Autumn conference season: how can you prepare, how will you cope?

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Autumn conference season: how can you prepare, how will you cope?

BCSC, Completely Retail, World Retail Congress, MIPIM UK, EXPO Real, MAPIC and ICSC ReCon: the hustle and bustle of the Autumn conference season is almost upon us – the time when the industry gets up from its school holiday sun lounger and crams 6 months of deals and work into just 3 months – before it winds down (or up!) into Christmas. So how can you prepare, how will you make the most of it, and how will you cope?

As the old proverb goes – “A stitch in time saves nine”. Taking as much time out before the holidays to consider your objectives and requirements will pay dividends at the events themselves – long before the flurry of blogs posted in the week before the event tell you to pack aspirin, comfortable shoes and hope for the best. Yeah great …thanks!

We all know that conferences are ostensibly networking and promotional opportunities – so gathering up your marketing collateral and reviewing your messaging and communications strategy well ahead of time will help you and your team enormously. Most of these opportunities come just once a year, so getting it right is vital, and the market is more competitive and international than we’ve ever seen before. So, factor in extra lead-time to get advertisements, brochures, newsletters, events and websites ready.

At great events like the ones mentioned above, they’ve invested in all manner of ways to help you close that deal with a variety of meeting and networking opportunities. Marketing itself as “uniquely different’, the BCSC Conference is planning more meeting spaces than in previous years, and giving them hip, memorable names like ‘The Library’ and the ‘Digital Playground’ to make it easier to arrange a meeting spot. EXPO Real’s Halls A, B, C and D make the grid of stands easy to navigate and reduces margins of meeting error – whilst at MAPIC, the conference stretches way beyond the Palais, giving you a wonderful variety of meeting spots and venues that demand a second look.

Innovation and technology are now bread and butter for all conferences now – even the most staid have conceded that technology has changed real estate. It’s also become noticeably harder for organisers to remain current and relevant with their speaker rosters when the market is moving so quickly – after all, who wants to hear about last year’s innovations? Maybe you or your team should be there to discuss a topic, showcase a project or represent the business.

Speaking of which, the events themselves are also great gatherings for the industry’s media and a springboard for important announcements and messages. Perhaps you have some of those in the pipeline, and are thinking of using this for the focus of your activity – our experience has shown that the market is twice as receptive to announcements made at major conferences than just in the course of daily work. The market is simply more focused at these events, and therefore you must be too – it will pay dividends and add value.

So, if you’re not already reading this from your sun lounger, give your preparation and planning some thought. Make this Autumn’s conferences the best yet for you and your business.

Dan Innes, Managing Director

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