Getting ready to attend IBC, the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam this September? Flights booked? We hope so! Read on for eight ways to optimise your visit to IBC.
It seems like getting ready for IBC these days is more like a year-round activity. Same for NAB, CES and all the other important shows.
IBC is our favourite event, quite simply because it is the friendliest and most manageable of the big shows. Despite the challenges of getting around Amsterdam and the huge costs of accommodation in the city, it is still ranks high for the quality of the experience in meeting new prospects, seeing industry colleagues and connecting with companies to see their latest wares. The show is huge, but still quite manageable, once you know your way around the halls, meeting rooms, conference venues, refreshment stands and restaurants. It's true that you won't find the cowboy-sized steaks and cheesecake desserts the size of the Flatiron Building, like you do at NAB, but then, hey, you might instead get a herring sandwich. A Dutch speciality! Yecch! We prefer the cheese and the beer.
Do you have a plan for how you will tackle the show? What are the eight most important things to do before you get to IBC? Read on to find out!
1) Book your Flights & Accommodation Early
Needless to say, get your flights booked early for the best rates. Accommodation is an entirely more challenging task. Over the years, we have used a variety of hotels from big chain ones to very small. We've used AirBnB, too, but it is a more fiddly option. If you book early with AirBnB hosts, they might jack up the rates just because it is IBC, since sometimes they forget to adjust their rates. Be warned. If you are lucky, you might find a spot that you can return to year on year. We also once rented a houseboat, which was fun.
The key factors are obviously cost and location. These days we try to stay as close to the RAI venue as possible, or at the very least, we select a location that is easily accessible via public transport to the RAI. One trick we learned over the years is to pick one of the airport hotels that operate a shuttle to and from the airport (search for hotels in Hoofddorp or Schipol). This is a lesson hard-learned when attempting to book too late, since the prices are outrageous once you start getting past June. So book early. But if you are not quick enough, staying out by the airport is not a bad idea, unless you plan on partying in Amsterdam well into the early hours. If you plan to be home by about midnight this option will work. It´s two stops and ten minutes to and from the RAI from the airport. You can also get a train from Centraal Station out to the airport also up until about midnight. If you miss your hotel´s last shuttle bus, you can always grab a cab from there, which is much cheaper than taking one from the center of town. If you do end up booking very late, contact the IBC Hotel Reservation Service. These people are your friends. They have access to a live booking system and they get cancellations at the last minute and can usually book you in somewhere, at the best rate possible, while they have you on the phone. Make sure you have your credit card ready!
2) Get Informed about Industry Insights and Trends
IBC operates a news and information platform, IBC365, which provides ongoing trends, news and industry insights from the IBC community. Read our review here. This, along with other major news sources such as Broadband TV News and Advanced Television are excellent sources written by industry veterans who can help you to stay up to date on the never-ending stream of developments. We don´t recommend over-subscribing to a million sources of information. How would you ever get any work done or think straight? Also, when you read all the time, you miss the overarching trends. Take note of what´s relevant to your business and plan accordingly. IBC also offers a highly respected conference and the exclusive Leaders' Summit, another fast track way to catch up on cutting edge developments.
3) Spruce up your Online and Social Media Presence
Any major trade show that you plan to attend is an important marketing opportunity. Regardless of whether your contacts are also planning to attend or not, and whether you actually manage to meet that person on not, reaching out to let them know you are going is a great excuse to stay in touch, so use it!
Before doing so, be sure your spruce up your website and blog. Do it at least, once a year, if you are not already producing a regular blog. At least refresh the images! Check your LinkedIn, your Twitter account and any other social media that you may use. Do a reality check on whether it has a coherent message. For big companies with marketing budgets and staff, these things are factored into the game. But for small companies, independent consultants and freelancers it can be much more of a challenge. A regular e-mail newsletter, too, to your mailing list of contacts and prospects can be a big boon to your marketing plan. Don´t forget to segment your lists and send the right message to the right people. At the very minimum, create a hot list of key contacts, people you want to see at the show, and those who you hope to meet, and send a personal mail to them about six weeks before the event.
Get active on social media, too, to check out what's going on by searching important hashtags such as #ibcshow. You can also support and acknowledge your important contacts by liking or retweeting / sharing their content. Don´t know how to get started? Contact us!
