Three flavors of shows…Wait…Why?

What Ice Cream? This is errr...fat free yogurt with fruit, no there wouldn't be 3 scoops in here!

What Ice Cream? This is errr…fat free yogurt with fruit! No there wouldn’t be 3 flavors – scoops in here!

Oh my goodness gypsies it has been a whirlwind trade show and customer event year. The trending element this year seems to be, “we are having our own event” and we are making it as big a deal as possible.

Flavor #1. Trust me, from a business standpoint I completely understand wanting to have targeted audiences and bring in high-level partners and customers. It makes all the sense in the world to drive the right decision-makers into your “encampment”.  This can get extremely costly and bust the budget in one day! Planning as early as you can, doing the odds and ends with your internal teams, and having a great rapport with your venue can help with costs.

Flavor #2 -The industry vertical shows and events, which may be mid-range in numbers; will attract the worker-bees, design teams,  and those planning teams who will develop products over the coming years.  Here is where you can find out how the current industry/markets  are moving and help shape the industry as a whole.  A critical part to the marketing plan and an industry centric venue to garner the right people who are in the development and deployment roles. It is a fight to that leadership role, and everyone can add LEADER to their signage, but the proof is in the pudding. Who wants to see you, and are they willing to come to a show to see your products/services or your CEO? Costs are generally mid-range and keep in mind leads can be varied from C-level executives all the way through to the engineering implementation staff.  This in no way means from high-to-low; but it gives a large range of levels who participates, so you may be engaging with a wide variety of cross-functional teams who can be the ultimate influencers if they are the ones who will be working with your product/service.

Flavor #3 -The elaborate “we are the world” shows, are those that are inclusive of a full-industry, have great visibility, and are the glitz and bling of your show year. Those feather-in-our cap, type of events that prove to the world, my booth is bigger than yours; my speakers are more fun and louder than yours; and yes, our promo item, well what can I say … (car vs tee shirt)! These events accomplish different things for different groups that memorable interaction with a big player who really did give you their real business card. Mid-level companies can shine too by having that key product launch or partnership announcement.  Start-ups in a small booth under the stairs in the dark,  it is all about networking and meeting the mid-level groups and the big guys too. Getting the picture of where you can go as a new company by gathering industry knowledge (the scoop) PUN!. You can always reference, “ we were by ….mongo humongous booth with King Kong! Yes, I am so glad we had a place to get away from that crazy display and chat.” 😉 Wink! Get them out of there they won’t remember you!

So with all of these versions of tradeshows and events, what is a gypsy to do with a less than full coffer! Those gold coins are not worth what they used to be; and the trading is not as fruitful, as costs have gone up for organizers in significant amounts and they are also in the rungs of cost overwhelm. There are still some things to be had with the barter, but I am afraid it is up to cost-cutting and assuring you send the right people at the right level to each event and invite the customers/press/partners you want to see.

For those individual company events, make sure your attendees are the high-level staff plus-one. The plus-one talks tech at a high-level and can determine if the department can buy or sell with this company. Your high-level staff can play in the sand box and talk corporate initiatives that will establish hierarchy and leadership in the industry through visionary discussions and strategic positioning. Sometimes, you are lucky enough to have one individual who can cover both roles, but if possible send both to cover as much of the targeted network at the event as possible. Save money managing travel costs, if they can fly in and fly out with a minimal stay; or for over night stays incorporate customer visits to extend ROI of the trip. Also, take note if your individual company is planning an event to get feedback on how the attended event was; and include what they liked/didn’t like about the venue. Call ahead and ask for a package noting you will have attendees at …..event, and you are going to get feedback from them for a possible hosted event you may be having.  This might even garner your C-Level staff a little VIP treatment or a discount if there is an overnight stay (A+ for tradeshowgypsy!).

