If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch: Rudyard Kipling
As I write this, delegates will be heading to the bar for a swift sundowner before getting on with the serious business of the Welcome Dinner at this year’s The Conference in Tenerife.
If I’ve just made it sound like a jolly then apologies because while it is certainly fun and there is plenty of jollity to be had, it’s a serious business event which offers huge benefits for delegates from all parts of the supply chain.
There aren’t many events where merchants can see most of their major suppliers and suppliers can see most of their major customers in that close-knit a community for that long. For an industry which relies so heavily on personal relationships, it’s hard to put a price on being able to see so many like-minded people all together, all fixed on finding out something that will help their business. Especially now that you have to take out a second mortgage to fill the car up. And while it can take new conference attendees a while to get used to the idea of a serious business conversation taking place in shorts and T-shirts by the pool, I know countless friendships that have been started that way and then cemented very profitably back home. And there may only be 15 minutes or so at each focussed Meet the Merchant slot, but most of the time those meetings are continued in the bar or at dinner that night or in the coffee-breaks, the lift, the tennis court, the changeover from seminar sessions, at check-out, on the bus to the airport….
The conference sessions are also an important part of the event. The organisers work incredibly hard to come up with items which will offer something to all the delegates, merchants and suppliers and give them all something to think and talk about. Some will be more of interest than others, but if delegates go home having picked up one tip or idea that could help to improve their business then the trip will have been worth it. Combine that with the chance to chat to peers in similar businesses in different parts of the country or focussing on different on a different part of the industry and you have a winner.
With the market conditions growing ever more uncertain, it’s vital that we still have these opportunities to meet, mingle and share ideas. You never know where it might lead.