It’s that time of year when I clear my diary for a day, get ahead of routine admin, try to get my head round London, memorise another hashtag, and confirm exactly who I will be having coffee with. Yes, it’s the build-up to my visit to The Meetings Show. Before I get into the 5 stages of my preparation, I want to share my 4 reasons for going in the first place.
- The sheer size is incredible
Last year, I went to the show with a colleague and we had to split up to cover all the stands we wanted to. Just click this link and you can see why. Exhibitor after exhibitor representing all areas of the events industry and companies of various sizes. There are even local convention bureaux and, last year at least, people going to extraordinary lengths to get you to come to their stand. (Thank you, Netherlands Tourism Board for Mr Holland.)
In a room that busy, you would have to be a bit of a klutz to not find anything or anyone of interest. I know that last year in a single hour, I found a very useful contact, a possible provider of client data, an events industry association and an offer to write a blog post. Since I will be better prepared this year and can stay for the entire day rather than a few hours, I know I can find even more.
- The playing field is even
Sure, the big DMCs have funky stands and tons of staff. Yes, the mammoth brands can afford to dress people in weird costimes to catch your eye but never underestimate the AV guy sitting on his own behind a bare table, or the lady sitting charging her phone or the head of an events website who wants to introduce you to some of his mates (thank you, Alan Newton). At The Meetings Show, everyone from the CEO to the newbie interpreter is available for a chat.
- It’s easy to get to
I live in warm sunny Edinburgh. To get to The Meetings Show, I pop down to my local airport, grab a couple of trains and I am there. Compare that to some out of town shows and you can see the difference.
- Learn while you schmooze
Of course, I will be picking up industry tidbits on every stand but this year, I can also enjoy the programme of talks and debates. So, I will be listening to Scotland’s top PA talking about international events, watching Alan Newton debate Brexit and maybe learning how to create value in an association.
All those reasons add-up to an unmissable show so here is how I will be preparing.
1.) Nail down those coffee slots
At last count, I have offered free coffee to six events leaders so we can chat about multilingual meetings. (If you want to chat too, drop me an email or tweet me) That means I have an evening left to nail down exactly where and when I will meet them and what their favourite brew actually is. (Mine is hazelnut hot chocolate with the works, if you feel like buying me one…)
2.) Plan my walkaround
Between the coffee and talks, I will be pretty busy, but there will still be some 20 or so exhibitors on my must-see list. While I haven’t yet found an online map, I will be compiling a database of stand numbers to save me precious legwork. The mounds of hot chocolate will help, though.
3.) Email the stragglers
There are some potential contacts whom I haven’t even grabbed on twitter yet. I have a very short email list to do to see if they will be there and arrange their coffee time too.
4.) Charge my phone and tablet and pack chargers
Last year, livetweeting pushed my phone battery to the edge. Considering that this year, I want to add some selfies with industry leads too, I am going to make sure that the phone is at 100% and carry a spare charger too.
5.) Finish pesky travel arrangements
Yep, I have all my tickets but there are still the little details of working out exactly when I need to get up (very, very early), my airport bus ride and checking-in. I only leave that stuff until last because, well, it’s by far the easiest bit of the process.
That’s my Meetings Show prep list. What’s yours?