Having completed a successful tradeshow setup for one of our clients at a major show, I had a chance to reflect on the many weeks of planning, design, production and setup leading to the actual show event.
It is clear that "planning, planning, planning" is essential to the success of the show, but just as important is the ability to work with the show producers, organizers, show service contractors, laborers, exhibit house, and designers. The ability to create and communicate the vision of your exhibit, how you want it to function and what your expectations are, is key to making it happen. The old adage, "nothing goes as planned" rings true on the show floor. Being able to "think on your feet", compromise, make decisions, communicate and take action is critical. And above all, building a "team" by listening, communicating and showing respect and common courtesy will make a difference between a successful event vs a miserable experience.
A few simple tips
1. Create a vision statement with goals and objectives
2. Plan, plan, plan (budget, schedules, activities, requirements)
3. Build your team early (marcom/tradeshow managers, designers, exhibit house, show producers, service contractors, etc.) and bring them in on your vision (the quality of each participant's contribution will increase when they are in on the vision, and feel a part of the team).
4. On the show floor - Meet the show organizers, the show service contractors, your exhibit service rep, the floor manager and especially the people at the service desk. They are the ones that can facilitate the communication and action when something needs to get done.
5. Keep your database of contacts in your PDA, cell phone, Blackberry. Take notes and document the process (this will come in handy during the setup, teardown, discussing final billing issues, and reporting back to management.
6. Have a post meeting will all the above (of course this won't be a one meeting gathering but one-on-ones or by phone to recap and discuss ways to improve for the next show).
7. A final report back to management with recommendations as well as acknowledgements.
Have a great show.