Mobile World Congress is the largest gathering of professionals from all verticals where mobile plays a critical role. Last year’s attendance clocked in well over 90,000 people - and that’s not counting those who didn’t register for the show but came in to partake in the networking. The next time you’ll see a similar contingent to this one will be at dmexco in September so here a few tips to make sure you make the most of your Barcelona days:
- The Barcelona airport is well-connected and only about a 15 minute drive from the main conference venue. You’ll be able to pick up your registration and conference pass at the airport (with 90,000 people coming in be prepared for a bit of a wait) and can then hail a cab or catch a bus to Plaza d’Espanya which is right next to one of the conference arenas (the main conference is in a new location this year - at Fira Gran Via).
- Many cabs take credit cards but some don’t. If you prefer to pay by card make sure you mention that when you’re requesting a taxi. In most neighborhoods there’s a taxi station every few blocks/on major intersections.
- The local version of Uber is myTaxi - you can use it to summon regular taxis and pay via the app/credit card. It works really well although late at night you can expect longer waits for a car.
- Barcelona has an excellent public transportation network which includes clearly delineated bicycle lanes and bikes for hire. The city is also very walkable so if you have some time to enjoy the weather and get to know Barcelona’s architecture opt to go on foot.
Who you’ll meet there & what to expect:
- The roots of MWC are in telco but in recent years it’s expanded to pretty much anyone who relies on mobile technology for pretty much anything. Expect conversations on advertising, marketing, IoT, healthtech, fintech, all manner of commerce and just about any topic in between. This is also a good opportunity for M&A conversations so keep your eye out for corporate BD folks as well as investors scouting for their next unicorn.
- Manage your time: with more than 90,000 people in attendance your dance card is likely to be full. Try to keep all your meetings either in the conference venue or close by: you don’t want to waste time going back and forth if you don’t have to.
- Save at least 10% of your time for last-minute meetings. Lots of folks are flying in for a day or two and not registering for the conference. If there’s a former colleague or prospect you’ve been jonesing to get in front of it’s a good idea to ping them and see if they’ll be in town (if they’re based in EU chances are they’ll be there).
- Perfect your elevator pitch: with so many attendees, don’t expect that everyone knows your part of the industry in detail. Work out a short, generalist description of what your company does (e.g. ‘we help ad buyers target consumers in real-time’ vs. ‘we’re a DSP’) and stick to it; test it out on a friend who’s not in the industry till it makes sense to her.
- Barcelona’s beach is a delight for runners - whether you choose to run on the sand or on the pavement next to it. It’s a nice stretch from the W hotel to all the way to Agenda Diagonal where you’re bound to spot more runners taking advantage of the wide path in the middle of the road. It’s great for sight-seeing too so if you’re looking to hit two birds with one stone plan a longer run and stop to admire the lovely buildings and balconies along the way.
- You’re on the home turf of FC Barcelona and whether you root for them or not you have to appreciate the history of this great club. Visiting Camp Nou and their museum is a great and memorable client entertainment activity.
Odds, ends and tips:
- The food in Barcelona is amazing and you have to work really hard to have a bad meal. Opt for tapas in the gothic quarter, in the more sophisticated El Born, or sit down for a serious meal in Eixample (which also sports octagonal city blocks).
- The go-to cocktail is a gin & tonic and you’ll see many spirited versions in the city’s bars and clubs. A glass of cava will round out the evening nicely.
That’s a good start — safe travels and enjoy Barcelona. Share your tips for an optimal MWC experience in the comments and let’s keep track of things that don’t work too well too.