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Licensing Factory New Europe makes it mark - read the diary(Posted: 27-09-2009)
6.45am leave home, M25 a nightmare, just make Stansted flight on time
14.20 arrive in Trieste, driver present to collect myself and lovely ladies from Fremantle Germany, who have also just landed. Result – the car and the girls!
17.00 reach hotel, check in, walk 20mins along lovely seafront to show, set up stand
18.30 smooth Croatian beer while overlooking the sea. Perfect weather. Is this work?
20.00 collected by organisers and taken to dinner. Unexpected, but very nice.
8.30 car arrives to take us to show from hotel. Only round the corner.
9.00 shows opens, organisers very laid back, Disney speaker attracts decent crowd for first conference session.
13.00 shows empties, and organisers herd us off for a 4 course lunch – in the middle of the show day! “This is how we do business in Croatia – everyone is at lunch”
19.00 collected from hotel, boat trip to Red Island. Walk to highest point for, by now, moonlit champagne toast in the shadow of some sort of folly. Ushered to outdoor banqueting table complete with candelabra with real candles and have fantastic feast of local seafood. Breathtaking and bizarre all in one. We toast our hosts. Let slip to some-one who I thought had become my friend that I cried at Mamma Mia, and they laughed. Feeling a bit hurt.
23.00 boat back breaks rudder and captain steers using only engines. Long trip!
23.45 off to bar to celebrate some-ones birthday
9.00 More relaxed, arrive at show just after 9.00 as “you don’t need to rush in Croatia”
12.00 dress up in Danger Mouse costume for a dare, walk show and ride round on pedal go-kart.
13.15 show empties – off to lunch again!
18.30 collected from hotel and taken to marina. We are rowed, gondola style, around the bay towards the sunset, accompanied by another boat carrying musicians serenading us with local folk songs. Surreal and romantic experience. Traditional fish meal with local wine in half pint tankards!
23.00 nightcap (or two) outside restaurant on seafront.
Local exhibitors doing business Serenaded by moonlight at sea
9.00 show gets a good start. This morning’s speaker attracts reasonable crowd.
11.30 get to ride a Segway –you know, the two wheeled, upright electric scooter that can’t be tipped over because of the gyroscopes. The further you lean forward the faster it goes. Great fun buzzing round the show floor. Better than being Danger Mouse? It’s a close call.
13.15 lunch – main course not fish!
18.30 off to Pula to the Roman amphitheatre – spectacular. Thought provoking just to stand in the arena and imagine what went on.
20.30 friend of an exhibitor hosts us all in their restaurant. Home made brandy to start! Locally hunted wild boar slow-cooked traditionally, wrapped and buried in the embers of the fire, is incredible. After four nights I am getting the hang of how business is conducted in this region. It’s certainly working – we are all forging partnerships over the excellent Istrian wines. Feel the need to stand up and make a speech of thanks to the organisers and fellow exhibitors brave enough to back them. Seems to go down well.
9.00 people still coming in to the conference sessions, although show floor has wound down.
12.00 Group photo!
12.30 Buffet lunch for everyone
13.30 show closes
18.00 walk through town, take pictures of sun going down into the sea. Up narrow cobbled streets to the church overlooking the town - magnificent views.
20.00 sit outside in town square to eat, drink and reflect. Can’t help thinking a lot of companies missed an opportunity by not being here. I didn’t.
23.30 dropped into the disco at my hotel. I’m youngest by 20 years. 80s classics bizarrely accompanied on a big screen by the Benny Hill Show with Croatian subtitles. Where did that come from? Perfect end to day.
9.45 collected from hotel to go to airport. So I thought. “We have time for coffee first, there is no rush”. Final sight of beautiful harbour.
10.45 persuade my hosts that I should be at the airport before the engines are started on the plane. “You will have plenty of time, don’t worry.”
11.25 reach airport 45 minutes before flight due to leave. Goodbye to my 3 hosts who have insisted on coming to see me off. What hospitality.
12.10 farewell Croatia.
PS please don’t get the impression that we didn’t work during the day at the show, as we did. But you had to buy into the whole concept that this was going to be fun, the hosts would look after you and would not take no for an answer. This led to the removal of any barriers that may have been up, and put people at ease, making it easy to talk business. The opportunities in this region were obvious to see from talking to all the exhibitors and visitors in this environment.
I, and I’m not alone in this, came away with a lot more from Licensing Factory New Europe than I had bargained for.
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