Blimey, is that the time? Somehow Mobile World Congress is upon us again. And I, for one, will be gracing Barcelona’s hallowed shores for this, the mobile industry’s biggest B2B event of the year. Sun, sea, stands, tapas: this event has it all.
Amongst the hubbub and near-total exhaustion of running a stand, though, it’s worth remembering that, despite being hard work, MWC can actually be pretty enjoyable. Here are a few tips for making the most of it…
1) Try to enjoy the amazing food and drink on offer
Bear in mind that Barcelona is a gastronomical wonderland that can cater to just about anything you could want, from cheap tapas to fine cuisine, lager to champagne. I myself tend to spend a huge amount of time ingesting 10 euro tapas. And, what with all the aftershow socialising, it’s almost impossible to avoid. Check out our guides from 2012 on food and drink.
2) Coffee, not tea. Darren Willsher is clearly an idiot.
As my colleague has previously pointed out it’s always proved hard to get a good cup of tea in the show venue. And while our European and transcontinental cousins may mock our fetishisation of the stuff, believe me, if you are in possession of a nice thermos of really hot tea you will become as a god amongst men. On the show floor English folk have been known to trade jewellery, gold teeth and even occasionally organs for a good cup of Cha.
Me, I prefer coffee, and it’s much easier to get hold of in an acceptable form. Just be aware though that after your fourth cup on the show floor you *will* look like a speed freak. At that point it’s usually better to let somebody else man the stand.
3) Have a look around, innit?
I usually try to tack an extra day on to the end of the show for some ‘me’ time, to reward myself for a gruelling week. But even if all you can do is get out at night, get a guide and go and explore.
4) Think seriously about what you’re wearing
Yeah, yeah, I don’t want to sound like your mother, but really, this is worth thinking about.
Wear comfortable shoes. Think I’m being flippant? See what standing up in suit shoes for eight hours a day does to you. By day three, almost everyone is wearing a plaster somewhere on at least one of their feet. Buying insoles before you go, and wearing thick socks, will be one of the best investments you make.
Bear in mind that the show floor is pretty chilly; geared for those people who are walking around at a frenetic pace. If you’re stood on a stand for hours you *will* get cold. Dress appropriately underneath your suit.
Similarly, do not consider high-synthetic-content shirts. They may not need ironing, but they’ll make your life a sweaty, toxic hell, especially if you do any lifting, gophering, or, at the end of the day if you have to go to a restaurant or bar directly from the venue.
5) Consider security
Keep your things in a lockup at the hotel: all of the hotels have them and it’s worth paying for. Remember to split your cash and forms of ID between your person (I’d recommend a money belt) and the hotel.
Avoid misunderstandings as to what constitutes a ‘tip’ for cleaning staff at your hotel (easily done), by not leaving any small change or notes out in your hotel room.
Only carry on you what you need, go directly to the venue and drop off laptops etc before going out. And remember, the venue lockups will be busy, so arrive early if you need to stash anything.
As I remarked last year, know which areas of the city are safe and which are not. Definitely do not go anywhere near La Ramblas after dark on your own if you don’t have to; this is the pickpocket hotspot of Barcelona. And, to generalise, the area to the Southwest of La Ramblas is less secure than the buzzier, more fun Northeastern side. There are one or two hotspots in the narrow alleyways of The Gothic Quarter.
However, remember, by-and-large Barcelona is a safe city, so enjoy it. Further security information, including security numbers, can be found here. As with everything else, exercise common sense to remain secure.