AVA Live Report: ‘First of all let me make it clear that 1) nobody is paying me to write this article; 2) it’s not a recycled press release and 3) it’s not a puff piece put together with one eye on getting paid work in the future’, writes PV & OCS Editor, Ian Reynolds-Young. ‘On the contrary, it’s an honest opinion. Just sayin’…’
AVA Live was a huge success in my eyes and here’s why, starting with the party to celebrate the AVA’s 90th anniversary.
- With just a few tables reserved for sponsors, it was a case of ‘sit anywhere’, so Yvonne and I were able to enjoy the company of people we hadn’t previously met.
- There was no set menu. Guests were invited instead to visit one of several buffet service points. There were enough of them, strategically placed around the room and offering a variety of world foods, to ensure that queues were minimal – but even the queues provided ideal opportunities to make new acquaintances.
- The set-up meant that it was impossible to remain seated for the course of the whole evening, guests had to get up and move about; making the event perfect for networking in a way that no sit-down ‘do’ could ever be .
- There was no expensive band: instead an excellent DJ provided a sound track that was loud enough, but not so loud that it stifled conversation
And I wasn’t alone, as the comments PV received from Jon Taylor of BRITA testify: ‘I thought AVA Live was something very different, something that the AVA perhaps needed, informal and a refreshing change from other networking events. It was informative and eye-opening, especially talks around topic areas on sustainability and recycling.’
By the next morning, a transformation had occurred in the room. A ‘main stage’ for presentations had been created, together with space for workshops and seminars, plus an exhibition space.
AVA Live Report
There was never a dull moment: the highlight for me was the sparkling presentation given by Malcolm Tucker – sorry, make that Alistair Campbell – who spoke engagingly for 45 minutes and then took questions – all of which without a single reference to notes of any kind. He pulled no punches and though his fervent ‘remainer’ opinions rankled with some members of the audience, only the most introspective of curmudgeons could fail to have been impressed by his grasp of current events and their implications for our future.
So I was a happy bunny. Save for a few grumbles about the hotel, which was too big and too hot and expensive, (two large Drambuie night caps and a bottle of water, £33.50!), it was a valuable experience. But what did AVA Chair David Llewellyn make of it? Here’s his AVA Live Report
‘There are some things that we could have improved, finessed; but this was the first time we’d done something like this so there’s bound to be room for improvement’ David told me on the Monday morning after, ‘but generally, I think it went really well, both the party and the business day.
‘The workshops and seminars attracted more people than we anticipated and at one stage, we were rushing round finding extra chairs; but we’ll be mindful of that when we allocate space for these elements at future events.’
What the thinking was behind the event? ‘We didn’t want to do the usual AVEX type of thing’, David said. ‘There is less and less of an appetite nowadays for big exhibitions, many of them are suffering from dwindling attendances. Phil Reynolds has filled a much-needed gap with the Vendex one day events, which are a very efficient way getting to talk to people and to get hands on with new products.
‘We set out to put something on that the industry would think had some value.’
‘The loss of interest in ‘big events’ is not a vending industry thing, it’s general; so we set out to put something on that the industry would think had some value’ David said. ‘We wanted to create an event that would attract operators, not just suppliers, and not only the Principals of a business, but also senior management and sales people, which we seem to have done. It would have been nice to have had more people there. Around 400 people registered for the event and the vast majority turned up, but there were some unclaimed badges and I reckon it’ll take us to the end of the week to tally exactly how many no shows there were.
‘The feedback so far has been very, very positive. The Environment forum with hosted by Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, addressed a subject that’s high on everybody’s agenda and all the presentations from the main stage were very professionally delivered. (Special mention here for the AVA’s own Adrian Pratt, who stood in for Thérèse Coffey and made a magnificent job of it).
‘I don’t think we’ll do anything as big as this until the AVA’s centenary, and I’ll be in my bath chair by then’, David said, ‘but we have every intention of keeping the AVA Live brand going on an annual basis, with a different event each year.’
If AVA Live was an example of ‘start as you mean to go on’, then the industry is in for some excellent summer events in coming years.
MAIN PICTURE L-R: Lord Deben, David Llewellyn, Alistair Campbell
Enjoyed the AVA Live Report? Find ore on the AVA on PV&OCS, HERE