The Liftex 2010 exhibition was held May 12-13 in London. Frost-covered ground welcomed me upon my early morning arrival at Heathrow Airport. In fact, the first few mornings were reported as the coldest May temperatures in 30 years for the region. Too bad I didn’t pack a coat!
Luckily my friends, and Elevator World partners, from Peters Research Limited picked me up at the airport (and let me borrow a coat). The 18 mile drive from the airport to the ExCeL Centre (where Liftex was taking place) took nearly two hours! I definitely would have needed to visit a Western Union if I had taken a cab.
Upon arriving at the exhibition site I grabbed a cup of coffee and gave my weary eyes a double shot of Visine®. We then spent several hours preparing our booth before heading to the hotel for dinner. Nearly 20 hours after my departure from home I finally rested my eyelids in preparation for the next two days.
The exhibition itself consisted of 81 exhibitors from 13 different countries and saw an 15% increase in visitors over the last exhibition held in 2007. The number of attendees and exhibitors made it a very lively and social atmosphere with plenty of hospitality stands and people “talking shop”. Over the two days, attendees had the opportunity to attend several pre-recorded educational presentations in the Interactive Zone, which also included free wi-fi Internet access and a nice centralized seating area and Cafe.
This exhibition seemed to be well harmonized in terms of the number of attendees and exhibitors. And, two days was the perfect length giving exhibitors a steady flow of attendees while allowing attendees an opportunity to visit with exhibitors at their leisure. Contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, accessibility, trade associations, insurance specialists, inspection certification and many more exhibitors made up a broad base of topics. All-in-all, there was much to be gained by exhibiting and attending this event.
After the first day of the exhibition, The Lift & Escalator Industry Association (LEIA) arranged an evening dinner cruise on the River Thames. Over 100 exhibitors and invited guests enjoyed good food, music and general conversation. As the sun began to set over the Tower Bridge, overcast skies cleared to reveal a spectacular sunset which drew a huge crowd to the bow of the boat.
Look for a full report on Liftex 2010 in the July issue of ELEVATOR WORLD.
As the expo ended I began a rather nice and much needed four day London vacation with a few friends. Of all my travels over the last 6 years I had yet to visit London, so there was much to see and do. Most of the “hot spots” were visited along with two great days in the countryside. Over the weekend local news forecasts predicted that the ash cloud from the recent Iceland volcano eruption would most likely affect air travel in the United Kingdom on Tuesday (which happened to be the day I was to fly out).
In hopes of making it back home to the U.S., without any extended period of disruption, I made the decision to try and depart one day early. For the small fee of US$150.00 and two hours on the phone with the airline, I was able to get a flight out for Monday. Well, as I slept Sunday night the winds swept the ash cloud down over southeastern England much faster than expected. Upon waking at 5 a.m. Monday morning, ready to head to the airport, I noticed that my flight had been cancelled.
The airline automatically booked me on the next flight that had available seating. This just happened to be three days later on Thursday! Two more hours on the phone with the airline got me nowhere. So, over the next 8 hours I watched 3 movies, sat in the hotel lobby and counted the number of people who checked in, napped, took three baths and ate dinner. Thinking that there was no way I could do this for three more days I called the airline once more just in case. This time the wait to speak with a representative was only 1 hour and 45 minutes! By then the ash cloud had went away as fast as it came in and flights were back up and running.
And, in a streak of luck which almost never finds me, I happened to get the last seat out on the next day. Ironically, this was the same flight that I was scheduled to leave on all along, including the exact same seat number! Countless hours later I got home as originally planned; minus a few hundred dollars for the ticket change fee and an extra nights hotel stay and meals.
I am sure that everyone who travels often have stories just like this. And, I am pretty sure most stopped reading this post somewhere after the third paragraph. But, for those still reading, I will sign off with some words of wisdom.
“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” That was either a quote from the writer Susan Heller or a bumper sticker…I cant remember exactly.