Friday, 9 November 2012

Convention report, part 1

It’s a long one!

Hard to believe that this time last week I was busy swapping with demonstrators from France, Germany and all over the UK! It’s a frenetic part of Convention but a great way to meet other demonstrators, practise your shaky French and German (often getting the wrong language because their name tag is hidden by their swaps box!) and get some fabulous ideas.

Jacqui's gorgeous "Convention Kit" containing tissues,
snacks and other essentials
But let’s start at the beginning with a hasty gift exchange outside my house (because really I couldn’t fit all those bags in my suitcase!) and an excited taxi ride from my house to Birmingham Airport, where we met up with Val, another demonstrator who didn’t want to travel alone.  As it turned out, nobody was alone for long on that plane, as it was packed with demonstrators!

Bit of a shout out here for Lufthansa. I’m hardly a seasoned traveller but I was assured that a free newspaper, sandwiches and drinks is not the norm.

Along the way we picked up another demonstrator, Rachel, who was in need of a taxi to the Hilton. We had a spare seat in ours so that was easily solved!

Donna's beautiful needle case with
 detachable flower brooch
We had a bit of drama at the hotel check-in desk, as they tried to offer us double rooms. Well, we’re friends but we’re not THAT friendly, so we insisted on the twin rooms that we’d actually booked.  Ann and I were very happy with our room... until we visited Alison R and Donna... in their SUITE! Fancy coffee machine, dressing room and free slippers! Sheesh.  Apparently Alison H and Jacqui C had a bigger room than ours, too – but we didn't bother visiting. We’d seen enough.

My beautiful Silver 2 pen set and journal
There wasn’t much time for envy or bitterness though as it was almost time for the evening activities. If you’re considering Convention next year (and why wouldn’t you?), I will warn you that there is very little down time. This is why we all come home exhausted and incapable of updating our blogs! This year, Thursday activities were introduced which, for me, meant a lovely reception, where I could meet up with other demonstrators who have reached the title of Silver 2 and above. Far more intimate than the main Convention events, it was chance for a quick chat with SU’s co-founder and CEO Shelli Gardner, who was happily cuddling a beautiful German baby (“babes in arms” are allowed at Convention. We had canapés, business talk and were all thanked for our hard work with the gift of a beautiful journal and Mark Twain pen set. Oh! And of course we were given our Convention bags and stamp sets, too!
The Convention bag!

You get a LOT of presents at Convention. On you check in, everyone receives the much talked-about Convention bag... and I have to say, opinion is usually divided on this subject! This year’s was a trendy chevron-patterned fabric shoulder bag in, I still maintain, Summer Starfruit. It is pretty cool but I’m not sure yet if I will get much use out of it. Last year’s was the bag that bucked the trend – EVERYBODY loved it as it was black and practical with lots of pockets. But the great thing about the bags is that they are so very different every year.

Inside your bag are your stamp sets – and we always get told in advance what they will be, so that we don’t need to order them in advance. This year we received Affection Collection from the Autumn/Winter catalogue and Daydream Medallions. There’s also your Make & Take pack, which uses your free stamp sets, a special Convention pen, your programme for the weekend, lanyard, name badge, Convention badge on this year’s theme of I Am... and any reward badges you have earned. None for me this year but next year I’ll get my 5-year award so it’s back onto that stage... eek!

Meanwhile, the rest of the team seemed to be causing havoc in the Make & Take room, which is where I found them after the Silver 2 reception. Not sure how much wine had been consumed before they went to the M&T room but one of them was already mixing up her words and managed to stamp one of her M&Ts upside-down! Later events, involving tripping into a lift and getting stuck in a revolving door means she will forever be known as Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous!

I can’t function on just canapés so we all headed into the hotel restaurant for a meal. We picked up another couple of demonstrators on the way, Joanne Friend and her downline Sharon, who joined in May to get a free Convention ticket.

Then it was off to bed to prepare for the next day’s activities, when Convention started properly!

Check-in queues were a lot smaller this year, as so many had checked in the night before. And Memento Mall was remarkably quiet, too. This is where we get to buy exclusive SU items, including tote bags, pens, magnets, card display trees, lipbalm... can’t remember what else. Oh yes, I bought some rather fab cookie press stamps featuring the SU logo and various stamping-related messages. Cool! Everything is limited to one of each item per person until everyone has had a chance to get around, which is very fair I think.

And the tills are operated by SU staff, so it was lovely to see Chris from Demo Support there. I think his queue was the longest!

The first General Session began at 11.30am, and it was opened with a bang as the huge screens showed the SU office lip dub video of this year's song, I Am...

You'll see in the video that SU staff run onto the Convention stage at the end - well that happened for us, too, only with a mixture of American and European staff! It was a great way to start Convention. 

Next on stage was Shelli Gardner – who was also greeted with rapturous applause and a standing ovation. As always, she was overcome by emotion at the sight of us all cheering for her, which is very touching, if a little bemusing to us stiff upper-lipped Brits! The sessions are nearly always a mixture of business talk and product demonstrations – sometimes with current products and sometimes with sneak peeks, which is exciting!

After lunch (a packed lunch is provided), we split into groups according to country and attended a great class by two UK demonstrators, Sally Jo Houghton and Elizabeth Shannon. Their theme was I Am Having Fun... and we ALL had fun in that class, which was a hoot!

The rest of the day was spent with more demonstrations, business talk and prizes! Yes, prizes, too! During the weekend, two of our group won Prize Patrol gifts – Donna and Alison R. Yes, the ones who were staying in a SUITE (not bitter!).

Then it was time to disperse and prepare for the Awards Night party. There was a bit of time so we headed into town to take a look at Mainz. We didn’t make it into the older part of town but found a nice coffee shop where I had a lovely apple and nut cake and the most gorgeous hot chocolate. Unlike many of my companions, I bit the bullet and asked for it in German – remarkably, I was understood.

I’m going to have to leave it there for a while as the day is slipping away from me and I have to pack for a Stampin’ Up!® party tonight. Don’t want to forget anything (again)!

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic report - feel like I was there with you! Jacqui's convention kit is outstanding!!


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