It's one year after my last note on this subject, and I went to the TFM conference again this week. It continues to surprise me just how high a proportion of the material was directly relevant to my work, and the organisers should be very happy with the quality of speaker that they continue to attract.
But another thing surprised me too, and this is not something for the organisers to be happy about. The organisation was in some aspects a complete fiasco. So many attendees wanted to see the more popular talks that there were lines stretching around the block; disgracefully, large numbers were turned away at the door of each one. This was especially the case for the keynote addresses but it was even the case for some of the specialist talks. Meanwhile a few of the speakers spoke to half-empty rooms. It was inefficient and pathetic.
This was a technology for marketing conference. The technology was largely about using the internet, eCommerce, databases and CRM to manage demand and supply. I would guess that most visitors registered online anyway. All they had to do was to allow us to register in advance for particular sessions. This would also have allowed them to monitor demand and potentially adjust seating plans as necessary. And this would make it clear to late registering people which sessions they could attend.
It was actually branded as technology for marketing and advertising. If they were advertising particular names as reasons to visit the event, then they had a corresponding obligation to allow us to see those names, or at least to make us aware that we would not see them.
It is not acceptable to justify the mess by saying the sessions were being recorded for later online streaming. People do not attend conferences to queue for their favourite sessions, to be turned away at the door, then told that the event can be viewed on the internet later.
One cannot blame the organisers too much on the first occasion, it is not easy to predict how an event will pan out. But what made the scenario particularly appalling was that exactly the same situation occurred last year.
About using technology for marketing, have they learned nothing?