It was big, it was bold, it was the only place that brought Scotland to within five steps of London. The Meetings Show is an annual three-day showcase of the smartest venues, the smoothest DMCs, the most streamlined techheads and Mr Holland, who is enough of a phenomenon to merit an individual mention.
This year, I found the show even more relaxed than usual but still serious enough to have moments of thoughtfulness. Within less than five minutes, I had gained a very useful contact in the publishing world (who will be getting an email from me today) and had realised that this year, wandering about semi-randomly would actually be a good strategy. That was a good thing, since it took me two hours to locate a guidebook!
I only managed one of the seminars, a rather tense discussion of Brexit, where the two panellists who wanted us to leave the EU had very little to lose if we did. It is little wonder that a quick show of hands showed an overwhelming majority in favour of remaining.
Thankfully, however, the referendum seemed not to be on the minds of many of the exhibitors. Wedgewood DMC seemed to have sent some of their friendliest and most knowledgeable people to the show, PA Life’s team were top-notch and Sheffield brought sherbet – an inspired idea!
The only organisations I really missed were the event associations. Apart from ICCA, who seem to practically be resident at The Meetings Show, you had to rely on bumping into someone to meet other association reps. That is disappointing but perfectly understandable too. It was a very crowded floor, with the most space and most prominent locations given to destinations.
For tech and service suppliers, a slightly remote location sufficed, which probably did reduce traffic to them. In future years, if I book a stand, I will want to grab a spot near one of the main thoroughfares. Those who had the stands in the corners seemed to lack much of the life and buzz of the big central spots. Hopefully, in future years, there will be a supplier showcase to match the destination showcase and balance things out a bit.
Still, overall, I was even more impressed with the show this year than last year. As an independent freelancer, the feeling of being able to attend at the same level as the multinational corporations was welcome. And conversations flowed as freely with the massive DMCs and agencies as they did with the new players.
You simply can’t go to The Meetings Show without coming across Mr Holland, the orange-suited whirlwind. No, I have no idea how he managed to twist his legs like that. Yes, he did make me all the more excited about my visit to Utrecht in October. I have no idea how he smiles so much nor how he can carry on twitter conversations while welcoming all and sundry to his shores.
His presence and demeanour echoed the atmosphere of the show itself. Fun, welcoming, bright and most of all, enough to put a smile on your face. Interpreters absolutely should get along next year and translators wanting work connected to travel, events, or hospitality should consider it too. There is simply nowhere else like it.