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3 DAYS IN BRUSSELS. THE GLOBAL SEAFOOD EXPO 2018
I was privileged enough to go to Brussels this year to represent FIFCA at the Global Seafood 2018. I knew this Expo was on the horizon from when I started at FIFCA and looked forward to it immensely, but there was lots of logistical and design work to do in the lead up to the Exhibition.
Soon after September last year, I approached FITV with a concept of a promo video and an approved script that I wanted to commission in order that it could be premiered at the Expo. Alongside this, I set about redesigning a new FIFCA website in collaboration with a decent UK based web-design team. I wanted this also to be completed in time for launch at the Expo. After much toing and froing, we settled on a look and a concept and this was completed and up and running on time.
I set about planning and designing the stand and in all fairness, there wasn’t a great deal to do with regards to that in that it merely involved a few phone calls and e-mails. The hardest part was revising the figures for the information boards. We have a good relationship with our stand build team and they proved to be very helpful and professional, and made my first Expo as seamless as they possibly could.
I travelled to Brussels on the Eurostar and arrived at 14.05. Not knowing the city’s metro system, I took a taxi to my hotel where I was met by Mike Coleman from the design company. We introduced ourselves over a couple of Stella’s before heading to the Expo hall for a first look at the halls and a handover of our stand. I made sure the video loop worked and accepted the stand as was. By the time I left, the whole of the expo was a building site, and I thought there was not a cat in hells chance of this being ready for the morning. We then went our separate ways and I visited the 3 hotels where we had Association members staying dropping of their passes and credentials in order that they could all avoid having to queue at the gates the following day.
Expo Day one
I arrived at the Expo at 0715 and had to wait a while before the gates opened, (will bear that in mind next time). The site was ready and it was hugely impressive. My job was to stand and promote the Association as a collective and answer questions put to me by people from all over the world. There was a great deal of footfall at our stand and lots of genuine interest in the Falkland Islands fishing industry. Leaflets and cards were exchanged. It was an incredibly long day, and I managed to leave the site at 1900. We had a well-attended stand that included reps from SAAS, Michael Betts and MLA Barkman, as well as a strong number from the fishing Industry. During the day, Richard Hyslop,(FIG Policy dept) and FIFCA Chair Stuart Wallace met with MEP’s from the UK and Spain. In the evening, Ashley Fox, MEP hosted a dinner for some of our delegation, MLA Barkman and Richard Hyslop.
Expo Day 2
I managed to arrive at a more reasonable time of 0900 at the venue, now that I had a decent grasp of the metro system. Day two was more of the same. The stand was well attended and visited by scores of people from all over the world. Useful contacts were made and old ones re-affirmed. Whilst the day itself was just as long, it wasn’t as tiring as I knew what to expect from it. Once again, there was the extra-curricular meetings taking place at the Parliament buildings as organised by Richard Hyslop. Janet Robertson was also able to ask a question on our behalf at a Brexit fisheries convention.
Final Expo day 3
Traditionally, this is seen as a wash up day and the Expo finished at 1600. The day was a lot quieter than the other two, and as people had to make their travel commitments, it was down to myself and Tiphanie May to stay at the stand until it finished. 1600 came at a good time as we had pretty much ran out of leaflets, cards, and various other, “gizzits” that we originally came with.
Some mightn’t see the value in attending Expos such as this, but once there, I really got the impression that it wasn’t just about the selling, it was about the visibility of the Falkland Islands at the largest seafood event in the world. Over 1850 exhibitors attended the Expo and we had access to all of them. Most, if not all of the people we spoke to were genuinely interested in our story, even if we did have to dispel a few myths. I feel that given where we are, certainly with regards to Brexit, this kind of exposure proved to be invaluable. There may be new business contacts made and a few deals coming out from the Expo, but I believe that our presence was key in 2018.
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