The Mobile World Congress Survival Guide


It’s only a few days away. For those of you who have been there before, you know it’s tough-going at MWC.

Follow this guide and it’ll be a lot easier.

Buy (or bring) these before you get there:

Mobile charging unit
This one is gold. More than likely, you’ll be on your smartphone way more than usual. There will be calls, a lot of email and probably a lot of Googling. We all know that smartphone batteries don’t last as long as they should. So be prepared to bring your own mobile charging unit. I’m talking about this kind of thing. Getting to 3:30pm and your phone’s nearly out of charge is stressful, to say the least.

Electricity adaptors
Get electricity adaptors from YOUR airport, not Barcelona. I’ve not found anywhere in Barcelona airport where you can get adaptors. I remember trying to get a UK to European adaptor from within Barcelona one time. It was not easy. You really don’t want to devote 2-3 hours on a trip to El Corte Ingles, while you should be at the show or networking or relaxing. If I were you, I’d get two or more, one for your laptop/tablet and one for your smartphone.

Cold and flu tablets
This is a bit depressing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. A lot of people get sick during and after the show. You don’t want to figure out pharmacy opening hours and try to explain the symptoms of your cold or flu in pidgin Spanish.

Comfortable footwear
On day one you see some amazing high heels. On day two, not so many. It sounds so boring to say it, but bring comfortable shoes. If you’re walking the floor you can easily cover 15km in a single day. That is not an exaggeration. One of our employee’s Fitbit told her that staggering distance at the end of one day last year.

Band-Aids/plasters
Related to the footwear, expect the worse. You can easily get blisters if you’re anything other than sedentary at the show.

Lots of business cards
It’s obvious I know. But you’ll be surprised at how many times you hear “sorry I’ve run out of business cards” by the time you get to day three of the show.

Do these things before you leave:

Notify your bank that you’re travelling
My bank, in its infinite wisdom, blocks my cards on a regular basis. That’s because I, crazy as I am, buy things from the Internet and travel. Don’t get caught out. It’s so hard to find the time to call your bank’s horrible customer service if their fraud detection system thinks your purchase of “dos cervezas” is fraudulent.

Call your mobile operator/wireless carrier
Often it’s much easier to get a roaming package with your operator before you leave. Don’t always rely on being able to pick up a SIM when you get there. It’s getting tougher than it used to be.

Download the GSMA app
Download the app before you get there. This year’s app is better than last year’s. And last year’s was better than the year before’s. It’s mostly useful for finding the location of companies you’re looking for without having to get a fold-out map (which seem to run out really quickly).

Bookmark your hotel/apartment in Google Maps
Or whichever map system you use… It will come in handy I assure you.

Bring with you each morning:

Passport: You need to bring your passport with you. You will need to present it every time you enter the Congress.
Pen and paper: What if you run out of “juice” on your smartphone or tablet? An old-school back-up can really help.
Water: Bring a bottle of water with you before you leave. When you’re rushing from one meeting to the next, you’ll be glad you did.
Cash: While you’re at the Congress itself, you can pay by card. But as soon as you want to get a taxi, bear in mind that most will not accept credit/debit cards.
Mobile charger: You’ll need it.
Snacks: I’ve been taking snacks into the conference for years. Yes, I’m a grazer. But it’s got me out of binds many times over. Meetings shift. Urgent jobs come up. You don’t always get the luxury of a relaxed lunch, or waiting in line for 25 minutes. Just don’t starve.
Business cards: For obvious reasons.

Well, here we go again. Safe travels everyone.