Abingdon or Boston: Where Would You Rather Be?

This year, we chose to celebrate INBOUND a little differently. What did that look like, how did it go, and why did so many of us end the week saying the same thing?

Last week, 10,000 people descended on Boston for HubSpot’s annual inbound marketing conference, INBOUND. Among them were six of our team members, all set for three days of talks, networking, and presentations. I wasn’t one of the lucky six this year, but I’ve been very fortunate to go twice in the past. And each time, my biggest takeaways haven’t been the notes I’ve made or the contacts I’ve added but the feeling I got, standing at the top of the stairs and looking out across the auditorium. Descending into the swirl of pop-up stalls, trade stands, and ball pits. Walking through the aisles of seats stretching out in neat rows for as far as the jet-lagged eye can see and marvelling at the enormity of it all.

INBOUND is an experience. But practicality dictates that we can’t all have it. So this year, for those of us who weren’t state-side, we also did something a little special right here in the UK.


Never heard of INBOUND?

For the as-yet uninitiated among you, INBOUND is a yearly event put on by HubSpot in Boston, Massachusetts. It’s big, the definitive inbound marketing conference bringing together HubSpot, partners like us, and customers for three days of learning and networking. And for the first time since 2019, it was in-person (technically a hybrid event) this year. 

  • Presentations are given by the movers and shakers at the forefront of their fields.
  • New contacts are made, business opportunities surfaced.
  • And yes, bottles pop as people from all walks of life come together to meet and chat and go away changed by the things they’ve heard, the thoughts they’ve had.

If you ever have the opportunity, go. 

Of course, not everyone can. What did those of us at BabelQuest who couldn’t attend do instead, and how could we possibly hope to recreate the experience of it here in Abingdon?

What else have we been up to? Click to find out…



For three days, those of us who were able to converged on the BabelQuest office to meet up and watch the digital sessions on the big screen together. Our diaries were cleared. Time was booked out (many of our clients were watching INBOUND too). And this quarter’s social committee pulled out all the stops to bring a little bit of Boston to Abingdon, Oxfordshire. (No cream pies that I was aware of but the Haribo Snakes seemed to go down a storm.)

Bunting, pizza, more American-style goodies than we knew what to do with, and a team lunch on Thursday provided the perfect backdrop for the virtual sessions, which we all watched together from the sofas on a near-cinema-sized TV. A dedicated Slack channel was set up for all the chat. And just as we were dialling in to INBOUND, those BabelQuesters from further afield who couldn’t make it joined in remotely from the comfort of their sofas.

As usual, HubSpot had a lot to talk about. From a product point of view, what can you look forward to from your favourite CRM platform for the next 12 months? Gem is here to help:


Gem’s product updates from INBOUND 2022

“Every year I get excited for INBOUND: lots of inspiring talks and even better, a truckload of product updates to talk about. With this year being their first hybrid event, of course I had to use a couple of my maternity KIT (keep in touch) days to come into the office for BabelBound, watching the digital events with my colleagues.

“The big theme this year is disconnection. Employees, customers, data... everything is feeling disconnected at the moment. HubSpot is pushing for improvements in this area and the product updates definitely struck that chord. There are so many, but here's a few of my favourites. What were yours?”

Note: Quite a few of these features are still in beta so give us a shout if you want help getting access to them!


Better insight

  • Campaigns improvement — better collaboration and task setting for team members allowing you to organise, execute, and review your campaigns seamlessly. 
  • Customer journey analytics — one I've personally been hoping for for a long time. This is a fantastic visualisation of the steps a customer goes through, allowing you to really hone in on which touch points are making a difference for specific segments. The video on this page gives a great overview of this in action.
  • WhatsApp integration — quite a few of us are buzzing about this in the office. This allows you to connect a WhatsApp business account to the Conversations Inbox for better communications and team visibility. Plus, you can automate messages to contacts.


Data quality

  • Import error handling — catch those errors before they hit the system. Long gone are the days of doing an import and then having to re-do it because you formatted a country name wrong!
  • Property validation — want to make sure a postcode has the right number of digits, or a text field with only numeric values? Now you can!
  • Data model overview — visualise how your data is structured and how it all connects together. Particularly useful if you've got a custom object in the mix.
  • Data quality automation recommendations — set up rules and let the CRM keep itself clean, from capitalising first names to sorting out the case of text.


Increased CRM customisation

  • You could already customise which properties appear on a record and even vary that by team in Enterprise... but now you can also customise the right sidebar! Prioritise the order of information and even hide integration information based on what makes most sense for specific teams.
  • It's now going to be possible to log different activities on a record as well as the usual call, email, and meeting. Think WhatsApp, physical mail — this will make your contact's timeline an even more comprehensive view! Even better? You can re-order the buttons to work best for your business too!
  • Board cards properties, historically, when customised were set and shown across all pipeline views within that object type. Now you can select which four properties appear on board cards for each separate pipeline!

Want more of Gem’s product updates delivered straight to your inbox? Register here.


Where would you rather be? 

If you’ve made it this far, you might be thinking “Abingdon or Boston? I know where I’d rather be”. And sure, I think most of us would’ve jumped at the opportunity to fly state-side.

But you know what? Those few days when so many of us came together last week felt special too. And I wasn’t the only one to say it.

We’d probably have learned more if we’d sat on our own and watched the sessions independently. But last week, I got to catch-up with people — friends — who I haven’t seen for months. I met a new starter who’s joining us in October — and what a warm welcome he got from everyone. Some of my colleagues I hadn’t met face to face before. That’s changed.

As Gem mentioned, HubSpot talked a lot about the theme of disconnection this INBOUND, but the real takeaway for me is the flipside of that: community. That’s what I felt, standing at the top of the stairs in Boston’s convention centre and looking out across the sea of people, the two years I went. And I felt it again lounging on the sofa with Amanda, jumping out of my skin every time Kaleb started clapping, fangirling over Jane Goodall with Stevie and Chris, listening to Lily tell me about her new house and all the exciting deals she’s working on… 

Where would I rather be? The answer is anywhere, really, with this group of people, these BabelQuesters, who collectively feel things we would otherwise feel alone.

Wherever you are, however you use HubSpot, we hope you feel a part of our quest, too.

“It was really nice to spend a few days in the office with the team. I honestly felt like I was sitting at home with friends. Rachel and the rest of the social committee had really made an effort with all the sweets and decor; it was lovely walking in for the first time and seeing it all. On the whole, the sessions were really interesting; I particularly enjoyed Jay’s talk on email and I’m looking forward to using some of the tactics he mentioned for my clients’ newsletters. It’s safe to say I had a great few days!” Mel Baker, Inbound Marketer, BabelQuest

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