The first business event of 2019! Finally, ‘back to business’ after the long Christmas and New Year’s break. From 16–17 January, I attended Best of Events (BOE) in Dortmund with fiylo. This was my second year at BOE, and the second time I have worked with fiylo as part of the Live Blogger team. Having attended the event for the second year in a row now makes it a good opportunity to compare my experience from both years and share my observations.
The good news is that my experience this year was better! This improvement may be because it was my second time there and I knew more people and the venue; I may therefore have felt more at ease navigating through the event. But it might also be because the organisers, Westfalenhallen Dortmund GmbH, worked very hard on improving the concept and creating a major Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). An additional reason is attributed to fiylo, who introduced a new concept this year to their stand and tripled the number of their stand partners; the buzz generated at their stand was fantastic.
The fiylo community
fiylo (which stands for ‘find your location’) is a Hannover-based venue portal for venues in Germany, Switzerland and Austria (with more international destinations to be added in the future).
Over the past year, fiylo has tripled the number of exhibitors at their stand and had a major presence in hall 6, with over 140 venues and event suppliers on site. The stand was designed as an aircraft, with meetings taking place inside the ‘cabin’. Knowing fiylo for over two years now, it is fascinating to see how they constantly improve and grow, providing a face-to-face community for suppliers and buyers to build relationships throughout the year.
fiylo welcome reception at the German Football Museum
The evening before BEO officially opened, all fiylo partners had a welcome reception at the German Football Museum. This venue is opposite the Dortmund main train station and when closed to the public, it offers its space for corporate events. As the name indicates, it tells the history of German football and highlights the best moments in its history (notably, the most recent World Cup win at Brazil 2016).
Sports, and football in particular, evoke many emotions and are associated with values such as teamwork, commitment, hard-work, ambition, dedication and learning how to win and lose; if these are the values you want your event message to convey, this venue may be the right choice because you will see these values unfold throughout the exhibition. There was a beamer projection of the historical goal at the Brazil World Cup in 2016, and it was impressive to re-watch it in this ‘experiential’ setting. Afterwards, we went to the top floor for dinner in their restaurant, which served ‘hearty’ food, as you would expect while watching sports, but with a notch of sophistication — curry wurst, flammkuchen and salads were all beautifully presented.
fiylo Live Blog
The fiylo Live Blog was created to document all the news and updates leading to, during and after BOE. You can find it here. Content is posted instantly from the exhibition on the ‘live blog’, including video, together with regular social media updates from the show using the event hashtags #BOE19 #fragfiylo and #fiylo, all of which were instrumental in sharing the live experience with the online audience but also with respect to documenting some of the highlights to re-watch later.
Live communication at events
Over the two days, I recorded three videos with Carsten Henning — a Digital Evangelist of Communication and PR at fiylo — about my experience at BOE and it was really fun. At first, we covered the topic ‘live communication at events’ and what it means for me as a blogger. For me, it is the most important marketing tool. Because I understand that not every person can attend the event in person due to other commitments, social media and platforms such as the live-blog provide the online audience with the opportunity to access information and contacts from the show. From the brand’s perspective, it allows to connect with both online and offline audiences and strengthen relationships that will lead to business opportunities. In a recent interview I had with Kevin Jackson, he shared that ‘In B2B, 85% of business is sold between the 5th and 12th contact. That means that you’ve got to have a relationship.’
And lastly, everyone is trying to stand out in the online crowded market place and push their message. Therefore, regular and consistent updates on social media will increase the memorability of your brand and improve engagement, while staying in the minds of your customers.
What does inspiration mean?
The second video we recorded was about what inspiration means to me. How many times do we hear that events are ‘inspiring’, but what does ‘inspiring’ actually mean? For me, BOE was inspiring because I chose to get the most out of this event by proactively searching for inspiration. I achieved this aim by approaching people for an interview, asking questions, trying to learn something new, being critical, discussing and debating. I had many spontaneous discussions with colleagues who I knew and had stopped by the stand, or someone who I had been introduced to, and these discussions were very genuine and thought provoking. I learned that the moment I begin sharing my thoughts with other event planners, it opens up opportunities for collaborations, improvements, new projects and eventually leads to business opportunities.
Recording these videos in this format with Carsten was very inspiring for me. For example, the process got me out of my comfort zone and was at times particularly challenging in terms of ensuring that the message was under one minute’s length. I get inspired when working with highly professional people; the entire team at fiylo is very professional and creative and is therefore extremely inspiring!! Even if it means recording a video while sitting on a high table, it already makes your brain think differently 🙂 try it!
My three take-aways from BOE
The last video was to list my three take-aways from BOE. My top three are: BOE Night, business and festivalisation.
BOE Night this year was bigger and more impressive than last year. It took place at the exhibition hall, which was immense and spacious with various areas if you wanted to sit, stand or dance; you could feel at ease at all times.
Because I was on the fiylo stand most of the day, BOE Night provided me with the opportunity to meet colleagues similar to myself, who were occupied during the day with their clients or walking around the exhibition. Do you agree that everyone seems to be very busy during the exhibition? At the BOE Night there was no agenda, no meetings and no need to talk about business (even though at times it was inevitable).
Business was my second take-away from this show. The majority of the people I met at the show had a very focused business objective being there and that provided for meaningful discussions.
The third take-away was festivalisation, which not only involved the ‘festival-like’ atmosphere at the BOE Night. The organisers Westfalenhallen Dortmund GmbH have improved the concept from last year immensely and it was a perfect definition of a business festival.
Henrik Bollman, Project Director at BOE, spoke last year at the MICE Forum at ITB Berlin and said that ‘BOE looked at how to apply the definition of a festival to a (corporate) event. As festivals offer attendees the opportunity to design their own programme, so BOE wanted to offer the same for their audience. Event attendees are not obliged to follow a strict agenda and instead can design their own programme.’
I would like to conclude with a quote from this article from ITB Berlin last year that perfectly sums up my experience this year, ‘the success of an event is determined not only by having a good conference programme and good exhibitors. Visitors and their engagement with the event are key to a successful event product. Their interaction with each other is what they will take home with them at the end of the day.’
I look forward to attending next year!!
Photos: Thomas Loris, Loris.tv