MWC 2012 – our tips to surviving the world’s largest mobile event

Last updated: 20 March 2014

Most of us in the industry are seasoned MWC-goers. In fact, some of us even remember when the biggest mobile phone trade show was held in Cannes, France, when it was known as 3GSM World. However, there are a few things that are worth being reminded of: it’s a long and intensive show and you’re on your feet most of the time, with little sleep due to all the networking and work that happens behind the scenes. So here are our tips and tricks to making it through the week unscathed, sourced from the GSMA’s own FAQ for First-Time Attendees, from TechnoKitten’s Helen Keegan who is running the Heroes of the Mobile Fringe Festival, and from our own long-time experiences.

Getting there and getting around
Barcelona is very transport-friendly, with buses, a decent Metro system and plenty of cabs, especially in the run-up to and during MWC. (With recent reports of transport strikes, it’s worth keeping abreast of how this develops though.) Given Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia, while the majority will speak Spanish, if you’re unlucky and lacking in other languages than English, you’ll come across the few that only speak Catalan. Here, we recommend lots of sign language and smiling and nodding. If in doubt, however, ask for La Fira and most will be able to direct you. (And you’ll be pleased to hear that the main language inside La Fira is English.)

If possible, try to collect your pass in advance of the show opening on Monday 27th February. Long queues will prevail, snaking around La Fira, so we recommend going a day early to pick your pass up, if only so you can saunter past all those waiting in the queue when the event begins. Do not forget photo ID and your barcode/registration code for your exhibition pass (in print or on your smartphone) otherwise you can join the back of the queue. (You’ll also need a spare business card but we’ll come on to that later.)

Once inside La Fira it can be hugely overwhelming with 1,400 exhibitors and up to 60,000 people milling about. These timings are useful to know for planning meetings and getting to each one on time.

Business networking
As above, there are thousands of people at the show, some useful, some very useful and some not so useful. It can be overwhelming.  We recommend embracing the opportunities on offer. Schedule meetings with people you can’t easily see at home, keep them brief and to the point, but put in the legwork to make those connections.

Use social media to stay abreast of activities happening. You can’t be everywhere at once, at least, not physically, but social media helps you keep an eye on what’s going on in other halls and in other presentations. Follow the hashtags #mwc12 or #mwc2012.

Allow yourself time to attend certain sessions, whether presentations, workshops or networking parties. Combine meetings with breakfast, lunch or dinner to make the most of your time.

Ultimately, have a plan – with addresses, timings, contact details – with a schedule, but be flexible to shift meetings around and go where the business is. Be clear on why you are at the event and who you want to meet. But remember the six degrees of separation, everyone is potentially a useful contact. And, to that effect, don’t forget plenty of business cards to share.

Relaxation? What relaxation – it’s business, accept it. A meeting missed is a business deal gone awry. However, there are ways of ensuring your health doesn’t suffer and that you can remain alert throughout the show.

Wear flat comfortable shoes – you’ll be on your feet all week

Get as much shut-eye as you can, without restricting your business networking opportunities. Focus on the events that you think will matter

Restrict your alcohol intake, it’s a long show if suffered with a hangover. Also try to eat the healthy options when it comes to food – fresh fruit, vegetables – any produce that offers energy and stamina


Finally, a word on safety. We don’t want to preach, Barcelona is no more dangerous than any other large city where you may or may not know your way around. However, with 60,000 gadget-geek executives in town, more criminals and opportunists will be on the prowl than usual.

Remove your badge when leaving La Fira, share taxis with other attendees (which also saves on the queues and Euros), and avoid flashing your gadgets (iPhone, Android tablet, iPad etc) when on the Metro or walking down Las Ramblas or dark alleyways. Some more useful tips can be found here based on experience from expats living in Barcelona.

That said, we always have a great time at #MWC, with plenty of opportunities and exciting new technology developments, and we hope you do too. Enjoy the show and see you there. We’re in Hall 8 Stand 8A102.

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