Disasters can come out of nowhere. Giant thunderstorms can appear without a moment’s notice, knocking out telephone and power lines. A bad dinner at a local restaurant can have a member of your staff flat on their back with food poisoning. Open up your collateral material only to discover that it’s not what you packed. How do you compensate for these potential catastrophic situations?
Your key to success is advance preparation. Many challenges can be addressed using your common sense and creativity. But implementing those solutions can be tricky.
Advance preparation can make the difference between success and failure. By starting well in advance of your trade show, you’ll be assured of smooth sailing, no matter what happens. The three main areas to concentrate on are people, places, and things.
People: You are only as good as your booth staff. The best display, graphics, and promotional items won’t save your show if your staff isn’t up to the challenge. When it comes to people, providing comprehensive training before your show can pay huge dividends. Cross train your staff so that each member can cover for another. This doesn’t mean your sales people need to be technical gurus or that your mechanical whiz-kids need to become top-notch sales associates but each one should know enough about the other’s responsibilities to pinch-hit when necessary.
Places: When you arrive at your destination, it’s not enough to just know where the convention center is. Take a few minutes prior to departing and do a search on the internet about your destination and its surroundings. Do you know where the closest medical facility, business center, or airport is located? Having knowledge of the area will save you valuable time if you need to send staffers out of the show center for quick errands. You’re only at the show for a limited amount of time. Make it as productive as possible.
Designate a team leader or captain before the show. This person will be the go-to person in case of any emergencies, and should have the authority to make any necessary decisions. If an unforeseen event occurs, your staff will know who to turn to for direction.
Things: The biggest challenges can often come from the simplest things. If your brochures have been sent to London instead of New York, there’s not much you can do to remedy the situation, short of hopping a red eye and physically retrieving the wayward literature yourself. But that’s not practical. Instead, have a back-up plan. For example: Having a DVD back up of all your literature is a simple, easy step. Most major cities and convention centers have print shops that can quickly run off a few thousand brochures. You might pay a premium for rush service, but that’s a small price compared to the embarrassment and potential loss of business. Rentals can help if in a bind as well, for example in one case I was able to quickly rent a LED screen.
If you make your advance preparation process a trade show habit, your budget and ROI should never feel the impact of a looming disaster.