PI: Connect rolls into PerformanceIN’s hometown of Bristol this Thursday (September 22) for what’s expected to be a fun-filled day of networking for the UK performance marketing industry.

Following the first batch of channel-specific gatherings in 2016, catering for those in the fields of lead generation, affiliate and programmatic advertising, Connect is open to all demographics and promises something out of the ordinary for attendees.

Boats, BBQs and bars are on the agenda this time around, much to the delight of sponsor affilinet.

The group’s UK MD Helen Southgate talks to PerformanceIN in the lead up to the event, which is still open to PI readers.

Why was it important to get involved with Connect’s first foray outside of London?

Helen Southgate: Mostly because I think I was one of the people that bugged Matt to try it, and then I can’t make it – typical! But a number of the affilinet team will be there to support. I’ve always been conscious that as an industry we are very London-centric, so getting out and speaking to different and new people in the sector can only be a good thing. Plus Bristol is a fabulous city; shame about the football team though.

From the perspective of a company that connects people around the country, how essential is it that people bring these kinds of events to places other than the capital?

HS: I think it’s extremely important. I am conscious that being very London-centric as a business and as a market we can isolate those that don’t live in London – and that is a lot of people. It’s not always easy or viable to travel to London for meetings and events so having events across the country allows new people to attend and meet each other.

I remember when A4U did their road shows many years ago when I was an account manager, I visited Bristol, Glasgow, Manchester and Norwich. In the early days of being in the industry this is how I met affiliates, advertisers and peers, and it really has been invaluable over my career so far.

As someone who’s attended a few of these sorts of gatherings before, what encouragement would you give to someone on the edge about coming?

HS: Just go, what’s the worst that can happen? Worse case, you dislike everyone there but you get to neck a few free drinks. But of course that is unlikely; you will meet at least a few kindred spirits and hopefully make some valuable and useful associates for business and personal life. At these events everyone is open to chat, so as long as you are open, friendly and yourself you’ll have a great time. And did I mention the free beer?

Obviously we’re ecstatic at being able to host PI: Connect Bristol on a boat… Have you seen stranger venues during your time in the industry?

HS: I remember one of the first affiliate events I went to hosted by A4U was on a boat, no idea where it was, somewhere in the countryside, I am sure Matt will remember. But I seem to have an image of someone being hit around the head with an inflatable hammer. Good times.

Have you any predictions on the dominant points of conversation throughout this one?

HS: Are we going on to Oceana (I have no idea if it still exists)?

I think a few key subjects on people’s minds at the moment are the debate regarding 0% commission on existing customer sales; perhaps that leads to a wider discussion about general transparency and fairness when it comes to allocating sales.

I am sure the big PMI: London event next month will be on everyone’s minds, and sorry to mention it but Christmas and the usual excruciatingly painful discussion and chat about Black Friday. Enjoy folks!