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The alternative guide to Barcelona

The glistening waves of the Balearic sea, the spiralling towers of the Sagrada Familia, and the mosaic wonder that is the Park Güell are just some of the attractions that probably come to mind when you think of Barcelona.

But if you ask any one of the 100,000 professionals planning to flock to the city in a couple of weeks’ time what they’re hoping to see, it’s likely that these idyllic sights will be the last thing on their mind.

Sure, they might get a chance to enjoy some tapas at one of the city’s late-night food joints, but no, they won’t be carving out some time to admire Gaudi’s work.

Instead they’re focused on their annual pilgrimage to what some* have begun to think of as the Mecca of the telco industry: Mobile World Congress (MWC).

Set in the not-so-attractive (but equally impressive?) Fira Gran Via, MWC spans eight halls – and it takes up to half an hour to walk from one end to another. This is despite the handy airport-style travelators installed by the venue, upon which people insist on standing instead of walking.

To first-timers, MWC can be a somewhat daunting event and it has grown enormously since it started out 30-odd years ago. So whether you’re making your first trip to the show, or are simply in need of a refresher, we’ve laid out the dos and the don’ts below:

  • Do look at the site map when you’re booking in your meetings and allow yourself half an hour if you’re hopping from hall 1 to hall 8 (though try to arrange your meetings such that you won’t need to run from one end to another). Take the time to download and familiarise yourself with the app before you head out.
  • Do remember to take a comfy pair of shoes, and if you absolute must buy a new pair ahead of the event, be sure to wear them in before and go equipped with Compeed (other brands available) and a back up pair for evening wear.
  • Do take advantage of the fact you can pick up your event pass from the airport on the Sunday, saving a lengthy queue first thing on Monday morning (though keep in mind you’ll still need your passport – and not just a driver’s license nowadays – to get into the venue each day).
  • Don’t wear your pass when you’re out and about in town. To pick-pocketers, these passes are as good as a big sign which says, “I’m a tourist at a mobile trade show, pick me!” Opportunistic thieves descend on Barcelona over the course of the 4-day extravaganza, so keep your wits about you when you’re out and about.
  • Do take some time out your week to check-out what freebies Android is giving out at this year’s event. Previous years have seen the team bring back personalised water bottles, badges and many more – don’t get drawn into thinking you need to collect all the badges.
  • Do take a spare battery pack and keep it charged. You’ll be surprised how quickly the battery life can fade when you’re using the interactive app to get around and find out what’s on (and you’ll also be surprised how patchy the mobile coverage is for a telecoms trade event).
  • Do take a day bag packed with a bottle for water, fresh fruit and other snacks to help you get through the day. After long days on bad coffee, and drunken nights on red wine and salty chorizo, a crunchy apple is a welcome healthy kick.

Above all, don’t forget to take the opportunity to network. It can be tempting to stay glued to your own phone at the event, but take the time to talk to new people, check out the tech that’s on display and get down to one of the many stand-parties which start kicking off circa 5pm every day.

*not many