What we got up to in half term!

Here at WO4 HQ we enjoyed some great family days out this ½ term!

See below for our trip to Brighton Pier but first our long awaited trip to LEGOLAND Windsor……..

LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort has over 55 interactive rides and attractions and costs £33 for an adult ticket if you buy online.  For more see the website www.legoland.co.uk.

The excitement in the car was almost overwhelming as we approached to be welcomed by giant Lego people. It was a cold day so we had big coats and we were hopeful (as it was an inset day for us but not the surrounding counties) we would avoid too many queues.

The staff are great, very welcoming and friendly and we were through verLego Star Warsy quickly.  The views are lovely as you enter but there wasn’t time to admire Windsor castle as Lego Star Wars was upon us. We had great fun within with great characters, models and sound effects and George’s day was already made. We then walked down to the fabulous Viking’s River Splash experience which was really fun and as it was so cold, I was very relieved that we didn’t get wet!

Then we headed to the famous Dragon ride, via a great adventure playground – Pirate’s Training Camp!  At Dragon we queued for a while, it was a very popular ride and the cold did start to bite. I saw repeat visitors sensibly dressed in hats, gloves and scarves and with supplies to keep them going but the queue moved fairly fast and we were mostly inside. One problem on this ride was that I couldn’t travel with both children and it wLEGOLAND Dragonas suggested I left my 4 yr. old with staff and then went on with her afterwards. She would have freaked out watching George and I disappearing into the tunnel so if you are visiting with fewer adults than small children that’s worth checking 1st. We would have been gutted after such a long wait to have had to walk away but luckily we paired up with a couple and a lone child. The ride is fantastic – so so worth it – we could have spent all day on it.

Then we queued a long time for another little ride, the rain started to come down and here not having the Q-bot was irritating. I had wanted to experience the day without spending extra to ‘Queue Jump’ – especially as we weren’t there on a very busy day. The kids found the people ‘pushing in’ frustrating and annoying and didn’t really understand however. Then hunger really set in so we ended up queuing again in the rain for hot dogs and then eating them in the rain and the day did start to get a little challenging for my youngest.

Fuller tummies helped though and we set off again to MiniLand which was lovely. By early afternoon however we were starting to get cold and tired but there so much we hadn’t visited, so much to explore. Majority rule won and we headed back to the car.  I was probably most disappointed to be leaving but at least we had a great excuse to come back! There is of course a valid reason why LegoLand is not open in the winter but interestingly as the weather drove people away, those who were prepared, were loving the shorter queues and dwindling crowds.

In summary it’s a fantastic family day out. My tops tips would be

  • Take snacks and provisions – to alleviate boredom in queues and meaning you don’t have to waste valuable ride time foraging!
  • Dress suitably – if it’s a cold day wear as many clothes as you can and don’t forget gloves
  • Do get there as early as you can – there’s so much to do in one day
  • Do expect to queue, as with all similar attractions and even with the Q Bot I would imagine on a busy day there’ll be waiting times
  • Do plan your visit. Don’t waste time trying to decide where to head for 1st plan when you are there or having to back-track to see attractions you missed. LEGOLAND is very large – make the most of the day by planning in advance and talking to kids about what they want do to before they get too overexcited to make any sense!
  • And finally Enjoy! We can’t wait to go back!

Brighton Pier

The iconic Brighton Pier cannot be missed as you drive along the sea front with its attractions, lighBrighton Pierts, sounds and smells. I had been going since I was a child and looking forward to taking my children back. Parking on the sea front is now incredibly expensive so if you can park in town and walk down or use public transport. Buses run along the King’s road all the time.

The Pier offers a lovely experience at no cost if you are a stronger parent than I (!) You can walk right to the end, use the deck chairs for free and enjoy a picnic overlooking the beautiful sea, the city, Brighton Marina and new attraction, The Brighton Wheel! With the cry of the seagulls and the smell of chips, donuts and candy floss along with the ‘holiday’ atmosphere it was really enjoyable. Some of the rides were closed due to the time of year unfortunately but we still enjoyed the Helter Skelter and Carousel which both offer good value for money and were great fun although I think I was more scared than the kids on the Helter Skelter!

The arcades offer a noisy, bright and very stimulating and where we lost of 2ps and 10ps in the machines but it was all good fun.  A really lovely way to while away a gloomy October weekend.

