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Your BLE survival guide

Be you licensor, licensee, retailer or agent, Brand Licensing Europe is three non-stop days of meetings, networking, air kissing and socialising. The Source asked some show pros for their advice on how best to work the halls at Olympia, after hours entertainment and getting through the morning after.

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Andrew Carley, head of global licensing, eOne
“Always leave time to walk around the show to get a sense of what brands people are talking about. Don’t leave luggage in the cloakroom – you’ll spend ages queuing up to get it out again. Find a friendly exhibitor who will let you keep it on their stand. The Dove in Hammersmith down by the river is a great place to go for a drink at the end of the day.”
Marianne James, VP NVCP & UK and Ireland European retail sales
“Comfort above style – so wear comfy shoes (wear heels at your own risk). Don’t try and cram in half hour meetings as they don’t work. Instead allow an hour to factor in meetings running over and bumping into people you know en route to your next appointment. Divide and conquer meetings with your team to ensure that productivity is maximised, and allow time on the last day to walk around the show.”
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Vickie O’Malley, MD, Rockpool Licensing
“It’s with mixed feelings that I recommend my favourite, The Anglesea Arms, Wingate Road, W6. As much as I wish them great success and prosperity, I also still want to be able to get a table. A small but perfectly formed traditional pub with great food, a great wine list and a very homely and ‘come for lunch, stay for dinner’ atmosphere. Right, I’m off to book a table now in case of a stampede.”
Sam Ferguson, director of licensing and retail, Mind Candy
“My personal survival kit for the show is first and foremost a hearty breakfast – it tends to be the only meal until a late dinner. My secret weapon to help any potential hangover during the show is Dioralyte, awesome at rehydrating you after one too many the night before. Lipsalve – we are a very social bunch and with back to back meetings that potentially means a lot of cheeks to kiss (no one likes chapped lips) – and I always have LinkedIn ready on my phone just in case I can’t fully remember someone I have met.”
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David Scott, MD, Rainbow Productions
“Make sure you have your smartphone at the ready so you can take selfies with the biggest selection of famous children’s characters this side of the Atlantic – and instantly become a hero to your kids/grandkids/nieces/nephews.”
Rob Corney, group MD, Bulldog Licensing
“Begin the year with the intention of leaving diary space for walk-ons… revise the strategy six weeks before the show to block it out but leave room to be flexible for retailers… fill Monday with meetings four weeks prior to the show… revise again two weeks out to put in breakfast and dinner meetings… add post-dinner meetings… add pre-breakfast meetings… apologise to walk-ons… finish by wondering how your diary got booked out from 6.30am to 1.30am every day and wish the show was four days, not three.”
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Janet Woodward, joint MD, JELC
“Ensure you have sufficient storage space on your stand to fit several pairs of shoes per staff member, but not enough for every Tom, Dick and Harry to dump bags and coats while they go and do business with your competitors. Try and avoid having more than one client at a time in attendance so they can’t compare levels of interest. Take Friday as a holiday – it will take three days to unscramble your brain and there won’t be anyone to speak to as the rest of the industry will be doing the same.”
Vicky Hill, licensing manager, Bulldog Licensing
“Eat a good breakfast – with back to back meetings it can be a long time until you see lunch. The Hand & Flower is a good way to start (and end!) a day at BLE.”
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Trudi Hayward, SVP global head of merchandise, ITVS GE
“Make sure you keep a few gaps in the diary to walk the show  and check what other licensors are doing, check the buzz in the stands and meet and greet people that normally you wouldn’t. Great advice that I hardly follow and end up in back to back meetings, and at the end of the day go somewhere that is quiet, peaceful and does a glass of chilled white wine.”
Stephen Mills, commercial and licensing director, Watermelon
“Enjoy a pint at The Builder’s Arms – this is my favourite pub in the area, tucked away on a side street leading down from Kensington High Street. Have a cocktail at the Roof Gardens – heading up in the lift to Richard Branson’s hipster hangout is like entering another world, where flamingos flit among the rich and beautiful. This leafy paradise is a must-see. Alternatively, among the classy bars of west London, Trailer Happiness stands out for its funky sense of fun. For that special client or occasion then Launceston Place is one of the best restaurants close to the venue. A tad further afield, long-time King’s Road resident Bluebird is a great place to have a drink, while for something a little less formal Maggie Jones is a quirky restaurant that looks like a 1970s country kitchen, but buzzes with a hip crowd of foodies every night.”
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Helena Mansell-Stopher, retail licensing director, Bulldog Licensing
“Comfort is key to a successful show, put party feet in your lovely heels and know where the nearest toilet is as you are going to be in back to back meetings, with no time to spare. I always prepare for my retail meetings to maximise the time I have and to hopefully get the right results.”
Chris Taday, licensing director, Licensing Link
“Around the back of Olympia, in the heart of Brook Green are a number of great pubs that serve excellent food including The Haverlock Tavern is one of London’s original gastro pubs. Pentolina is a lovely Italian restaurant run by husband and wife, but it does get very busy so booking is recommended. And for something a little different, there’s Betty Blythe, a 1920s vintage tea room, complete with a dressing up box.”
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Saphia Maxamed, business development manager, RMI
“Be good to yourself: Allow time between meetings so that you can get to your next one in top form, you know you want to close that deal. Girls, have a pair of pumps in your handbag so that you can switch shoes when you need to. As for the boys, fear not, I have got you covered.
Get social like your life depends on it: Since setting foot into this industry I have learned that deals are done on and off the showfloor, and the golden rule is networking. It is an absolute must. Sign up for the LIMA Global Networking party and it’s always good to drop into the Hand & Flower after the show for an hour or two … boys, I see you coming.
Enjoy London: I appreciate there isn’t enough time for sightseeing, however there are a few places that are much closer to the show. The V&A in South Kensington is worth a visit, as is Portobello Market in Notting Hill and, if you are feeling adventurous, Brick Lane in East London.”
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