Group size: 2,000
Dates: 2-5 June 2009
Venue: Estrel, Berlin
Agency: George P Johnson
The Brief: IBM wanted to hold its leading Information On Demand EMEA conference in Germany because it is such a major market for the IT giant. George P Johnson was set the task of finding a venue large enough to hold 2,000 delegates. Estrel fitted the bill as it provides 1,125 rooms, and meeting spaces that were ideal for break-out sessions and meetings.
Challenges: "Our biggest challenge was providing a valuable experience for the delegates," says George P Johnson event director David Foulger. "We also wanted to successfully incorporate social media tactics to give our audience opportunities to connect with each other."
Solutions: An independent 'paper selection committee' comprising IBM customers, business partners and industry experts was set up to plan the programme. Guest speakers were invited to write blogs before the event to inform attendees about their presentations. There was also a live Twitter feed displayed on screens in the venue.
Execution: The conference programme included 400 break-out sessions, speeches, demonstrations and training, alongside one-to-one executive meetings. Delegates stayed at 16 hotels in Berlin, with 900 people staying at Estrel. "Estrel was one of the most efficient venues I've ever worked with," says Foulger.
Shuttle buses were used to ferry the delegates from the hotels to the venue. At the end of the first day, a reception was held for business partners at the Axica centre. On the eve of the final day, a networking event was held in the palatial former East German postal building, now industrial-style venue, The Station. A live stage show featured three tribute acts, including Madonna, Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi.
Verdict: IBM was very pleased with the event. "It was a huge success, especially given the current challenging economic climate," says IBM EMEA marketing manager Paula Darvell. "Berlin was an excellent location for us and the Estrel was the perfect conference venue, with the added bonus of it being so conducive to networking, which is a key element for our delegates."