I attended Search Engine Strategies in Milan last week. It was my first time at the Italian event (both as attendee and speaker) but having attended several search marketing events in London, San Jose and Las Vegas, I couldn’t help but notice the differences:
1. Men in
Your average Italian event attendee:
Your average US or UK event attendee:
Italians really do dress the part! It was striking to see that almost every attendee and speaker wore full business attire: elegant suits, fine italian shirts and matching ties. I’m more of a casual dresser (running around in high heels drammatically increases chances for me to trip, fall, or both), but I really like the elegant style of my Italian fellow search marketeers!
2. Time, time, time
There seemed to be a bit of difficulty handling the 20-minute slot for each speaker. I myself had to rush through the last part of my presentation for lack of time, but I attended some sessions where speakers had to be cut off just after the 10th slide of their 25-slide presentation. Italians like to talk, theorize, elaborate and elaborate some more. They are less concise and to-the-point than Northern European or American speakers. There has been some discussion in the Italian blogosphere to have less speakers for each session next year, so each of them has more time to “elaborare” their point. To my knowledge, this has not been an issue in other SES events.
3. Better food
Lunch at Search Engine Strategies Milan was definitely better than at any of the other events. The Milan Marriott served different kinds of pastas, sliced meat and Parmezan cheese. I couldn’t indulge too much myself because I am on a diet (lost 13 kilos to date - go Superzu!) but it was definitely very, very tempting!
4. Organic Search Forum
I was only in the room to hear half an hour of this session - I had to go up to my room, pack my bag and check out by 12 noon - but the session was very different from what I was used to in similar sessions at other event locations. It wasn’t less interesting though, just different. Moderator Mauro Lupi suggested some interesting things to talk about. It was more of a philosophical / theoretical discussion about the direction SEO and search marketing in general were taking and the approaches and styles of different kinds of SEOs, instead of the hands-on, let’s-help-out kind of sessions I attended in the UK and US. I guess part of it was because of the different kind of audience: less people (or no people?) that were trying to learn SEO and more people that are already in the search marketing business. During the time I was in the room, there was nobody in the audience who stood up and said: “My site is such and such, I have this problem, tried this and that, nothing works, what would you guys do?”.