South Coast Summit – A Day in the Life of an Exhibitor
Saturday 15 October: The day of the South Coast Summit, the first in-person show since the pandemic, has finally arrived. The alarm goes off; it is dark. My first task is to avoid waking the rest of the house leaving to drive to the venue in Southampton.
Not a great start to the drive, the main coast road is closed, something to do with road works, so I divert cross-country and get stuck behind a convoy of tractors. I hope this is not a bad omen for the rest of the day.
I arrive at the exhibition hall more or less on time and seek out our booth, meet my colleagues Peter and Jenny, get fully branded up in my new company logo-ed polo shirt and source the first coffee of the day.
My first impressions of the exhibition hall are good. The layout of the booths is logical, with plenty of space between the rows. The cricket nets suspended from the roof break up what could have been a very industrial look and feel – effectively we are at the Ageas Bowl, the home of Hampshire cricket.
I am not too sure about the theatre layout, and I hope the PA doesn’t interfere with our conversations on our booth (as it turned out, no). Our booth looks great, not too cluttered and really shows off the all the key messages we want to share. We are also near an open external door, ideal for ventilation and helping to keep the hall cool.
Our first visitor arrives as soon as the event opens and is very interested in arranging a demonstration of ProvisionPoint 365, our governance solution for Microsoft 365. Details taken, a positive start to the day.
As the day progresses, there’s a constant stream of guests to our booth, with many good conversations around the themes of Microsoft 365 governance, Teams and SharePoint provisioning, as well as security concerns and partnership opportunities. As expected, the peak time for visitors is over the lunch period.
We had two speaker slots during the day and our CEO, Peter Baddeley, a well-known figure on the circuit, draws large crowds to both his sessions.
Our competition to win a set of Microsoft Surface Pro headphones seduces many visitors to the booth and our branded giveaways also go down well.
It is a very sunny day, so our bright orange sunglasses swiftly become ‘the must have’ fashion accessory of the event and are particularly well received in the outside coffee area.
I take time to walk around the show, speak to fellow exhibitors about the event and collect some branded goods. I have found that you can never have too many “Chilly” bottles, and it will be nice not to run out of pens for a few more months.
The day draws to an end and we have a (non-alcoholic) beer and informal review of the day, what was good, what didn’t work too well, and was it worth coming (yes).
Overall, my impressions are positive: the exhibition was good; I met my colleagues in person for the first time, and it was great to speak to lots of interesting people face to face. I’ll be in touch with everyone I met shortly and am looking forward to the next event.
In the meantime, if you didn’t get chance to see us at the South Coast Summit, you can always get in touch here.