It’s London. It’s eXcel. It’s resturants and places that will overcharge because eXcel is out there away from all the good places in Central London. Trust me, three miles is about 45 minutes.
LTUK always has challenges with finding the vendors’ booths, because of the way they show the avenues on the floor – I call them that, it is the where you walk down each uh, pathway. They criss cross, the numbers change. Expecting to see clarity? Forget it. The map to really find the booth you want, is always in the back of the expo. It’s bonkers. eXcel is far superior to Olympia, a giant dump, where one time, the loos (toilets) stopped working – in the entire place. Fantastic. LTUK’s app, doesn’t have geolocation (ATD, doesn’t either for that matter), although every other app that has people going places, has it. To me, it would make the most sense, since I’m walking down pathways, which you show on your map in the app, but I never see where I am, compared to where I need to go.
Your food options at eXcel (which is a giant building, with lots of other shows/expos going on at the same time), will set you back a few pounds. The UK is heavily going cashless, thus I strongly recommend you focus on that credit card for purchases, rather than handing out some coinage. I know some places take the bills/coins at eXcel, but plenty want that card.
That’s the glory of eXcel, and in this case, the coverage of LTUK23. For those new to the show, or experienced and may not be aware, where the vendor’s booth is located, can make a huge difference in terms of traffic (which they want). At the top of each of those pathways – that is the gold – vendors pay a lot, and at LTUK, they go with a repeat approach – in that if you paid for that spot, last year, you get to pick better spots this year, including this one. So, it’s like seniority. ATD does the same thing, and actually most shows in general. Want to bigger booth? That will cost you. Think of a trade show floor – as location – in terms of where you find resturants, or places of business. The best locations cost the most. You want the traffic. It’s all about traffic. Ditto for the trade show floor. The ones that pay the least or a brand new and don’t want to pay a lot, are on the outer edges of the show floor. I call that the no-man’s land. It’s tough, and yeah, some will get traffic, but nowhere near the other places. The best spots are at the top, and really in the central middle area. That is where you always get the most traffic.
How can that change? Well, good thing you asked. This post is all about the vendor, and not where they are located on the show floor. If they are at the top and paid a fortune, hey, good for them, but it won’t play a role in my list. Outer edges? If you are in the list, you are there. Big booth, small booth – doesn’t matter. Plan to focus on your cell phone or talk to the folks next to you? Sure I’ll post it on my daily reviews, but here? Nope. Ignore people in the booth? A common occurrence, but not a factor here – although I might say, in the past, I’ve seen this. You can expect less than 50% will ever follow-up with you, even if you ask them to do so. You can say, I am really interested in buying your system, and it is a coin toss if they ever follow-up. There are vendors whose folks in the booth, do not even work for them. Surprise! Yep, you can hire fake people, okay, they are real, but you know what I mean. I often wonder if the Body Snatchers isn’t at play here. Who says not?
My vendor list:
- Vendors I recommend you go and see – some may have notes, others not. If they are in FindAnLMS or FindContent (my newest platform) I will note that. Whether they have notes are not, isn’t a factor, I may have written about said vendor multiple times, and thus, no need to – if they are on other blog post of mine, I will refer to it as a link.
What to have fun with a vendor? Turn your info card, around, so they can’t see who you are, or what you do. I cannot stand vendor’s salespeople who call me by my first name, as though we are buddies or hang out. Nor the infamous, “So what do you do? And what is XTZ?” If I want to tell you, I will. I do the turn the info card around, and then there are vendor’ salespeople who want to scan your card. Why? Knowing less than 50% ever follow up, what’s the point? To get on their e-mail list? Which does happen. Seriously, some sales execs should really pay attention to what is taking place. Okay, rant over. Let’s hit the booths.
For this year’s post, I have the vendor’s booth location – saving you valuable time. Okay, a bit of time. I am going in alphabetical order. No reason.
RECOMMEND READING – My papers/reports from best questions to ask a salesperson to buyer’s guides to support questions to ask (everyone should ask these, because the #1 reason people hate or leave their learning system is support). Also the demo time, one is a must too. Learning Library – Go to Craig Weiss’s Reports. Oh, and the Library now has a section with learning system screenshots, among other new materials.
