First thing's first: has someone remembered the coffee machine for the storage area! It always surprises me how quickly the Conference comes around each year – no sooner had the early start for the release of the floorplan become a fading memory, the organisers were chasing for stand plans and we had packed those final pieces ahead of the journey North on Sunday (thanks to Claire for allowing that earlier access!).

Now that BIBA has settled into Manchester for the next 3 years, it has allowed clients to really plan for the long-term and focus their commitment to gain the most return for their cash. This year we have seen clients taking real advantage of this security to think more creatively as to how they attend the event and what they do there. Some have taken the opportunity to reduce their space, yet allocate the saving to smarter ways to engage – both with those attending and those that are not. The organisers continue to push brokers to attend – getting the balance between companies they want to speak to and interesting sessions – but it is clear when we speak to brokers that it's what goes on in the Exhibition Hall that draws them up North!

It will be interesting to see how many brokers attend, as clearly it is in everyone’s interest that the numbers continue to increase, but with rising costs and work pressures, getting everything right on the day becomes even harder. A decline might impact on the spend or commitment from exhibitors – but let’s not cross that bridge just yet!

So, what can we expect from the Exhibition? The battle for business is perhaps as fierce as ever. We know of many new initiatives, product launches and things to keep attendees happy. These range from the ever popular bacon rolls through to gallons of coffee, bottles of beer and glasses of champagne! But what will really make the impact this year? Will it be these favourites, or will something ‘new’ make the difference? Time will only tell. Who will have the most people on the stand? Will it be the main players fighting for the attention of the brokers? Or will one of the newer entrants steal the day?

This year we will be taking the largest ever team to the Conference – working for more clients that ever. Supporting them from engagement ideas, through product launches and hospitality to stand design and build. If you see us, do come over and say hello – you can’t miss us!