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Confex event showcases best in industry


Mar 03, 2009 | Editors

Representatives from the business conferencing and events sector gathered at London's Earls Court this week to exchange ideas and knowledge at the one of the industry's leading exhibitions.

Wednesday was a very busy day at the conference and the cavernous hall was packed tightly with stands of all sizes and shape with eager exhibitors and determined visitors all looking to make the most of the day's scheduled events.

The appearance of guest speaker Ruby Wax perhaps added an extra element of excitement, but there seemed to be a real buzz about the convention.

Sean Mitchell, brand manager at Venues.org.uk, revealed that the American was so popular that queues for her seminar extended halfway around the hall.

Visitors were treated to some brilliant live music, deliciously delicate canape samples from catering companies and even a free massage from one of the many masseurs on hand to smooth away any downturn blues.

George Sampson, winner of Britain's Got Talent, wowed the crowds by performing on Crafty Arty Parties stand, with the company also giving away a free Mercedes Smart Car to one lucky winner.

Other high profile delegates included footballers Peter Beardsley and Martin Keown, Mr Mitchell said.

"I think Peter was there with the Newcastle and Gateshead Conference Centre and Martin was with the Emirates stadium so we got to meet both of those guys," he added.

Mr Mitchell said that the exhibition often attracts big stars promoting the events industry.

"That is the really good thing about the show, in the last three years … there has always been a celebrity of some sort that has been there, not necessarily that the Confex people have organised but that the exhibitors have organised. I have seen famous DJs, footballers and TV personalities there," he confirmed.

Companies came from far afield and closer to home to present at the exhibition, from Barbados and Birmingham to Berlin and Belfast.

"From our point of view it's nice for us to be able to see the majority of the venue managers that are there that we would [otherwise] have to travel around the whole country to see," Mr Mitchell asserted.

Tourist boards, conference centres, tour operators and catering firms, as well as a host of other sectors were all represented, aiming to show off their businesses to attendees looking for inspiration for their events.

Wing-walking, and psychic entertainers were some of the more unusual offerings which featured on exhibition stands, promoting different ways for spicing up a conference.

Enthusiastic visitors were packing into seminars and meeting rooms as soon as the event opened and queues for the shoe-string marketing seminar seemed to go on forever.

In addition to the inimitable Ms Wax, former editor of the Sun Kelvin MacKenzie, spoke to Robert Wright of Davies Tanner PR about the highlights of his career, while Hamish McRae spoke to delegates about the future of the economy and his predictions about how this might affect the events industry.

"I definitely thought it was a good day for the industry and the fact that people were there, not only exhibiting, but visiting, shows there is a lot of strength in what we're doing," concluded Mr Mitchell.

Whether it was international speed networking at the Around the World in 80 Seconds zone or living it up in the London Bar there was plenty to see and do at this year's Confex.
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