I think you’re all starting to get the idea now but the last time I visited the BNC Event Show it was as an exhibitor so it was great to be able to return last week in my event planner shoes.

I arrived around 11am, collected my sparkly silver lanyard and passport and made my way to the main hall catching a glimpse of a banner stating there was an event app I could download (I will come back to this a little later).

The bi-annual event held at The Brewery was as busy as I expected it to be with lots of activity around the 200 exhibitors in the Porter Tun, one of the largest and oldest event spaces in the City.

There was also a pretty packed seminar programme, 12 in total across the day with Keynotes from Tom Parker-Bowles and Ben Fogle. I decided to try and fit in as many as I could during my time there and started with Mango Pie’s Mandy Mahill session ‘Event + Personality = Memorable Event’. I’ve mentioned the rise of personalisation in previous posts, I think it will become so intrinsic to how we organise events in the future, so it was great to hear Mandy talk about how planners could bring out the personality and the emotional side of their brands and maybe consider downsizing their events to make them more personal.

BNC Event Show 4

Next came Tom Parker-Bowles’s keynote on ‘Food Trends – Relevant or Rubbish?’. As a Northerner I was very excited to hear that a Canadian dish called Poutine would be huge this year. Poutine basically being chips, gravy and cheese and then also anything shoved into a bun, even better! Lancastrians love anything in a bun, or a bap or barm cake as we prefer to call it!

Tom’s passion and excitement for all things food resonated with the audience particularly his love for British seasonal produce; “The UK has the perfect climate for wonderful food culture” and I loved his observation that people’s eating habits are changing and getting more adventurous; “London is the greatest eating city in the world” you can find a restaurant, pop up or food stall now from almost every single country offering quality and variety.

Rick Stainton from Smyle urged us to start thinking about sustainability in his session on ‘How to easily make your events more sustainable’, explaining that sustainability is economic activity, environment responsibility and social progress, that “more sustainable businesses generally do better” and that it’s all about “improvement, improvement, improvement”.

IMG_2580The highlight of the afternoon for me was listening to Ben Fogle. Ben became a household name after launching onto our screens in Castaway in 2000 and because of his well-documented adventures running multiple marathons across desserts and rowing across vast oceans. What people probably don’t know is that he didn’t really excel at school and was always the last kid to be picked for any sports team, perhaps that has inspired his continuous desire to complete these huge life changing challenges? What I will say is he captivated the room and you could hear a pin drop and it was obvious he is an extremely passionate and optimistic person even describing himself as a happy Labrador.

He talked about how easy it is to become creatures of habit and allow complacency to set in, how it’s important to take yourself out of your comfort zone and to “think outside the box and you can achieve some extraordinary things”. What keeps Ben Fogle going and focused? “Having a back catalogue of worst case scenarios!” something I think every event planner can relate to.

IMG_2567In between the seminars I had the opportunity to grab some of the delicious food, drink and treats that were on offer and have a wander around the exhibitors. A little venue heavy for my liking, but there were some good venues and brands exhibiting and I liked the fact there were a few of our amazing sporting and unique venues to see as well. There were a number of event agencies and tech suppliers exhibiting however I do think they became a little lost in the crowd, it’s a very busy show!

If there are any suggestions I would like to make for future events it would be to perhaps have a couple less seminars or more than one seminar room giving the speakers a little more time. There were a couple I saw that were obviously trying to get across as much information as they could in their 15 minutes and lost their key message which impacted on the Q&A.

I also said earlier I would come back to the event app. If you have started following my blog you will know of my enthusiasm for event apps and event tech in general so for me it was fantastic there was one to download. However, I have said in previous posts it’s important to have clear objectives and as adoption can be a challenge, to drive engagement. There were only about 30 of the expected 1500+ visitors checked into the app and I feel a bit of extra marketing before the event with an explanation how to use it, it’s key features and a suggestion to download before arriving at the event would have been great.

A great show though and I do recommend that if you have the opportunity to visit next year then definitely do so. The 2016 event is being held on Wednesday 17th February and there is also this year’s summer show being held on the HMS President on Wednesday 1st July. As a little incentive you’ll come away with some lovely goodies and may even win a pair of Jimmy Choos!

Until next time #Eventprofs…