Confex looks to inspire events industry

Martin Bell, Mark Frith and Jo Fairley have been lined up as the keynote speakers for this year's International Confex, as the event looks to energise and inspire delegates.

Mr Bell, one of the most highly regarded names in British television journalism, who has worked as a BBC correspondent, independent MP and UNICEF ambassador, will give a presentation entitled 'How it went so wrong for the government and the economy in 2009'.

It will look at the state of the economy over the last year and the how to apply the lessons learned through the crisis to businesses.

On day two of the event, Time Out magazine editor Mark Frith, who was the youngest person to become an editor when he took the helm at Smash Hits at just 23 years old, will talk about reinventing a product, making the most of resources and using the power of celebrity to leverage a brand.

Finally, Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Black's, will speak to delegates on day three of the event about entrepreneurship, growing and small business and the importance of corporate responsibility.

Duncan Reid, portfolio director for the Confex Group, said that the choice of speakers was a reflection of the current business climate.

"All the people that come to Confex are event organisers, so a lot of them are meeting speakers on a regular basis, so I look for people that I think at that particular time have some useful social commentary.

"We always look to open with an economist or politician, just to set the economic and political backdrop that we're currently working with," he explained.

The aim is also to have a journalist who can offer commentary on how celebrity culture affects society and what implications that has for delegates, Mr Reid continued.

"Obviously the events industry and awards [ceremonies] and things like that in particular do use a lot of celebrities to maintain their profile and attract delegates to attend them," he said.

Ms Fairley was the natural choice to talk about entrepreneurship, he added.

"About 70 per cent of our audience are women, so we always look to have strong women who have succeeded in business and Jo is one of those," he said.

She will talk about how she has built up the Green & Black's empire and pass on her experience of running a large enterprise.

"I think in 2010 that will be quite a significant thing for our industry - it's about growth, about re-engaging and setting up your business, it's about being an entrepreneur, so I think she's well suited to do that," Mr Reid added.

To add to that, there will be sessions on breaking through the glass ceiling within the seminar programme.

Another factor in the choice of speakers is the extent to which they have worked the events circuit previously, Mr Reid revealed.

"For event organisers, a lot of them will have used people in the past, so I try to find people who haven't been booked before or I think have got something useful to offer," he said.

The theme of this year's International Confex is surrounding yourself with inspiration as the country emerges from recession.

"We recognise that 2009 was a particularly tough year for the whole of the industry. 2010 really is about us as a show spreading the message about how positive events can be, how they are great at engaging with customers and communicating about your products," Mr Reid explained.

"The events industry is all about excitement and enthusiasm and energy, so we're just basically restimulating everyone and getting that message across to get us off to a good start this year," he concluded.

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