Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is no longer just about the handset launches.
Each year, thousands of ad executives flock to the trade show to learn about what’s new in mobile, to catch up with clients, and to potentially do some deals.
And, after hours, they tend to let their hair down.
MWC is taking place at this huge venue, the Fira Gran Via, in Barcelona from March 2-5. It has 240,000 square meters of floor space, which equivalent to the size of about an American football field. That's a lot of walking. Thirsty work.
Obviously a huge venue like that can't be situated in the middle of town. The Fira is fairly far out from the most popular parts of the city, so once the day's conference and meetings are over, most ad execs head into the center of Barcelona. After they have had dinner, there are usually two main hangouts they flock to: Hotel Omm and Opium.
It might look unassuming from the outside, but there's lots of luxury to explore once you step through the door. During the summer months you can relax on this rooftop terrace, and take a dip in the swimming pool.
But it's only due to be about 60 degrees Fahrenheit during MWC next week, so you're most likely to find advertising folks sat inside. The lobby has a cocktail bar and it's where you'll usually bump into all the big mobile names from the agencies.
Our industry sources tell us they choose Omm to impress, but also because it's at a handy location. Those feeling a bit peckish, or looking to entertain clients, head to the Roca bar and restaurant. It has a Michelin star.
But for the late night crowd, it's off to Opium, a nightclub right on the sea front. During the day it looks like this.
At night it turns into a party zone. But just expect more suits on the dancefloor next week. And awkward 'what happens at MWC, stays at MWC' conversations.
Late at night, execs wearily drag themselves off the beach back to their hotels, ready to hit another day at the trade show.
And for those with stamina, there's the Swedish Beers networking event on the Wednesday night (many delegates fly home on Wednesday night or Thursday) at the DosTrece Restaurant-Lounge. Here are some revelers from last year's event.
For many years, the big marquee evening event at Mobile World Congress was Google's party. In 2012 you had to walk through a big Android-shaped beam to get in. Once inside, you were treated to free ice cream sandwiches (a nod to a version of its Android operating system), green shots served in test tubes, and at the end of the night they gave out gold Android speakers as gifts. Sadly it doesn't look like there will be an official Google party this year.
It was an invite-only event and everybody wanted a ticket. It was lots of fun. Low-light camera settings on smartphones weren't very good back in 2012, though. No doubt there'll be some new interesting smartphone cameras on display at MWC next week.
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