The Recommend Vendors to Check Out List
- Absorb (No booth location noted) (They are in FindAnLMS, so you can compare them with other vendors, get additional information too – best of all, when you request a trial, they actually respond) – Really good learning system, top 10 in 2023 – this post includes strengths and weaknesses.
- Area9 Lyceum (H50) – They spin as an adaptive learning platform, which okay, whatever works. The UI/UX is not a fit for everyone – so be prepared. Top 75 Learning System for 2022. Their built-in authoring tool is a major weak spot. Name sounds like a Sci-Fi movie.
- Arist (B65) -They are a learning system, but it is all text-based here. They had some studies done by Harvard and Stanford (I never get why vendors think these big names, make a difference – oh wait, folks think they do. Anyway, big names mean nothing in my book. Some of the best studies I have found are in Australia, with places you never heard of), showed that text-based is better and blah-blah-blah. I respectfully disagree, because not one of those folks actually worked in training or L&D, and oh yeah, Arist bases this on customer feedback. Great marketing. Okay, so I think they are a fit for some folks – in conjunction with another type of learning system. Not as a standalone. You get the best results, if you add deep thought-provoking questions, beyond some basics. One thing I did like, is that you have five options for delivery to take the content – WhatsApp, SMS, E-mail, Slack or MS Teams. Sidekick which uses ChatGPT is an authoring tool that can be tied into Arist. It takes about 10-15 minutes to create a course, and the course is all text for the solution. If you build your own, you can add some video clips, still this is text, text, and more text. Worth an exploration. Tell them Bigfoot sent you.
- Blossom (H75) (On FindAnLMS) – Intriguing solution, not a fit for everyone. Very streamlined. They are in my Top 100 Learning Systems for 21-22.
- assemble You (K58) (Coming soon to FindContent.io) – I like their approach, it is all around podcasts and sort of a Soundview angle, where the best bits are stripped out – and focused upon. Definitely worth a view – this is 3rd party off-the-shelf content for your learning system.
- Bridge (F75) (FindAnLMS) – 100% focus on L&D. Top 75 learning system for 2022.
- Civica (B30) (FindAnLMS) – It’s Agylia on FindAnLMS. They are really tailored – okay, strong in mobile side of the house for learning and training. Top 75 Learning System for 2022.
- Cornerstone (H10) (FindAnLMS) – The Cornerstone LMS finished #2 in Learning Systems for 2023. The new UI/UX on the learner side is really impressive. Even some solid analytics learners can see. The admin side has been cleaned up and improved upon. The system includes Content Anytime (you still have to purchase the content/courses), can integrate quite nicely with EdCast (separate fee, an LXP) – even though I should note that Cornerstone has strong LXP capabilities in their LMS. Skills management – i.e., skills capabilities is still the best in the industry. Using my template on the skills side, which is massive, they are at 90%. Nobody is even close. Just launched an Opportunity marketplace – intriguing, but this aligns more with talent management side of the house – okay HR too. Add-on. Oh, anyone who says this is a traditional LMS, needs to really take it down a notch. Constantly in the upper Grid for NexGen feature sets. Are they perfect? No. But then again, nobody is. Best fit for L&D (employees).
- Cypher Learning (L50) (FindAnLMS) – MATRIX – #17 Learning System for 2023. I’m a bigger fan of MATRIX, although their other two platforms are nearly identical, maybe a tweak of feature here and there. MATRIX is for the employees and customer side. Again, better fit for employees. UI/UX is nice.
- D2L (D10) (FindAnLMS) – Top 10 Learning System for 2023. I’m focusing specifically on Brightspace for Corporate. This system is really strong for customer training and association space. L&D doable, but I like them for the other two. It is robust and I mean robust – especially with skills. NexGen impressive. Metrics are solid. The minus – that UI/UX. They have done a few areas in the system that are really good, but overall, yeah, needs the improvement button. I really dig this system.
- Degreed (K35) (FindAnLMS) – #4 Learning System for 2023. They are around upskilling, so the notion they are an LXP, is no longer the case. I think it is an insult to call them an LXP, because they do so much more than the LXPs on the market today. This is a sweet system, as my grandpa used to say (if he was alive, I’m sure he would say it). Seriously though, this system continues to improve, and what I have seen coming down the pipe, is going to rock. Degreed Intelligence is an add-on (which I wish it wasn’t but what it can do; plus the metrics are far better than what comes out of the box). Opportunities is an add-on, and they have another offering that is an add-on. Too many add-ons.