The middle-ground tradeshow or event is the kind of work-horse event; in that your field engineers, sales, marketing, and business development teams should be prepared to participate at every level they can get into if they are in attendance. Speaking (keynote if you can), panelist, sales pitch promotions, show floor demos, time with any press/analysts for product marketing. Get them engaged as much as possible and try to watch the dollars in how many people go. Cut costs on any of the services and shipping with early-bird submissions or ask for multi-show discounts where applicable.  Put your best technical foot forward and make your statements clear enough for a 5th grader to know what you do, so people walking the aisles STOP; and do not bypass because your messaging is unclear or there is too much to read in a quick glance.  Make sure your team is not waiting for people to come into the booth to get them; or they portray that demeanor of importance by standing with their cell phone behind the main counter, and are perceived as unapproachable.

Get the team the materials and information they need to support the show and make sure they are out in the aisles and the corners of the booth to bring people in, “Hello” and a welcoming presence gets them into your booth. Help promote your presence at the show through as many mediums as you generally use for a product launch. You are pitching your external presence in a venue that can accommodate many customers/partners/press and analysts. Get people you want to see there with a special invitation from your company, get as many as you can to RSVP (Bribe with gift)…wait…did I type that? I mean offer them a nice promotional item or a conference pass for coming to see your presentation.

Show organizers have many ways to target attendees, but often they are not as fulfilling as companies would like just because organizers are not out in the trenches selling and in the daily interaction with industry and market directions. They have an industry broad knowledge and interest, not a Tradeshowgypsy specific customer network. Keep your eyes open for ways you can use other department money, such as training or certifications and ask for a multi-attendee discount.

Flavor #3 – The FLASHY show! Now these are a blast generally, and I mean that from the sense that everything is going off at once and they are a lot of work! They can be fun too, but generally as a tradeshowgypsy you are more concerned with that hanging sign, the new and improved lighting system that is flashing in all the wrong places, and carpet padding that will hold-up the staff during the entire show. Your VIPs are running amuck as keynoters and high-level press are there and your immediate bosses are on edge and expecting you to provide them with all the comforts of the office in this little fake city that was set up in 3 days! I am here to tell you, BREATH!  No matter you have what it takes, you are a tradeshowgypsy with magic on your side. You have done all the work to get the people you want to see into your booth because you have sent secret by invitation only cards to those key purchasers prior to the show for their (Pitch and Promo) – and everyone else gets the tee-shirt (cool design of course)! Plus your execs are happy because you secured them a private meeting space that allows them to relax in conversation and have catering that is not show floor pizza and internet access (which in a comparative in cost for the entire show, paid for the external meeting room plus individual meal room service catering or restaurant meal!) How much did you spend on that?

These events generally  have some great workshops or certifications; allowing you to take advantage of the HR training budgets and have extra staff on hand covered under a different coin coffer!

Now that we are ¾ of the way through the show season, just know there are more popping up in December than ever before, don’t be surprised with new invitations as they will go to your C-Level staff who will want to attend! We tradeshowgypsies are a creative, tough, and a tenacious lot; and we will not give up or go over budget! We have our ways!

If you are lost in the quagmire of costs or overtaken with managing the sheer numbers of events/shows – there are a number of resources to help.  Check out social media sights, LinkedIn has some good ones, Exhibit – Display companies, groups in various networks. Talk to your fellow gypsies, and of course ask me. If I don’t know, I will ask my network and find an answer! Where there is a will gypsies, there is certainly a way!

Safe travels and remember to pack for variable weather and set your clocks as some are getting ready to Fall Back!

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SHOW BUZZZZZZZZZZZZ….Wait…Why?

Now that is SHOW BUZZ!

Now that is SHOW BUZZ!

I cannot stress enough about the value of creating show buzz! You know that viral little hum that you hear either prior to the show or on the show floor.  You want that buzz to be loud and attract as many attendees as possible. Having this sound also brings in media and higher-level attendees!

What generally happens is this task is left to show organizers. With pleading efforts to exhibitors/speakers/sponsors/media to help spread the word; this often falls on over-worked ears!  However, one way for organizers to help with the request to participants, is to have something ready for them to send out! Short-sweet and to the point. Where, when, why and big news.

