As regular readers of manVslug will know I've been attending this event annually since 2014 and I always enjoy the day and meeting up with other bloggers who are regarded as freelance gardening journalist and the occasional celebrity gardener, professional gardening journalist and authors. I always see The Garden Press Event as kicking off my growing season after dealing with infrastructure on the allotment over the late Autumn and Winter months.
Last years event was on the 4th March 2020 and covid-19 was winging it's way around the globe and had not really started to show its ugly face in the UK, that changed very quickly.
Just after attending the event I ended up shielding my wife just before and during the first lockdown in 2020 and as the year progressed. I did think that I was going to miss attending the 2021 event as it was obvious it was not going to take place at the Business Design Centre in Islington which has been its new home since 2018.
Then late last year an email arrived from HTA and GIMA saying that they were going to arrange a virtual on line event. As a software programmer and Beta tester I did offer my services to beta test, as I have to say having attended such events electronically in the past I did wonder if the software, servers and the broadband would actually cope with an electronic version of the event but was not taken up on my the offer.
I need not have worried the platform was stablish, there was one exhibitor who could not access his own table and had to change server and surfing platform to get it working but we managed to meet up in the afternoon. It was his table, I got stuck on when I tried to leave and had to reboot my system and login again to carry on but bearing in mind 300 journalist were using it that's kind of to be expected.
There was also one exhibitor who could not get on his table because four people were all ready on it and chatting or waiting for someone from the table to turn up
We were kept up to date re the roll out and sent our pin number to gain access on Monday the 1st to give us some time to set up our profile and add a photo and biography and have a punt around the exhibitors pages, download press information and watch videos, especially the one about how to use the event platform.
The event, run by HTA and GIMA, gave 57 exhibitors the platform to showcase their company and products while speaking directly to members of the garden media. Around 300 journalists, bloggers, feature writers and other members of the media attended the popular event to find out about the latest trends and products for 2021
I spent some time doing the desk study and targeted those individuals and companies that were a must talk too on their tables. I even arranged a number of chats for during the day on Monday and Tuesday.
There were a few technical glitches during the day but nothing that a cold boot could not solve. All in all I believe that this form of event should be run in addition to the actual physical event, it's even better as it is still accessible for 30 days after the event for one to carry on chatting and sending business cards or download information and watching videos and presentations you may have missed.
In some ways I actually liked it better that the physical event as it was from the comfort of my own home and I actually have spread it over a few days. The venue and date has been booked for next year for the 9th March 2022, but in many ways I'm hoping for a hybrid event where the virtual event can be run in parallel for those from further afield that can't get to London to attend.
Using Zoom or Teams has become the new normal over 2020 and each company had a table or two on the system where you could go and have a face to face chat with up to four people per table. There were also some additional tables on the system so the Delegates could meet up and have a chat with each other during the day, much like we do around the refreshment areas at the venue.
Sean James Cameron and I used the facility to catch up with each other later in the day after using the messaging service in the morning. In the morning Sean sent me a link to a YouTube video of crowd noise he said he had playing to make it feel more like the real thing.
Above is a screen shot of myself talking to Mark Hartshorn and Craig Sams of Carbon Gold when an old friend popped in on the table. More about Carbon Gold and Organic Biochar to follow in later blogs postings.
If you don't know Sean James Cameron make sure you visit his YouTube Channel it's well worth a watch.
Normally one comes away from the event with memory sticks, novity items and some smaller samples and marketing goodies, but it has to be said that the offers of trial products and products for review was not really much different from a physical event and I do have some goodies that will be winging their way to me and I will be blogging about them as they arrive or they get used on my two plots