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Confex Week aims to stimulate the whole MICE sector in 2013

James Samuel

International Confex is encouraging a host of events to take place at the same time, enriching every visitor’s experience

International Confex will be celebrating its 30th birthday in March 2013, but the build-up to the show is already well under way. The Group Director, Jonny Sullens, and the Event Director, James Samuel, are gung-ho.

‘We don’t think of International Confex as simply an exhibition’, they maintain. ‘It is an event. We are well aware that today the good buyers that we aim to attract as visitors are tight for time. They are looking for a return on the investment they make in the time it takes to attend a show.’

To that end, International Confex 2013 is being marketed as Confex Week. The strategy is to ensure that from breakfast to the end of the day buyers and suppliers will find that they get the maximum benefit from every moment and will return to their offices knowing that they could not have spent their time more effectively anywhere else. A wide range of partner organisations are being encouraged to hold their AGMs, seminars and networking events to coincide with Confex Week.

‘We want Confex Week packed with face-to-face meetings, award ceremonies, networking gatherings, and events that will be more easily organised at Confex than at any other time of the year in any other place.’

James Samuel adds: ‘There will be comprehensive benefits and spin-offs for visitors, including education in the sector, new ideas, personal contacts along with information on relevant venues and destinations and introductions to the latest technology that will enhance the way they organise their events into the future.’

Jonny Sullens
During the interview there was a definite sense that Confex has been the victim of unjustified criticism and many of the statistics put forward by James were obviously to rebut unspoken adverse comments.

He pointed out that ‘International Confex at ExCel in 2012 had attracted more buyers than the previous year’s show at Earls Court. He also emphasised: ‘Confex offers the biggest number of UK buyers in one place at any one time through the year – and these are UK buyers who are responsible for organising events globally – not just in the UK.

‘That is why Confex Week will be so valuable to UK suppliers and also to foreign suppliers, because the visitors to the event can select and use suitable venues in any destination.’ James also pointed out that already, in July 2012, 70% of the International Confex floor plan has been booked.

Over the years there have been complaints that ExCel has not been easy to access, which is probably why James welcomed a discussion on the transport and accommodation facilities in the area.

‘ExCel and the O2 venue’, he says, ‘have transformed this region into an event city and the legacy of the Olympic Games will take it all several stages further. There are new hotels and new transport services, with more airlines using London City Airport and major developments for London Transport in the area.’

Emirates Air Line, James reminded me, is the name for a brand new cable car system being constructed to link the re-named Emirates Greenwich Peninsula station and the Emirates Royal Victoria Docks station on the underground system. It will offer a novel way to cross the Thames, taking only six minutes and providing great views en route.

Eurostar now arrives in London at St Pancras, which is convenient for London’s East End, where ExCel is located.

International Confex 1213 innovationsLive Experience
The sister outdoor events exhibition formerly known as IOEX will now be held alongside Confex as Live Experience

The Experiential Hub
This will feature case studies with discussions on brand activation and field marketing

Destination Village
Aiming to create an environment for buyers to gain first-hand experience of destinations around the world, meeting especially DMCs.

Hotel Lobby
This area will be dedicated to the hotel brands, so that buyers explore all the new ideas in this sector

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