How To Organize Setting Up Your Exhibit (Part 2)
In the previous article, we addressed many of the things you can do to make set-up day at your next show go much more smoothly, by getting a jump on it a day in advance. There are a couple more things I want to suggest you do the day before your set-up crew arrives. Then we’ll delve into how to make the actual set-up day run like a well oiled machine.
To review, here are the high points from the last installment:
1) Visit the site the afternoon before scheduled set-up:
The primary reason for dropping in the day before is to make sure everything you’ll need on set-up day is already there, or will be there when you need it.
2) Thoroughly inventory all the items in your booth:
The only way you can be certain you have everything you need is to check what’s in your booth against a list of what you expected to be there. This presupposes you’ve got a checklist or printed inventory, so don’t overlook that step.
3) Search for what’s missing:
Throwing a fit at the show services desk or roaming all over the convention floor isn’t going to help you find what’s not in your booth. Follow the strategic method I outline for tracking down any missing items.
Now let’s move on to what else you can do on the day before set-up to ensure smooth sailing once everyone else shows up.
4) Check all your show orders personally:
This is a major reason for showing up a day early. Some orders will require that you simply confirm receipt and acknowledge they’re correct: table and chairs, wastebaskets, floral arrangements and booth cleaning. Other things require that you specify the date and time of the service being provided, such as when you’ll meet the photographer and which days and hours you’ll need security.
There are other services you’ll be expected to firm up details about, such as labor and electrical.
With your labor crew, confirm the starting time and the number of workers you’ll need. You may need to adjust start times—for example, if you’d planned to begin at 8:00, but yesterday you discovered that part of your shipment wouldn’t make it until 10:00 AM. You’ll also want to request any specific equipment you’ll need, like ladders or a forklift.
With the electrician, review the plans you sent in with the show kit forms. If the service is being supplied from the ceiling, its positioning is usually not a big deal. But if the hall supplies power from the floor through a doghouse, you want it to be in the right place. So check to be sure that your booth structures won’t interfere with the electrical connection point. If there’s a chance of this happening, shift your booth around on paper before you have to start moving it once it’s constructed.
5) Meet your labor and introduce yourself:
You never get a second chance at making a first impression, and that’s certainly true in this scenario. You’re expecting a group of strangers to work hard to help you in an environment that’s largely foreign to you, so it’s to your advantage that they like you. I’m not suggesting serving breakfast, but offering to pick up coffee might be a good idea.
Before jumping into the work, show your team a photograph of the assembled exhibit, as well as any detailed drawings or photographs you have. Without these to guide them, it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without an image to go by.
If a team leader hasn’t already been designated, pick someone as your “go to” person. Discuss details and procedures with him or her, and then let that person disseminate information to the rest of the team. That saves you the hassle of repeating yourself to several people while you’re working against a clock. It can also help you avoid multiple unsolicited opinions on how things “should” be done.
6) Get on with it:
Start by clearing out the floor space in your booth. If you haven’t done so already, arrange crates and boxes around the perimeter of the space, with the doors or openings facing inward.
Lay out and tape down any cabling that’s to run under the carpet, leaving slack for the lines to get where they’ll be needed (up to counter height, for example). Next, lay out your carpeting or other trade show flooring materials.
It’s usually worth the extra step to cover your flooring with visqueen for the duration of the set-up, removing it as the last step in cleaning the booth. You’ll never forget to do this again once a forklift has dripped oil on your brand-new carpeting!
You should have a set of plans (provided by your booth supplier) that show you, step by step, how to arrange the individual modules or elements of your exhibit. If you’ve got a portable display, your work is virtually done. But if you’re working with a larger exhibit, take your time and measure your layout carefully, so you won’t need to move or disassemble things later in the process.
It’s wise to let your crew know that you’re not out to set a speed record for assembly. A careless mistake made in haste can be much more costly than a little extra time for your set-up crew.
Remember that set-up isn’t complete until all the equipment in your booth is functioning appropriately (computers, flat screens and other audio-visual gear, your products, etc). And while you and your own staffers can usually see to these matters, don’t let your crew go until the entire exhibit is thoroughly cleaned. This is definitely a case that proves the axiom, “Many hands make light work.”
Pulling off a successful trade show exhibiting effort is always a group endeavor. It takes many people from within your own organization, as well as the people you hire on-site, to do the job well. But it also requires an exhibit supplier that has your best interests at heart. Let us show you how we can be the kind of partner that’s committed to your success. For more information, call us at (425) 556-9511 or email [email protected].