By Jonathan Dolby, Marketing Director, Microlise
Now firmly a key date in the transport industry calendar, the Microlise Transport Conference has grown significantly since I joined Microlise back in 2014. That year, around 600 people attended the event, but in 2017, that number had nearly doubled to 1,100 delegates.
Key to the event’s success is the focus on quality speakers, covering the key issues affecting transport in the UK…not only today but in the future as well.
Furthermore, every year my team and I spend a huge amount of time analysing delegate feedback on everything from our speakers to the catering, looking for areas where improvements can be realised.
To that end, as we announce the opening of registration, here’s a brief guide to what’s going to be happening at Europe’s largest road transport conference in 2018, and what we’re adding and changing next time out…
A focus on the future…
Never before has the industry been in such a state of change. I could mention Brexit here of course (and how we cover that topic will be communicated in the New Year), but actually I would argue technology is having and will have the biggest impact in the short, medium and long term.
Platooning, alternative fuels, electric vehicles, mobile tech, Big Data, connected vehicles, autonomous driving…they’re all topics that have received extensive media coverage over recent months.
We’ve ensured our agenda in 2018 represents this truth, covering key issues now but also some of the key technologies that will, or could, materially change transport in the not too distant future.
While I can’t go into details, I’m really proud of our agenda for 2018 with some superb speakers already lined up. We’ll be announcing details in due course, but I believe our programme is the best we (or anyone else!) have put together in terms of conferences covering road transport.
During the morning session, a new area in the exhibition space will be dedicated to all things “innovation”, with companies delivering short presentations on their latest offerings, new products and new services.
This will provide a snapshot of some of the latest and greatest innovations, and delegates can then find out more through the day by visiting exhibition stands.
Truck to the Future – has moved…
Although we have brought together the leading truck manufacturers for a number of years now, this panel session has always been a break-out option.
Given the quality of the panellists, and the breadth and importance of the topics being discussed, we’re moving this into the main agenda to allow all delegates to be a part of it.
More comfortable seating…
It may seem a minor point, but delegate feedback suggested those attending last year were very comfortable in the front section…but much less so on the tiered seating.
Well we’re listening to that feedback and changing the way the theatre area is structured. Ultimately that means more comfy, more roomy seats for everyone. A new larger stage and screen will ensure everyone has a great view of the content being delivered, wherever they sit.
Skills, skills, skills…
The driver, and wider, skills shortage is a fundamental issue for transport operators, with a shortage of some 45,000 drivers right now according to RHA figures. Add to that issues such as industry perception, the lack of outreach to potential sources of talent, and failure to engage with young audiences, the issue ‘skills’ needs focus from industry.
Replacing the Motor Transport workshop, the Road to Logistics workshop will cover skills in detail, looking at all of the key issues during the day, and will feature speakers from the likes of the armed forces and prison service.
For those of you who attended in 2017, you will have experienced the conference programme running a little behind schedule for the first time. But 2016 delegates in contrast could set their watches by our timings!
We’ve learned the lessons from 2017 and are taking a number of actions to ensure we run to time again in 2018.
…and what isn’t changing!
Ultimately delegate feedback is always very positive and there are lots of elements of the conference that are just right. These won’t be changing much in 2018 but will again be key features of the conference:
+ Microlise Workshop – covering all things Microlise products and services.
+ Demo Area – meet the Microlise pre-sales team and ask questions of these experts, with the answers demonstrated live on screen.
+ RHA Workshop – the RHA will once again be present with their own workshop, covering a number of topics in-depth that haven’t been featured on the main stage.
+ The Networking Opportunity – with 1,200 delegates in the room in 2018, what better opportunity to meet existing and new contacts
+ Great Exhibitors – we’re careful about who exhibits at the conference to ensure delegates meet a variety of only quality companies.
+ Quentin Willson – the main man himself will return once again to stitch everything together as only he knows how.
+ Catering – as always there will be plenty on offer to keep delegates going throughout the day, from breakfast on arrival to an army of servers moving through the exhibition area with a variety of lunch options.
+ Delegate Bag – new in 2017, our delegates walked away with a smart rucksack packed full of items. There will be even more goodies inside in 2018!
+ It Being Free – we don’t charge to attend the Microlise Transport Conference, so it’s a low cost way to get out and learn from industry leaders.
So in summary…
While it’s too early to go into many details, which will be announced over the coming weeks and months, I’m delighted with how the 2018 conference is shaping up. I’m confident our delegates will once again have a great experience, with plenty to learn from our agenda and workshop programmes.
The conference is free to attend and I believe offers a unique opportunity in the transport industry to get insight into the key issues and topics facing operators.
As I mentioned earlier, registration is now open and I hope to see you there!