This week The Meetings Show has been taking place at Olympia London, and promised over 50 hours of free content, 64 expert speakers and countless networking opportunities.
While in the current climate we have never had more opportunities to connect, it would seem as we are bombarded by advertising and brands the trust and knowledge of ‘real’ relationships are standing the test of time. An exhibition is a real opportunity to build and nurture these relationships, but only if you have a game plan!
What was your objective when going to the show?
JG: I went to the show with the purpose of introducing a client to new venues, we are currently working on her expanding events schedule for 2019 so it was an opportunity to meet with multiple venues at the same time. I wanted to use my knowledge of their brand, synergy and event requirements to work together on getting the best out of the day.
JT: My objective was to expand my venue knowledge and deepen relationships with suppliers and spending time face to face is always valuable. I wanted to really explore destinations on this occasion as opposed to particular groups or venues; our clients increasingly look to use not just one venue but also tie in surrounding activities, places of interest etc. In particular Belfast was on my list as it’s becoming a very popular destination for the clients I work with.
What was the itinerary for the day?
JG: Sit with coffee! We started with the obligatory cup of coffee and mapped out which were the key venues for us to see. We talked through how much time the client had to spend, what she wanted to gain and then we targeted each one accordingly.
JT: Before the show, I had already identified key appointments I wanted to make to ensure I had a plan, but also when I arrived, I picked out a few in-between that I felt would also be beneficial.
Who did you see and what did you learn about each one?
JG: We saw so many! However those that were particularly useful for the client were The Belfry, the QEII, Cliveden & Chewton Glen, Newbury Racecourse and St Ermins – I had no idea they did Bee keeping workshops! Mercedes Benz World has some great new team building packages and Farnborough International has amazing outdoor space overlooking the runway.
JT: The Visit Belfast team were really helpful to me. I also met with Hastings Hotels who are all based in Belfast too, we have worked with them before, but not yet met and within five minutes we already had a much greater understanding of each other’s business needs. Other meetings which were really helpful were The Barbican as I hadn’t fully appreciated the scope of the space they could offer, and the NEC who we would always contact for large events and exhibition in the Midlands, but also offer some great spaces for much smaller events. My meeting with Butlins also completely changed my perception – such fantastic and flexible space!
What was different/unusual/useful about the event?
JG: The Chill & Charge area was perfect, I was busy snapping pictures and emailing details throughout the day so the charging station was very handy. It was good to see so many venues in short space of time although time flew and I still missed many who would have been good to see!
JT: I went as a hosted buyer with the HBAA, and the buyers lounge was a great place to stop and regroup to ensure I was keeping on track! The variety of supplier and venues was really good, and I found I walked round and around again spotting places I had missed!
What benefits were there for you?
JG: My client found the day really useful – it expanded her knowledge she said she found it far more productive going with us than it would have done if she had attended independently. From my perspective it really demonstrated to my client Conference Care’s great relationships with venues; the fact that she got so much out of it was hugely beneficial to me too!
JT: The day had a real energy and buzz about it. I was so proud to be there representing Conference Care; spending time among such a variety of venues gave me a renewed enthusiasm for the industry I work in and reminded me why I love my job!
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