As a recipient of the announcement, this should get in the hands of Business Development, PR, Sales Staff, and Newsletter lists.  This is often a one email blast from a marketing member.  The rest of the team should be targeting every one they can get their hands on, at every call, blurb at the end of the email; Come see me at “XYZ show/conference”. This also helps the staff members that may not have time to call everyone to set meetings.  Seeing that someone is going to be at the same event you are often sparks that quick “let’s set up something at the show”, text or email. I’ve seen/had this work numerous times on LinkedIn.

Organizers often do countless blasts, promotion at other events, and media trades to get the word out but often it is the true participants that drive the quality of attendees because they are working with these clients all time and/or know who they want to attend.  Customers, right? Yes, we say/hear it all the time, we want more customers! Great, who are they? I need names…departments and staff change like socks these days and only individuals working directly with these companies know who is wearing a new logo!  So send the organizers lists if you have them, often they will do the leg work and send invites.

Sales/BD teams:  When you are having a difficult time getting to see a client, use a show to meet-up. Find out if they are going if you can and if not get an invitation ready to personalize. Often times companies host a meeting room or have one on the show floor. Find out how they are participating and get on the list to meet with them.  Making that face-to-face introduction is invaluable and can set the stage for a more formal meeting.

Marketing teams: Invite media, your favorite writers/editors to see what you have and meet with them to discuss why it is important. Don’t be shy to go after the big guys, after all you want your business to grow, and take leadership positions. Having articles written/blogs posted/social media activated – you guessed it you smart marketing gypsies…. SHOW BUZZ and an extension of ROI for your shows.

Gypsies get out there…start the hum…! I love that sound!

 

Change It Up!….Wait…Why?

A Few Changes

New Look + New Outlook = Great Outcome!

Making changes is not always easy when you have the exact same setup with graphics, booth, products, and sometimes even staff, who also are quite grumpy about being at “another” show. A few little tricks that can help to give a fresh look are; change your carpet color, buy different flowers (daisies, roses, bird of paradise)…ok, that was Washington, California, and Las Vegas. If you have to wear certain logo wear, change-up the color for the staff if that is an option. Make note of what was worn if your shows stack up back-to-back,  just to make sure everyone is on the same page.

One little tip that I loved, from some gypsies that I have known for many years, was that the marketing and host staff (all women) wore company colors, but bought dress blouses, different tops with just a little bit of “bling” on the collars/neckline for each day. We were at a show in Vegas and this was quite appropriate and a hit! Yes it made a huge difference in attitude for the staff, and gave a more formal dressy look for their booth which showed attention to detail. Lilly, Angel, Nancy, and Tasha- you and your team ROCK!

Visual perception is huge on a show floor and this kind of little element, depicts attention to detail which carries forth for the company image. Having staff that look good and are happy and welcoming will have people stop that may not have stopped. This also will generate a crowd; if people can feel the high-energy from the staff, attendees will feel comfortable enough to stop, and that is how you generate BOOTH BUZZ!

Often staff come in from all over the map, and you have never met them, so you need tricks to keep up with everyone working in the booth. Have a pre-show meeting and make introductions to make sure everyone knows everyone even if you have to take phone photos to remember who is who, VIPs included!

I walked up to several booths this past week and asked for certain people who were at the show, but no one knew what they looked like and had no idea where in the booth they might be working. In one case I had met one of their customers at lunch and was going to introduce them to my contact, but I had to do the badge search because no one knew who the person was or what they looked like and they did not want to leave their post to find them. This customer felt very unimpressed with that process and did not start with a good impression of the customer service on the show floor. He mentioned it to my contact who by the way was the CTO, he was not happy that this had occurred and had the customer point out the uninformed staff. Nothing like an angry VIP on the show floor! EEEEK!

