Let the shows begin

Gerald Ratner and Kelly Hoppen will be giving much food for thought as keynote speakers at International Confex this month.

Ratner will appear on Day One of the show, 18 February, and will relate how he picked himself up after ‘that’ gaffe to run a successful business. He turned a family jewellery business into the world’s largest jewellery retailer with profits in excess of £120m before a spectacular fall from grace.

Event Director, Liz Agostini, says: “Inviting Gerald to share his experiences will be a timely reminder for CEOs, MDs and other senior executives on the importance of an organisation’s brand and the values, ethics and morals that guide the way the business behaves. Competition in the events industry is fierce and, as business owners and operators, we need to ensure we protect and promote our businesses in the most effective manner. Gerald’s candour will most certainly be insightful and thought-provoking.”

Award-winning interior designer and Dragon’s Den panelist Kelly Hoppen appears on Day Two of the show, 19 February.

Hoppen is an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust and the government’s GREAT campaign and works with UK Trade and Investment to promote the benefits of exporting to small and medium sized businesses. She will talk about ‘Why Britain’s got talent’, focusing on creativity, design and entrepreneurship.

Liz Agostini says: “Kelly Hoppen will offer inspiration, vision and strategies that can be transferred to the events industry”.

“We are thrilled to have Kelly on centre stage sharing her insights in building her reputation as a leading designer, entrepreneur and key influencer within her industry. She will be a fabulous inspiration for all visitors looking to enhance their personal and professional lives as well as the businesses they work in.”

Hoppen, like Ratner, joins International Confex via speaker agency Speakers Corner.

Main theatre

The show’s Main Theatre will host a series of debates affecting the event industry. The first day will see a session by way of an introduction to the 2015 Rugby World Cup with VisitEngland’s RWC project director, Jeremy Brinkworth. He will discuss the opportunities available to destinations, venues and event suppliers. This will be followed by Nick de Bois MP, providing the government’s perspective on the value that international events bring to the UK. The afternoon will kick off with a panel discussion on future trends for the industry chaired by Triggerfish MD, Andrew White.

The Associations Network, meanwhile, is to deliver the Associations Events Forum on the first day of the show. 

The Associations Network is a membership organisation of over 15,000 employees of associations, societies, federations and other membership organisations. It will be inviting its members to attend and benefit from a day of specific educational content, networking and the opportunity to meet destinations, venues and event suppliers on the show floor.

“The association market has been a high priority for International Confex and associations represented over 25 per cent of visitors to the 2014 show,” says Liz Agostini. “As they make up such an important target audience for the events industry, we wanted to provide associations with an experience tailored specifically to their needs.”

The Association Events Forum will kick off with a dinner the evening before the show opens, with a select group of association event organisers. Hosted overnight at the Hilton Olympia, this group will enjoy further benefits throughout the day at the show.

The Forum will be chaired by Associations Network executive director Damian Hutt, who says he is “delighted” to be working with International Confex. “It has always been an important event in the calendar for organisers and, with the show regaining strength with its new owners, Mash Media, I want to show my support. Association event organisers do not always enjoy the same benefits as their corporate colleagues and, therefore, a tailored programme and a few incentives are a nice way to reward their efforts in a burgeoning industry.”

Technology Theatre
At the Technology Theatre, visitors will be introduced to the latest event technologies, tools and trends, and encouraged to explore their applicability to the events industry through a series of panel discussions, presentations and case studies.

Holographics, wearable technology and gamification in apps are three of the topics on offer throughout the two days.

Iain Wallace, head of innovation at Lumi Insight, starts the ball rolling with a panel on Day One discussing Technology Trends for 2015 and beyond.

The popular Conference News Question Time also returns on Day One with technology at the heart of discussion, alongside other hot topics for 2015.

Day Two looks at innovative and legal ways to use your data for better audience engagement before, during and after your event. The inclusion of mobile technology in events will be debated and there will be practical sessions on working smarter with tech tools, presented by Felix Stroud-Allen from Crowd Comms.

There will also be an opportunity to ask the experts for advice and guidance on the variety of event technologies during a Tech Tables session at the end of Day One. Each table will have experts on hand to provide views on how best to use technologies in events. Topics for discussion will include smart walls, wearable tech, RFID and Near-Field Communication technologies, registration systems, Wi-Fi, gamification, holographic tech, as well as hybrid events.

