Pilot Light

Inferno is a PR consultancy. This is not. This is Inferno’s blog.

Conference atrocities

with 2 comments


A couple of weeks ago I came back from the Microsoft TechEd conference in Barcelona. While regrettably far away from the city centre, the conference centre and attached hotel were a masterpiece of design as these things go. The conference complex is kind of a combination of the old International Style with a bit of Brutalism, lovely surfaces, natural light, etc. Yes I am an architecture snob (post-modern pastiche hurts my soul for example). Passable food and coffee as well. All so nice.

It got me thinking about how many utterly miserable conferences in horrific, sub-Travelodge meeting room venues I have been to over the years (that’s before one even considers the horrific hotels). Take the NEC for example – an obscene, grubby metal shed near the Brum airport. Or Earl’s Court, which has not seen a lick of paint since Macmillan was in Number 10. Or the many options available at the various surviving examples of Skidrow-on-Sea. Combine indifferently maintained, often ugly venues with £3.75 packet sandwiches, banal stands and lukewarm Nescafe and you have the typical UK conference experience.

Given that the price of train fares often exceed that of driving from Swindon to Glasgow in a V12 Jag stuck in first gear, I think that big brands should shun the likes of the NEC and hold large events elsewhere in the EU to send a one fingered message to those responsible for all this mouldy mediocrity.



Written by pilotlight

19/11/2007 at 1:32 pm

Posted in PR, Tech

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. Good point Jiveman. I’m often amazed that there are so many conferences still happening at all. Much of the information-sharing can be done electronically these days.

    All we are left with then is the need for salesmen to get drunk and grope Janice from Western region, Senior VP Ivor Biggun to address his workforce like a Nuremburg rally and furries to dryhump the leg of their wet-nosed friends.

    Seems a bit of a waste of beautiul architecture…


    21/11/2007 at 10:42 pm

  2. I think you’re on to something important there James. I suppose industries are like any other living organism – they just want to exist and will fight to do so. Interested parties ensure the circus carries on. So many conferences were and are obsolete on a business level and are just an excuse for the kind of behaviour you cite.

    Some years ago I had to launch a duff software product at the ‘Softworld HR and Finance Show’ at the wonderful NEC. Stand totty was proposed, and I suggested a model agency known for it. The quote was too high, so we asked the NEC if they knew anyone who could help. They sent two swamp creatures in torn fishnets who might have appeared in Readers Wives in August 1981. They still attracted prospects to the stand, but mainly those interested in other kinds of transactions.


    22/11/2007 at 11:18 am

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