Making new contacts

Trade shows and fairs, like the Destinations Travel Show in London I went to yesterday, are daunting things. A big hall, filled with too many interesting stalls, and (more importantly) interesting people, and however long you plan to stay, you always have too little time.

My other half and I went on the daytrip from Southport to London yesterday to network, socialise and get our names known. That, and I was handing out CVs and applications as well.

It was a long day, but worth it in the end. With only a little over three hours at Earls Court, we both managed to get on a few mailing lists, hear interesting stories and meet new people. To be fair, I handed out more business cards than applications, but I got 82 new travel and press related contacts in return. I got an article commission out of all my talking, so going to London was definitely worth the 3 hours we had to spend on the train each way.

Due to the little time we had, I was rushing around, trying to speak to as many people as possible, and, since I am studying to be a travel journalist, I made sure to get contacts from all the world regions represented. One girl overheard me talking to one of the exhibitors, and asked me how she could become a travel writer - shame really, that my coursemate Lauren and I will be the only travel journalists in Europe to have studied it at university. We're the first and last, and as far as I know, the course isn't offered anywhere else.

Walking around, my other half, focused on the UK, Europe and North African market, and could take it all in a leisurely stroll, while I was getting quite warm from the running around. What confused me was the layout of the stalls. It was meant to be rows and rows of stalls, and regions being placed together, but there was no indication where one region ended and the next started, except for a small number on top of the stalls. Signposts, or colour lines would have made it easier for visitors to find their way around. I miss some stalls and went past others five times, because I lost my way. All the stalls had the same general colours as well, so if you spun around you were lost.

Unfortunately I had to give the expert panel on travel writing a miss, although it was the one show I really wanted to see. Here was my chance to meet some of the people I hope to work for or alongside one day, but the train didn't wait. I guess next time, I'll bring a thermos of coffee (our first train left Ainsdale at 6.50am), something to read on the train, and a backpack to carry all the freebies, brochures and handouts in.

I am actually thinking on popping along to Birmingham in March for a day as well - Destinations will be held there on a smaller scale at the NEC - just in case. There will be different exhibitors and expert talks as well. Plus, it wouldn't be this far to travel. Going from Carlisle to Southport, from Southport to Liverpool, from Liverpool to London and all the way back up to Carlisle in a weekend does take its time. But considering who I got talking to, it was time well spent.

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