For more on the Pier see here – www.brightonpier.co.uk

 

Officreche to the rescue!

Officrèche offers 2 hours free flexible childcare to help in hectic run up to BabyExpo

Elizabeth, the director of Officrèche (Stand 126, Innovation Alley), knows only too well how tricky it is to juggle marketing a business and little ones – she has a 1 month old son and a 2 year old daughter.

So take advantage of her empathy and 2 hours of free flexible childcare at their premises right by Brighton station. All you need to do to qualify is to ring 01273 434244 and arrange to pop in to meet their staff in the fantastic environment. You can stay onsite and use the office space while your child plays downstairs – or  the 2 hours can also be used to run errands in the outside world but you must do another settle of your child before going offsite.

The normal pay as you go rates are £10/hr for fleixble childcare and office space, £7/hr for flexible childcare – better rates if you buy a subscription! All bookable online, £20 website membership fee waived for November.

Suzanne Borrell - BabyExpo Director adds – Ruby and I are having our 2 hours on Wed! We’ll let you know how we go – I am going to work onsite – just hope Ruby doesn’t wreck the place. If so I may leave her there! Just kidding!

 

Improving your child’s chances of success in Maths by making it FUN!

Stephanie Cracknell – Improving your child’s chances of success in Maths by making it FUN!

Maths has been in the news a lot recently. Just on the BBC website, there are stories on schools and universities dumbing down maths, Carol Voderman reporting on how to improve maths teaching in schools and last month a report saying ‘sums tables not needed for maths success in primary schools’:

At Mathemagical parent and toddler classes we want to give children the best possible start in what is perceived as one of the most difficult subjects at school. The first thing that children learn is that maths is fun! We want our children to go to school knowing and believing that maths is just as fun and exciting as music and singing, dance, drama, gymnastics, arts and crafts. They are exposed to a superb range of mathematical toys, resources and games. One minute they’re wearing frog masks and singing ‘5 little speckled frogs’ jumping into the pond, the next they’re running from one side of the hall to other counting out loud as they run. They work in small teams on the floor to solve a puzzle together then jump up and run around together sorting different sized balls into hoops. There’s 20 minutes of free-play where children choose which mathematical toys they want to play with and finally finish with our ‘count-down’ by pretending to be rockets and running madly around the room (and that’s just one lesson)! Each half-term covers a different theme: Sorting and Ordering, 2-D Shapes, Measures, Addition, 3-D shapes and Subtraction and in every lesson not only do we practise out counting, but we teach children what those numbers actually mean.

We’re really excited to be at the Brighton Baby Expo for the first time. Come and visit us at stand 241.

Watch out short video and get more information at www.mathemagical.co.uk

 

Exhibition virgin? Then read on……

Exhibition Virgins?

See below for our top tips !…

Why exhibitions and Baby Shows particularly?

No other medium can offer you face-to-face contact with such large numbers of potential customers. In a short space of time you can create high impact visibility with the opportunity to demonstrate your products and services directly to numerous consumer demographics. This, in turn, creates the potential and ability to convert demonstrations to sales, on the spot. Make sure you are making it easy for the customer however, easy ways to pay, bags and free gifts/on the day discounts can turn the exhibition tourist into a new client.

Pre and post-show promotion should also be part of the baby show package however, meaning that you start to benefit from exposure to your potential clients as soon as you sign up.

90% of visitors to exhibitions attend to purchase, research a purchase, or find a solution to a problem.

For new-to-market or internet-based companies exhibitions and baby shows offer a fantastic, unique and vital opportunity to meet with your potential clients and gauge public reaction to your product or services.

How to select an event to invest in?

Ensure there is synergy between the event target audience and your target market/customer base.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the organisers.  How long have they been in the exhibition/event business?  What is their experience/background? How many events are in their portfolio? How successful have previous baby shows or events been?

Press and PR – ask to see the event advertising/press and pr schedule. All good exhibition organisers will have their media plans drawn up many months in advance both in terms of exhibitor promotion and visitor promotion and be able to forward this to you.

Pre/post show Promotion – ask how your company will be promoted before and after the event.

Feedback – has their previous client feedback been positive – from both exhibitors and visitors? Speak to previous exhibitors if necessary.

Venue – is the venue well known and central? How will the event be publicised on the day? Is there lots of parking and good public transport links? Are there cash machines onsite or close by?  Is the venue located in close proximity to your target market base or easily accessible to them?

