If you live in or around Chicago, August is often referred to as the “dog days” of summer.
There’s usually a week or two of hotter weather and higher than normal humidity. For my friends and family out west, humidity is the thing that makes it feel like you have 50 extra pounds on your shoulders as you walk down the street, curls your hair, and makes seats at a Cubs game stickier than normal (even before you drip a Frosty Malt on it).
Luckily, we have the world’s greatest air conditioner, Lake Michigan. In August and September, the lake water temperature peaks at about 70 to 75 degrees. Breezes off the lake provide a bit of a relief. This “cooler by the lake” effect, combined with almost 20 miles of biking and running paths along the shore, makes Chicago’s lakefront one of my favorite places to be in the summer.
If you’re ever at a trade show at McCormick Place in the summer or early fall, one of the best-kept-secret coolest strolls you can take is to go a bit east, past the older, Lakeside Center hall. You’ll come out right at the lake, and can walk north and south to your heart’s content.
August can also be the dog days when it comes to trade shows and events. It seems this is the time when our industry takes a breather and a well-deserved vacation from all of the hype and stress.
When the temperature soars and the dog days set in, we also tend to get a bit lazy, putting tasks on the back burner or just delaying decisions and plans because issues are not pressing. Well, for those of you newer to the trade show and event worlds, this time of year is also perfect for getting a jump on things.
As I write this, we are only six weeks away from October 1. Just as much as August might be slow, October usually starts off with a bang, and will not slow down until mid-December.
Here are some thoughts on what to do now, to relieve some of the stress and headaches of the fall show season.
-Open up those show book PDFs. Start ordering show services and submitting EAC forms. Early bird discounts can mean real savings of 10-25%. Add that up over a few shows and you’ll look like a rock star to the CFO.
-Take inventory of your display properties. What graphics need updating? Does something need to be repaired or replaced? Do your give-aways note your company’s 25th anniversary when you are actually 30 now? Making updates now can save you money simply because you’re not paying needless rush charges. Once again, think “rock star”.
-Visit with your vendor partners, either at your facilities or their offices, if possible, to review important dates and tasks. These folks could include your designers, exhibit houses, graphics providers, printers, IT and media specialists. In a pinch, conference calls or Skyping works, but if you can, remember nothing can replace that face-to-face interaction. This is a perfect opportunity to brainstorm for creative solutions to potential challenges. If your partners don’t think it’s important to do this, I would suggest finding new vendors.
-That being said, if your current partners are not living up to expectations, this is also a good time to investigate alternative sources and back-up plans. Remember, we are in an industry where if something CAN run off the tracks, it probably WILL. No one ever lost their job by not having a back-up plan, right?
Now don’t go crazy. Do take some time off, get to know your wife/husband/partner/kids again and if you are like me, take in a bike ride along the lake or a ball game (after all, the Cubs are pretty amazing this year). In the next few weeks though, start the process for the fall show season.
Remember, for some relief from that sticky humidity, its always cooler by the lake. Now when December rolls around here, that’s a whole different story.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and maybe I’ll see you on the bike path outside McCormick. We can have a meeting and talk about some new displays. Now there’s a great way to spend August.