Friday, 25 June 2010

Regent Street goes Girl Geek!

The recent Regent Street London Girl Geek shopping fest was a big success - many thanks to Judith Lewis and the other organisers and businesses involved.

Swarovski CRYSTALLIZED kindly provided a base for the GG in their upstairs lounge, where registration took place and participants were given their various shop discount vouchers. They also hosted a prize draw at 5.30 pm for those who'd managed to stay the course - not including feeble me.

The day was full of goodie goodness - the photo below is of my own haul. There weren't that many geeky goodies actually, apart from talks at Apple, demos at Bose, and a USB stick from Swarovski CRYSTALLIZED. There was a QR code hunt for those with iPhones or other QR code supporting smartphones. But having heard from others more diligent than me that scanning in the codes just led to the start of an even longer process, I wimpily didn't participate in that aspect, and confess I focused more on going round the shops than tweeting or snapping photos!

Nothing is pictured from tucked away little gem of a restaurant Tibit, but this vegetarian restaurant deserves an early mention because they very generously provided a free buffet lunch worth up to £15 to the first 50 Girl Geeks & hangers on to turn up there, including fresh fruit juice, soft drink or wine and even dessert (if you could squeeze it onto your plate). I could, quelle surprise… See my separate Tibits vegetarian restaurant review, I'm definitely going to be eating there again.

Dessert (or rather more dessert) for me was delicious ice cream from Freggo - now that's what I call ice cream, and you can take my word for it, I'm an ice cream connoisseur, I even prefer it to chocolate, so I would know! They offered Girl Geeks 2 huge scoops, each one tub-sized, and I had a truly wicked dulce leche with banana split, so rich a treat I couldn't finish 2 whole scoops. Again, I'll be back. This is the real stuff.

The schedule officially started at 11 am with a presentation at the Apple Store, who made their presentation area available for talks by Jess Greenwood of Contagious and Vikki Chowney of Reputation Online on "The Internet of Things: Digital Cows and the ways in which online behaviours are influencing the real world".

The presentation was a canter through all sorts of things from The Newspaper Club (DIY newspapers) and RFID tagging of cows in Ohio, to stickybits ("A fun and social way to attach digital content to real world objects", the site says) used by Pepsi in their "official bits", pointinside "indoor smart maps" for people to peek inside stores on their iPhones, Apple's Square mobile payment system, the spread of the "points ecology" from gaming to weight watchers, and Ford's digital dashboard where a virtual plant grows more the more green your driving (see Wired's article and photo on this - from 2008!). They used the cool Prezi presentation software, there's a limited free version available.

Other freebies, all pictured above except the discounted shirts, included:

  1. an interesting 15 minute demo in Bose's special little theatre room, of their elegant compact home system (starting price £2500). Bose also gave away a shoulder bag with silver document case and Bose mug - apparently there was a Bose T shirt too but there wasn't one in my pack, I guess they ran out!
  2. a lovely mug with monogrammed initial from Anthropologie, who offered a choice of large, small or two-layer design mugs to Girl Geeks - dishwasher and microwave safe too!
  3. a glass of champagne, a pair of cufflinks and 20% off their shirts for the day from Hawes & Curtis - a great deal, with 3 decent office-suitable shirts at £70 which after the special discount ended up costing just £50 odd for the 3!
  4. a twinkly crystal 2GB USB stick from Swarovski CRYSTALLIZED, pictured below, plus a membership card for their "Be Unlimited All Access Artistic Club". Whatever that is…

  5. an organic chocolate bar and (I skipped this) a hand massage from The Organic Pharmacy
  6. a chocolate strawberry and 2 other chocs of your choice from Godiva
  7. skincare and bodywash samples from Ren at Liberty's - apparently there was a Girl Geek stampede for those in the morning!
  8. a Crazee Cube game from a pirate standing outside Hamleys. I'd have taken his photo but he took mine first.
  9. a Regent Street shopping booklet and VIP privilege shopping card for 1 year of discounts (mostly 10%) at several Regent Street shops (see scanned list below), even many which didn't offer vouchers for the day, including Aquascutum, Austin Reed & Country Casuals, Bose (5% only), Clarks, Habitat, Hawes & Curtis, Hobbs, Jaeger, Mappin & Webb, Molton Brown, Uniqlo, Viyella, even pan Asian restaurant Cocoon (though sadly not Tibits), Toni & Guy and karaoke at Lucky Voice (not just the online version, on which see my Lucky Voice review!). Click the pic below for a more readable enlarged version.

There's a Regent Street walking tour app you can get from Apple's online store too, if you have an iPhone.

Sadly alcohol makes me feel ill, I feel the cold very easily, perfume makes me sneeze and my nail polish colour of choice is bright red. So I donated to other Girl Geeks my vouchers for cocktails at Hilton's Courthouse Hotel Doubletree and the National Geographic (with its freezing chamber which I wasn't going to go anywhere near), green and gray nail polish from The Beauty Lounge, and scent libraries from Penhaligon's (apparently it wasn't just a "library", they gave away free perfume too).

Putting on this event was a very clever marketing move by the Regent Street Association. The freebies they gave out probably cost them much less than an advertising campaign, and the participating businesses got some 50 or 60 people through the door who in some cases might otherwise not even have known about them (I'd not seen, let alone been to, many of those stores before, myself).

The only small issue perhaps was that limiting the goodies to the first 50 people only (in most cases) meant that people were tending to race around trying to pick up their freebies before the stores ran out. If the goal was to get people to spend some time in the stores, not just run in and out again, it would have been far better to limit the registrations for the event to 50. That would have ensured all participants were confident that they would get their Girl Geek goodies (except in the case of 1 store which only offered 30 items), so they could feel comfortable taking their time browsing and hopefully buying more stuff in the participating stores.

And also, in the afternoon I was wishing someone had provided a voucher for a coffee!

It was a novel idea, very well planned and executed, and I think the day worked out excellently for all involved. I've always preferred Regent Street to Oxford Street, and the day very much confirmed me in my view.

Thanks again to Judith and the other Girl Geek organisers, and of course the Regent Street Association and participating businesses. (The Regent Street Online site search function is broken though, use Google, add a space then your search term(s) at the end of what's in the search box on this page).

I'm definitely looking forward to next year's event.

If you missed out, join the London Girl Geek mailing list or subscribe to the feed to keep up with future events. Guys are allowed, but only if accompanied by a responsible Girl Geek!

There are Girl Geek events in other parts of the UK and indeed the world too.

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