Earls Court 2002, the London Boat Show. I found myself sipping champagne on the top deck of an 80ft boat (should it be called a yacht?) with a very nice man in chinos and a blazer who was showing me how the flybridge barbeque worked.
Unfortunately, I couldn't have afforded even the tender to this leviathan (let alone the yacht itself), but that meeting cemented my, albeit slightly one-sided, relationship with Sunseeker.
And that, in a nutshell, is the point of shows in general and trade shows in particular; to put companies and prospective customers together, to put a face to the company and encourage business to be done.
Every year we go to Sign and Digital as visitors and it's rare that we don't get an idea for an additional revenue stream or find ourselves a super-efficient new supplier. We once bought the demo GS series on the VUTEk stand at FESPA and spent the rest of the day smiling as we walked past the machine sporting a sign that said 'Sold to Venture' on it.
We are very excited to be exhibiting at The Print Show in October, and I am hoping it will be a chance for us to meet some of our existing customers and perhaps attract some new ones. What I didn't comprehend is the hard work it takes exhibiting at one of these shows. I have a new-found respect for the organisational skills of anyone who exhibits regularly at shows. The Print Show has taken our working lives. For the last few weeks, we have been organising our stand, designing branding, ordering flooring and sorting out electricity and Internet. Also working out who of our staff is going to be on the stand and what they are going to wear. Writing risk assessments and method statements... the list is endless!
I am sure, however, once the organisation is completed we are going to have a great show and it will be a blast, but better than that, just imagine what it could do for the business... "Hello, is that Sunseeker?..."