September 14, 2023
At the beginning of September, The Offshore Europe conference was held in Aberdeen, bringing together a vast number of both small and large companies across the energy sector. Since I moved to Scotland back in ’09, I’ve religiously attended the event and this time was no exception. As always, it was great to visit with clients and colleagues, and interesting to go along to see what’s changed… is the event finally embracing digital life?
Ditching print to go digital
In my last blog post, I shared the ways exhibitors can utilise digital marketing for Offshore Europe for a better return. Instead of using outdated print media that has a large carbon footprint, costs more money, and ultimately ends up in the bin, choose to spend your budget wisely on targeted online marketing campaigns.
Many exhibitors would have been waiting for this opportunity for some time, after postponement of the 2022 Offshore Europe conference due to the Omicron Coronavirus outbreak. Did this extra time allow for more sustainable and digital-led changes?
Well, although there was still some printed marketing collateral, much of the event was digital. A huge change for this event… so it’s great to see people moving with the times.
Positive things witnessed…
So, let’s start with the good changes. Overall, there were some great steps towards a more digital-first, entertaining, and successful event – by both the exhibitors and organisers.
Improved exhibition stands and presentations
Some exhibitor stands stood out for their design and presentation but those that had senior management present, showcased their dynamism – people were networking, catching up, engaging with demos, and making stronger connections.
Traditionally, there were ‘mega exhibit’ stands which are no longer present and the subsea equipment kits have been replaced with much smaller 3d models. Although a few stands felt very 1990 in their design and branding, many exhibitors had bold and striking designs. It’s clear many exhibitors have considered their image by investing in sleek, simplistic, and eye-catching displays. And as the old rule goes – less is more.
Another exciting sign of progress came from Rock Flow Dynamics with their amazing presentation of tNavigator, using powerful visual aids and software trials on the spot, with company employees readily available to answer any questions.
Reduced printed materials
The event had a much-improved digital presence and features about it. There was an app, showing the conference map with delegate and company lists online. God knows I got lost more than once, and the app helped me get back on track. There were clearly fewer stands with endless racks of brochures and leaflets, which means less waste.
Many exhibitors turned to replacing useless promotional items (think mouse-mats, USB drives, and bottle openers) with food and drink tasters at their stands – which seemed very popular! Not only does this help you to start conversations and draw people into your stand, but it also reduces all the useless plastic waste. In many cases, exhibitors used local suppliers for delicious treats like cheese, fruit platters, and other snacky goodness.
Better event hospitality
When you attend a large conference like Offshore Europe, the hospitality and catering does make a difference to your overall experience. So, it was a welcome change to see better casual lounge areas. Sure, long gone are the blondes in bikinis serving beer and while some might lament those days, the relaxed spaces serving coffee or the odd cocktail were much more inclusive and inviting. However, when it comes to inclusivity at the event, I could write a whole other blog, but my former committee fellows already did that and I wholeheartedly agree with every word.
Things that can and should be improved…
Overall, although there are some great positive steps being taken towards a digital-first conference that aligns with sustainability and today’s culture, there are still things that can be improved.
Nobody wants to witness death by PowerPoint… I did. It.was.painful. I call on all professional and B2B marketers – resist when you are asked to put together a slide deck for a networking event and propose better alternatives!
If you are going to invest thousands to exhibit at the conference, surely you should be doing everything you can to make a good return on investment (which is gaining contacts, relationships or even business leads)?
Do things like:
The next time you an exhibit at an event – whether it’s Offshore Europe or not – consider these things. Get the best return on your investment (of both time and money), while also reducing your carbon footprint and unnecessary waste.
For support planning and executing a digital marketing campaign to maximise your event presence, get in touch with BrandHouzz.