The definitive guide for first-time visitors to the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam. And for veterans you might pick up a few tips here too! Here are 9 main themes that everyone attending IBC should find useful.
1) The RAI Convention Center
Let's start by getting into some basics about the venue by the numbers.
IBC takes place at the RAI Convention Center, a huge venue that hosts major trade fairs all throughout the year. At last year's IBC, there were 57,000 visitors, 1700 exhibitors over 15 halls spread out over 108,000 square meters of space. That´s the size of 20 American football fields! For IBC, they even build one extra hall, Hall 14, that sits out in front of the venue, opposite Halls 1 and 2, as shown below.
For this reason it is really useful to get familiar with the floor plan, before you travel, as well as with the location of the companies you want to meet, so you can plan your gigantic walking tour accordingly.
To get a sense of the scale of the place, you can access a virtual tour which provides an interesting view of the site when it is perfectly empty. The IBC has a specific "Map Your Show" tool including an interactive map. But is it also useful to look at the RAI's official floor plan, which is far more detailed (especially when you need to access information about specific Entrance details, though it does not include the pre-fabricated view of Hall 14 mentioned above).
IBC provides free access to WiFi in the following public areas:
- Forum Lounge
- Ruby Lounge
- Cafe Amsterdam
- Europa Foyer 2
- Catering Area in Europa
- Foyer 1
- Diamond Lounge
- The Grand Cafe
- Europa - 1st Floor
- Holland - 1st Floor
The passwords are usually posted.
2. Getting Around in Amsterdam
Landing on your Feet
Your arrival at Schipol Airport is just the beginning of your IBC adventure.
Don´t take a cab unless you really have to - but that's up to you. It is really expensive to get to the city from the airport (around 50 or 60 Euros at least). The stop for the RAI is just a few stops away by metro, and you can also easily get to the Centraal Station - the main train station in the city center, from the airport.
Get yourself a ticket at the main ticket desk, and forget the automated machines (they are hopeless). You want to ask a real human being which platform to go to, and which train to take. Sometimes there are signs posted by IBC at Schipol to aid your travel (the trains go 4 times an hour to the RAI). But it is not so easy to navigate which train to get on once you get to the platform. There are usually agents there to help. But basically you want to make sure that the train you are getting on will actually name ""Amsterdam RAI" as a stop, else you may have real troubles to correct your mistake!
Pick up your Free Travel Pass
IBC makes it very easy to get around the city. A free travel pass for the metro and all GVB trains is available to every single visitor to IBC. You can pick up your free pass when you arrive at any IBC information point, but the passes will be allocated on a first come first served basis. They are valid for travel between 14 and 18 September.
Also, (hallelujah) the Amsterdam Noord/Zuid metro line will be finally operational during IBC2018, following one gazillion years of construction work in Amsterdam.
Your free GVB travel pass will be valid on this line. This line connects the North part of the city via Central Station with the RAI stop Europaplein, taking only 8 minutes to travel to the RAI Amsterdam from Central Station.
For more information, please click here.
Around and About in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is famous for its culture, nightlife and restaurants. For more information about Amsterdam, the restaurants, bars and what else the city has to offer, check the IAmsterdam website for the best source of city information. A word to the wise: do remember not to take photographs in the Red Light District!
3. Be Comfortable
Check the Weather
It may seem obvious, but what to pack for IBC really depends on the weather. The weather during IBC can be a mixed bag. It can be swelteringly hot or quite cool (I mean freezing). Check your favorite weather app for the long range forecast several days before you travel.
Bring nuts or energy bars, small packaged snacks, to keep you going throughout the day. IBC food is not the greatest (think slimy herring and onion sandwiches: a Dutch delicacy!). The food kiosks all have long lines and it can be expensive. I've met people over the years who were dead on their feet, claiming with some pride, that they hadn´t eaten that whole day. No excuse for that. To do your best business you have to be nourished to be alert. If you are exhibiting, don´t forget to stock plenty of water for your stand staff and guests. If you are an exhibitor, stop off and grab a bottle of water before you enter the show.
Take Care of your Feet
After summer months of wearing sandals or flip flops, it can be a shock to the system to suddenly be wearing shoes and socks again. Plan accordingly. Start wearing socks and shoes about a week before the show and start breaking in any new shoes that you plan to wear to the show. Be sure they are comfortable. My go-to emergency fix for blisters is a product called Compeed, which acts as a second skin. I never travel without it.
Shopping Center Nearby
In case you get caught out, you will find a pharmacy in the small shopping center across from the RAI, for provisions and emergency supplies). There is also an Albert Heijn (the main Dutch supermarket chain). Enter via the main atrium entrance of Flow Amsterdam. Incidentally there is a decent restaurant just next door called Kreeftenbar which offers "Sushi and Lobster" a reasonably priced spot near the RAI where you can eat well and have a moment of quiet amidst the manic IBC rush.
4. Arrange your Meetings
Book your appointments in advance
According to data published by the IBC organisers, the average visitor has 50 meetings at the show, of which only three are unplanned. So set up your meetings before the show. (I usually start in July.) Be absolutely sure to re-confirm, as well as exchange phone numbers in order to communicate last minute changes while you are there. After all the work that goes into planning for the show, it is inevitable that people run late, so be prepared and don´t lose the opportunity to meet just because you forgot to get a phone number!