If staff is not engaged and have that look of boredom, or have their phone in hand, their face/body language says, I don’t want to be here and really I don’t want to talk to you either! If they are dressed with the folds right out of the package and looking like a raisin they are unapproachable, they didn’t take the time to prepare and obviously don’t care either. The chances of wanting to stop and even ask about products is very low when seeing that type of attitude on the show floor. What generally happens with this type of presentation? Low traffic, therefore it will be reported, “ that the show sucked” pardon my term, but that is what will be said; when really it had nothing to do with show traffic.

Don’t be duped by your attendees, you want as many people as possible to stop at your booth. Granted you have those that may just want the promo item but that doesn’t mean they won’t talk about you if you are nice and give them the general overview of your products. I have found, though they might not be your technical contact or your client, they like to “talk”, and sometimes they are the voice that a real customer hears at the lunch table and the seed is planted and that is how they get to your booth.

Speaking from experience here, as a sales gypsy, it is often that look of disappointment that comes over the marketing person when I am walking up to sell them another show. Worse yet that condescending look by the sales/tech person that discounts my position (FYI-We are Peers we are both selling a product). Keep in mind that people like me meet people all over the planet in all market segments and media outlets. We have a huge network, and yes, “we like to talk too” and I enjoy making connections for companies that are respectful and professional!

Viral marketing starts with a conversation,  I do believe in giving credit where credit is due, and customer service can make or break a company.

So change things up, get a great look, put out your best representation in not only your booth but your attitudes. Generate show buzz by having the most welcoming staff, and creating that positive vibration that will attract attendees over to you. This will not only make your company memorable but will also set the stage for great ROI from your event.

Changing horses…Wait…why?

Friesian Beauties – (Owner-Kimberly Wright)

There is a commonality that has taken place with organizations and industries and staffing. There seems to be a constant change of staff from the top to the bottom. The whole thing is interesting in that most of the time the staff that they change out usually work for competitors or are industry technologists that have worked for a number of companies that know the industry.  This makes for not only interesting talk on any show floor and a flood of new show shirts; but also gives the indication that if it has not happened to you, you are one of the few, and almost a question of,  why not?

Why are layoffs contagious, are they needed or just wanted? This is just a gypsy observation, in that often changing horses can make a difference on the way the wagon rides, but ultimately it is still the driver that should be in control.  Not that drivers are not changed out too, and that can add additional challenges to the riders in the back trying to keep the cart intact. What happens to the horses when they get bought or traded? Are they fed better and treated better in the other camp and so they are easier to work with and perform better or are they the exact same no matter where they go? So as ponies go, how many times have they been in the auction pen? Sometimes a new horse is needed if the load is heavier but often it is a new driver wants new horses for show. Sometimes those ponies look great but turn your back and they will bite, kick or demolish the cart!

The chosen few whether in work staff or horses, do they make a difference in marketing and branding for a company.  These days I would say yes, as we are such a media-centric society it really has become a popularity contest for companies as well, to say that so and so has been hired away from so and so company makes international news. Is it their accomplishments or their marketing?Well, from on gypsy to another, I am in the driver’s seat, horse, and cart rider only because I am a contract employee with my own small business (for now – you never know what the cards will have in store); but should I ever end up back in the auction pen the horse side or back in the cart; you can bet that I will have my mane done and hoofs manicured and will know all the other horses and drivers; or a major package of industrial strength Velcro to hold things down, I am always prepared!

FYI – the beautiful gypsy horses of choice would be my dear friend – Kimberly Wright’s  Friesian’s

Now Serving! ….wait…Why?

I'll Get Right On That!

When traveling around the globe with a host of equipment, personal luggage, staff coming in from all over the map, tis best to remember the most important kindergarten rule! BE NICE! Treat others as you would want to be treated. This should be a given with adult professionals, right?

When a gypsy clan arrives near a city, often they are cast off as non-citizens. Well, sometimes there is service-staff that support the trade-show-gypsies that can be treated less than.  This is unacceptable! The vendors that support the shows are travelling all over the map in many cases and are just as worn out as the show manager or sales staff sent to take care of the exhibit booth. Having a title of C-P-VP-D-M- or just a TG makes no difference; we are all working professionals in our respective trades.

