October 22nd, 2020 - Beth

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“We like to attend as many trade exhibitions and events as possible to keep up to date with the latest machinery, products and technology. The German show Glasstec would have been staged around this time but it’s been cancelled due to Covid-19 of course. What is the future of exhibitions and what do you think of ‘virtual’ events?”

(Name withheld by request)

I also make a point of attending exhibitions, managing to get to the FIT Show when it has taken place each year so far. And I visit the German Fensterbau when that takes place, another one that bit the dust due to this bloody disease that’s causing havoc in the world currently…and some way into the future too, by the looks of it.

I would like to say that I attend these events ‘because of the invaluable information that I gain by visiting hundreds of potential and actual suppliers to my business, which allows me to make the majority of my procurement decisions quickly and efficiently’. And also that ‘visiting events such as FIT Show and Fensterbau allows networking and the development of key relationships going forward that are crucial to the wellbeing and future prosperity of my company and its employees…’.

Well, OK, yeah….but the truth is I like nothing better than being Billy Big Balls because I’ve received VIP invitations from my suppliers and even better, from lots of others that want to get into Danny’s pants (so to speak). And when I am at the show, I love sneaking up on people before they can hide, knowing that I can talk a glass eye to sleep; and there is nothing better than being someone’s guest at the spiffy official awards dinners, with the biggest thrill of them all, the challenge of getting Kush Patel to put his hand in his pocket to get a round in….

A day is never enough and wouldn’t be even if I was gagged. And despite appearances and occasionally, somewhat boisterous behaviour, I always have a clear plan of what and who I want to see. You need to be very selective in what can be mind-boggling events if you want to make them worthwhile.

I would not have attended Glasstec this year even if it did take place…I do buy glass processing kit for our small but very busy IGU maker Tudor, but there has been so much used kit in excellent condition coming out of the many processors that have turned their toes up over the past couple of years, including a number on our doorstep in Essex, that we don’t need to look at brand new; and there is likely to be a ready supply for our needs, for the foreseeable future too.

Like everyone else of course, ‘normal’ life is gradually becoming a fading memory as we approach lockdown again, albeit in stages this time round…and this has wiped out every type of live event this year. Frankly I am devastated, the opportunities to freeload having been complete wiped out and for the foreseeable future too. And the new ‘virtual’ events don’t do anything to ease this pain either.

One such effort has been toted around recently, due to take place, coincidentally I am sure, just ahead of next year’s FIT Show. This is obviously something borne during lockdown and too many hours living life through PlayStation….circumstances that might lead to a suspension of reality. Surely a more appropriate tag than ‘virtual’ might be ‘porn’….it just serves to emphasise that there is nothing better than the real thing….

Surely a ‘virtual’ exhibition is a contradiction in terms: not only do they deny me the ability to talk someone into submission, neither can I twiddle knobs and buttons, actually look at something from every angle, see for myself the quality of the components….touch them, operate them….feel the way that a handle engages….the weight of a door…the texture of a woodgrain…and even the way something smells. Including sometimes the people that are selling the stuff.

I reckon that I am a pretty good judge of character too. And just like everyone else, my senses are heightened and at their most perceptive when I am able to look someone directly in the eye, shake their hand (limp eurgh!) and chat with them – OK, talk at them – in a relaxed setting where we all share similar interests.

Which leaves us with the FIT Show due to take place in May 2021: if ever something represented the hopes and dreams and aspirations of a whole industry, it is this. For me – and for many I believe – the event itself is as representative of life returning to some sort of normality as much as what it promises commercially. This bloody disease continues to tear the world apart and whilst things are going belly up again as I write, we must not lose hope that it will be overcome, and we will return to normal.

And when the FIT Show finally does arrive, I will have had a whole year of freeloading, inappropriate stories, comments and jokes and general bad behaviour saved up: I look forward to behaving badly with you there!




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