Datesand head to Prague!
From the 11th-14th June 2019, it was once again time for the much anticipated FELASA meeting – this year to be held in Prague, Czech Republic. Nicky recounts the action-packed week…
Kicking things off
The European FELASA meeting is only held once every 3 years and so is a really great opportunity for Datesand to shine, showcase our products and meet with our European colleagues and customers. This year’s FELASA was also special as it had some significant firsts and lasts!
Preparation is the key to any conference – especially when it’s overseas and the stand has to travel ahead. Mark, Alanah, Josh and Sam all did a great job at pulling everything together and with the assistance of Kieren, made sure it got to the venue in good time for Ryan and me to set up.
Ryan and I set off from a rainy, cold Manchester on Saturday morning for our flight to Prague. An airport fire evacuation and a quick aeroplane snooze later and we were in the middle of a Czech heatwave! Ryan’s first FELASA meeting and our first time using an Airbnb flat for a conference took us into new territory but we soon found our “local” and were settled in. Sunday saw us get our first taste of the excellent metro system which took us directly to the conference centre in under 25 minutes.
Following the footprints from the train took us straight into the amazing conference centre where we found our pallets ready to start setting up. What we had imagined would be a mornings work turned into a 10-hour marathon but, so it turns out, Ryan and I are excellent carpet layers!
Simon and Kieren flew in on Sunday evening and after a quick beer in the flat, we headed once again to our local” for some dinner.
Doing things Datesand style
Jonathon arrived on Monday evening and he and I headed out to Café 77 to meet with our Benelux distributors Bio-Services. Café 77 turned out to be more of a deli than a restaurant where the request for a menu seemed to be unusual! After a quick beer, the 4 of us headed off to find an alternative eatery and enjoyed a great meal.
Also on Monday evening was the Brit’s Night which had been organised by myself and Mike Douglas from Sychem. With 13 sponsor companies and an ever-expanding guest list, Ryan and Kieren were there from the start to ably represent Datesand.
A night of unlimited food and drink with 80 or so UK customers is never to be turned down and as Jonathon and I arrived, the boys were rolling out to head off into the night with a large group! Another telltale sign that I’m getting old… a few beers and I was off in an Uber to hit the hay!
Tuesday started hot and sunny once again and proved to be another great day on the stand. We had pre-planned meetings throughout the day to meet with our European distributor teams along with customers from further afield who had flown in especially for the conference. FELASA 2019 attracted 1378 delegates from a massive 56 countries!
Tuesday evening was our Datesand night at the Prague Beer Museum. Around 50 invited guests came along to this very fitting venue to join us in celebrating Simon’s 65th birthday and wishing him the best of luck in his impending retirement. A great time was had by all and there truly was an international feel to the evening with colleagues, customers, suppliers over Europe attending. The beer flowed as freely as the conversation and a great time was had by all.
Ending on a high
Although some of us were signed up for the 3km run on Wednesday morning, the 6.30am meet didn’t happen. The combination of long days on the stand and the 30-degree heat (oh, and maybe the beer drank the night before) meant we chose to be fresh for the exhibition stand!
Wednesday was another successful day with a good flow of delegates to the stand and some excellent meetings held. The highlight of Wednesday however, was the celebration of Simon’s birthday with cake, fizz and an impromptu video call from teams at both Manchester sites for a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday (technology is a wondrous thing!).
Wednesday evening was the last night for me, Simon and Kieren and was indeed Simon’s last day at Datesand. We decided to go for a team dinner and were treated to a gastronomic feast at the Bellevue Restaurant overlooking the Charles Bridge. Ryan carried on into the night to meet up with some customers and the rest of us went back for our last night at the flat.
The final day of FELASA was Thursday with Jonathon and Ryan manning the stand and packing away. Simon, Kieren and I avoided this by heading off for our flight home. For added adventure on Thursday, when Ryan returned to his room in the wee hours, he found his keycard had deactivated and had to spend the rest of the night in the spare room! Luckily, the Airbnb host had someone come out quickly and sort the issue – Phew!
The last of the team came home on Friday and we all agreed that this FELASA meeting had been one of the best ever!