News

Exhibiting column, June 2009
June 8th, 2009 11:10 am

We always assume that everyone who reads 'Exhibiting' already has all the basics covered, but a few additional hints and tips might be of use. And they all relate to the topic of exhibiting effectively in these tough times. Firstly, make sure you have investigated all the opportunities for financial help with your exhibiting. There is a wealth of money sitting in various government pots, but you just need to know where to look and how to get your hands on it. And, as we aren't all as avaricious and corrupt as MPs, you may not know how to start. It's rare that the money would be called 'exhibition support', although you might find that is exactly the case if you talk to UKTI. They exist to get Britain exporting, and can provide financial subsidies for participating at certain events abroad. The support can cover stand construction, but also additional charges, such as travel and accommodation. Additionally, much of their support can be 'in kind'; helping with translation, findi...

Conference News column, June 2009
June 7th, 2009 3:40 pm

It's probably a hangover from my early days when I was involved in the motor industry, but for me, the most evocative smell in the world is that of a car as it rolls towards the end of the finishing line. Being much older than I look, I can reveal that these were British cars, and so the air was redolent with the scent of wood (dashboards) and leather (seats) along with the hint of malodorous communist union leader. That heady aroma – which also mixed in a variety of oils and lubricants – was simply mouth-watering. And I can tell you there's nothing like the odour of a stripped gearbox of a classic British sportscar So forget that expensive eau de cologne; I also confess to sniffing creosote, and have been known to linger with the window down as tar is laid on roadways. Powerful stuff, so it's not surprising to read that the hotel chain Travelodge is offering its guests the options of scented rooms. Apparently the company carried out a survey to isol...

Exhibiting column, August 2009
May 8th, 2009 1:11 pm

'Experiential Marketing is about integrating elements of emotions, logic, and general thought processes to connect with the consumer. The goal of experiential marketing is to establish the connection in such a way that the consumer responds to a product offering based on both emotional and rational response levels.' This was the theme of a recent one day workshop in which I'd been banging on to my delegates about turning boring exhibition stands into 'experiential marketing displays.' Some got it, others struggled; "give us a some examples," they whined as technical definitions went straight over their heads, and they wallowed in the belief that their product or service was too unique, different, or simply plain dull to have the experiential treatment applied. I even showed them some pictures of companies whose exhibition stands attempted to use different ways of engaging audiences; to involve, not just tell", although sadly such stands are in short supply. The interesting thing...

Conference News column, April 2009
April 2nd, 2009 4:21 pm

If my monthly rants entertain you, and you feel the urge to send me something, I like whisky. From a quality single malt, on the rocks, to a cheaper blend mixed with dry ginger ale, it all meets my needs. So, if you want to send a bottle (or a case) I guarantee you a free name check in an article. (How blatant am I?) But just to make it clear, I don't drink at work (no matter how trying the delegates) and I'm very careful when I do have a few glasses in the evening to ensure I'm not still in danger of being over the limit the next morning (as Princess Anne's future son in law recently found out.) So, the message of this month's column, buried not particularly deep, is simply 'watch the booze'. On a recent public course two of my delegates were telling me how their companies thought offering a free bar that goes on all night at staff events and company conferences was appropriate; 'good for morale' was the company line. As event organisers, they were against the idea and looked to...

Conference News column, March 2009
March 2nd, 2009 4:16 pm

There's a lot written about the principles of customer service, most of it by Americans and consequently much of it garbage. 'Go the extra mile' exhort those overpaid conference 'motivators', with teeth like poached ivory and gelled hair that would survive a direct hit from a bazooka. 'Love your customer to death. The customer is always right. Buy my magic snake oil. That'll be $5000 and I'm off now.' So in the spirit of international disharmony, and for the sake of bringing some semblance of reason to the table, here are the 7 rules of great customer service from one of the world's leading customer service gurus. (Me). 1. Good customer service – meeting and exceeding expectations - is actually a sound business strategy. All the academics prove that, if the customer tells you you've screwed up and you make it evident that you are trying to put it right, they'll love you, trust you, and probably stay with you. While Ryanair demonstrates that you can treat your custo...

