warmer. There was dancing and a massive crowd that seemed to be the only happy hour going strong even as the expo hall was emptying out.
As for suppliers, I met people from all over the world: Australia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Germany, Belgium (my current home country), Japan, Dubai, and various cities throughout the U.S. I chatted with companies who can be of service in the coming year for conferences in key cities. A whole section was dedicated to event tech, allowing me to sit in on demos to see the latest technology available to event professionals. I made appointments to visit venues next year. And most importantly, I created some working relationships that will grow in the coming months and years.
While the talks were an important part of the conference, for me, being on the floor in the expo hall was the biggest takeaway - making connections, learning of new products and services, and mentally tracking what I could use in the future.
I'm looking forward to next years IBTM World and will be better prepared for what lies head. If you’ve not been, it’s worth a visit! Come prepared with some extra space in your suitcase to take home some cool swag and information! The 2019 dates have already been announced: November 19-21!