Traveling internationally the main rule is to be especially respectful of the country you are in; and if you do not speak the language YOU are a visitor and need to be grateful if the trade show support company can accommodate you with a representative that speaks your language. Hence you are in another clan’s camp; do not act like YOUR clan’s fool!

With this in mind, there have been many incidents that I have seen an agent at the service desk ripped to shreds by an individual that “thinks” they are above all the rules and certainly above the staff that are supporting the show. Now, let’s see…Individual A did not get their shipment out in time and they are screaming at the service staff about, whose incompetence? HUMMM…the service agent is very anxious to work with this person, especially with other more amenable customers in line.

Most trade-show-gypsies know that you are professional and nice to the staff that is supporting you at the show if you want to get what you need done. It is human nature to be more responsive to someone who treats you with respect. The service teams are an extremely hard-traveling clan of gypsies and often do not get thanked near enough for everything that goes right. In many cases they have very little control over many of the issues that come across the desk. The service agents work more as liaisons between shippers, exhibitors, I&D outsourced companies, and even some of the more specific show services (AV/Photography/Catering/Floral). They go by the orders in the computer and if there is a discrepancy it is up to the exhibitor to provide copies of the documentation to get the order corrected or changed. The service staff work very long hours and the thing to remember is everything that is done at a show is temporary; meaning it has to travel and be set-up and taken down and travel again, so many things that can wrong, just think about moving your office!

There are some conference/trade show service companies that are extremely large, and if you are in this industry you know who they are; the staff and agents from these large organizations are put under significant stress to support in some cases thousands of exhibitors not to mention all the union teams, and ancillary service groups. They are an on-site functional team and can be exceptionally helpful in getting logistics and services coordinated, they will help you work with the various union groups on the floor; have items sent to the booth, and assist with paperwork. The service agents have a really tough gig!

Certainly, I have had my own experiences that were not favorable, but keeping in mind the above statements it does make more sense when you reconsider the situations. I have also had very good luck in getting things sorted out and resolutions completed; albeit a bit time-consuming.

I do have a favorite CA-based company that supports mid-level shows! They are outstanding! Ping me if you need a great show service company I will be more than happy to refer them! (No! No gold coins go across the palm for my recommendations)

Can you say CHAA CHING? …wait Why?

FEED ME!

The magic wand does not set up the booth or manage the budget! I know this is a long post – but the adventure has some great pointers and can HELP you keep from being kicked out of the Clan! (aka your company)!

Building a booth can be quite interesting and intense when it is a large booth with 20-30 crates worth of structure. With a mass of architectural drawings and labor that is spinning them around trying to figure out what direction they should go; a show manager can be extremely overwhelmed and the price of building your booth can more than triple in estimated costs! Having your exhibit house/booth vendor/I&D team on-site at least the first time to train the manager on the booth build, is extremely important. (Taking notes/pictures/video of the booth being built is critical.)  Even smaller intricate booths can be a challenge as discussed in earlier post!

With that said, I arrived at my hotel a couple of days early to take in the sites of the city and enjoy the great extended weekend show rate.  I was attending a large mil/defense show and ran into a friend that had been “promoted” and was managing his first show. He was so excited about how great it was going to be. Once again wrong chair and wrong time; or right chair at right time; it truly is all a mystery how show gypsies are selected. He said he had not been to the show floor yet, but was excited because they had a 50 X 100 space with equipment. He was enthusiastic about the whole thing and asked me if I had time to go check it out. I didn’t have an exhibitor badge so we worked our magic and got one for me…there are ways!

When we arrived at the booth, there it was, a huge truck with the tires way taller than I am, not difficult I am 5’ 3”; but for a tire, that is a BIG vehicle. Unaware of what I was looking at other than a big truck; I noticed the color in his face drain when I asked, “Where is the booth freight?”  All the crates were stacked behind the vehicle with no access to the front half of the space where the booth was to be built.

