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November 20, 2006

Confex aims to change from dinosaur to dynamite

The trade show for the conference and exhibition industry, International Confex 2007, appears to be pulling out all the stops this year to create a better experience for exhibitors and visitors, using techniques successfully employed by the better performing lifetstyle events of 2006.

Many will say it should be at the forefront of exhibition innovation and creativity, championing all that is good about the conference and exhibition industry, but in the past it has come across as just another trade show. That said, the move to make wide-ranging improvements for next year should be celebrated, and is certainly better late than never.

Also encouraging is the fact that many of the improvements have been driven by qualitative visitor and exhibitor research, which was undertaken during the summer – a lesson to all exhibitions wishing to buck the trend of falling attendance levels that have been dogging the industry for years now.

The research showed that visitors wanted to feel more “inspired” by the show. As a result, a whole new creative has been developed, which will be used in advertising and will be continued throughout the show in how it is dressed. The aim is to give Confex a “contemporary” and “sophisticated” look to "inspire and excite".

Commenting on the revamp, event director Duncan Reid said: “Confex is the events industry’s biggest trade show in the UK. The new re-brand has given Confex a fresh feel and new look. We want people to be inspired and wowed by Confex 2007 and are keen to excite our loyal visitors, as well as attract new and younger ones.”

New look Confex will include a number of features that are usually only found in more consumer-focused events, but which trade show organisers will have to consider more and more to attract visitors. They include:

• A variety of bars to enable visitors to take time out of the hustle and bustle of the show room floor, and provide networking opportunities between visitors and exhibitors. These will range from the Blue & Green Bar sponsored by Early Action Group and the London Bar hosted by ISES and Visit London, to the Oyster and Champagne Bar sponsored by Montblanc and the VIP Lounge which is sponsored by De Vere.
• The Secret Garden, an exciting spa area, where visitors will be able to relax and enjoy a variety of massages and other treatments.

• The Fun Zone, part of the Corporate Hospitality and Parties section, including a variety of distractions for visitors to play on.

• The Crafty Arty Little Gems zone, the first crèche to be held at an event as big as Confex, to support working parents, allowing them to visit the show and also enjoy time spent in London with their children.
• Confex Knowledge, a programme of more than 40 free seminars, which will also be available via download and Podcast, allowing show visitors to re-cap after a seminar or view sessions which clashed.
• Confex Connections, networking events on the show floor held between 5pm and 7pm.
• A Celebrity Day on the final day of the show, where visitors will be made to feel like celebs and might even get the chance to spot a few.

If implemented effectively, these planned changes could take Confex out of the dark ages to the leading edge of the trade show scene – and about time too!

International Confex 2007 will take place at London's Earls Court on 20-22 February 2007 

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