24 Feb 2019 | by Lucy Saxton

What can go wrong will go wrong… in the events industry we are all too familiar with the utter nightmare of Murphy’s Law. It’s the key project leader or show manager coming down with a rare strain of the winter vomiting bug three hours before doors open, your projector screen suddenly not working, or the key exhibit piece going mysteriously missing off the transit van. “It was definitely here when I loaded everything on,” says Dave the van guy. Step aside Dave, there will be hell to pay. If it’s not Dave the dodgy delivery guy losing all your good exhibits, then the great British weather will surely do the trick. Want to make like Jack Bauer and stay one step ahead of potential exhibition disasters? Then read on… not all heroes wear capes.

Screen your screen

A quick ask around and vox pop of Show and Event Directors comes back with the same avoidable disaster again and again… make sure your monitor screen is working. Straightforward right? You would think.  Always make sure your screen, monitor and any computer or laptop connected is on the stand the day before a show starts, not just ten minutes before. It may have been working back in the office but assign someone who is in charge of checking everything works before the show starts. Connections and power points aren’t always failsafe at trade shows. If the wrong screen is on the stand or is faulty, or you have a dodgy cable or connector, you’ve bought yourself time to sort these technical errors. Big visuals and screens are eye catching and brilliant for marketing so make sure all eyes are on your products and message not on a blank canvas with frantic stand staff running around like headless chickens. The same can be said for all tech used on your stand, don't get caught out!

Shout about your new products (*newsflash:attendees aren't psychic)

Over 90 per cent of show attendees plan in advance what exhibits and stands they will visit, according to the centre for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR)So, in a nutshell, be on top of your game and flag up and shout about what new service or cool new gadget you’re offering well in advance in your pre-show mail outs and pre-exhibition marketing or social media activity. Plan the right activity to get on the radars of attendees long before those heavy trade show doors open. A study by  Marketech 360 found that the number one reason attendees visited exhibits was to ‘obtain product information.’And 53 per cent of attendees come to learn about what the exhibitor has that is new.Attendees visit trade shows to see what is hip, hop, happening, and new in the industry so don’t assume they’re mind readers… spell it out and go for eye-catching brand activity, during the show and beforehand. Build up the anticipation and get those attendees flocking to your stand.

Whatever the weather (The snow must go on)

2018 will be remembered as a year of many great things. Prince Harry married Meghan Markle for a start. The Beast from the East, however, will not be remembered fondly, and a year later, the memory of it still leaves event planners shuddering in their boots. The organisers of International Confex in February 2018 confirmed that the horrendous weather saw 2,000 fewer visitors compared to 2017. The good news was that 5,000 event professionals did make the show, as did 223 exhibitors which Event Director Liz Agostini said led to, “more meaningful business conversations.”Be on top of your game if you know bad weather is approaching. There are numerous weather apps and forecasting tools online to pinpoint if bad weather will hit the area your exhibition or event is happening. Ensure there is a strategy and plan in place for any changes to a show schedule in case of bad weather. Find out how this will be communicated to attendees and delegates. While you’re at it read and re-read your insurance policies and contracts to get to know the terms of any delays or cancellations on account of bad weather.

Have the A-Team on the stand

Spent months or maybe all year preparing for a big trade show, only to have interns or junior staff members manning the stand? Time to rethink your tradeshow team. Event professionals have admitted that often it’s the junior staff or temps that are left manning the stand, as surely anyone can stand at a stand and hand out cards and promo material, right? Wrong. As correct as that may be on paper, in reality the team on your stand need to represent the company and your goals and messages 100 percent. People love to talk at trade shows and exhibitions and just like a waiter not knowing what’s on the menu when someone orders at a restaurant, a representative not knowing or getting your company or company message is a huge turn off and an expensive mistake. Team members on your stand should be able to answer questions, meet clients and develop meaningful relationships. Go big or go home.

Think about your layout

If you want attendees to walk towards your stand or booth not away from it to the stand next to you giving away really cool promotional stress balls, then plan in advance how to create a really powerful layout. Look to see where you are compared to your competitors, what’s the foot flow like? Are there cool break out areas nearby? Get a good creative team to look at positioning of your exhibits, signs, projectors and anything else. Think about the use of desks and blocking attendees out. Stand in front not behind a desk, it’s a trade show not a hotel booking desk so get out in front and engage with attendees so you can get your key messages across, promotional stress balls or not. 

Lucy Saxton

By Lucy Saxton

Lucy Saxton is a journalist, content creator, social media advisor and broadcaster. Studying Criminology at Leicester Uni and completing an MA In print Journalism at The University of Sheffield, she began her career as Features Editor of the popular teen girls magazine, MIZZ Mag. More recently, Lucy has worked for Cosmopolitan Magazine and Seventeen Magazine. Lucy was previously a Journalist at M&IT Magazine which saw her travelling around the world and launching several social media channels for CAT MEDIA. Lucy is a regular travel correspondent on BBC radio.More articles by Lucy Saxton