Fellow exhibitors – Do the organisers have a policy on how many companies from your sector would be permitted to attend ?

How to select your pitch?

Look carefully at the floorplan – the exits and entrances, toilets, catering etc. Try to position yourself close to where your target customers will be headed for ie – by the breast feeding areas if you sell nursing clothes, near the playzones if you sell toys etc. Liaise closely with the organiser regarding neighbouring stands to ensure you are not close to any rival companies (unless you want to be!) Corners and island sites are usually the most popular but some organisers will charge more for them.

Space only or Shell scheme?  Shell scheme is more expensive but means upon arrival you just have to position your graphics and stock, everything else should be provided. Shell is uniform, all stands will look similar and should look very professional. For the ‘space only’ option you will be responsible for bringing your own display banners/units etc and your area will be marked out on the exhibition floor for you when you arrive. You will not usually have a name board/stand number sign with space only options so check and otherwise bring your own.

If bringing your own stand, pop up or display units DO practice before and ensure you know how to get the kit assembled swiftly and efficiently! You do not want the event doors opening as you realise you are missing a vital component or you have no idea how to get bolt A to opening B!

How much space? Consider what your objectives are for the day and what you are selling / promoting. If you are unsure it is a good idea to measure out the footprint of your stand pre-show at your work premises or home. Stand in that area, preferably along with your stock/product/information and ensure you have enough space and that it will work for you. You want to entice customers in so very large pieces or furniture/display cases at the very front should be avoided. At Babyshows you have to be especially aware of buggies and the space they can take up.

Pre-show publicity

If your budget allows it is well worth taking advantage of pre-show publicity to really raise your awareness over that of your competitors in advance of the event. On the day extra publicity and exposure – ie advertising on plasma screens and in show guide is also very worthwhile.

What to do on the day/the night before

Do give yourself enough time, make sure you know your route and allow for any delays/ traffic chaos. Being late is not only very stressful for you but for health and safety reasons, some organisers will not allow you to set up your stand once the show is open.

Pack carefully to ensure all that you need to start to set up your stand is stored at the top. By leaving yourself plenty of time you will be able to ensure all your stock/information is displayed to its best advantage and that you are looking fantastic and not frazzled.

Hopefully the baby show will be very busy and you will not have time/cover to leave the stand therefore ensure you have snacks / water to keep you going. Many caterers will do ‘stand drops’ or come round with food on the day meaning you can avoid leaving your post (apart from loo breaks!)

Remember why you are there – maximise the opportunity and target every visitor who passes your stand. Really impress just 10 mums on the day and you can bet that 100 will know about your product or service in a weeks time. The Yummy Mummy network is a very powerful one, mums spend much time in social intercourse be it face-to-face or via social networking sites and are always seeking personal recommendations/advice/inspiration – we know this to be true ;-)

Smile, smile, smile – there is nothing more off-putting than a stand holder who looks thoroughly p*ssed off or bored. Try and smile at everyone, be prepared to hand out your information to all – not just those who actively approach the stand and don’t get dejected if some people say no or are unresponsive.

Capture potential clients! Consider a prize draw, newsletter, product giveaway or competition to capture the data of the baby show visitors to your stand. Even if they don’t want your product now – they could be converted to customers in the future. Don’t however present people with a giant questionnaire – recording a name and email address is enough for you to carry out a very effective follow-up campaign post-show.

If you do not make the cost of your stand back on the day don’t automatically assume the event has been a failure or a waste of your time/money. Raising your profile and generating awareness is of enormous value – make sure that your website is up and running, that the web address is very obvious on your publicity and that you have enough stock to meet potential demand after the event.

Finally……

  • Make the very best of the opportunity and your investment
  • Network and make connections with the other exhibitors
  • Exhibiting can be are very tiring but also very exhilarating so try and have fun
  • Be thorough with your follow up
  • DON’T arrive with a hangover!
  • DO wear sensible shoes !

Sponsoring and exhibiting at Baby Expo Brighton has given our business an incredible boost – we took record takings on the day and the enquiries and resultant after-sales have been phenomenal. One customer said she had seen us on the BBE website and so came along to try the product in person. As an internet-only business this sort of opportunity is worth gold to us! We will definitely be signing up for the next one, and the professional organisation, extensive press coverage and smooth running of the day make this a very easy decision! ‘Mummy Looks Fab’