We specialise in one-on-one coaching and small group coaching strategies for TV technology businesses and career professionals. We can get you up to speed on what to do on social media and how, so you can navigate like a pro and use it to connect with existing and potential new business contacts, as well as use it during the show. We only use social media for business, and we can show you how.
4) Study the IBC Floor Plan
Seasoned veterans to IBC know the show layout by heart. If you are new, it's wise to get a feel for what is in each of the halls in advance, and plan your visits accordingly. The show is about the size of 15 airplane hangers! Figure out which companies you need to see, note down where they are and try to plan your visits in a sensible way. The halls fall into three categories, Creation, Management and Delivery, and IBC offers a number of tools to map your show.
Theres no point to schedule one appointment in Hall 8, the next in Hall 5, or go from Hall 8 to 14 or Hall 12 to 7. You'll exhaust yourself, destroy your feet and lose a lot of time. Get yourself informed in advance and plan ahead. Create an account on the IBC website to use the Show planner, enabling you to log in and create your own plan. Search the iPhone and Android app stores, too, for the IBC app, which will allow you to access your account on your phone.
5) Schedule your meetings in advance
The RAI's many lounges are great spots to book continual sets of meetings.
Setting up meetings in advance is our trade show secret sauce. Don't expect to pitch up on the day and expect to see that VIP you wanted to meet. Get yourself organised and do so according to the map! Send out your mails, and religiously put confirmed dates in your calendar to avoid double booking yourself. You should also be sure to record in your calendar your contacts' mobile number and email address, and be sure to provide them with yours. You will always need a bit of breathing space between meetings and it's really a good practice to send a Whatsapp or text message 15 mins before to re-confirm. Don´t overbook yourself either. Leave enough time for a proper chat. No point to make all the effort of setting up a meeting and then being there for only 10 minutes because you have scheduled five meetings every hour! If your meetings are not 'stand-dependent' and you plan to meet mainly with other attendees, we suggest to pick a base at at the show and schedule most of your meetings in one place. It could be The Grand Cafe, or, any of the lounges. Win time, save your feet and let them come to you!
6) Avoid being famished: eating in and around the RAI
And after all these years, we still cannot fathom the appeal of a herring sandwich, but maybe that's just us!
Bring along something in your pocket to give you a boost, and bring a bottle of water, too, which you can re-fill. The refreshment stands are really expensive and no one usually has time for a proper and expensive meal during the show. What you will end up eating off the refreshment stands will likely leave you unsatisfied and maybe even grumpy! You will not regret bringing some energy foods (nuts and snack packs), to reduce your expenses and keep you going. Don´t rely on end of the day cocktail events to sustain you. Cocktails are not food. Pretzels are not food either. Even so, we maintain an annual list of those events, so check it and make it part of your plan. Even restaurants should be booked in advance if you expect to get a table at a good one.
7) Get around Amsterdam the smart way
IBC makes it really easy for visitors to get around the city. IBC issues a tram pass free to all attendees. Of course, at the end of the day the queues are long, ditto for taxis. It's one of the reasons we choose to stay close to the RAI, or at an airport hotel. The regular city metro is not covered by IBC's free tram pass. With the Dutch speaking perfect English, it is really worthwhile to ask at your closest station if you can buy a several-day pass for getting to and from the RAI from your location. Taxis will always be your most expensive option, and there are still a lot of rip-offs in the city, especially since IBC attracts many international visitors who are not likely to know the rates. Always use a licensed taxi. And late at night, be sure to ask the price of the ride before you get in the cab. Expect to pay around 50 Euros for a cab from the airport to city centre. It's a shame to do it, when the train is right there at the airport. Go to the ticket counters and ask for the right train ticket for you. The machines, in Dutch, are impossible to use. Save your time, get in the queue which always goes pretty fast, and buy your ticket there.
Take into account your flight departure, too. If you are flying out late in the day, you can check out of your hotel, go to IBC, leave your bags in one of the many IBC cloakrooms, and then depart, via train from the Amsterdam RAI station (just a few minutes walk away) directly to the airport. You'll be there in 10 minutes. It's much easier than going back to your hotel.
8) Meet us at IBC