- Docebo (F10) (FindAnLMS) – #6 Learning System for 2023. Better suited for customer training, although they sell plenty to employees side of the house. Add-ons reign supreme here too, and their metrics out of the box are weak. Learning Analytics is what you want, but it is an add-on. Great UI/UX, skills is so-so, a bit better than overall, but not enough to be the key buying factor. Extended Enterprise which is more widely known as customer training is an add-on, but you do have another option with pages (which is odd, because they never mention it). Best add-ons are Docebo Connect and Docebo Coach, Discovery and Share.
- enabley (D65) – Top 75 learning system for 2022. Definitely a different look that many systems. Hyped a bit too much marketing wise, good for them, but, let’s focus on the system more so, than the hype? Anyway, worth a visit.
- Entelechy Academy (K30) – I will be doing a Q/A at the booth on the first day of LTUK at 11 a.m.; I didn’t select them here for that reason though. This is really a very cool learning system. There isn’t any content here, this is more about identifying characteristics in people with the appropriate skills they should select and/or align best. Mobile-focused all the way.
- Eurekos (C20) (FindAnLMS) – #1 customer training learning system for 2023, #7 overall for 2023, there is a lot here – So read all about them in the above locations. If you are seeking or interested in customer training (formally known as customer education) – this should be a must go stop! BTW, the most affordable system I’ve seen with the most robust functionality for customer training.
- Frog Education (A22) – Frog LMS is an outstanding learning system for the K-6 crowd (primary) – This is an EdTech platform, which I cannot stress means education technology as in K-12 and higher ed. If you want a system for your elementary/primary school, definitely worth a visit.
- Fuse Universal (G40) (FindAnLMS) – #5 Learning System for 2023; outstanding system across the board. The UI/UX is quite different, and they have components that are cohort-based learning, but not fully cohort-based. You can type in a question or a statement or a word or skill in their search bar in one of their areas, and it will surf the net and pull back free content that aligns to it, and any paid that you have purchased that exists in the system. Analytics on the back-end are the best in the industry.
- GO1 (G30) (FindContent.io) – Content aggregator (this means lots of publishers/providers in the 3rd party, off-the-shelf course side). Acquired Anders Pink, an outstanding search the web, bring back content solution; will include Anders Pink when you purchase their premium solution; if not you can buy it as an add-on.
- iAm Learning (J05) (FindContent.io) – A very good 3rd party off-the-shelf content provider.
- IMC Learning (C60) (FindAnLMS) – Top 75 Learning System for 2022. UI/UX continues to improve. Ideal for L&D.
- Learn Amp (Stand K60) (FindAnLMS) – #3 Learning System for 2023. Skills capabilities are very strong, in the top half for the industry. UI/UX is slightly different, but it works. Metrics continue to improve. Another system I totally dig. A must visit! Competes well against Docebo.
- LearnUpon (K40) (FindAnLMS) – Top 75 Learning System for 2022. #15 Learning System for 2023. Really wonderful learning system, so much to like here. Can go customer training, associations included or employees. Affordable, although they charge extra for some customer training capabilities. Ideal in the SMB space.
- LMS365 (C15) (FindAnLMS) – System aligned around Microsoft365, especially the SharePoint side of the house. I like them, enough said. Top 75 Learning System for 2022.
- Netex (L20) (FindAnLMS) – Ideal for Small business, maybe mid-market up to 1,500. Very slick UI/UX. Metrics are fair.
- Odlio (D70) – The Learner side for the most part is like a luxurious blend of happiness, but other parts, absolutely not. The admin side needs improvement, on the pronto side. This is all about content, I would say they are a content aggregator from the ebook and audiobook side of the house, and we are talking the latest books, big name publishers – that is a huge win. The pricing is outrageously expensive. For whatever reason, they went from trying to get the corporate learning side, to focusing more around edtech (which they always did), institutions (ditto) and libraries (ditto). My personal feeling is that they never really understood the corporate space, and really failed on the marketing which is a factor. By appearing here, they are going to try to land corporate clients – I think that is the play here, if they can, but edtech for sure.
