How to make the most of the World ATM Congress - Tips and trick from a veteran

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The World ATM Congress will take place in Madrid from the 10th to the 12th of March 2020. Three days might sounds like a lot of time but as always, it will go as a flash. Making the most of the show requires a bit of preparation and this is what this post is all about.

I've been participating at the World ATM Congress from the very beginning. I've been there staffing booth for two companies and I now go as a visitor. Whether you are an ATM Congress veteran like me or going to the first time, making your homework before the show is key!

Long before the show - book your hotel and tours

Madrid is incredibly full during the week of the show. Each and every year. I just booked my hotel for 2021 and even that much in advance, it was not easy to find one close to the exhibition center.

If you are short on time and can not attend all of the show, the SESAR walking tours can be an interesting option for you. Guides will bring you through various stands, on a predefined planning to get demos, presentations and more, in a group. Registration is required, check the link above. Book early enough, groups tend to be fully booked ahead of the show.

Before the show

The least you can do is check the list of exhibitors and the floor plan. Everything is available online on the World ATM Congress website. Classify exhibitors by priority, from “must see” to “no need to go” via “nice to check”. There will be companies you don’t know about and this is a chance to improve your market knowledge.

When planning you visit, check the program of the open presentations. You will have to arrange your schedule around these anyway. If you’ve never been there and want to get a better feeling of what to expect, check the presentations of past editions, they are also available on the ATM Congress’ website.

Make appointments with the exhibitors which are the most important for you. The show offers a lot opportunities but people are also quite busy. Appointments made in advance make life easier, both as a visitor and as an exhibitor. This is especially true for companies offering system demonstrations and have limited equipment available on site. Some companies publish their own program with predefined times for demonstrations or presentations. Check these in advance and pinpoint the ones you want to go.

The two first days are quite long, opening at 10am and closing at 7.30pm and 6pm respectively. It used to be even longer and these are now “reduced” opening times. The last day is only from 10am to 2pm. Quite often, dismantling even starts at 12 noon, so the last day is not so long. If you go for one day only, definitely pick the first day. It is longer and busier, with more possible contacts present.

When preparing your planning, allow for time for walking around without specific goals. Roam from booth to booth and discover what you don’t expect. New companies join every year and even if the description in the exhibitors list don’t say a lot to you, you could find something relevant. The show is also about meeting people you know already which are there as visitors and this often occurs outside of the booths in unplanned manners.

At the show

Getting to IFEMA form the airport is easy. The fastest way is with a taxi. Tell the driver you go to “IFEMA entrada norte” - that’s the north entrance, which is the closest to hall 10, where the show runs this year. Alternatively, you can ride the metro from the airport, it’s only a couple of stops. The metro stops by the south entrance, which is a good 10 minutes walk away from hall 10. By the way, Madrid can be quite cold in March, don’t forget a good coat. There are a few self-service restaurants and other catering options, plus many exhibitors offering coffee, drinks and snacks. Be careful when the alcoholized stuff gets out at the end of the day, especially if you did not eat a lot over the day… a few participants end up drinking a bit too much each year and you don’t want to be one of those.

The organisation publishes a free newspaper every day. Check it to get the latest information, program changes and announcements. It is available at the entrance and is a quick but interesting read.

Don’t forget to take business cards with you. Tons of them. Yes, in the age of linkedin and smartphones, people still do expect business cards. They got exchanged when meeting, not after. So if you give one to someone who ends up not being that relevant for you, you can’t get the card back.

Be ready for a lot of walking and standing. This is no good time to inaugurate these brand new shoes that could be a bit painful at first. It’s hard to say which time is the busiest. Some years it is the first morning, other times it is the second afternoon. The late afternoon tend to be busy with social events which are not so productive. DFS introduced a “beer and brezel” event four years ago which creates a rush on their boots for 45 minutes. Other companies followed-up on this example. Don’t even attempt to meet anybody in a productive way at these times. But it’s a lot of fun and good networking.

With such long days, you don’t want to carry too much weight with you but a laptop or at least a paper notebook and a pen can come in very handy. If you’re a goodies hunter, the best time is the afternoon of the third day, when exhibitors almost want to get rid of their stuff. But you don’t go there for goodies, right ;-) ?

There is no real dress code. When I was there as an exhibitor, the company dress code was dark suit and corporate tie. Some drop the tie on the second day. As a visitor, I prefer suite with tie on the first day and adjust on the second day. Some run around in jeans and pullover but its not the best, if you ask me.

I hope this post helps you get the most out of the World ATM Congress. Check this blog for updates during the show and if you have tips and tricks you want to share, contact us and we will add it.