10 February 2011


Leicester, London, Brighton and America all in one day


Yesterday was the annual Travel Technology Europe exhibition at Earl's Court, London. This was the first time I have ever been to this sort of corporate event. Considering last year I was writing essays about 19th-century romantic literature, I have come a long way in the past six months.

So the day started at 8:30, waiting outside my house for a lift. I stood waiting in a gloomy Leicester morning, anticipating where the day would take me.

Next step: the trip down the M1. The jibes that I was a jinx were coming thick and fast on the journey as we were stuck in traffic intermittently all the way down to the big smoke.

The first stop was Chiswick and then Hammersmith - a short tour of where FDC came from. It looked great, and I loved being in London. As we drove towards our destination a brand new blue Ferrari whizzed past and the sun came out. Suddenly it felt like mid-spring.

A quick stop in a coffee shop, where we met another colleague and a short taxi to Earl's Court, and it was time to do a spot of networking and get my head around all that the event had to offer.

One of the reasons we were attending was because there was a client we had to meet who was exhibiting. The struggle to find them, and the sheer size of the turn-out at the event, made it difficult, but we eventually found Multicom, a company that provides a link between the travel companies and their customers.

As the meeting started, I got completely lost by what everyone was talking about. After all I was here to learn a thing or two, so I decided to mingle. I was walking around in a sea of high-end businessmen and women, and it was great to feel important. Even if ever so slightly.

I had a couple of conversations with people approaching me while I was looking at their stand. There were lots of interesting new concepts being shown off and smartphone apps were top of that list.

I eventually stumbled across a big presentation entitled: 'How can you develop your social media plan?'. Cha-ching. My eyes lit up. I know this! So I got my badge scanned (by yet another attractive lady) and took a seat on the middle row. But I was nowhere near geeky or confident enough to sit in the front row.

And here I found myself - where I was last year: in a lecture, on an uncomfortable chair with my old note pad on my lap. It was a very useful hour-long presentation though, and I took notes which will benefit me in the future when helping clients use social media.

My phone was vibrating ten to the dozen. My colleagues had finished their meeting and were looking for me but I was nowhere to be seen.

When they eventually found me it was time to part ways. Dale and I were both hungry and we were meeting another person later that afternoon in Brighton, so a swift trip around the M25 and down toward Brighton we headed.

We had a quick meeting and then moved on to our final destination before our long drive back to Leicester: Woodie's Diner, possibly the coolest, most vibrant place I've ever had a meal in England.

It was an American-style diner, on the beach with a surf shop attached, and all that was on the menu was a vast array of burgers and milkshakes. It was just like an American movie set, 'Pulp Fiction', 'Grease' or 'Saved by the Bell', which ever you choose.

I felt compelled to bring back a souvenir and when we paid the bill the waiter handed me a Woodie's Diner bumper sticker, so I will never forget their name. A great marketing strategy - and also a great way to end the day.



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