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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Is it worth going to MWC next February?

I'm currently trying to decide whether or not to take my normal week's trip to Barcelona in 2010.

At one level, it's "obvious" - it's what everyone does, isn't it? And certainly I usually have an intense week of briefings, conference-style sessions, client meetings, dinners and (of course) late nights. Bits of it are fun, and bits of it are simply a hard slog.

I think last year I ended up having about 50-60 engagements of one form or another, plus extra ones at another conference (NetEvents) that started 2 days' earlier. I managed to find some quite cheap accommodation and flights, and I had at least one "paid gig" while I was there, so that made it worth my time financially. On the other hand, I spent a good % of the preceding month playing email and phone hockey, to set everything up - and probably turning down another 100+ invitations, having pre-MWC briefings and so forth. It's hard to work out the fully-loaded ROI.

This time, I'm debating whether it's worth it at all. I meet lots of companies and individuals at smaller conferences year-round, usually without their PR minders and carefully-messaged analyst-facing slides. Maybe a couple more of those - I get no shortage of invites to speak. And I don't usually go to CTIA Wireless or one of the Asian events, so maybe I should take a week out for one of those instead?

I'm not the only one thinking this - quite a few other firms and individuals either pass entirely (Apple?) or have scaled back their presence. This isn't because of travel budget either - it's just a hard-nosed view on what & where is the most effective use of *time* rather than cash. (The answer isn't in "virtual conferences" either in my view - they're uniformly dreadful and I usually switch off after the first hour, if that). And for all those traditionalists out there - sorry, if MWC went back to being 3GSM Cannes, it'd be a *definite* no from me.

I think I'm going to give it another couple of weeks. If by then I've got a few things lined up that are direct revenue-earners (moderating panel sessions, giving customer presentations, using it as a basis for a specific research effort) then it's a no-brainer. Otherwise, maybe I'll try an experiment and skip it for once and just set up an auto-responder on my email saying "sorry, not going".

(Oh and if anyone *does* need a thought-provoking speaker or lively moderator, please email information AT disruptive-analysis DOT com)


Patrick said...

Dean, I know the feeling. I am going this year, but that's because I do have a couple of gigs. However, I did spend a while thinking the unthinkable and was seriously considering not going.

I've been saying this every year for the 4 or 5 shows, but ... it'll be interesting to see how this event goes and whether I go next year.

But I do have to disagree about Cannes - I much preferred it there.

Jag said...

I gave up going two years ago for exactly the reasons you gave. Not worth it: too much hassle, it's a circus, and I get much more out of access to companies outside of MWC context. We are lucky being based in London, as we can get opportunities to access companies in the trade much more easily than some folks in other parts of the world. For us, I think the functional benefits of MWC are marginal, but the emotional/personal benefits have long disappeared for me. It stopped being fun after 2006.