The Tech Tables provide an opportunity to find out if, when and how you should adopt the latest technology and, if so, at what price.

Sales Conference

The Sales Conference on Day One will be aiming to develop skills, knowledge and expertise to improve sales performance. It will also explore what sponsors want and how to sell through social media.

Marketing and communications will be a key focus for the second day, starting with a ‘Meet the Editors’ panel that will look at how to provide good PR and publicity and tailor your messages to meet the requirements of editors. Chaired by Kursha Woodgate from Mexia Communications, the panel will include CN’s editor Paul Colston.

International Business, also on Day Two, will be another track that takes a look at worldwide trends, emerging markets and how to do business with different cultures.

There will be a debate on what the airline industry is doing to support the MICE industry, addressing the lack of quality hotels and service standards in the UK and the justification of corporate hospitality.

Other news
International Confex has taken the bold decision to disperse with the traditional official printed show guide to produce a digital version using the Crowd Compass platform.

All the information you would usually find in the printed guide will now be available on the official Confex App. Crowd Compass will be on hand at the show providing a help desk to ensure all visitors are able to access the app.

Confex Connect
International Confex’s tailored hosted buyer programme, Confex Connect, offers exhibitors a guarantee that highly productive meetings will take place. Buyers will have had the opportunity to exchange information before the show.

Confex is also partnering with industry charity, Meeting Industry Meeting Needs, and will donate £5 for every visitor who takes over 5,000 steps at the event. On arrival visitors can choose to wear a pedometer which tracks the volume of steps taken at the show. Visitors will see the number of steps taken displayed on their pedometer via photos and can share them via the show app. On departure, the pedometers will be handed over for confirmation that they reached the charity goal.

“As the charity of the meetings industry, MIMN is delighted to be working with Confex on this promotion to raise money for grassroots causes as chosen by the industry. Every step counts towards a good cause,” says MIMN’s Shonali Rodrigues.

A prize will also be offered to the visitor that makes the most steps while at the event. Pedometers will be available for collection from the entrance.

This year Confex will be co locating alongside the Event Production Show (EPS) and the more recently acquired Office Management & PA Show. Registered visitors from any of the three co-located shows will be able to attend all education sessions across the board.

EPS is hosting another series of Access Sessions exploring successful sustainability initiatives in the live event sector.

Wayne Hemingway MBE, co-founder of British fashion brand, Red or Dead, is a panellist for a debate focusing on the gentrification of festivals. Gentrification is a rising trend that is not only having an impact on some of the more popular festivals, it is also creating opportunities for new festivals across the country.

There will also be an in-depth look at opening and closing ceremonies from some of the greatest sporting events the UK has witnessed in recent years.

A new feature for EPS this year is the Fest Factor, an opportunity for aspiring festival and event organisers to pitch their ideas for new festivals or outdoor events in a series of 20-minute presentations. A panel of judges will pose questions before deciding whether to invest. The Fest Factor takes to the Main Stage on the afternoon of Day Two.

Also new for 2015 is the National Outdoor Events Association Speed Networking Event for venues and landowners looking to use their spaces in new and imaginative ways. They will have the opportunity to introduce themselves to festival organisers, production teams and outdoor event agencies in a series of 10-minute pitches.

“Encouraging greater collaboration within the industry has always been at the heart of the show,” says Liz Agostini. “Many landowners are looking for additional revenue streams and festival organisers are always looking for new and unique spaces. By hosting a speed networking event we hope to highlight how venues and landowners can increase their revenue while at the same time discovering some new destinations for live events.” The speed networking will take place on the NOEA Pavillion on the show floor.

The Educational Theatre will be streaming content for both corporate PAs, secretaries and office managers, as well as virtual assistants, with speakers providing advice and hands-on workshops. There will be sessions around travel, technology, networking, negotiation skills, LinkedIn, social media, self employment, self promotion and recruitment.

International Confex, The Event Production Show and OMPA all come to Olympia London, 18-19 February 2015. To register for Confex, visit: www.international-confex.com

This was first published in the February issue of CN. Any comments? Email Paul Colston

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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