Trade Show TalesBlog

Word on the Street — February 14th thru February 18th

February 20th, 2011 COMMENTS

Word on the Street by Kevin Carty

First Timer’s Experience

This past week had a running theme — First Timers. That is, people who were either attending and/or coordinating their first trade show, or in one case, preparing for their first retail installation. You know what this is like. It’s draining, exhilarating, and frustrating — usually at the same time.

The first “first timer” is a company in California, or more specifically, their marketing agency, which is based in Portland. They are preparing for a show in Chicago in March. Helping them, and the Exhibits Northwest Account Executive, has reminded me of what happens when an exhibit leaves our manufacturing facility. It is also a painful reminder of the crazy hoops exhibitors have to jump through at each and every show.

Let’s start with their questions about electrical. I had to emphasize the need for flat cords when they were coordinating with show labor since they ordered Flex Flooring from Brumark. As we all know, unless they use flat cords, they will have bumps from traditional round cords.

Coordinating the electrical labor left the the marketing agency scratching their heads. I explained that they would need to order electrical services before laying the floor, but there was the possibility in Chicago and in future cities that they would need to order

Electrical Policies for Trade Shows

Are You Kidding Me?

an additional hour once the exhibit was built for someone to plug everything in. The look on their face said it all. I will just leave it at that. But, it also served as a reminder why many exhibitors leave a trade show with a sour taste in their mouth. They are unaware of this industry’s idiosyncrasies (to state it politely). Even if it was stated in their show book, many of those details are neither read nor understood.

The second example came from a friend who was attending and exhibiting at the International Roofing Show for the first time in Las Vegas. He called me late Friday afternoon, and I asked him what he was doing. His response was typical. “We are just sitting here waiting for our crates.” How many times have we all been there?! It’s really no fault of show management or labor. It’s just a reality of the process. Just when you think your long week, especially in a town like Vegas which has been non-stop for 2-5 days, is over, you find yourself wanting nothing more than to pack up and board the next plane out of town. But alas, you wait . . . sometimes for hours.

My friend made another comment which was very Vegas specific. He said,  “I am tired. My days seem to run together in this town.” Any of us who have spent any time in Las Vegas know exactly what he means.

The last example has to do with a local retail project for Exhibits Northwest. We are in the home stretch of the first install. After this one is complete, the program will be implemented at additional locations.

This time, we are the First Timers. We have completed nearly everything and are getting ready for the on-site installation. Having done this very infrequently, we forgot about the bureaucratic hoops to get something installed in a commercial building. For example, learning the city building codes has been an eye opener. I am not complaining, but it is foreign to me and to the team at Classic Exhibits and Exhibits NW. Apparently, in the city of Portland, whatever you build must survive the Apocalypse. 🙂

It really made me empathize with those end-users attending their first show. What’s the most surprising thing your customers experience the first time they exhibit? Please share your story.

Be well!

–Kevin Carty


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