Getting the maximum benefit from a show, such as the CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition in Manchester on 8th & 9th November, takes planning. From booking your travel and accommodation to your time with each vendor, it’s important to prepare ahead of time.
This years exhibition is described as:
“The 70th edition of our Annual Conference will focus on the major shifts that are affecting organisations, the HR profession, and the world of work at large.
The digitalisation of work, the impact of technology on jobs, the macro socio-political changes around us, and the increased pace of organisational transformation are examples of a new world of work that is already upon us. A new world which presents major challenges and opportunities for business leaders and the people profession.
With a compelling call for action for organisations, leaders, HR and L&D professionals to champion good work and more ethical decisions, the conference programme is aimed at empowering you to become a driving force for the good of organisations, individuals and the wider society.
Through a wide variety of topic areas and learning formats, we’ll look at how we need to change and modernise our people practices not only to succeed in a new reality of work, but also to shape a fairer future that will benefit everyone.”
So, before the day arrives take a look at our checklist below to make sure you get the most out of your time at the CIPDACE. See you there!!
Research and prioritise those HR vendors that you want to visit between ‘need to see’ and ‘like to see’. This way you can ensure you see those vendors that match your requirements.
Divide your time between those vendors you want to see but leave some extra time as a backup as it’s likely you’ll get sidetracked at some point during the day. You need to be disciplined with your time and stick to your schedule.
Write a list of questions to ask and what information you require from vendors. Research vendors to find out what their USP is and what they offer that is of specific interests to you. You can then build a list of relevant questions to ask each of them.
What do you want to achieve at the CIPD Annual Conference & Exhibition and what’s expected of you by manager and/or colleagues? Make sure you’re clear as to the goals of the day and make notes before you go.
If you’re attending the show with colleagues, meet to discuss how best to utilise your time and work together. By collaborating you can cover much more of the show and collate your findings afterwards.
Make appointments in advance with the vendors you want to meet with, this will save you valuable time at the show. Most vendors will be happy to book an appointment prior to the show.
Take a look at a map of where vendors are located and plan your route for the day to maximise your time.
The Olympia is a large venue and making sure you’ve got a plan will save you time and confusion.
Remember to take business cards with you to avoid filling out forms at each stand.
It can get quite tiresome repeatedly writing down your details for each vendor you speak with.
Take a strong comfortable bag to carry any promotional or informative items that you are given.
You can’t always rely on SWAG to come with a bag! Brochures, leaflets and other promotional material will build up during the day.
Pack comfortable shoes and clothing to wear at the conference. You’ll be surprised the distance you’ll cover during the day, it could be in excess of 10 miles! Remember that, if you’re staying over in a hotel, you might be able to leave items in the room safe while you’re at the show.
If you’re driving, remember to pre-book parking.
Although there are plenty of car parks near to the venue they’ll fill up extremely quickly with visitors to the show.
Remember to book to see specific talks to avoid missing out.
If there are multiple talks then you could split them between you and colleagues and each take notes to collate later.
Pre-book your ticket and arrive early for the conference. This will give you time to familiarise yourself with the surroundings, ensure that you’re at the front of the queue and avoid the general rush of visitors.
Make sure you’re clear on how to get to Manchester Central.
Also check the route and travel details to the show from your hotel if you’re staying over.
Take another look at your plan when you arrive to ensure that the show schedule/vendor list hasn’t changed at the last minute.
You may need to adjust your schedule slightly.
Don’t be afraid to ask for relevant information to take away with you.
All vendors should have brochure packs for you to browse while commuting home or when you get back to the office.
Explain to each vendor that you have a specific time slot allocated for their demo and you’re on a strict schedule. They should be happy with this and most will prefer to provide an in-depth demonstration later at your offices.
If a stand looks over-crowded, then come back later when the vendor has more time to speak with you and give you their undivided attention. The main suppliers get very busy. Check the busy stands at lunchtime as this is when they may be slightly less crowded.
If the venue has a secure cloak room, then leave bulky bags and coats.
Carrying awkward items around a crowded arena will slow you down and tire you out.
Carry a pad and pen as a backup to take important notes, don’t rely solely on electronic devices.
It’s sometimes easier to jot notes down using a pen than trying to type away on a phone or tablet.
Take a break after a few hours to refresh, eat, have a drink and get some fresh air.
The conference has a number of refreshment areas for your convenience. Once you’ve refuelled you can get back to a busy afternoon!
Try to keep a record of your day, it will help you next time as well as offering an insight for colleagues that couldn’t attend.
Any tips for first time attendees next year will be greatly received back in the office.
Don’t be afraid to ask searching and sometimes tricky questions of vendors. Most should be happy to answer any questions you have regardless of it’s complexity. If they cannot respond themselves, they should be able take your question to the person that can help.
Don’t waste your time with vendors you have no interest in. Remember you have a limited amount of time to get to those vendors you’ve already researched.
If you have spare time at the end of the day then use this for browsing.
If you’ve finished, then leave the show a bit early to avoid the rush to the nearest station and queues at the cloak room!
There’s nothing worse at the end of a busy day on your feet than not getting a seat on the train or joining a huge queue for the bus or taxi!
Create a structured report of those vendors that you spoke with. Making sense of your day and using the information you gathered to arrive at informed decisions will make your diligent note taking worthwhile.
Discuss your findings with stake holders and decision makers.
Gather colleagues and senior staff to discuss your findings and provide your recommendations moving forward.
Book a meeting for further discussions with vendors of interest as soon as possible.
The quicker you move forward the faster you’ll have a shiny new HR system in place and benefiting your business!