International Confex – 52eight3’s Top Seven Takeaways

With the sun shining and temperatures rising, it was a great week to get out of the office! We headed to a balmy Olympia for this year’s instalment of International Confex. There was a great buzz in the air and the sessions and show floor were filled with chatter – giving us a real feel that the industry is thriving.

Here are a few thoughts from us on what we picked up during the two days…

Event registration is key and organisers want to know

Want to know how to make the most of event registration and the data you’re collecting? You’re not alone. Our very own director Katie joined an esteemed panel which included Gerry Sherwood from Gleanin, Matt Coyne from VISIT, a GES company and Paul Harris from Aventri, to discuss the important topic of registration, how to maximise the data organisers collect and how they can use the information they collect to positively impact their event.

Social media is still an enigma


Social Media is constantly changing and is a subject many want to be able to master for their companies, yet no one really knows how to use it properly or appropriately – personally, we are all social whizzes and post freely, but when it comes to business we have to think strategically and just how the brand comes across online. Do you plan ahead with your schedules? Are your followers engaging with you in the right way?

Disruption – it’s a good thing

During one of the industry trend sessions on the keynote stage, the panel discussed how organisers can maximise their creativity when planning events and one of the buzz words was ‘Disruption’. Now while this may have negative connotations, the idea behind it is the opposite; it’s all about making the most of budgets and how you are perceived in the industry, by doing something a little differently – how would you make your event disruptive and get people to really sit up and pay attention?

Wellness in the workplace

In the corporate world, one of the trends from Confex panels last year was wellness, and it seems this isn’t going away anytime soon – which is a good thing right? In fact, it’s continuously growing and while event organisers are adding more elements to their shows and sessions - such as yoga at the beginning or the end of a conference day or making the show day shorter to maximise attention spans - it is still something that needs to be tackled closer to home. Organisers work long, long days and the stress is intense at times, so companies need to look at ways to alleviate even just a little bit of the pressure in the work place.

The state of the nation

Writer and political strategist Alistair Campbell took to the keynote stage on day two to provide some insight in the current world we live in – from Donald Trump to Brexit and the changing face and pace of the media. He told delegates to “Stay engaged, stay involved. We all have a responsibility, particularly at a time like this.”

Campbell also touched on mental health, having suffered throughout his life and said the attitude employees take to the wellbeing and mental health of staff will in turn build better companies.

The WOW factor


As an industry, we love to show off our creative sides and the stands at this year’s Confex didn’t disappoint – there was a real emphasis on creating a WOW factor and personal, emotive experiences. Think moving photography, ball pits (which we LOVED!) and food personalisation such as chocolate people and building your own cheesecake!

Is the future a virtual reality?

As always, at every show there are a number of discussions on what the future looks like. We could ramble on forever, but there were a few things that stuck in our mind when it comes to Virtual Reality (VR). There’s still a split opinion that isn’t going away; some delegates believe that VR really will enable us to go to events anywhere in the world without leaving the comfort of home, and there are those who feel VR would take out the face-to-face aspect of the events and may be detrimental to the whole event process. Only time will tell – see our recent blog here.

We’d love to hear your thoughts and your own takeaways from Confex! Get in contact at