Wow! What an amazing weekend I have had in Plymouth. I went into this event season with the idea that I should use it to learn and I feel like my head grew three sizes from the amount of learning I got from PAW 2019.
First, I should say it was an excellent event. It was well run and organized and Clive Dudley, its Master of Ceremonies for the last umpteen years, has finally managed to find some other chump, sorry, willing volunteer to take over from 2020 in the form of Ken Hockley. But Clive and his team have done an amazing job. The event is a blend of organized tournaments (across a range of systems and settings), participation games, demonstration games and trading. And it runs over two days, which is super-rare for a UK event. I know of only two other events that are multi-day and one is the mighty UK Games Expo (which is three days!).
But going back to the start, I learned that, despite writing a detailed checklist and ticking off my tasks and equipment as I packed it wasn't enough to stop me forgetting things and I managed to leave the key to my cash box at home. I also left my business cards and my lunch in my Airbnb on Saturday. Ho-hum.
Nevertheless, the trip down was amazing. It was the first long-distance run in the Nissan Leaf as part of our attempt to keep the environmental impact of Precinct Omega to a minimum. I stopped a couple of times along the way for a charge, which meant stopping for at least 35 minutes each time, so I had food and a hot drink and a toilet break. I made a lot of use of the cruise control, too, setting it to just below 60 and dawdling along in the inside lane. It made it a super-relaxing drive, low stress and low effort. And the regular breaks meant not risk of nodding off at the wheel. I can't recommend electric driving highly enough as long as you take the time to plan your journey.
I also - as already alluded to - stayed at an Airbnb. I have mixed feelings about this option because, on the one hand, I love to support small, local hotels, and I feel weird about people buying accommodation just to rent it out to business travellers and tourists when so many are struggling to get on the property ladder or even just off the streets. However, this was the right sort of Airbnb: a spare room in a property that was rented out to help meet the mortgage payments. My host was lovely and helpful and the room was just right.
For the event itself, I took everything I had. I've been working along professional salespeople for a while, now, and I've learned that, as a salesperson, you never want to say "ooh, I've got that but didn't bring any with me". Obviously, the traders who are mixed retail operations aren't as blessed as I am with the ability to fit my entire current stock comfortably into the back of a Nissan Leaf! But all the same, it was great to be asked about stuff I don't even have on the website and yet to be able to say "Yes! I have those! They aren't on general sale yet, but let's talk..." This is what people come to shows like PAW for: to be able to talk to designers and manufacturers face to face and not only find out about forthcoming releases but also sometimes get their hands on something uniquely new.
FYI, in this case it was the "eyes on stalks" conversion kit which will be available on the site in the next few weeks in limited stock.
And I was amazed how many people were paying cash. I took my new SumUp device to take card and PayPay payments. But it really felt like 99% of customers had come with a budget in cash form and weren't going to tempted to an electronic transaction. I found it remarkable, not that people wanted to pay cash, but that so few people wanted to do an electronic transaction.
I learned so much more, too, about interacting with customers. But I think that's a whole other blog post. So I'll come back to this subject in Part 3.