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!




High Season ….wait…When?

Magic Packed!

Well tradeshow gypsies, get your magic bag together it is FALL SHOW SEASON! Gotta love it! There are times during the year when shows escalate and sometimes gypsies do not remember what city they are landing in next. After the 3rd show in a row you are not sure if you are looking at your flight number, booth number, or hotel room number; a few times standing in front of my booth number in a hotel YIPES! Luckily only once someone opened the door after my frustration of putting in my key a couple of times; and they were a fellow gypsy that completely understood the situation.

Having your due diligence done, your white board filled in, and your folders filled with printed/dated orders; you have done what you can do thus far. Now it is time to break out the brain yoga and get your flexible mind in gear. Here is where those great creative skills, everyone is always targeting on your performance review, get to shine!

This show gypsy tried to fly in the day before setup day because so many things can go wrong and this would always give me a little more time to deal with any issues.  If you can get to the show floor the day you arrive and get your badge/floor map and any addendum/check to see if your freight is in your booth; that is a time saver and gives you a little more time until you meet your labor/or set-up yourself in the morning.  There have been times when time is wasted when picking up exhibitor badges and your labor is already at the booth and on the clock, if you are lucky and have specific instructions they may start without you, but more often than not they want to see your smiling face. If you are flying in and doing setup the same day get ready to “move-it-move-it” or “hurry-up-and-wait” it could go either way depending on your show and shipping.

When you unpack and set-up for the show, remember it is much easier to tear down quickly if you have your packing boxes and they are in your tiny storage area where you can pull them out and get things packed easily. REMEMBER SHOW ETIQUETTE – no tape guns etc. until the show closes. You know there is always that one customer that walks up at tear-down…always!  Some shows are on a point system and you can lose points for tearing down early and you can jeopardize your booth space selection for the next year, it is a big deal if you are the tradeshowgypsy doing booth selection!

Also, if you have to wait for your show crates, bugging labor in a gruff manner is not going to get you anything but last. Make sure you are professional and courteous to your fellow gypsies they are on the road, and dealing with all kinds of people, and you want to be one that they remember for being nice and helpful. Don’t expect them to be rushing because you planned your flight poorly, they have to support ALL the exhibitors and you are just one of them, put yourself in their shoes.

Looking forward to this fall, seems as though business has a good grasp of the value of face-to face business and how valuable shows can be, even though they are running lean and mean, they are out there and the economy can only get better if companies are doing business! This gypsy is happy to be a part of this industry that deals with real people instead of strictly online communications!  GO gypsies  GO! Great to see companies taking the bull by the horns and doing business and using those innovative skills to help us get growth back on the map!

Holiday…NO, Labor Day…wait…Really?


Tradeshowgypsies have to make their own holidays! The Labor Day Holiday is usually the kick-off to the fall trade show season –get ready this year is going to be a lulu! This means is it a prime show-set-up weekend with labor costs doubling or even tripling!

Adding insult to injury! Be wary as your travel can be quite the challenge. With some families and schools starting after Labor Day families are trying to squeeze in that last tiny bit of summer, or college students who may be having a bit of angst moving into dorms and the starting of classes; not that they are going home necessarily but they are traveling out for a little break before full-blown focused time hits between now and the “real” holidays (gypsies are rarely home for Halloween and Thanksgiving is always in question).

With all the whooharrah in the airports, there you are with you trusty gypsy suitcase loaded with work suits (polo-latest color and logo/button down just in case/black, black, black…ok last days of khaki, khaki and those show set-up jeans, etc. etc.) sigh.

Thinking of family or friends that are going to be “celebrating” in whatever manner, makes a gypsy quite sad and frustrated with the traveling situation. Feeling like a cast off and “working” the gypsy mind goes on thinking, all of this is for free-as of course tradeshowgypsies are on salary! But, you get to travel, you know that wonderful vacation type travel that your colleagues who do not travel all swear you have the easiest job!

HURRUMPH! Visions of hauling them out of their family outing and making them stand in this line with the screaming 6-3-0 year old(s) and overwhelmed parents; college students laughing and carrying on with no tags on their bags not to mention where is my ID?? GRRRR you think, just go, go, the kiosk is open! You drop your trusty gypsy suitcase for its next meet-up with a variety of its own challenges *please make it one more trip! After many other irritating incidents you finally arrive at your home-base window seat (necessary to keep from head-bob during the nap that begins before plane is off the ground).

As you open those groggy eyes and the plane touches down at the new camp, a switch goes off in your body and brain. The gypsy magic has occurred and you are on GO! No more anxiety with other travelers, time to fetch the magic tradeshowgysy suitcase and bring this show to life! Amazing, how those holidays that are cut short seem to meld away into just another, “I avoided the DOUBLE-TIME for SHOW LABOR day!”

You just saved Labor day costs, don’t forget to keep track of those savings as the % of money you saved your company by traveling on the holiday, your hotel room/food if you get any is only about 1 hour worth of labor costs, so yes you saved money!

If I can say one thing about missing many holidays being a tradeshowgypsy – make sure to cut a deal with your clan leader and get your Holiday(s) and make them special! Your family, friends, TSG Cat knows you are missing those holidays so be creative and don’t just clean house or sleep…make those days HOLIDAYS! Safe Travels gypsies!

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!