Exhibiting column, January 2009
January 7th, 2009 3:55 pm

Many of my recent assignments have seen me in the Middle East (well, they've got the oil, and the sunshine, so it seems a sensible strategy) with frequent early morning arrivals at Heathrow. But I still need to keep my finger on the pulse of the UK exhibitions industry, which means attending all our relevant trade shows. But I – no doubt like you, dear reader – fall into one of those categories so beloved by marketers called CRTP (Cash Rich, Time Poor) and my days in the Capital are packed with back to back meetings. Which is why recently, after a comfortable flight, in a seat that turned into a bed, a welcome arrival shower and the biggest limo I'd ever seen (it still didn't get through London faster) I found myself outside Earls Court ready for one of our industry events. The sun was shining, and I sipped a coffee and made some calls among a crowd of about 50 who had also made the effort to pack in as much as possible, and we were all waiting patientl...

Conference News column, January 2009
January 7th, 2009 3:34 pm

If you ever find yourself at home on a weekday mid-afternoon, you should really check out the psychic programmes running endlessly on Living TV. There's an English version, with an anaemic, nerdy looking bloke, with a strange ratty face that suggests his scalp is stuck in a vice; or the American show, where the star is, of course, gelled, coiffed, honed from the gym and with pearly white teeth. But the formats are the same; an audience of sad idiots sit expectantly and stare at the dimly-lit stage where our heroes promise "to bring this world closer to the next" by being a conduit. This involves them adapting an expression which suggests they're trying to pass a house brick through their lower colon. And then, with a sigh that suggests constipation has passed, they declare, 'Is there anyone here who knows a Bill? Or Will? Or Wilma? Or Fred?' Eventually a desperate granny will admit to having an Uncle Cedric. 'He's passed, hasn't he?' asks the presenter, gently. It's a safe bet, with a...

Conference News column, November 2008
November 8th, 2008 11:14 am

The daily papers are full of advertisements for them, taking place in a town near you, limited seats available, hurry, hurry, hurry. Yep, they're "seminars", offering incredible free advice on how to make a fortune from property investment, share-dealing, spread betting, you name it. So, in the interest of research, I attended one. It took place in a 4 star hotel, with lots of smart banners in the foyer, and even a free chocolate biscuit. The delegates were people of all ages, shapes and sizes – quite a few non-working mothers and bored pensioners, too, from what I could gather. And the staff were all young and scrubbed, with whitened teeth and shiny suits. And the presentation? Well, perhaps I'm not the best person to ask, because I've sat through an awful lot of presentations. There was a long bout of  tedious story-telling along the lines of; 'this was my boring life. I got up each day, and stood at the same place on the platform. And I worked at the same...

Conference News, October 2008
October 8th, 2008 1:05 pm

Normally it can take at least a few minutes with a client before I prove my incredible value but at a recent training gig I astounded even myself with the speed of my delivery. I was at a urinal, prior to starting the course when one of my delegates introduced himself (no shaking hands, of course) and mentioned he'd seen me speak at an industry event, having a rant about terms and conditions. He'd been impressed (of course) and asked 'can you have a look at my contract before we start the training?' So we did, and quelle surprise. A certain Five Star Park Lane hotel had sent their contract through (and you know how much I love hotel contracts) and were explaining how a 10% service charge would be added 'for all food, beverage and room hire requests'. As the room hire was £5000 a pop, and the client was about to commit to ten dates, I pointed out that this was a total of £5000 being levied for the privileging of tipping – a room. A room that would just...

Conference News column, September 2008
September 7th, 2008 3:45 pm

For some bizarre reason, although I hated French at school, I have developed a strange fondness for that country. This passion frequently reveals itself in my dreams, where I stride into the grounds of my magnificent chateau, and speak fluently to an army of adoring peasants and serfs. Alas, on awaking, the reality hits home, and my distinctly mono-lingual capabilities come flooding back. To address the issue, I have loaded my IPod with some 200 hours of French lessons and, when traveling, always make the commitment to tune in to la francaise. Sadly, the tutor is a young lady who sounds drop dead gorgeous, and her luscious accent sends me in seconds into a dream of remarkable eroticism. And that's why I always arrive at the French booth of international tradeshows and introduce myself to the waiting staff with a firm handshake and the immaculate greeting, 'bon jour, je m'appelle Natalie.' Of course, it matters not, as they all speak perfect anglais, tolerating my strangled tort...