This was a bizarre event for a number of reasons. Australia’s UK Trade Commissioner (today called Austrade) approached me to run an event for his organisation. They had established that a number of Australian IT companies came to Europe each year to exhibit at the annual Hannover Messe, and they had expressed a desire to find a venue to bring their products across to Britain at the same time and make the most of their European foray.
He offered me free-of-charge their venue at the Commission’s offices on London’s Strand, in order to minimise exhibitor costs. We agreed to make it a turnkey shell scheme and furniture arrangement, so the exhibitors would not get into competitive stand construction.
The first bizarre element was the name they chose, Intelligent Australia, which sounds to British ears like something of an oxymoron, but I could hardly point that out to the Commissioner and went with it.
The second was that the Commissioner had trade arrangements that meant he could supply me with unlimited Castlemaine XXXX lager. I quickly negotiated for stand builders, electricians and so on, to accept their fees in lager, they all turned up with oversized vehicles and the Commissioner duly had them fully loaded – everyone was happy with the arrangement, and I took the stand charges as revenue.