Confex 2020 – It’s all about the journey!

A move to ExCel in London’s Dockland’s was the location for the 2020 running of Confex (alongside a PA and Events show).

I followed the tube and DLR routes to get there – two changes from my Brighton start and about 2 hours door to door.

I was met by a band playing rock and roll. Really? I’d only just had coffee and my ears weren’t ready for that.

I think I first went to Confex maybe 20 years ago and a lot seemed to have changed. Very few destinations there this year. I noticed Harrogate, Eastbourne, Liverpool and Blackpool but that was about it.

And technology companies were much more in evidence providing all sorts of services to organisers from registration and event management to audience engagement and hardware.

At what other event can you find inflatable elephants, robotic greeters, retro arcade games, cocktail fountains and floating globes?

Stand exhibitors try to catch my eye – was I interested in security fencing, event staff, bars or getting my logo plastered all over a vast array of giveaway items?

There is plenty of creativity in the events industry and much of it was on display.

But in an age of climate change what have two days of Confex achieved? How much carpeting, stand materials and plastic lanyards are now on their way to landfill?

Face to face events are not going anywhere and I for one am really pleased about that. But the industry isn’t changing fast enough and still feels out of touch. Sustainable events needs to be something which the events industry in the UK is renowned for. Good on ExCel for having the UK’s largest wormery by the way

Maybe destinations and venues not in evidence have reached the conclusion that they can sell and market themselves more effectively and more sustainably – I certainly hope so.

Putting recent Route Development experience into practice, I decided on a circular route back to the office. One that turned out to be much more interesting (and no slower) – up across the Royal Docks and River on the Emirates Air Line Cable Car and then the Clipper along the Thames back to London Bridge. The views were incredible – past the Cutty Sark, Greenwich Royal Naval College, The Tower of London, Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast. In tourism we seem to be very good at portraying the past. I just hope we can be as good about shaping the future.