When the Winds of Change really do hit…wait…Where?

Weather Gear – Yikes!

Well the winds are whipping around the east coast and strange goings on with the earthquake the other day.  This type of mother-nature –in-charge
activity can cause a gypsy to batten down the shutters on the wagon and hitch the pony up and head for the hills to another camp!

Sometimes, this is the best you can do! But most times you  are stuck and need not worry about the “booth”! There I said, it!

Yes, you can make yourself crazy over something that is completely out of your or anyone else’s control.  My particular incident was a flood in California that hit our convention center after setup of course.  Luckily it wasn’t a violent flood, just significant rain in a short amount of time and an overflowing stream that turned into a river by the end of it.

Best advice I can give to you gypsies is make sure you know if your company has insurance, because often it is a huge tangle of “who-done-it”? or rather “who-pay-it”?  The facility looks to the organizer who looks to your company and get out your camera, everything will need pictures with a date and time for the claims folks.

If you have to pack and ship ruined items, do it, even if you have to go out and invest in a temporary crate or container.  I was lucky in that my exhibit house had a contact close to the show and they had an older crate they sold me for $200.00 and I packed the pieces in even though they were not salvageable, and I was glad I did; when the auditor came out the first thing he asked was, did I even try to salvage the pieces. When he saw it was a total loss he worked much better with us. I had to go through my organizations insurance company and they battled it out with the other two but it took months and tons of paperwork to get it all resolved.  The larger the
organization the more difficult you can expect the process to be; so find out
before you set foot out of that wagon so you know what to expect should
mother-nature decide to shift her weight and cause the variety of natural disasters.

Keep safe out there gypsies, get out of the storm(s)/quakes and stop worrying about your LCD, literature, or booth! I know how you are-those are the things that are supposed to be under your control.  Not this time chickadees… head for the hills, run for cover, and take those sales gypsies with you!

Lost or found…wait Really?

No with a smile 🙂

Here is a word to the wise and a much shorter article for my gypsies today…

Word to the wise: DO NOT LET PEOPLE STORE THINGS IN YOUR BOOTH~

I cannot tell you how many times I would drum that into my fellow gypsies! As they would walk up with a customer, partner, etc. that came with luggage! The staff taking their laptops for use at the show is also a no-no. I understand people have to work but leaving huge brief cases stacked in the small, unsecure booth is just a flat-out NO!  Especially on tear-down…get-away day!

FYI – booths are temporary structures, which with one shove of a good gypsy hip can be opened! With many people coming through the booth it can be almost
impossible to define “who done it?”!

As a responsible show manager you always worry about someone else’s things being in your booth; and 9 out of 10 they show up in the morning dump it in your booth and they are off to the races, and at the end of the day they are heading for the door with the herd in full MOO! (My Opinion Only) discussions and they won’t remember until they are half way to the nearest watering hole! Then YOU get THE call! Can you bring…or I can’t get back on the show floor (non-exhibitor of course). Or worse yet, you have the mystery black bag that no one remembers to whom it belongs or that person is now in a panic at the airport trying to remember where they left their, bag, purse, jacket, notebook, child, carry-on!

So gracefully decline and find out where the show has a checked baggage area or just say sorry and beat your staff later for having brought them under the “assumption” that they could leave their things in the booth. Hence the gypsies get a bad rap for missing or found items!

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!

Show booth pieces and parts…wait How?

No Directions In This Box!

You arrive at the show, you are proud, you are after all an Exhibitor, says so right on the badge!  You get in before anyone else! Or you are running like mad trying to get to your booth for set-up?

One tiny little issue, the so-called straight-forward pop-up crate is missing wheels, latches, and it looks different from the last time. OH C>>P! where are the instructions? Wait…how hard can this be, right?

As you begin to empty the contents you find a variety of obscure pieces that you have never seen in a booth crate, there is also a larger issue; how does the web part work? After spinning the spider web in each direction, and having said every expletive in the book from pinching your fingers trying to get the ding dang thing open in the first place, your patience is dwindling. Now the jerks (competition) next door have finished their booth and are walking by watching you as they leave for the day/evening; this is getting ugly! You have so many pieces that are supposed to connect, how? That’s it you are calling!!!

I had many a late night or early morning call asking me to go through the step-by-step process of how to set-up the booth with an upset sales staff member that received the booth with no DIRECTIONS! in the crate.

After calming them down a bit and reminding them the booth came from another show and I would help them track down that so and so that lost the directions, we would talk through it! Knowing the booths like the back of my hand I would walk them through easily.

With set up done and another reassurance that the offender would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of  trade show gypsy law, it was time for the after-booth-set-up-strut as there were still a few others struggling with their booths!

One team building game that I always thought would
be a good way to educate staff who were going to be setting-up or working shows was a booth building game. This would not only expose staff as to how to put a booth together but maybe throw in a few challenges in the booth like missing pieces and or different style of booth pieces to see how creative they would be. Also, how well they would work together.

With Mobile Devices out in the field; having booth set-up/pack-up directions for your show booth online would save many a frustration by having them sent to all the staff who attend shows. Some staff can set up a booth in their sleep but others are new or have not worked with a certain brand etc. So getting that little tidbit done would be a plus on any goals/objectives list to show how wise you are at supporting staff, or aka Exceeded staff support by…

Oh yeah, most booths, the lights are always an after-thought, so make sure to take them out and test them before putting them up, and as long as you are illegally teetering on a show rental chair or show crate get those suckers up there before you hang your graphics!

Booths have come a long way and can have custom designs and
a good exhibit house is worth their weight in gold!  Links coming soon…Ping me if you need a recommendation right away!

NOTE: Do unto others as you would have done to you! (Especially when packing up at the frantic and frightening moments of tear-down at the end of a show)! If you are a manager or exhibit-booth-keeper, know the equipment or have a binder on hand with all the information, and take one home with you! You will be called!