Peter Eberly, Director
Product and Vertical Marketing
When you invest a lot of time and money into planning a spectacular event or wowing your clients at a trade show, you want everything to be just right.
We know that trade shows and events are big business, generating almost $13 billion annually in the U.S. alone. Although your company’s investment is significantly less than that, you still have a lot at stake every time you exhibit. In addition to all of the associated costs with trade shows ― including renting the space, designing and building the booth, and paying for travel ― there also are reputational costs.
So when glitches (at best) and disasters (at worst) occur, what should you do?
To be clear, we’re not talking about uncontrollable disasters like hurricanes, mudslides or fires. Those events truly are devastating, and the chances you will be thinking about damage to your booth in those situations is pretty small at least initially. If you do find yourself trying to manage the effects of a major disaster, these key considerations are good to remember.
Mini-crises can add up to big headaches
Instead, we’re talking about a litany of other potential problems, such as missing displays, inappropriate speakers, incorrect graphics or a pulled product launch. Any of these seemingly small issues can quickly add up to a full-blown crisis.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ― Benjamin Franklin
What’s an event planner to do? Take a deep breath and summon all of your grace and strength to behave calmly and professionally. If that’s not enough, we suggest:
- Keep equipment (computers, light fixtures) well ventilated to avoid fires.
- As a precaution, include a fire extinguisher in your booth supplies. While this is an unlikely situation, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Keeping a 5 A-B-C extinguisher on site and making sure your team knows how to use it and where it is (this is key) provides peace of mind.
- Partner with a vendor who will help manage your experience from start to finish. That way, when your freight goes missing, you have a point of contact who can help track it down.
- If you are responsible for show materials, make sure you have after-hours numbers for the venue, freight office and security in case package you need for your booth go missing.
- Transport important items personally. Yes, it’s harder and you might have to pay additional baggage fees, but you’ll have possession of the items the whole time. Our company does this with an award we present annually at a patient safety conference. The awards are hand-carried to the event so we have a little extra piece of mind.
- Have a reliable vendor on standby if your product messaging changes at the last minute or a product launch is scrubbed. There’s a very good chance you’ll need to recreate one or more pieces of your booth.
- Watertight/waterproof containers are your friend. Disintegrating or waterlogged boxes are a guaranteed way to destroy marketing and booth materials.
- Always, always, always have extra business cards, scissors, tape, paper and pens handy. A small toolkit also is practical to have on hand for minor booth repairs. You never know when you’ll need them.
Flawless execution at a trade show is almost impossible but by planning and budgeting time and resources carefully, you’ll be more likely to pull off a show-stopping experience.