Stake out your meeting spots
Beyond planning your epic walking tour well, there is an alternative strategy to doing IBC, especially if you are a visitor. Stake out the quiet places, and get people to come to you!
The quiet spots are especially important if you have to arrange a sensitive meeting on the fly. My go to spots are the Forum Lounge (Entrance E), shown below in all its red and white glory. The other key spot is next to the Auditorium / Rai Theater, upstairs. To get there enter via Entrance E go upstairs, and make a right through the glass doors, and then another immediate right, and you will find after a short walk on the left a very quiet lounge for meetings or for having a bite to eat. There are sometimes events or engineering paper sessions near this lounge, but during off- hours it is a great spot for a quiet meeting.
5. Do Your Homework
It goes without saying that you should read up and be well informed about all the companies and people you plan to visit with at the show.
I highly recommend the following reports and webinars that give a general orientation to the big themes for this year's IBC.
IABM Strategic Industry Analysis
and respected trade publications including:
OTT Exec Magazine
(there are many)
Note too that you can pick up free trade publications at the show to get a sense of the best ones that suit your industry. You can find them in the long corridor between Halls 7 and 8.
6. Make use of the Apps
IBC has a mobile app, IBC2018, which you can download for your phone. The phone app has always been tricky. But the desktop version of the new "AI"-driven matchmaking app offered by IBC is absolutely brilliant. The web link for the desktop version is here. Each person who is registered to the show has up to 60 emails that they can send directly to attendees via the Matchmaking Service.
What you have to do:
- log in with your credentials - your email + code you received
- set up your profile and add a photo of yourself. AI=metadata=keywords!
- click on "Network" and then "Attendees"
- you can then filter by Company Size, Company Type, Primary Purchasing Role, Seniority Level, Interested in... etc.
You will find a LOT of very interesting meeting possibilities there. Try it!
If you are responding to any of the party invites that send you to an Eventbrite page to sign-up, having Eventbrite on your phone will be indispensible. You might also consider Cabify, Uber and My Taxi useful for getting around the city (but you have a free travel pass from IBC, remember, so why?).
7. IBC Highlights
The IBC Conference
Te IBC Conference is a real reference point for the industry. It features some of the foremost thought-leaders, innovators and policy makers in their fields and covers a wide range of topics. So much is going on in our industry! So to keep up IBC developed IBC 365, a free subscription service which allows you to follow industry trends all throughout the year.
While you do have to pay extra to participate in the IBC Conference (and there are a number of different subscription tiers), remember that the IBC Keynote Conference sessions are all recorded - so for sure you can watch them later on IBC 365.
The IBC Future Zone is home to exhibitors with cutting edge projects and prototypes liberated by IBC from the world’s leading R&D labs and universities. Located next to the Park Foyer, visit to experience some of the world’s leading technology.
The IBC Big Screen Experience is a free-to-attend programme showcasing the latest developments in digital cinema and the impact these are having on business models.
The IBC Content Everywhere Hub is a series of free panel sessions and exhibitor demonstrations dedicated to this expanding sector of the industry located in Hall 14.
IBC Big Screen Movies take place on Saturday and Monday night in a state-of-the-art auditorium featuring the very latest in cinema technology showcasing complimentary world-first exclusive movie screenings.
The IBC Awards Ceremony on Sunday evening in the RAI Auditorium is a prestigious event that is free for all attendees to attend.
8. Get Social
Join the conversation on social media by using the official hashtags #IBC2018 #IBCConf. You can also mention @IBCShow in your posts to increase your changes of getting retweeted.
Twitter is a great way to get people's attention at the show, be sure though to look up the person's Twitter name, check if they are actively using Twitter, and then use the @name in your tweet.
Remember, Twitter is a search engine as such it is a useful research tool. Pop in your industry keywords into Twitter and see what you find (tip: click on People). You can also search via the official IBC hashtags to learn what people are saying about IBC on the fly.
While Linked In is mainly for people you already know, Twitter is a useful search engine to make serendipitous connections with people you did not know existed!
9. Enjoy Yourself
If it is really your first time at the show, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Get as prepared and you can be, and let it all wash over you. For total newbies to the industry, be as informed as you can be. Be careful what you say, especially if venturing an opinion, and be as formal as the situation demands. Be respective of senior level people, don´t be a pest and do your best to learn to read the signals if they seem too busy or not interested. People are very busy at the show, especially if you don't already have a lot of appointments set up in advance. Just soak it all in. There's a first time for everyone, so above all don´t get discouraged.
I´m sure you are going to have a great time and learn a lot. How could you not?
The Exhibitor Party
The IBC Exhibitor Party - exclusive to exhibitors and their staff - takes place on Friday night from 18:30. A good place to relax and network with other exhibitors. Pick up your stands' tickets from the nearest RAI help desk to your stand.
And in honor of Burt Reynolds, enjoy your Boogie Nights in Amsterdam! You can access Broadcast Projects' annual list of IBC Parties and Events here.
Have a Great IBC!
I hope you found this guide useful and wish you much success at the show. If you have something to add or any comments or feedback, I´d love to hear from you.