Making “it” Happen…wait…What?

Now where is that “It”?

High-season for gypsy managers can cause run-away mania! Yes shows can pile up so fast and come back-to-back and right on top of each other. For a gypsy show manager it is an incredible amount of work trying to juggle all the pieces that are a part of shows.

List number one for show #1 that happens the same week as show #2 that actually starts a day earlier – set-up on the weekend, VIPs attending Show #2 and in comes Show #3 that product management team golden cannot live without. Let’s see graphics that are going to Show #2 are now requested for Show#3, and the staff as well. In reality show staff #2 would do better at Show #3 but with VIPs going to Show #2 they will want to be at that show.  With this late addition where are the demos going, and are there enough literature, promo items, and booth equipment? Let’s see answer to that … make it happen!

With all of the pressures of shows in general and the unexpected addition of a new show to the schedule; show manager gypsies want to jump in the wagon and head for the nearest watering hole!

Make it happen, ok time to divvy up the resources and not give too many choices, firm-flexibility…hugh?  Lists go out the window with all the changes taking place, but rearranging is the one way to make “it” happen. Very few times can a gypsy keep things set in stone – this detail oriented position requires the creative thinking skills of a sand sculptor! Just as you place one thing in place all it takes is a little rumble to shift things around. Making decisions is a critical part of this position – sticking with them as long as they make sense; but also making sure that if the sands shift, the whole thing doesn’t fall apart. Make a plan but have options in that magic bag, you will need them!

Often there are those staff members that will have that knee-jerk reaction to anything they perceive to be a “disaster”, let them know you are managing the show and be strong enough to deal with crisis by knowing that as long as no one is bleeding or worse – crisis is all relative and can be worked through. Having the ability to have a quick solution or option readily available will squelch any panic or bad decision; that you as head gypsy show manager in charge will have to answer for later. Make sure to have asked for help on the show floor – don’t do it all alone, but give clear communication and assure your delegate knows the responsibility they are taking on, as the show report will recognize them as a contributor to the success of the event.

With companies working so lean these days show managers are often a one person staff with access to resources or external vendors.  Although in many cases external vendors are being limited or eliminated. Having general graphics that can be used at multiple shows with the addition of demo’s for specific product lines is helpful if there is an addition to the show schedule. Sharing the resources by asking staff managers to delegate gets the show manager out of the middle of the “visibility” issue when VIPs are involved. The large issue is product/marketing materials – the catch 22 of product made for the customer or for marketing use.  Many organizations follow protocol to have marketing pieces developed and delivered to marketing but sometimes there is only one piece to be shared; so making sure to work with engineering and production is important to have other options available.

So keep digging in that magic bag and there is definitely a get “it” done in there somewhere!  One more thing…never, ever, loan out that bag!




The magic bag…wait What?

Magic Bag...

There are certain shows that have a reputation of being “the show” to attend. Usually the entire staff finds a reason to go and the word ripples through engineering, marketing, sales, business development and even management. As a show organizer you think, WOW! I may have some extra hands at this show to help out.

Until the dreaded words come down the line, VIP…CEO…COO.. “C-me-run”!

As is the case when VIPs or C-level staff come to a show, you have their entourage who are extremely nerve-wracking with the extra requests to make themselves look good in front of the C or Client VIP! Which means, you not only do not have help, you have extra work!

As is the way of the gypsy, this scenario needs some magic; let’s see a little bit of “go away” dust; no-problem beads; vanishing powder; and point-A-to-point-B tea! Oh, and lest I forget the Crystal Ball for those dinners that someone says we have 8-10 more people who have decided to join the 6 that were scheduled at the restaurant this morning!

Having a crystal ball, you knew that was going to happen, so you have a backup table reserved until the last-minute when you make the decision to cancel or change the time. Often there are those staff members that like to wield their level and ask for a reservation at that same restaurant. Really? They pretend to “happen to run into the C-VIP”.

For a small fortune you could hook-them-up with a reservation that you would have cancelled; you know a piece of that “blissful –chocolate-cake” to-go for that next day snack; or Starbucks the next morning.

Ok, we are ready – As the booth is built, with precision and perfection you have assured everything is done and in order; with literature, swag, and wait, there seems to be something thing missing; a schedule. That little thing that lists how many of the extra staff who said they were coming, actually gave you their commitment to show-up and do their assigned booth duty.  So you have, let’s see; YOU and oh the few nervous-nellies that knew they were on the hook in the first place, and your entourage guards that couldn’t possibly do booth duty as they have to be available to the C or VIP.

So you break out your “go away” dust and get the entourage guards out of the booth, they are only making unnecessary work and  in the way. You send them out to look for the C-VIP … you heard, they were heading toward registration! (Not a fib – everyone has to go to registration…eventually)

With a whisp of your cell phone you track the booth slackers eating breakfast and say, you know that tea you’re drinking; you better get it down fast, and get from Point A to Point B! The entourage is going to be bringing the C-VIP to the booth, they are waiting at registration right NOW! Everyone that signed up is going to have to be accounted for, so make your way over. (Not a fib – they will be bringing them by…eventually).

As you hear the thunder of staff running for the booth, you get ready to line them up on the schedule. With a quick quill and parchment you now have your staff and booth duty schedule firmed up as they are now accounted for and listed in writing.  Some gypsies get organized with schedules weeks in advance – this gypsy’s clans have always been the wandering sort and so other dowsing methods have been necessary! As the staff catch on that there possibly could be a delay in arrival, they do their “walk away with the cell-phone tactic; or I’m going to walk the show floor and see if  ???? is here…but you have your ducks in a row for booth duty so all is well.  (Fibs now equal).

Next.  Entourage Member #1 aka right-hand of C-VIP, shows up to tell you they need a meeting room in ½ hour for the day! You smile, and twist the beautiful no-problem beads that you are wearing or no-problem bead in your pocket (gender neutral), and say, I will let you know where in a few minutes.

With the cost of the show at a premium and already tugging the budget; you call your hotel sales and catering manager and ask for a rate for a suite with a living space and let them know there will be catering right away.  So instead of the $Ks that you will pay on the show floor you have now rented a room for $500-$1000 w/catering. Voila meeting room is now accommodated with coffee/rolls waiting; beware lunch will be requested at odd hours as will the infamous Diet Coke that seems to be the drink of choice for executives from any country and costs approximately $3-5 per can!

Finally, the C-VIP shows up to the booth, with everyone spit and polished trying to grab someone out of the aisles to look knowledgeable and busy; it is time for pictures; yes now is the time to get that outstanding picture of the show that can be used in your show report or for a variety of other marketing uses.

With the wonderful words coming through the speakers “the show floor is now closing”, and everyone set to go to their respective dinners; you are now free to use your vanishing powder and disappear to your wagon with room service! Or maybe grab a taco and a beer on the way back to the wagon!

The most important part of the entire gypsy world is to make friends as soon as you hit the ground or even before. Get to know the restaurants in the area if possible the manager/maître d, your hotel sales/catering staff, drivers, booth labor, and show organizer liaison, everyone that you may have to make contact with for those last-minute details.

Figure out the costs and weigh them against the show rates. Having contacts ahead of time can make the difference in meeting the needs of the staff quickly, save money, and make a good impression for you as show manager.  Plus you can lower your stress level 10-Fold!

Now that the magic bag is packed, it is time to say THANK YOU with cards or letters (emails ok, snail mail better) to the person(s) that helped you and their boss, as the gypsy’s connections are extremely valuable and you should never neglect your league of helpers; as you wouldn’t want to be cursed for the next show!