Mobile World Congress: The survival guide
By this time next week, most in the industry will be returning from Barcelona, plasters on feet, business cards in pockets, and well deserving of a weekend. In the meantime though, we have the next few days to strategise, budget for and get excited about/dread (delete as appropriate) Mobile World Congress 2024.
Seasoned MWC vets may be well versed in the tricks of the trade(show), but there will be plenty of attendees new to PR who are yet to experience the joys of MWC. It is for these virgin conference go-ers that we have provided the following MWC Survival Guide. The list of tips and tricks is by no means exhaustive, but with so much information overload at trade shows, we thought we’d keep it brief and light. If only MWC could be the same.
Adding additional attire to your outfit may not be at the forefront of your mind when you head out from your hotel to brave Day One. However, preparing for multiple eventualities means you’ll be comfier, better connected, and self-sufficient. So, if you’re not wearing them already, take a pair of flat shoes. Put a pen (lid firmly attached), hair tie, mints, in your pocket; this will save a bag scrabble during meetings, and give the illusion of being primed and poised in front of colleagues and peers. Don’t forget sunglasses, which have the dual purpose of both concealing a hangover, and shielding your eyes from the sun on rare forays outdoors. A portable battery charger, hand gel, pain killers, water and plasters are also essential, and rather than a handbag or briefcase, we recommend a rucksack.
Good sense of humour
Remember, everyone is in the same boat. Clients, PRs, the teenager serving you lunch; most people you meet at the show will have been on their feet all day. Having a joke or light topic of conversation will therefore go down a treat. Just avoid whiney/funny quips about the food or the metro. When you’re on your 15th MWC, some things just aren’t funny anymore.
Or, be prepared. Barcelona is a cosmopolitan, modern city. But, believe it or not, some people still don’t speak English! Rather than just repeating the same question in English, only louder, why not learn some Spanish phrases? Please, thank you, good morning etc. should be in everyone’s repertoire, but asking for directions, explaining dietary requirements, and conveying ailments in Spanish will not only be useful, it’ll help you avoid the ‘Brit abroad’ stereotype.
Keep fed and watered
Hunting down the best food joints is a challenge for even the most experienced MWC attendee. However, like family recipes and priceless heirlooms, secrets of the tastiest/most edible food outlets in the Fira do get passed down the ranks. If you’re not privy to these nuggets of wisdom, make sure you instead keep (healthy) snacks and bottled water with you at all times, and take regular tea/coffee breaks.
Harness the technical genius of WhatsApp and create an MWC group with colleagues. The Babel team does this every year at MWC, making it easy to stay in touch with others at the show as well as those enjoying the quietude of the London office. Communicating effectively with everyone will also ensure that no (wo)man is left standing at the Fira after a long day of briefings and meetings. A word of warning: WhatsApp messages can only be edited 15 minutes after they’re sent, which is worth bearing in mind before sending that ‘hilarious’ photo of you and a colleague partying with BFFs Jose and Manuel at 6 am after too many sangrias.
Stock up on stash
Visit Hall 8, aka the Cave of Wonders, to get your hands on whatever freebies are going. In previous years we’ve returned home with suitcases overflowing with fans, cocktail shakers, customised stickers and novelty pens and pin-buttons. What will those crafty mobile mavens hand out this year? Who knows, but it’s sure to be irresistible to the frenzied consumer in us all.
Take note, learn Spanish, and try not to stress. Whether it’s your first time, or your 30th, MWC can be a great experience. See you there!