- OpenSesame (A60) (FindContent.io) – Awesome content aggregator (similar to GO1, with some exceptions). I love that when you select them as a provider, they will meet with you, go thru their library and scale down – based on your use cases. Sure, others do that, but not to the extent they do. Plus, they have machine learning (the industry loves to push it as AI) that can adapt to what content your learners are consuming. A really cool generative AI (that’s what you want) is coming. Sorry, can’t share any more than that.
- Pluralsight (E60) (FindAnLMS) (Coming soon to FindContent.io) – It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Pluralsight. You might see them in other vendors’ marketplaces, which is why the duality gets a bit confusing. You can purchase the Pluralsight platform with all that wonderful content (additional costs) and use that as your primary or secondary learning system – with front and admin capabilities. OR you can use Pluralsight for your technical skills content/courses. The metrics on this system are outstanding. Seriously, you can identify your learning story with these metrics – which is not common, as most vendors out of the box metrics, can’t tell you – your learning story which you want. Expensive system though, content equally so. This is only tech skills here. But the best technical skills content on the market.
- Schoox (B20) (FindAnLMS) – Top 20 learning system for 2023. The name is hard to pronounce – Scooo-X; but this is a very strong learning system for L&D. I wish they would decide whether they are a learning platform, or what they now pitch as a workplace learning software. I really hate when vendors ignore what they are, and try to get clever. You are a learning system, not learning software – trust me, there is a difference. I wonder how many people who are searching for a learning system, will type in workplace learning software? My guess is zero. Other vendors are jumping into the software angle, but only for clicks. They still see themselves as an LMS, LXP, Learning Platform – all of which are learning systems. This is a far better system than the marketing pitch side. I like it, very robust, the UI/UX has always been the challenge.
- Techsmith (A38) – I admit I use their products. I like Snagit, but their pricing is inflated, when you want to renew. It’s good for the basics. Camtasia -Yep I use it, but it can be cumbersome, offers a lot, especially add-ons. The one add-on I did buy, and think is absolutely brillant but expensive is Audiate. Probably the best learning technology product I’ve seen this year for the content side of the house. You have to have Camtasia to buy it. The rest of their stuff? Pass.
- Tesseract (N35) (FindAnLMS) – It’s all about KREDO. Very inexpensive, but lots to like. This is streamlined, but offers a variety of nice capabilities. Top 25 Learning System for 2023.
- The Access Group (K20) (FindAnLMS) (FindContent.io) – Another double whammy. The LMS is solid, still heavily around compliance and regulatory – so if that is your angle – they are very strong in that; the content side of the house is across various topics, but their UK Finance Regulatory content is the best in the industry.
- Thought Industries (M68) (FindAnLMS) – #1 Learning System for 2023. Top two for customer training. In fact, going back the last three years, they were number one at that, just a recent change. Still a powerhouse. Helium is by far the coolest offering in 2022 for learning capabilities within any learning system. You probably will hear or have heard of headless technology. Well, helium is headless technology. The others in our space? No. The system is solely focused on the customer training space, and thus they are not strong in skills, nor would I expect them to be. They have some, but if that is your goal here, lots of skills, then go combo. This is another must stop!
- Training Orchestra (E15) (FindAnLMS) – 100% Training Management System, which means it is all about scheduling, ILT resources, facilities management and much more.
- Valamis (H55) (FindAnLMS) – Top 20 Learning System for 2023. Lots of new capabilities, that I am a huge fan of. Totally L&D focus here.
- Watershed (F20) – This is an LRS – which means Learning Record Store. What an LRS was designed for and how vendors use it are two different things. I can’t understand why a learning system doesn’t have an LRS in it, let along activated? (Yes there are vendors that it, but have it turned off). If you want to know about content/course engagement status and levels, and anything around engagement or usage, this is it. Data visualization is nice, needs to be better. An LRS captures everything in a learning system – EVERYTHING. So if Scotty is bad mouthing the CEO in the chat, that LRS captures that data. Now, that said, the vendors who have it, use it around engagement. If you want more, you tell the vendor, what else can Watershed do in your system – beyond what I see, and can you get that turned on. Their response should only be – yes.
I will be walking the floor checking out various vendors, whose offerings I am curious about or want to know more. Here is my mode of operandi – and yes, just like you, at least 50% will never follow up.
- Check out booth, hope they have product that can be seen; not always the case though depending on offering
- Seek to get a demo scheduled – Want to see one. I never like doing it on the show floor, because you can’t hear half the stuff they are saying; you have no idea if this person knows everything to know about it; you may need or want other folks on the call. You get the point.
