COMMENT: Is Olympia a worthy venue for Brand Licensing?

I was never very good at conkers when I was younger, and I'm sorry to say that I haven't improved with age.
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This was ably demonstrated at Rocket Licensing's Dangerous Book for Boys conker championship at Brand Licensing Europe last month.

However, despite having my conker smashed to bits in the first round (although I'm sure I landed at least two good blows), it was a great way to spend an hour. Rob and Charlie at Rocket were just one example of a firm which was looking to make the most of Advanstar's show in business terms, and have a thoroughly good time while they were doing it.

The move to the Grand Hall, in space terms, was a success, giving the smaller companies a chance to rub shoulders with some of the bigger licensors and agencies on the showfloor.

But as far as the venue itself goes, I have my doubts. Olympia opened its doors to the public on Boxing Day 1886. It would be mean of me to say that not much has changed there since, but I don't think it would be unfair to point out some parts are in need of a makeover.

Compared to newer venues such as ExCeL, and even Earls Court (which opened in 1937, fact fans), Olympia is found wanting in several areas - and don't even get me started on the lack of wireless internet.

When I was asking for feedback on BLE, the state of the venue and its facilities did get a few comments, although the big topic was the addition of a third day to really make the most of the increased European footfall.

Hopefully too, next year will see some of the larger exhibitors make use of the space outside the venue to promote what's going on inside. Licensing is an exciting industry, with some amazing brands which, obviously, lend themselves well to advertising. Let's make the most of it while we have everyone's attention.

And maybe the presence of the brass band at the official exhibitor drinks reception needs a rethink. But these are small things.

Over the past couple of years, Advanstar and its communications team at Bastion have done a fantastic job with the show, turning it into a must-attend not just for those in the UK, but for firms across Europe, too.

The changes that it has made to date prove that it listens to its customers, and I'm sure the BLE team will be listening now.


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