With a record number of attendees technology played a major part in a busy conference in Birmingham

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The event, which took place in November at the International Convention Centre (ICC), Birmingham, is targeted at users of SAP software, offering education, support and a networking environment.

For Emma Ashdown,of Corporate Rewards, based nearby in Stratford­ upon-Avon, the goal was "to make it the biggest and best user event of its kind held in the UK", with the agency responsible for all elements from venue and accommodation management to the overall programmer. Juggling 150 speakers was a challenge, but Ashdown says the ICC building met their needs exactly. "We took over the whole building and the ICC provided the perfect space for this event, plus it's in an easy, accessible location," she says.

The congress kicked off with workshops on Sunday afternoon ahead of the official opening at a networking reception in the exhibition hall, featuring entertainment acts including string quartet Vixen and the Drumming Waiters.

Monday began with keynote speeches from the board of the UK & Ireland SAP User Group (UKISUG), including CEO Craig Dale and Philip Adams, its chairman, as well as COO Guy Armstrong, along with key figures from the German multinational software corporation.

Session slots were run in 15 different streams for the rest of the day, with a break for a suitably international lunch: barbecue, Thai, Mexican and Italian food were served in the exhibition hall. The working day ended with a cocktail hour offering molecular cocktails. After some free time, delegates were then collected by coach from three key pick-up points along Broad Street (most were staying at the Crowne Plaza Birmingham City Centre) and taken to the gala event.

The black tie dinner for 640 guests was held at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, close to the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), and, according to Ashdown: This was definitely a highlight.

"With a record number of attendees, the evening provided a drinks reception, three-course sir-down dinner and a fantastic line-up of entertainment, with a games room opening later in the evening and bacon butties at midnight to keep the guests going until the event finished at 1am," she says.

But there was no time to lie in on Tuesday, when entrepreneur Rachel Elnaugh inspired the audience with her keynote session to kick off the second full day of workshops with four sessions running simultaneously.

Fittingly, technology played a major part in the UKISUG conference with all attendee badges including radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to allow delegates to set up an account and share messages throughout the event via social media. Most of the feedback was collected via apps or online survey tools, which also reduced the amount of paper used.

Corporate Rewards worked with suppliers Exhibition Equipment, Pickard Events, Quarto Displays, IT Rentals and Robert Lawrence for the event, which included 76 stands in the exhibition area.

And feedback from delegates showed the event had been a success - with Corporate Rewards on board for the 2015 edition.

UKISUG's Dale added: "We have run our annual conference since 2006 and each year our challenge is or improve each facer of the event for all attendees, exhibitors and speakers. To do this we need an event management partner to work closely with us or ensure everything we deliver is of the highest quality and the event runs smoothly, with the utmost professionalism.

"Our 2014 annual conference was very successful, with more than 95 per cent of delegates saying they would return to the event in 2015."


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