While at Granada I had been charged with looking at what we might do with some surplus shops following the Rediffusion takeover. I had come up with a retail concept I had called Activity Packs, travel shops where you were presented with perhaps 50 different topics. You could buy into these at three levels – a study pack, a taster pack and the full activity. The study pack was a book/video combination that would let you consider the activity (hang-gliding, scuba diving, cordon bleu cooking…). The cost of this pack was rebated if you subsequently went on to book either of the other more expensive packs. The taster pack was a long weekend giving a valuable introduction to the activity. While the full pack would be ten days to a fortnight or more, and being fully immersed in the activity.
When I looked for a third event in my annual show cycle (PropBus, Top PA and ?), I worked up something I called the Activity Breaks Show.
It was great fun gathering together the various activity organisers, many of whom offered great services but were working at <50% capacity. Exhibitors ranged from operators like Cox & Kings, Moswin Tours, Trek America and Wild Africa Safaris, to venues from Plymouth Sailing School to south-coast Broadlands, and Scottish-borders Kielder Water and specialist operators like the mid-Wales Forest Experience Rally School and New Forest Lasersport.
Not all show concepts work out, though if you do commit thoroughly to the research you can minimise the chance of failure. But, occasionally there are outside effects that can come up and bite you – acts of God, strikes, riots, wars…
It was all looking promising, until the First Gulf War and Operation Desert Shield brought long-haul and mid-haul flights to a shuddering halt, travel companies that were our potential exhibitors quickly drew back on their marketing. The show lost its momentum as a result, we refunded deposits and saved our energies for other concepts.