Show Services and Getting it Right

I’ve been in the trade show industry for close to 30 years – back in the days when the Exhibitor manual (show book) arrived in the mail in a large package along with those quaint ID badges. And when you opened it, the 3-ring binder was 120 pages.

This is the industry’s busiest season. All of my project managers are busy completing our client’s showbooks for the next quarter, so I’m on my own, pecking way at the EXHIBITOR showbook for Image 4.

Today, of course, everything that can be web-enabled has been. First of all, it’s cheaper – for the sponsoring organization (no printing and mailing costs) and for the customer (you/your company). It’s also more convenient – I’ve worked on showbooks on-line sitting in airports, sipping at Starbucks, and yes, even at my desk.

So what’s the point of my intro?

Everyone in our company is directly involved in the mega-system that is the trade show industry. We deal every day with precisely what our clients deal with. And, today I have the opportunity to experience first-hand again how complex it is to get to a show!

I could use this as a plug for our show services offering :) (Try us sometime, our project staff is superb!)

But what I want to share is a little of the magic of how we execute a show book when we’re being paid to be perfect – and how we think about a project. Take it as advice from the other side.

First, find a quiet spot with no interruptions. Really. Get a coffee, take a personal break, and settle in for 30 to 60 minutes of high-focus decision-making and execution.

Next, get out a tablet. I write the dates of the show at the top of the page. Why? when you’re making the plane reservation for the 6th remote staff member who cannot fly Monday…you will probably need to remember the dates.

Once I know the dates of the show, I work the take-down and shipment window going OUT of the hall. Why? Because most of our return freight and schedule problems happen on the outgoing side – late crate arrivals, late tear downs, running out of labor on overtime, late truck arrival to the dock, weather-related delays…and ESPECIALLY if you are heading off to another show, this part of the program needs to be water-tight.

As always, check your days in transit. Holidays don’t count. Sometimes, Sunday does not count. This goes for tariff freight on trucks as well as for UPS and FedEx, etc.

Getting the back-end worked out informs me when my sales staff are freed up to either have the closing sales review meeting, make fresh prospect connections, or return to the office for the daily routine. After all, shows are about developing sales!

It’s also the easier side to accomplish, and it gets my head into the HARD side – setting up the show on the front end.

I’ll talk about the front end when I get to it tomorrow.Image

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