A vendor BTW should never try to qualify you at a trade show. That should never be their goal – but way too many do this. I swear, does anyone train salespeople on how to do a trade show? This is 101 stuff here. The goal here is get your name and level of interest. Yes, talk to them about your system – if you have it visible – which you should – then show it to them, let them ask questions. Then reach out to them, one week after the show, and schedule a demo. Ask for their use case(s) so you can apply that to the demo. That’s the goal here. Not qualify, not irritate, not seem indifferent. You never know what decision-making level that person is, who is seeing your solution – at a trade show. Thus, they may be reporting back to someone. Or that person may have full power, and you treat them as though they are irrelevant.
I write about this all the time, because it is so awful. I mean here are some basic rules that everyone who is working in a booth should adhere to (And trust me, many don’t)
- Drinking coffee in the booth. Ever heard of coffee breath? Exactly. Ditto on smoking outside and then coming in. We all can tell.
- Eating in the booth. This is really bad. You eat outside of the booth. Even if you are the only person during lunch, you simply put up a note or something visible that says you are out to lunch and will be back at X time. I guarantee you, that you will see no less than 10 vendors, whose folks are eating in the booth – and visible at that. Oh, and afterward eat a mint or chew minty gum. Remember the breath rule?
- Checking their phones. It’s bad. Want to check your phone? Do so at lunch or on a break. Nothing says indifference, than the salesperson checking out their phone. I’ve seen senior executives do this, even the founder of the company who is the only person in the booth. The moment you hit that floor you are “on.” Never forget that.
- Have your system video on YouTube. This happens, and yowsa it can be bad. A vendor did this at DevLearn, and then all those other items, like similar which are never similar appeared too. Plus, it had commercials. Either loop it ahead of time or if you go fully online and are worried about net speed (it’s always awful and expensive for a vendor), tie it to your smartphone. I’ve seen this with vendors, it works.
- Show your System – Simple. Simple. I guarantee there will be booths there who are selling a learning system, and you can’t see it -because they are not showing it on a monitor. Speaking of which, never check out your email, on the laptop or device that is linking to that monitor. I’ve seen that, everyone can see that – and the person is clueless it is happening.
- Don’t talk to other salespeople in the booth when folks – i.e. not your folks are in the booth. It’s really basic here – your job is to say, “This is an amazing system, and how can I help you?” Not, sorry, my friend is asking me about where they should eat tonight. When folks are walking the floor, be cognizant of that. Eye contact is huge. A smile when someone walks by is even better. You should appear happy in your booth. I guarantee you will walk that floor and see grumpy. It happens at every show.
- Have candy wrapped or whatever things you can eat wrapped. This is just about health here. You are aware that COVID is still around right?
For attendees – bring a hand gel – you can get a small one for less than a soda. Think of all the hands you will be shaking, the stands you will place your hand on, the materials they may have on the counter, that someone else touched. I’m not talking Howard Hughes here (and if you never heard of him, it was a zillionaire, totally controlled the world, and a major germaphobe. On the flip side, he made produced one of the most amazing movies ever to the point, that nobody could replicate what he did)
Enjoy LTUK. If you are a first-time attendee and have attended ATD, you will notice a difference in those foot pathways. If you are a first-time attendee, the show is impressive in its own rights.
If you are a returnee, welcome back – as the unofficial greeter of LTUK, I welcome you with all the tributes you so richly deserve.
Remember to use the guide above. This post can be printed out – you will see this option on the main page right next to the post.
Share it with friends.
Share it with the salespeople who are drinking coffee, eating their lunch in their booth, and checking out their phones.
Because I guarantee you will find at least one.
See you there!
NOTE – There will be no blog for the next three weeks. I’m getting into a hot air balloon and attempting to cross the world in 80 days. Actually, I will be speaking next week in Israel, then off to holiday in Turkey, before making the jump over to London. While I will be publishing updates on LinkedIn – via my thread there, about LTUK23 – so check often; the post LTUK event will be covered on LinkedIn, with lowlights and highlights, and the best booth I saw at LTUK, best sales team, and what stood out.
The blog itself – Let’s go Product Review – BizAcademy – A very cool learning platform focused on a specific objective…. .