I do learn stuff at the a4u Expos but I attend so I can see what’s happening in our industry and to touch base with networks, agencies and other affiliates and to reconnect with friends, meet new people and put faces to people I’ve chatted with by MSN and email.
On this occasion my wife, Deb, accompanied me because we’d been visiting family in Frankfurt the week before so we were both up to speed drinking beer and mumbling a few German phrases. We avoided the ashcloud by chilling on the ICE train down to Munich. At one point we were travelling at 236km/h and it still took several hours to get to Munich which reminded me Germany really is a big country.
We arrived in good time to settle into the Munich Park Hilton Hotel which is one of the better conference hotels I’ve stayed in with the exception of WiFi access which was taking the piss at 18 euros for a 24 hour pass. Internet access is not an optional extra for affiliate marketeers so 18 euros later my mobile office was up and running.
The hotel breakfast offered everything anyone could possibly want for breakfast from a full English breakfast, a bowl of cornflakes or a continental style breakfast.
Having attended all the a4u Expos I’d seen quite a few of the presentations before and some of the rooms were too hot and too overcrowded but the content was generally good and all in English, which surprised me. The European audience wasn’t as quick to jump in on panel discussions as UK audiences so it was up to the moderator and twitter input to keep things moving – which worked well.
The lunchtime food was provided by the Hilton and was the best at any Expo offering something for everybody with a choice of nibbles, a bowl of soup or even a full meal.
I wasn’t very proactive touring the stands in the main hall because I already work with most of the networks which have UK operations and I didn’t want to get into any long boring conversations with German specific networks and merchants I can’t work with at the moment but it was good to touch base with Karel Ellis-Gray who we also met in Barbados. Karel is affiliate marketing manager at belboon-adbutler GmbH who have some UK clients so check them out.
The a4u Munich Parties
The pre-show Ignite Party was held at the Vice Bar which is located just off one of Munich’s main shopping streets where we picked up our conference badges and wristbands before getting stuck into networking, the free bar and some tasty Bavarian nibbles. It was good to catch up with Ray Theakston, who I hadn’t seen since Barbados, and Bruce Clayton who I’d seen a few weeks earlier at a Linkshare event in London and apologies again to Hero for not recognising her straight away, it had been a while and I’m useless with names. The sound level was perfect, plenty of atmosphere and I didn’t wake up with a sore throat or ringing ears.
The Break Out Party on the middle night was held in, what looked like, a barn at the Munich Racecourse which sounds like an unlikely setting for what turned out to be an awesome party – undoubtedly the best a4u evening out ever.
The venue was really well organised with the BBQ outside, delivered with stereotypical German efficiency, no one was left hungry and I discovered, much to my surprise, that I like Sauer Kraut.
There was a raised back-lit music stage with an excellent DJ who really did build the atmosphere with the help of four great dancers and J’Lil who took over from the girls when he got into the groove.
For anyone wanting to chat there was plenty of space and seating away from the action but Deb and I were both enjoying the music and, despite being the oldest clubbers in town, wiggled our hips on the edge of the dance floor while admiring Duncan Popham throwing some classy moves on the dance floor – which I enjoyed a lot more than his click attribution presentation, Hi Duncan!
The After Show Party was held at the 089 bar in Munich (which coincidentally cost €8.90 to get to by taxi) and this evening wins my awkwardly titled “Best evening out from such an unpromising start award“.
We arrived around 9.30pm to a half empty Bavarian style bar which didn’t even sell Hefe Weissen – which is a bit like visiting an English country pub which doesn’t sell real ale as far as I am concerned.
Deb and I sat down with our complimentary drinks on an a4u reserved table on our own with just a sprinkling of a4u attendees mixed in with the locals. Not much happened so we bought a couple more beers and mooched around until Matt arrived and told us the last time he visited this bar it was shoulder to shoulder and a great evening out. Frankly I didn’t believe him and I was ready to leave but Deb persuaded me to give it a bit longer and I’m glad we did. Ray, J’Lil and a few other familiar faces turned up and that got the party started. Matt invited us to join the Existem gang and it got messy, needless to say I didn’t eat breakfast the next day and the flight home was an unwelcome intrusion into my hangover recovery regime.
Deb and I thoroughly enjoyed Munich and I’d like to thank Matt and the Existem team for a great conference and three great a4u parties and for their hospitality. I look forward to a4u Expo Munich June 2011 – I’ve just booked my tickets, why don’t you join me?