On May 5-7 2010 Lift Conference (official hashtag #lift10) took place at the Centre International de Conférences Genève (CICG) in Geneva, Switzerland. Even if there were some ups and downs in the organizational aspects, Lift proved once more that the most relevant factor in a live event are the connections generated between people. As a matter of fact, the tagline for Lift10 was “Connected People” (rephrasing Nokia’s famous claim “connecting people”), emphasizing the human aspect rather than the mere technological one.
Amongst the things that I mostly appreciated at Lift was the big geographical diversity of speakers, whose different provenience was evidenced by the strong inflections of their English accents (tainted with German, Brazilian, South Korean, Swedish, French and Italian).
Frog Design, one of the main partners, carried out an innovative research that aimed to improve future Lift editions by analyzing people’s behavior and proposing a series of action points, some of which were publicly presented at the end of the conference (see below for further details).
This was my first time at a Lift Conference and overall it was a valuable experience. IMHO the program was not well balanced throughout the three days and I found the level and interestingness of the speakers way better in days 2 and 3. Also starting with workshops at the beginning of the day -especially during Day 1- felt kind of awkward, as there was no introductory session by the organizers and for first-comers it was easy to get lost or not sure of what to expect.
As a closing remark, Laurent Haug (blog, twitter) commented that people seem to be more busy than 5 years ago so next year Lift might take place over two days instead of three (I agree that being away for three days during the business week is getting harder, especially when you attend so many events like me).
Venues and event organizers work in a symbiotic status of mutual need but often engage in conflicting relationship because they don’t recognize each others needs. Yves Cretegny, now CEO of Lift Conference and in the past as CTO and CFO of Geneva-Palexpo (an important venue in Switzerland) thinks that in order to create a win-win experience, both sides should open their strategies to co-create solutions that are useful (and profitable) to either side.
Venues often sell their services in a way that is irrelevant to the event organizer (e.g.: square meters) instead of developing services that add value to the experience that the conference is creating.
For example, a venue that hosts several events during the year could team up with a series of suppliers (printers, web developers, graphic designers, swag producers, etc), negotiate a high-volume discount and provide dedicated design and production services to events. Another clear case is a service like wi-fi internet connection. Why try to force a conference to buy just the basic connectivity at an expensive cost -which nowadays represents just a commodity- instead of offering advanced networking services to better use the available bandwidth or offer extra services to the attendees?
The venue should give the opportunity to its clients to acquire an outstanding service at a competitive price that will enhance the event (by making it more attractive to delegates & sponsors, professional, innovative, etc).
As Yves suggests, one way to co-design solutions valuable to both actors is to have in the advisory board a member of the opposite side, that clearly understands the business needs of the client.
Next Thursday May 6th I’ll be holding a workshop on The Future of Conferences at the prestigious Lift Conference in Geneva. The idea is to develop, together with the attendees, strategies and actions to assess the dynamics that are affecting events and provoke changes that will create an amazing event experience.
From the description on the Lift website:
The Future of Conferences: moving from just (good) content to a remarkable experience
Until recently, organizing a good event consisted in getting a room, a bunch of speakers and an audience. The scarcity of access to quality or updated content was enough a motivator to make people meet. Now, thanks to the internet we are meeting (physically) more than ever, but our main drive has changed. Now the focus has moved to offering a remarkable experience. As Jess Greenwood (Contagious Magazine) says regarding advertising, you have to do an event that’s (at least) useful, relevant or entertaining.
Together we’ll explore some of the challenges and possible solutions to organizing this new breed of events.
Date and start time: Thursday, May 6, 2010 – 09:00
See you in Geneva, drop me a line if you’re around so that we can meet!
Laurent Haug, founder of Lift Conference presents Lift 10, that will take place May 5-7, 2010, in Geneva, Switzerland. The underlying theme of this year’s edition is “Connected People” as opposed to “Connecting People” (remember Nokia’s tagline?) as a play of words that wants to bring back the focus onto the people and the relationships that lie beyond the technology that connects them.
Lift is composed of several different layers that include keynotes, an Open Program (community based presentations that allows anyone in the audience to step on stage), demo, art expos, startups presenting their products and services and butt-kicking networking.
According to Laurent, at conferences you get most of the value during breaks so they want to do something during them that allows you to connect with new ideas and new people. Lift is an event that should give you 3 things: contacts (“I once heard somebody say once that networking is Job Security”), find out what is happening (“which technologies are important, which are going to be disruptive, which are going to be a fad”), inspirations (“at Lift you’re going to be confronted with a lot of new ideas and meeting people from different continents, social levels, generations, is going to trigger some new thinking for your own projects and daily life”).
Hurry up to register as available places are running out fast! Tip: if you are a member of the Picnic Network you can purchase your ticket to Lift10 with a 10% discount by using the promocode “picnicnetwork10” 😉