Here’s a report from Alison Thorpe and Stewart Hadley of nQueue Billback on last week’s meeting for UK legal IT verndos to discuss the state of the conference, exhibitions and events market…

There was a very good turn out and everyone was in agreement about their dissatisfaction around the current number (too many) and cost (too high) of events. No one felt that they were getting satisfactory ROI from their spend and that most event organisers did not communicate well with the vendors. Delegate lists being sent out in advance being a main bug-bear.

Content was felt to be important as if poor the delegate quality and quantity suffer. We did a straw-poll of which events were felt to be the best in relation to delegates, ROI, content etc and ILTA Insight (good value even if very poor set up this year), LawTech Futures (though needs some tweaking*) and The Know List were the three that came out well ahead of all the others.

We understand that as a group, although all selling into the legal market,  we can be targeting different sizes of firms and different decision makers within those firms. However, we will strive to find a solution that will be acceptable to all – and that is the challenge!

The outcome was that we have formed a Steering Group of six vendors to meet and explore the possibilities further. We have had interest from some IT Directors as to what they would like to have at events and we will be engaging with them going forward. One of the main things to agree on is: Do we pick one event to support in the Spring and one in the Autumn or do we boycott them all and start something new of our own? We all have days jobs so this would be difficult, without engaging with a selected event organiser.   (Several were discussed but obviously none approached or selected at this stage).

The other objective is for the group to create some sort of charter around what we expect from event organisers and we will be working on that when we next meet. The Steering Group will be meeting again in the next few days.

We all appreciate that many of us have already committed for 2012 events and are looking at the options for 2013.

Also, everyone to a man said that organising smaller events themselves for prospects and clients was usually more cost effective and provided better ROI than attending the larger externally organised events. However, if we all abandon all conferences and just do our own events, then we will all be tripping over each other and risk having too many small events clashing – especially as the target audience can only go to given number of breakfast briefings, lunches and dinners!

COMMENT: As mentioned before, we’re conflicted out of commenting however it is surprising the number of one-time market leading events that were not mentioned and have, by implication been tarred with the meh! brush. And it is also interesting to note that two of the three favourably mentioned events are newcomers to the UK legal IT events scene. How things have changed since the good old days when the only legal IT event on the calendar was the tradeshow accompanying English Law Society’s annual conference at such exotic locations as Betty’s Tearooms in Harrogate and the Winter Gardens in Bournemouth.

* Please contact Gary Stefano at NetLaw Media for suggestions on how the LawTech Futures event might be ‘tweaked’ gstefano@netlawmedia.com