International Confex is planning a week-long programme of events entitled ‘Confex Week’ alongside its 2013 show, but organisers stressed the new initiatives had nothing to do with competition from the new Meetings Show UK.
Confex’s event director James Samuel and portfolio director Jonny Sullens unveiled the show’s vision for the next three years, ahead of its 30th anniversary in 2013.
Sullens added that future Confex shows would move out of the mindset of merely being a three-day show. “Confex Week embraces the two sides of International Confex. First is the exhibition and conference programme. Second is the platform International Confex creates for the industry to meet during a focused week in March, encompassing networking, meetings, AGMs, hospitality and live events. These activities create a week long focus on the UK events industry.”
The programme is already developing, with industry events such as the M&IT Industry Awards, London Future Forum and Best of British pavilion all taking place during Confex Week, with more set to follow. The show's official 30th Birthday Party will also take place, organised in partnership with ISES UK Chapter.
Confex claims that 70 per cent of the 2013 show has been sold already and that the number of dedicated visitors to Live Experience Expo (formerly IOEX), which runs alongside Confex at ExCeL, will double in 2013.
Other show developments include the creation of a Destination Village showcasing destination management companies (DMCs); a Hotel Lobby focusing on hotel brands; and an Experiential Hub, plus tailored education. Returning will be the Association Day, PA Day and a new Local Authority programme targeted programmes.
Through its Advisory Panel, International Confex is also embarking on a full 12-month programme of buyer engagement, including the re-launch of the Loyalty Programme and a series of Buyer road shows around the UK launching in September.
Sullens said: “We will engage buyers through the Loyalty Programme that we began last year. We want more buyers having more meetings with more exhibitors.”
When questioned whether the moves were to compete with the newly launched The Meetings Show UK, Samuel said: “Confex delivers by far the most buyers. There is no other show where there is so much concentration. We’re not worried about competition. There will be no tit for tat, and of course we’ll not be able to speak about any difference in numbers between the two shows when Confex is over, as [The Meetings Show UK] will happen after we finish.”
International Confex takes place at ExCeL from 19-21 March, 2013.
Pictured: Jonny Sullens, Group Director, International Confex