On Monday the 16th November I flew out to Barcelona. I got picked up at the airport by, what I think was, a super classy Iveco Mago II. I got to the 5* hotel Princesa Sofia in under 25 minutes. At the hotel, a great and friendly guy, at the front desk, helped me with my suitcase. He brought it upstairs for me, all the way to the 4th floor. The room was spacious, neat and with a big, big bed. I met a friend for dinner and over tapas, we chatted about our families, our origins, the future and yes, some business. I got a taxi, the driver was really chatty and we talked all the way back to the hotel.

Day 1: On Tuesday morning, I had a great breakfast and got my shuttle bus to the Fira Gran Via. I got my pass, left my coat and picked up a pocket guide.

Good first impression: spacious, clean, vibrant, easy to navigate show floor and an excellent Internet connection. I had a little wonder around with Jason Allan Scott, considering what to see, who to talk to and how to approach the exhibition floor.

This was not only the first time I attended IBTM World, but it was also the first time ever I was invited to be a speaker. However, although my pass said speaker, I don’t consider myself as such. I am more of a moderator, a presenter or a reporter. Why? Because, I didn’t do any speech, but I interviewed a few experts. My sessions were called: Events Uncovered Live at IBTM. So, do you know my usual format? Do you know how I interview experts online? Well, this was the same, just face to face and…with an audience. I had 2 sessions on Tuesday for 20 minutes each in the Think Tank. The Think Tank was part of the Knowledge Village. Like a replica of a mini Spanish square with olive trees, benches, flowers and with 4 extraordinarily decorated rooms: The Think Tank, the Garden, the Bistro and the Coliseum. Each room had a personalised theme. Let me just add: the Think Tank was perfect for me. I sat on a beanbag (and not stood on stage), had cosy conversations with the experts and I was able to interact and involve the audience.

I got to choose and interview 2 different and amazing experts.

First: Ciara Feely, owner of The Conference Converter. We talked about hotels, planners, what drives each of them mad, sales and about emotions.

Second: Sallie Coventry, Portfolio Director of IBTM events.  We spoke about collaboration, the importance of it, how to start it and what to do.

During the day, I had the pleasure to meet, chat and hug a few true and brilliant experts. And of course, I took a lot of selfies. I had 4 excellent meetings with a variety of professionals. We bounced a few ideas off each other and there was an exchange of unique concepts that we could co-create. The day ended with the Welcome Reception. Food, music, entertainment and conversations were excellent.

Day 2: On Wednesday, after a yummy breakfast, I got the shuttle bus to the venue. I had 2 more sessions of 20 minutes each. I interviewed 2 more brilliant experts.

First: James Ward, founder of ‘The Boring Conference’. We discussed why and how he created this event. Every planner is always trying to be fun, exciting and original, but James just loves ‘boring things’. It was great to understand the reasons behind such an event, which has been a success (and always a sold out) over the past few years.

Last: Brandt Krueger, owner of Event Technology Consulting. We talked about negative brainstorming. We discussed how it helps planners to think about everything that could go wrong at an event and come up with solutions. From around 6pm there was a ‘Networking hour’. I moved from stand to stand with Richard (#bantersquad). We played music, had chats, laughed and took some pictures. I then went for dinner. It was simple yet delicious, and thankfully relaxing.

Day 3: I had the pleasure to assist Ciara Feely during one of her sessions. I welcomed attendees, gave party hats, snapped some pictures, took some testimonials and most of all, learnt a lot about venues and planners.

I spent the last 3-4 hours at IBTM world, walking around the Innovation Zone, having some more interesting chats and saying goodbyes. The Innovation Zone, featured the top 10 innovations, who were shortlisted from over 60 Technology and Innovation Watch award entries and selected by an independent panel of judges. They organised mini tours of the 10 stands, explaining the various technologies. The top 10 innovations were: AroundThen, Bluesky Path, EventCollab, EventPilot, In It Live, Interactio, Loopd, Mash Machine, Slidebox and Social Point. In It Live won the 1st prize! Around 4pm, I made my way to the airport with the shuttle bus. Airport queues were incredibly long. Many passengers missed their flights. I am not sure the airport was ready for the IBTM crowd.

This was certainly an unbelievable experience. As it was the first time at IBTM, it took me a while to get used to it and take it all in. I absolutely loved getting to network (and taking selfies) with some of the best professionals in our industry. What surprised me the most? A few times, I had people recognise me, knowing who I was and what I did and congratulated me for my work. I must say although surprised, it felt incredibly good. I got a lot of contacts, and plenty of new experts to interview for Events Uncovered TV!!

Big Thanks to Jason, Brandt and Richard for spending time with me, making me laugh while giving me great advice. And finally, a BIG FAT THANK YOU to Abi, for believing in me and in my work, for giving me a chance and for being so supportive, encouraging and motivating. You are a star!!

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