Key US exhibition business figures, namely about 200 managers and top managers of associations, industry communities and professional market players, were present in Washington JW Marriott Hotel conference room on May 28 and 29.
We have been supporting the current event while observing the way American colleagues are sharing their experience with a great interest. We are aware of the fact it’s quite complicated to flight here due to such far distance. Besides our countries’ trade turnover level is lower, comparing to Europe or Asia. But nevertheless, the USA is business, successful commercial projects and technologies country. It provides a lot to learn for Russian market. Besides, American business community remains open while showing curiosity about the events, happening in the Russian Federation, despite the increasing political relations complexity between the countries, which I verified myself.
ECEF lasts for a day. Most conferences in the United States used to both start and terminate rather early: networking usually starts at 8.00 am while the last program block terminates at around 4 p.m. The current schedule is due to excessive American specialists employment.
I was the only Russian on the forum and tried to learn and memorize absolutely all the details. Of course, I tried to compare that practice with our Russian one. Be sure to click on the link provided below to learn the observations and analysis results, which have been formed in five main theses I’d like to share with you.
1. Not everyone has an opportunity to visit the conference.
It’s required to fit the following criteria in order to visit ECEF. First: your company should be engaged in business events organizing. Second: you must take a top position in this company (including CEO, CEM, VP, etc.). Service and media companies are allowed to visit ECEF as its sponsors only. Ordinary sale managers will not be able to visit the current event.
Therefore, you will be prohibited to enter the exhibition hall while being provided with the refund, if you are going to buy a ticket (which, by the way, costs from $700 to $4000) while not being an organizer. Yes, it’s quite hard, but nevertheless it shows a strict attitude to the rules since everyone is provided with the equal conditions.
2. Brevity and clear focus: one day, one hall, one program
ECEF duration is 24 hours. The conference starts with a welcome cocktail the night before, which then continues in the hotel bar, where the most productive communication and international contacts establishment start at. =)
Then the event program starts at 8.00 am the next day. It consisted of 5 blocks in 2019, which duration varied from 40 minutes to 1.5 hours. The blocks imply 40-minute breaks for participants’ communication. A lunch which implies a special guests distribution by seats, given their possible interests, provides an additional chance to meet and discuss the trends. The event concentration in one place is another difference.
The event provides the only hall and program, which means all the guests presence in the same time most of the time. This both certainly makes sense and provides some risks as well, namely the speakers team composition and quality should affect everyone’s interests.
What did they talk about in 2019?
The topics list of 2019 included the future of the industry, risks (including geopolitical), recruitment and training of ninja staff, companies’ advertising and exhibition expenses reduction, marketing and services personalization, processes efficiency and automation, the women role in the convention and exhibition business, ecology, thrift and sustainability – so, about the business awareness and responsibility to future generations in general.
3. Technological effectiveness within the site
There is an opportunity to download a mobile app with a program, speakers, participants, personal schedule, chat, and the ability to ask and answer the questions in real time both before and during ECEF. It is quite convenient and simple thing.
As for me, I neither used the current app in order to meet other people, nor received any message since all the participants were present at the exhibition within one hall, therefore our communication was limited to just a couple of rooms which contributed to simple way of finding new useful contacts.
The tablets, which provided the same functionality as the app’s one, were available on each participant’s table. Therefore, there was a great chance to better look through each speaker’s presentation, ask a question or participate in the vote as well. The survey results were displayed on the main scene’s screens in the answers cloud form, which is simple and very interesting idea of the audience involvement.
4. Maximum opportunities for useful contacts establishment.
Networking opportunities are created by both the organizer and the mentality feature as well. Americans are very friendly people from the early childhood, therefore it’s rather simple to start a conversation with them. For example, you may be asked a question related to the smoothie composition, which just in 5 minutes may result in discussing the Russian Federation developments prospects.
What enables ECEF networking to be as productive as possible?
- A large breaks number for communication within a relaxed atmosphere with the excellent coffee.
- One-and-a-half-hour lunch with smart participants distribution by seats according to the participants’ interests.
- Places with the guests’ names at each place in the conference area.
- Welcome cocktail at the night before (allowed to relax and feel free at the party).
- TECH DEMO exhibition area, equipped with an open bar Mobile app with the participants list and chat opportunity as well + tablets, available on the tables with the same functionality
- One-minute introduction of each participant at the conference start.
- Opportunity to personally be introduced by the organizer to all the participants Participants list, which includes both contact details and photos, is sent to the participants’ e-mail about a week before the conference. This allowed us to prepare in advance and visually determine the people to communicate with in the crowd. Besides it facilitated the subsequent business cards processing as well. The bilateral business cards printing is popular in the USA since 90% of the cards received were like that, by the way.
Besides there is another aspect. It’s simple to exchange business cards in contradistinction to the subsequent conversion. Be sure to note, the feedback will not be as high as it might seem, once started to communicate and promote your issue, despite the positive initial communication.
Kirill Rozhkovsky, Conference Cast Founder, warned me about that fact when we were walking around New York while discussing his project and its launch result in the USA. I had a chance to convince of that. I have got a quick feedback from those people whom I’ve established friendly relations with, as well as those, who have been really interested in the Russian market. It worth mentioning the Russian Federation has the same aspects. Do you respond to all those people, whose proposals do not fit your urgent need?
5. Full organization process from the first to the last step
Thanks a lot to Sam Lippman and his experienced team, who created both ECEF as well as other educational events for the USA exhibition industry. The current forum organization is worth to be taken as an example. While being a long-time media partner, we’d like to note all the press materials high quality and timeliness, sent by ECEF. It’s both easy and pleasant to promote such content. By the way, participants’ feedback is always important for Sam. It’s required to pass through a simple survey upon the forum termination. Those, who failed to do it over the next two days, received a personal reminder request from Sam.
What can be improved?
There always exist certain areas and issues, which can be improved, although the overall conference impression is positive. So, as for me, I noted the following.
The temperature regime in the halls was too law, which resulted in both body and brain freezing. It was too cold in the hall due to air conditioners operation (which, in fact, is American feature in both rooms and transport). Thanks a lot to organizer, who warned about that fact in advance and mentioned that it was better to take the jackets. Unfortunately, I was not attentive enough while reading their letters, therefore I was frozen, since the temperature outside was about + 30-35 °C.
The program choice absence. I used to several streams and an impressive speakers list as well due to being a Russian. Lack of practical tools in reports. The agenda is set by the ECEF target audience: top officials, directors and owners more often deal with a common vision, global trends and strategies, rather than specific tools.
Lack of some speakers and visual components introduction. This is largely due to the presentations format - panel discussions or lively dialogue with the audience as well as content changes, depending on the request. As for me, I experienced a lack of pictures, figures and graphs as well.
I was really glad to be provided with a great chance to participate in ECEF forum. Today we are going to continue supporting Lippman Connects events in the new season. The dates for the next year are available right now - May 27, 2020. I recommend to all my Russian colleagues to definitely visit Washington in order to both expand their vision and find insights for the future development of their projects as well.