With reassurance and deep breaths I escorted him on a trip to the service desk. Requesting fork-lift help he got the entire 28 crates moved after 2 ½ hours of everyone waiting, (Cha…Ching!) As they began to build the booth I asked him how many labor staff he had hired, he had no idea he just knew they had a cool booth and it really didn’t matter, right? (CHAAAAACCCCHING!) I also asked him where his exhibit vendor was, he said they didn’t need them, the booth crates had the plans and it was up to labor to figure it out!  I almost couldn’t watch as I knew no one had trained him in his new role as show manager and he was really going to catch it when he got back to his group with the bill. Trying to tread lightly I asked him if he knew his budget and was that a part of his responsibility? He said, oh yeah, I am on a strict budget this is a major part of this position!

My instincts couldn’t take it and told me to ask if he would like some advice, as it was paining me to know what was going to happen (flogging or banishment!). He said, I am sure I have it covered, but sure if it will give you something to do, ha!ha!, it was after all, a big booth.

When I told him he had probably blown his budget already and there was more bad news to come, he looked completely ill. We rounded up his labor manager and asked him exactly how many staff were going to work at the booth full-time; and an approximate number of hours. I also told the labor manager that we were going to be helping give direction as there seemed to be a bit of confusion with the drawings; I asked to see the pictures of the set-up booth; he said none were sent. My buddy said, he saw it but didn’t remember everything…hum time to call the exhibit house. Voila, a local office could send someone over right away for a negotiated amount with pictures etc.  This effort alone saved money because labor was able to get the crates unpacked in the correct order and the booth pictures were clear and in sections; direction went much better saving time, over-time, money, and sanity!

While booth-build labor (show I&D) was on lunch break we sat down and went over all of his orders and made sure everything had been accounted for, and that the orders were received by the service company.  Once a few corrections and alterations were made, we determined he was way over budget because of several late receipts of freight at the show, incomplete orders, and extra labor charges already incurred. This did not even include end of show pack-up and outbound freight, and all the issues that can still eat up more $$$$$.

After lunch we were able to let 2 of the labor staff go and jump in with the little things ourselves (cleaning; putting literature racks together, small things (time-eaters)). I had him call a staff member to go out and buy a vacuum and cleaning supplies for the week. This is not ideal, as usually those things can be negotiated if you have a large of a booth.  The EXHIBIT house/I&D company setting-up know what the details are and do them. In this case we were scrimping!

Once the booth was built, there was another issue, the TRUCK was parked behind the booth, and due to the nature of the booth design it made it look as though someone had abandoned the truck outside the booth!  The correction took getting the show organizers, service-company, and an extremely careful operator to reposition the thing and meet all the safety/fire rules. Just keep adding in more UNION labor time! (OOOCCCH …CHA CHING!)

With the day at an end at midnight, I am afraid my guy looked like he had been hit with a baseball bat. He felt embarrassed that things had gone so wrong after what he thought was all done beforehand.  I consoled him and let him know that often we are a bit neglected as gypsies and that training is rarely an option and even still all the planning in the world cannot stop every issue.  You have to be like the willow, as the wind comes you bend or change directions you don’t break! I really did use that analogy. 😉

The next morning I met up with him at 7:00 am in the lobby and asked him if he thought he had a handle on it as this was the last day of building. He said, yes I am going to go through my notes and make sure it all happens, I CAN DO THIS!  I am the WILLOW!

I went about my day and did not set my foot back into the show hall until show day. I went to his booth and he was completely in charge, giving direction and making sure someone else in the booth got vacuum duty every morning of the show! I wanted to burst with pride in my new gypsy in charge!

