Saturday, 20 June 2009

Cup of Tea, Love?

In contrast to my experiences at the hands of Ashford Model Railway Club (who received some mild criticism yesterday), I am happy to redress the balance with some extremely welcoming, helpful and all-round pleasant exhibitions that I attended over the years. Some clubs have got it and some clubs just haven’t. A good case in point is the excellent show held by Stowmarket Model Railway Club in Suffolk. This is one of those shows that you look forward to attending, simply because the organisers treat you as a human, rather than just a bankroll.

Stowmarket Show is also held in a Leisure Centre, just like Ashford (see previous post). But that is where any similarities end, I’m glad to say. When you arrive, the doors are open to allow access – and it’s amazing how much difference this makes to your day and general demeanour. Stowmarket don’t stop at just opening doors, however. After being shown to your allotted area, helpful club members assist you with unloading and bringing your stand into the hall, rather than the favoured method of certain clubs who just watch you struggle. But the thing that really sets this show apart is that whilst you are assembling your stand – around a two-hour job – club members bring round a good old-fashioned tea trolley.
Bearing in mind that you’ve been up since pre-dawn, driven anything up to 200 miles to a show and then have to spend a couple of hours assembling a stand, this is a most thoughtful and welcome gesture, and might I say, very much appreciated. Once your stand is complete, the leisure centre has an excellent restaurant, so you can also get breakfast. This is how Shows should be. During the day, the exhibition manager and various club members check to see how you are doing, and provide cover so you can nip to the thoughtfully provided tea urn for a drink, and half an hour later cover your inevitable trip to the toilets. It creates a really good atmosphere and puts you in a good mood; which of course is reflected in customer service when you’re stuck on a stand selling stuff all day. Or to be more accurate, stuck on a stand with lots of stuff to sell that people look at but don’t buy. It just goes to show how a little bit of thought can go a long way, and that there really is no need for the peaked cap, hi-viz jacket clad brigade to interfere.

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