The world’s largest international trade fair for the telecommunications industry will remain in Barcelona for at least another 7 years.
The GSMA, which organizes Mobile World Congress, has announced that the show will remain at Fira de Barcelona until the end of the decade and that the city “is a key element in making MWC the must-attend technology event in the world. mobile ecosystem”. That and the tapas, he must have forgotten to add.
The show pitched its tent in Barcelona in 2006, when it was called 3GSM World Congress, and the GSMA puts the economic impact on the city over the past 17 years at 5.3 billion euros and claims to have created 140,000 jobs. It has also spawned a number of spin-off companies that are also active throughout the year, such as Mobile World Capital and mSchools.
“We are delighted to announce that MWC will remain in Barcelona until 2030,” said GSMA Chief Executive Mats Granryd. “Recent global circumstances have created some of the toughest challenges we’ve faced with MWC, and the strength of our partnership with host city parties has been a critical part of us being able to bring the show back. In fact , Barcelona is so tied to the MWC experience that it’s hard for me to think of one and not the other.
John Hoffman, CEO of the GSMA, added: “Barcelona is much more than the city where the MWC takes place. We have not only grown the event since our move to Barcelona, but have evolved it to include an entire ecosystem. The hospitality and people of the city and the true partnership we experience at all levels means that Barcelona is an integral part of what the GSMA wants to create through the MWC. A community gathering to inspire something bigger than any individual party. It’s an exciting time for the mobile ecosystem and the technology sector, and I couldn’t be happier that Barcelona remains the capital of this activity. »
Fira de Barcelona General Manager Constantí Serrallonga also thanked the GSMA (in a rather self-satisfying way) for “highlighting as a unique differential element the world-class model developed in Barcelona for the establishment and holding international events”. events. A unique ecosystem in which the characteristics of the city, the excellence of the Fira sites and equipment, and the involvement of the administrations play an essential role.
Some 60,000 people flocked to Barcelona in March to take part in MWC’s return as a live event, and most of those we spoke to were very happy we did. The covid pandemic and resulting lockdown rules have made large-scale events impossible for the past couple of years, and you got the impression that many were just happy to get out of the house/office and do some old-fashioned face-to-face networking.
The pandemic has changed a lot on a societal level and acted as an accelerator of business trends such as working from home and virtual event. Love ’em or hate ’em, the fact that common desktop software was mature enough to be able to run webinars and meetings relatively painlessly in 2020 meant you could realistically run a business with the workforce at the house perched on the kitchen table.
If the government had imposed stay-at-home orders in 2005, it’s hard to see how businesses could have continued. Indeed, perhaps the availability of reliable videoconferencing and associated cloud gubbins made national lockdowns considered in the first place.
The question for businesses, and specifically the events industry, has always been what happens next? Will people return to live events and office environments like coil springs, hungry for human interaction not filtered through the support of a laptop screen, or would they now decide that everything can now be done virtually, what’s the point of going to the office or an event?
The answer seems to be both at this point. The demand for some form of working from home certainly seems to persist, leading many companies to reevaluate the idea of long-term workspaces. As for events, it seems that while people are certainly happy to return to things like MWC, there are also plenty of webinars, virtual conferences and the like. Maybe the future looks like a mix of the two.
It’s really a matter of personal taste and how much you got out of virtual events in the first place, but in this writer’s opinion, they can feel something like a halfway house between going to an event and not not disturb at all. A webinar or virtual roundtable can be effective ways to get something across, but attendance will never be what it is in person.
Spending three or four days at huge, front-of-house business events like MWC or CES pays off a lot more than the insights squeezed from presentations and launch events that, yes, companies can provide you with virtually now. Making new industry contacts, catching up with old ones, getting your hands on a product, sticking your head around a door to catch part of a roundtable rather than booking a matinee 6 months in advance to watch it online, to share dozens of little chance interactions with people you’d never have arranged to have a Skype call… all of those things are left by the wayside in the laser-focused structure of an equivalent virtual.
Maybe in the future the technology will be so good that the pros will outweigh the cons when it comes to the journey to something like MWC, but it doesn’t look like we’re there yet. Until then, formative versions of such virtual reality technology, if it ever delivers on its grand promises, will no doubt be clustered in the halls of Fira de Barcelona at MWC next year. We’ll see each other there.
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