Tony Walker, Sales Operations & Business Development Director at Tunstall writes about the first exhibition in China, representing Healthcare UK. Read the first part of his blog series.

As well as being my birthday, Saturday saw the end of the first part of the China Business Mission and we moved from Hangzhou to Shanghai. As this is my first exhibition on Chinese soil it’s difficult to gauge if it was a success, so I thought I would compare it to similar events in the UK as I am more familiar with those.

The UK Healthcare stand did have a strong brand and there was no doubting the British had landed – having the desired effect in attracting visitors to us. There was however a marked difference to the type of attendee from day one to day three. On the first day the event was opened by the Vice Governor of Zhejaing Province which was followed by a morning of presentations by experts and distinguished guests. I attended that morning session in the main hall and it was amazing that the Chinese audience were so attentive through four hours of presentations with no break. On the second day it was interesting to see that the audience had changed from buyers to the majority being service users, so through the exhibition we had a variety of visitors coming to our stand to learn about UK Healthcare.

It was interesting to see from the other stands at the exhibition that the provinces and districts seem to have some ambitious plans to build Health and Wellbeing Villages, which are large retirement villages with all the amenities in one place.

On day three of the event I witnessed a ceremony to award 25 million RMB’s (£2.5 million) worth of contracts to various organisations. I have never witnessed anything like it! In the UK you would usually get a letter saying you have won – however, in Hangzhou 24 contracts were being signed in batches of 8 by each organisation and one government official to the theme music from Star Wars!

Overall it’s fair to say that the event was a success. We have a number of interesting Chinese leads to follow up and also made some strong connections with other exhibitors on the mission which may lead to business in both China and the UK.  My personal highlight of the exhibition was on the first day, where we had the Vice Governor of Zhejaing Province come to visit us at the Tunstall stand, he seemed really interested and positive about the services that we provide.

Saturday morning, we packed up and travelled to Shanghai for the next exhibition using their efficient rail network. Traveling at 190mph through the Chinese countryside is certainly one of the highlights I will take from this trip.

We hope Shanghai will be a bigger event, but we have learnt some worthwhile lessons from Hangzhou and have planned some improvements to our stand, let’s see if they work!