I am always a sceptic of free events. For me they can be very hit or miss (mostly miss). Why? I’ve usually either found them poorly organised and poorly attended, or full of one-man bands. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against one-man bands, they play a really important role in business, but at these events there just seem to be too many of the same people.
That’s what surprised me about this event. It was neither poorly organised nor was it full of the usual suspects.
So, in order for this review to actually make some sort of sense I will break it down into four parts: Location, Organisation & Atmosphere, Quality of Speakers, Sponsors & exhibitors and Would I go again?
This is just me jotting down my thoughts. I am in no way affiliated with the conference, and I am not receiving any compensation from this. I jut like to write down what i’m thinking, and maybe you’ll find it interesting!
On with the review . . .
Location, Organisation & Atmosphere
The location for eCommerce South West 2016 was Paintworks Event Space in Bristol (UK), a really cool venue situated in Bristol’s Creative Quarter. It was easy to get to, plenty of parking and generally a well thought professional set up.
Upon arrival you were warmly greeted, given a professional name badge, a bag with info and intrigue from the some of the events sponsors (Evosite, Trustpilot, Adlib Recruitment, Google, PCA Predict, and tribemix). Always a nice touch, and not necessarily expected from a free event!
The event itself was well set up, plenty of time for networking, lots of time for tea, coffee and biscuits. The stage too was well organised. Plenty of seating and a big screen for the presentations to be displayed. All big pluses!!
In terms of numbers of attendee’s, I was expecting a few more, but with free events I think it’s always easy for people to not turn up, as they’ve not invested in going. On the positive side though it did mean more lunch for those of us that were there!
Quality of Speakers
Now this is the important bit (and as a speaker myself I love seeing how other people do it). You can have the best location in the world, but a poor speaker selection can really make and break an event.
So, the speakers were on the whole very good. There were 9 of them in total and to be fair I took something out of nearly all of them.
Most of the speakers were engaging, most offered the audience some interaction. Others were a little dull, but sometimes that is just the nature of the topic, sometimes it isn’t easy to make jokes and add some energy to the audience.
One thing that really struck me was that each of the speakers had a common thread (whether that was intentional or not). The overriding theme that came across to me was human element of eCommerce and how companies can invest in UX and insights derived from data (which in turn can be generated from analysing a customers eCommerce journey).
I was not only generally impressed with the speakers, but also the announcer. He was engaging, warm and nicely led from one speaker to the next with a little bit of insight in between for good measure.
I like sponsors. Ultimately they paid for this event (I assume), and in all likelihood without them it wouldn’t have gone ahead.
What I liked about the sponsors of this event is that most of the people from the stands actively got involved in the networking element. The VR stand by tribemix was a particular highlight, as I see the growing importance of VR especially in eCommerce.
Would I go again?
In short, definitely. I am very much still a sceptic of free events, but this far exceeded the quality of some events I have attended and paid for, and frankly next time I would be willing to pay.
It was set up professionally, and was well organised with good speakers, speaking on a good range of topics, all of which I took something away from. Is that not the ideal conference?
Do you like conferences? What do you usually think of them? Did you go to eCommerce South West 2016? If so what did you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts.