Thursday was press day and I was keen to find some strong new ideas and angles on stories as I had in previous years. Stories that I would go on to sell to my editors and, in turn, help to promote the superb array of Great British tourism activities on offer in this country.
On Thursday afternoon at the near-deserted press room I collected the press pack, including a news release that quotes Sandie Dawe, Deputy Chief Executive of Visit Britain thus: "Best of Britain & Ireland ... could be a real tipping point for British tourism."
A real tipping point? Walking round the exhibition, the sound of tumbleweed blowing by my feet, it felt like British tourism had already tipped off and given up.
The problems for a freelance writer like me? Attendance was very low; hardly any press officers from regional tourist boards on their respective stands (those who did turn up all seemed to leave early); nobody had any fresh ideas; no creative vision; and no attempt to capitalise on the golden opportunity that this year presents given the currency situation in the Eurozone.
Visit Britain themselves are keen to talk up the idea that 5m extra Brits are considering taking a holiday at home this year. But, after this woeful experience, I'm more inclined to bin a UK break in favour of a cheap package deal in Turkey, Egypt or Croatia - three places where our pounds still has some purchasing power. That would also trump Britain on the weather and cost issue too.
I would have come away totally empty handed were it not for Visit Wales, whose professional press officer met at the stand, discussed story ideas and helped with contacts to arrange forthcoming projects. I came away with two concrete story ideas to progress and several more to ponder. Isn't that the whole point of a press day?
But where the hell was everyone else? Experience Nottinghamshire didn't show up at all, opting instead to exhibit at the Outdoors Show at Birmingham's NEC. Did they know something I didn't? Is it simply all over for this event as a launching pad for the UK media to report on domestic tourism?
The Maison de la France do this kind of thing rather well with their France Meets the Media events. So why can't Visit Britain with all the resources at its disposal?
If I attend next year - and that's a big if right now - then here's what I expect from it:
* Well-briefed press officers on stands to deal with journalist enquiries and promote their region
* A brief ideas document on each regional stand outlining new events, projects, hooks, angles to help writers formulate must-commission proposals
* Some kind of evening networking event with media and regional tourism PRs, plus people from Visit Britain, Wales, Ireland, Scotland to set the proactive and collaborative tone for the daytime talking shop.
I'm not getting ideas above my station here. I know that I'm just one of hundreds of active freelancers but, if I feel bitterly disappointed about my experience, how many other writers feel the same?
If anyone would actually like to respond, then please leave your comments below or email me direct (find contacts at my website www.atkinsondavid.co.uk).
We'll be discussing what went wrong as part of my regular travel slot on the Duncan Barkes programme on City Talk this week. On air Friday morning from 10.15am.
Over to you.