We met for breakfast the last day of the show, I told him to get ready as everything we did to come in, he now had to do in reverse, and I gave him some pointers of the pitfalls that can happen during tear-down. While we were walking over to the show hall, he called his exhibit vendor and asked them to send the same person over for tear-down and to prepare for a long-night.  I asked him to call me and let me know how he did on his budget when it was all said and done, as there may be areas that could be renegotiated. I also instructed him not to sign off on the bill without questioning the “late” shipping on ALL the crates; and other charges that may have appeared he did not understand or order.  If the service agents at the desk did not have an answer, I advised, with a pen that can go through several copies, press hard; CIRCLE the costs in question and note – not in agreement – need to discuss and then sign. GET A COPY and keep it with you until you hit the office. Negotiate immediately while the show is fresh. Service-agents are dealing with so much it is incredible, and they are incredible in multi-tasking for hundreds of people in many cases! So asking questions is not out-of-line.

Let’s just say he was on the phone quite a bit, and was still over budget but not nearly as much as he would have been had he just let “things” happen. We are great friends and he has since moved out of the show gypsy area and is now a marketing manager, but has a strong appreciation for shows and all it takes to put them together.

Going to workshops etc., to learn about being an exhibitor or show manager is certainly a luxury so fight for it if you can! There is also the issue of organizational nuances that only your boss will point out that are done incorrectly if you do not know what to look for; so ask questions, as many as possible if you are in the chair and someone says, “you, you get shows”!

I hope this helps the gypsies out there with their show and meeting demands and gives an idea of the issues that can occur and trample your budget! There are fantastic exhibit/I&D companies that can manage all of this for organizations; but it has been my experience that with the economic pressures of late, companies feel this is something that can be managed internally or is unnecessary. Certainly gypsies can do anything! But not efficiently without training, as the costs can add up faster than a Vegas slot machine called FEED ME!

Ok, questions anyone? 🙂

Has anyone seen Cujo?…wait…Why?

Anyone seen Cujo or Godzilla?

Why me you ask?

I am in good humor and figure I am all set to go and the rug gets pulled out from under me. Literally, the booth carpet is not at the booth. So I make my way to the service desk only about a 30 minute walk dodging freight and forklifts!

My customer service rep is a bit out of sorts yelling into a radio, and she is multi-tasking, writing me notes to tell me, that the copy of my handwritten order does not have a receipt stamp on it and therefore, I have to reorder it on the show floor! Not good! With a cringe at how much I am paying for padding and carpet to survive the concrete floor for the next 5 days I am losing my good mood. With the grumble of the customer service rep she manages, “if we find the order” we will reimburse you.

In my mind I am thinking, just breath, don’t want to start the show on a bad note,
I will sort it out before tear-down.

As I walk up to the booth, 2 labor guys are waiting for me as the show hall is over ½ a mile from booth to service desk, they have a cart and a radio.  The guys are both well over 6’ and there are 2 – there you have it, rolls sitting waiting to be laid with just a little signature.

I set myself up and get comfortable to await the carpet installation, I perch myself on a crate. All is well and back on schedule.

As the guy kicks the roll to unfurl the carpet – there it is!!!! An R.O.U.S.! (Princess Bride Term for Rodent of Unusual Size)!

He is not happy and fluffed from being rolled around; stunned and unable to run I swear the thing was hissing and fluffed like a cat, and about the same size. He was a RAT not a mouse a RAT!

Where are my big burly labor guys? Up on the crate with me; we are all three standing on a crate that should not have anyone standing on it, trying to hold our balance, in hopes the thing doesn’t cave in!

We are all silent after the initial screams (yes all of us), holding our breath until the thing shakes it off and casually wanders off down the middle of the aisle. Self-satisfied of ruling over the humans, he casually saunters off, all the while setting off booth after booth of staff onto chairs, crates, or just flat-out running or trying to hide behind each other. It looked like Godzilla had hit the show floor!

I had the creeps the whole show, and was so hesitant to open any of the booth doors for fear of Cujo of the Rat world would be jumping out!

As the gypsy goes – I would have needed a lion to take that sucker out, a TSG-cat would have been eaten!