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HOME FEATURES › DISTREE XXL: Gearing up for 2010

DISTREE XXL: Gearing up for 2010

by Stuart Wilson, Tuesday 29 September 2009

DISTREE XXL 2010 takes place from February 8-11th in Monaco. Firmly established as EMEA’s premier event for the channel, DISTREE XXL unites vendors and distributors from across the region for an action-packed agenda built around pre-organised one-on-one meetings, conference sessions and networking opportunities.

For the first time, e-tailers will also be invited to participate in DISTREE XXL 2010. Farouk Hemraj (FH), CEO at DISTREE Events, the company behind DISTREE XXL, explains the secrets of the event’s success and the innovations that keep delegates returning year-after-year.

Q: DISTREE XXL is frequently referred to as EMEA’s ‘premier’ channel event? How do you justify that tag? What makes the event so unique?

FH: DISTREE XXL is not a traditional trade show. It’s not a traditional conference either. We’ve developed a unique format over the last decade that we look to refine and improve on every year. We bring together over 300 senior executives from EMEA’s biggest volume distributors. At DISTREE XXL they have the opportunity to meet a hundred-plus vendors. These meetings are pre-scheduled using our own unique software, giving both vendors and distributors the opportunity to review the profiles of the companies that they wish to meet in advance.

Each year we see new distribution agreements happening between vendors and distributors as a result of meetings they had at DISTREE XXL. We offer the maximum possible value to vendors and distributors for a minimal time away from the office. The satisfaction rates from delegates continue to climb each year. The way we achieve this is by positioning ourselves as an independent, vendor-neutral event organiser. Our success relies 100% on the success of our delegates achieving their business aims each year. That’s why DISTREE XXL remains EMEA’s premier annual channel event.

Vendor benefits

Q: Is the event aimed at vendors that are new to EMEA and setting up distribution channels? Surely, if a vendor already has an established distribution channel, there is no real value in attending?

FH: A proportion of the vendors that do attend are new to the EMEA region. We have great links to the communities of new vendors emerging in Asia-Pacific and the USA. Yes, DISTREE XXL is an incredibly versatile and efficient platform to launch a distribution channel in EMEA. However, the event also appeals to vendors with existing distribution channels that may be looking to review, expand or manage their existing partners. For these vendors, DISTREE XXL offers a cost-effective alternative to setting up their own distributor conference. As a vendor, it is also vital to understand how your existing partners fit into the distribution landscape.

Many distributors do not have the time to attend the partner conferences organised by all the vendors they work with. They prefer to come to DISTREE XXL where they can meet multiple vendors in one place at one time. At DISTREE XXL 2009, we gave established vendors the opportunity to organise their own mini distributor conference within the overall event framework. This was a tremendous success and it is something we plan to repeat in 2010.

Q: The EMEA channel is mature now and it is quite easy for vendors to identify the biggest distributors in each country. Why bother attending DISTREE XXL when the web can give you the names of possible partners in a few seconds?

FH: There’s two immediate points that spring to mind. Firstly, the biggest distributor is not necessarily the best distributor – especially if you are a vendor working in a particular product area or looking to build a specialist channel. Secondly, finding a distributor’s generic contact e-mail on a website is no substitute for having a pre-scheduled one-on-meeting with their top management at DISTREE XXL. We understand the value of face-to-face meetings and know the importance of professional networking to channel executives.

The structure of the EMEA channel continues to change on a daily basis. Look at what has happened to eSys during the last year and the problems it has encountered. Look at the divestment of Kvazar Micro from Sitronics. Look at the change of ownership at Actebis. Look at COS Technology coming through insolvency. This is just ownership changes; you also have to add in to the mix management changes and vendors deciding to increase or decrease the number of distributors they work with in certain territories.

The EMEA channel is in a constant state of change. We carry out an immense amount of research each and every year to ensure that we invite the correct executives from the correct companies to DISTREE XXL. New vendors emerge and others can see their market share eroded. To stay ahead in the channel you have to stay on top of these changes and that’s what DISTREE XXL delivers: the opportunity to meet all the major stakeholders in the EMEA channel in one place and at one time.

Constant innovation

Q: Have you got anything new planned for DISTREE XXL 2010? How do you make sure that the format remains fresh and attractive?

