Flavor of the day: Personal and informal conversations are more fruitful than the formal sessions.
As far as ATM 2014, is concerned it has been hosted very professionally, with a conservative approach that encourages attendees to be proactive in order to extract value from their experience. Attending such events and conferences are similar in nature to playing a ‘Contact Sport’, where if you don’t make your experiences engaging for yourself, you are guaranteed to be bored and loose out.
Talk to speakers, booth people, the folks sitting next to you, whoever. Ask questions; interact to get an insight into their pain points.
What we noticed and found very interesting, was that the sessions, speaker talks and panels had a handful of attendees: with an informal approach to interactions among other attendees. Personal and informal conversations proved to be more fruitful in comparison to formal sessions which are mostly one-directional.
So you need a plan to attend, it’s like you are invited to a party and you only know the host and nobody else, hoping somebody will talk to you.
We managed to meet up with some of our Middle Eastern travel agents and connect to a certain level on making them understand our offerings; most agencies we met were from Turkey (4 of them) and realized that they are yet to catch up with what they can do with technology.
As far as how exhibitors brand and market themselves, we found them to be very creative aided by great use of visual media and interactions. Though, the Print medium is still used quite extensively, as every booth was full of brochures, collaterals, fliers, posters, etc… (So, the green initiative that the companies are adapting, claiming to be environmentally friendly, is all talk!)
Overall, the first day at ATM has been a great experience with a lot of learning, which is yet to be digested.