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Into the real world…

Friday, 1st June 2018

A week after returning from two of the big UK GIS calendar events of the year, the Esri Annual Conference and GeoBusiness 2018, our Digital Marketing Assistant Luke O’Callaghan recounts his experience…

Since I began my digital marketing apprenticeship six months ago I’ve learnt a lot of new things, but industry events are a whole new world, especially exhibiting at two of the biggest industry events in as many days!



GeoBusiness 2018 is the UK’s largest geospatial exhibition and conference based at the Business Design Centre in London. Parallel to this, was the ESRI Annual Conference 2018 which brings together over 2,500 GIS enthusiasts, from a wide range of industries. This world was brand new to me, I had never visited such events before in my life, yet on 22nd-23rd May, I was exhibiting at them.


Monday 21st May


The calm before the storm. After enjoying a delicious, full English breakfast (despite setting the smoke alarm off) the team headed out to Camden Market. We took in the sights, embraced the sunshine and discussed the plan of action for the afternoon. As we sat and absorbed the atmosphere, watching the people go by, I began to take in how huge this experience was for me and how lucky I was to be given this opportunity to represent MGISS at two huge events like GeoBusiness and ESRI AC.


Later that day, we made the short journey to the Business Design Centre to set up our stand for GeoBusiness. I did not know what to expect when I arrived. I had never been to a conference/event of any sort like this before. Hands full with set up equipment, I studied my surroundings, looking all around to see stand after stand after stand. It hit me again, the enormity of this opportunity, and began to view this fascinating industry in a whole new perspective.


“You have one hour to set your stand up.” Wow, plenty of time I thought, surely this would be just a ten-minute job. I was very wrong. So much planning had gone into designing the stand and I couldn’t believe the detail of thought that had to be considered when translating stand plans into reality. Posters up, products out, brochures out, leaflets out, furniture arrangements etc. Finally done! The stage was set.


Tuesday 22nd May – ESRI Annual Conference

What better way to start a long, important day than a large bowl of porridge. I’m not sure how early our MD Mike got up to make it, but I’m grateful he did! It turned out it was a much-needed boost of energy. I was to be exhibiting at the ESRI AC today, with Mike, Clare and Dave, and then joining the rest of the team at GeoBusiness on Wednesday.


I hadn’t set up the stand at ESRI, so I again didn’t know what to expect. With all hands-on-deck getting things out of the boot of the uber, we arrived at the grand QEII Conference Centre in Westminster right next to the impressive Westminster Abbey. We were approached to collect our lanyards as we made our way up the lift to floor 3. A short walk around the corner to stand 9.

This was not school or college, there was no playground bell to signal the start of lesson, this was the business world. The real world. Visitors started to filter through at will and it didn’t take long to get in the swing of things. Fairly soon, our stand was full of people gathering eagerly to ask questions and discuss how our products work.


I realised how much easier exhibiting at events would be if you knew inside out the products you were talking about. However, my fear was that I knew nothing. Thankfully, this wasn’t the case. I surprised myself with how much I could talk about the Arrow Series, however it was only until I was asked questions about the Arrow and found myself talking about the product did I realise just how much information I had absorbed, just by being around the office, learning from conversations, meetings etc. After mini intervals of respite with visitors attending workshops, there were more and more people gathering (and the stress balls were a real hit!) A tiring, busy day, but an incredibly valuable and enjoyable one too.


Wednesday 23rd May – GeoBusiness 2018


After an exhausting, yet enthralling day at ESRI, it was time to do it all over again the next day! This time at the Business Design Centre, for GeoBusiness 2018. This event was completely different to ESRI, and I learnt different things again to the previous day. We arrived on Wednesday morning at GeoBusiness, to the vaguely familiar setting and we found our way to our home for the next 6 hours, stand L16.


The customers filtered through, throughout the day, and I faced more personal challenges, with more people testing my knowledge of the Arrow Series, and the more predominant challenge of mental and physical tiredness as the day wore on. It was a lot of concentrating, being pro-active, squeezing as much as you can to make the day successful.


This was a big learning curve for me personally, observing how other people coped with tiredness, what different techniques people were using when talking and attracting customers, how they spoke, what their body language was like. Every little detail I tried to learn from others around me, not just at my stand but every stand that was visible to me. I observed and took in how others deal with difficult situations as well as taking advantage of positive ones. The day drew to a close as we tidied up the stand and headed for home.

It wasn’t just the work aspect that was so valuable however, but the interaction with my colleagues, living with them for even a short space of time, meals, car journeys etc. I got to know them a lot better, see a different side to them and this has helped me become more comfortable around them all.



What an experience it was, and I hope the first of many to come.

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