FH: The big announcement regarding DISTREE XXL 2010 is the inclusion of EMEA’s largest e-tailers as delegates. The web-based sales channel continues to grow in importance for vendors and we want to give them the opportunity to develop in this sector. The research has shown that in many cases – especially in Europe’s most developed markets – there is a fascinating triangular relationship between vendors, distributors and e-tailers. Vendors attending DISTREE XXL can now meet all of the first tier channel partners that they need to have a direct purchasing or marketing relationship with to ensure their success in EMEA.

There were a couple of successful innovations at DISTREE XXL 2009 that we plan to build on even further in 2010. We launched the VIP Strategy Forum in association with – a channel news portal that we work closely with. The concept behind the VIP Strategy Forum is pretty straightforward: we invite the EMEA channel directors from about 50 top vendors and put them in a room with the bosses of EMEA’s 50 most important distributors. This part of the event is all about professional networking at the highest level.

Many of the VIP Strategy Forum attendees may have met before at various vendor events. Our aim is to bring them together in a vendor neutral setting for one day of discussion, reflection and debate. It’s an executive retreat for EMEA’s channel VIPs within the context of DISTREE XXL. We’re lining up a series of expert speakers – channel analysts, consultants and market research companies – to offer multiple perspectives through various presentations to this elite group during the day.

Q: You mentioned that there were a couple of innovations at DISTREE XXL 2009. What else was there apart from the VIP Strategy Forum?

FH: Yes, you’re quite right and the second innovation is linked to the VIP Strategy Forum. Last year, we launched the ‘EMEA Channel Academy: 2009 Awards’, which were a tremendous success. DISTREE Events has pioneered live electronic voting for channel awards. What this means is that distributors from across EMEA have the opportunity to vote live for their preferred vendors in each product segment. In addition, the EMEA channel directors attending the VIP Strategy Forum also vote live for the distributors that they believe has performed best during the last year in each region across EMEA.

We work closely with the VIP Strategy Forum attendees in the run-up to the awards evening to produce the shortlist of candidates in each award category. We then publish an awards guide giving attendees the opportunity to really think carefully before they decide on the companies that deserve to win. These awards mean something because they are totally open and transparent. This makes them radically different to many of the vendor awards and even national channel awards where politics and commercial interests can play their part in determining the winners.

The ‘EMEA Channel Academy: 2010 Awards’ promise to be bigger and better than last year’s. We will also launch the ‘EMEA Channel Academy: Hall of Fame’ to recognise lifetime achievement. The awards are a fantastic social occasion but there is also a serious side. It gives vendors an understanding of how they are perceived by distributors across EMEA. Similarly, the same is true for distributors.

Work hard, play hard

Q: DISTREE XXL 2010 takes place in Monaco at a five star hotel. For many potential attendees it may be difficult to convince others that this is not just a jolly or a junket and a few days out of the office in nice surroundings? How do you combat that potential problem?

FH: If delegates have attended DISTREE XXL before, then it is not a problem. They know that the event is built on an ethos of work hard, play hard. DISTREE XXL delivers tangible business benefits to all attendees – whether that’s identifying a new partnership, gaining some market insight or building some valuable new business contacts.

Admittedly, Monaco is a fantastic venue for the event, and we’re not going to dispute that. But we don’t want people attending that aren’t interested in getting the most out of their participation. In fact, we carefully monitor the number of meetings that each delegate has and make sure that everyone is taking part fully in the event.

We understand that there is immense time pressure on senior executives at a vendor, distributor and e-tailer level. Our mission is to relieve that pressure by delivering an event that allows them all to save time and money. Distributors can meet multiple vendors in one place at one time at DISTREE XXL. Vendors with existing channels can meet their distributors from across the EMEA region at DISTREE XXL at a fraction of the cost of organising their own EMEA channel conference or travelling around the region to meet them. E-tailers can meet the correct executives from both vendors and distributors.

There are already enough jollies and junkets available in the EMEA channel. If that’s what you’re interested in, please don’t bother attending our event. DISTREE XXL is built on content, community and collaboration. Our mission statement is ‘Connecting EMEA Channels’ and we’re committed to delivering the ultimate annual event for vendors, volume distributors and e-tailers.

DISTREE XXL creates a new, unrivalled opportunity for channel leaders across EMEA to meet and do business with their existing and prospective vendors. Visit for full details.

Channel EMEA has signed up as a media partner for DISTREE XXL 2010. This means that we will carry exclusive interviews with participating vendors, distributors and e-tailers in the months to come, plus extensive coverage from the event itself. Follow us on Twitter for regular updates.

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