Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A School for Ghosts

When I was rooms manager at the Qualicum College Inn, a hotel in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, we would often participate in trade shows. Specifically those for the hospitality industry and the Sales Manager would travel to Vancouver, Seattle or further afield to show off our property, sometimes I would go also.

The Qualicum College Inn was once an English boarding school, built in 1935, where English parents would send their sons to learn to be gentlemen. The building was very dignified and full of character, and even had two mischievous ghosts presumably haunting Room 453 on the fourth floor, although I had never seen them and I had been there for ten years. The ghosts are now famous and their story can be seen on Discovery Channels "Creepy Canada" series. In July 1977, the Inn was the location for an ABC-TV movie starring Myrna Loy, Lynda Day-George, Suzanne Somers, Brian Denehy and Robert Foxworth. The movie entitled, "It happened at Lakewood Manor" or "The Ants" brought nationwide recognition to the property. For three weeks, the Inn was a large movie set with scenes involving bulldozers, helicopters, fire trucks, and ambulances.

It was a unique hotel and had to be presented as something outside of the norm so it was important to get the type of trade show booths we needed and the colour and style of table skirts that would complement our turn of the century property. We had a banner made for these type of shows and we required banner stands of a specific height and width to do justice to our display. Quite a lot of discussion went on at sales meetings before we went to any show because presentation is everything. When you have thousands of visitors milling about you need to draw them to your booth.

There were a lot of terms I had never heard of in regard to trade shows and the necessary equipment. Pipe and drape is one, my first thought was it was some type of pipe band but later learned that this is a term used in the booth making industry which refer to the detailing on the booths that make one stand out more than another. I think we learned the hard way that it pays to get the best, as people who go often to trade shows can tell by looking at your presentation what sort of property you offer.

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