After a day at the office catching up from being in London this week with Dave for the A4UExpo conference I thought I’d do a blog about it. Dave was doing 2 SEO sessions during the conference, which ended up being 3 as he stood in as Yahoo in the Meet the Search Engines panel too. If we are both going to a conference we always try to book our travel arrangements around the session times so that we can get there and get back as “efficiently” as possible, while allowing time to network and take in the full conference too.
We arrived on Monday late afternoon and no sooner had we travelled across London to get to the Novotel at the Excel, was it time to get a quick shower and change before heading back into the centre of London for dinner with the newly weds Mel & Ashley. We had an amazing meal at Quaglinos, with lovely champagne, fine food and a few bottles of red wine, thanks Mel!
It was another trip on the tube to get back to the Ignite party at the hotel, but we were too late to enjoy the free bar. Probably a good job though as Dave had his first session on Day 1 at 9.15am so it was a relatively sober night for us. We met lots of old friends and new faces and it was a great start to the conference.
Getting up the next day didn’t quite go according to plan as someone (mentioning no names) didn’t set the alarm properly, but we were up and at the Excel early for Dave’s session. I was pretty amazed at the crowd he drew for the first session of the day, and the session room of 300 seats was standing room only. I am Dave’s biggest critic when it comes to presenting as he often goes off on tangents, misses slides out and loses focus, but the presentation he gave on SEO was the best he’s ever done – even I was engrossed and I’d help write it.
Following the session, Dave was up again to be on a panel with the search engines, but to represent Yahoo. As he didn’t have a presentation prepared like Microsoft and Google did, he spent his time at the mic showing the audience how to get clean links out of Flickr due to a loophole. We were all pretty surprised how quickly the loophole was secured once Dave has said it … literally a couple of hours … the beauty (or downfall) of Twitter and live blogging.
After the 2 sessions it was lots of conversations and a great lunch. A4U really got it right this year as they scrapped the normal buffet with long queues and opted for a hot meal. On the first day it was boxes of chilli and rice, cheese, sour cream and tortillas with the second day being pizza on the go. We ended up staying at the conference until about 7pm, then headed back to the hotel for a quick change before we headed off to the O2 arena for the Breakout party. We had a lovely meal at Pizza Express first … a big table full of SEO’s and affiliates, before we went to the Inc Club for the next networking event.
Now here’s my chance for a rant…. as I mentioned in the previous sentence .. we headed off to the next “networking” event. But how on earth are you meant to network when you walk into a room where the music is so loud you can hardly hear the person that you are shouting at next to you. This was at 10pm too, so still fairly early in a party that was due to go on until 3am. The bars also hadn’t prepared for the rush on beer that there is with a free bar so quite a few times they ran out of beer, so lots of wine was consumed by many. We managed to get a couple of bottles of beer and tried to head to a quiet area. Having not managed to find anywhere that you could have a conversation we drank up and headed back to the hotel. I just don’t quite understand that if you hire out the whole club that you can’t just get the DJ to lower the volume until at least midnight and then crank it up. From the previous parties we’ve been to there is only ever a tiny majority of people who actually want to dance, most people just want to chat and carry on the conversations from earlier.
Anyway rant over … I’m probably just getting old … once we were back in the hotel bar everyone was much calmer and the conversation continued all the way until 3am. After a few hours sleep it was time to go again, breakfast and off to the conference. We were both pleased that we had avoided another hangover. Dave’s session on Day 2 wasn’t until 12.15pm so we had some time to go round the expo hall and to chat with various friends about the latest issues. The SEO Panel that Dave was on was really good, but there is still a lack of openness from the affiliates who attend, so they tend to be a little shy when it comes to questions from the audience. I’m sure that will never change though so it’s always good when the panel have lots to talk about which they do.
After the SEO Panel, Dave was offering advice during an Expert Surgery session and had a few “customers” … and once the surgeries were over it was nearly the end of the conference and time to grab our bags and head back across London during rush hour to get the train home. All in all it was a really good conference, and as always A4U make sure everyone is well looked after which is one of the main reasons for their growing success as each conference gets bigger with higher attendance. The next A4U Expo Europe is going to be in Munich on the 18th – 19th May 2010.