Friday, June 14, 2024

Published on Tuesday, August 9, 2016

I Got It. Sure You Do.

Water skiing.


Holding onto a big, half-filled, water balloon.


Herding cats.


Water skierThese are examples of tasks that would seem fairly easy once they’ve  been successfully completed a few times. The reality though, is just when you think you’ve mastered them....Splat! You fly off your skis and face plant into your own wake.


Trade show planning should be added to this list.


Let’s say you have a dozen or so shows under your belt. You can breeze through a show book in under an hour. Making sure the display properties are ready for the next event, you’ve trained your staff how to set up, take down and properly pack all cases. You even taught them how to turn in the outbound shipping documents at the end of the show.


Got it. Mastered! Sure you do.


Curry shoesThen the human interaction part of your exhibit life throws you some curve balls. Splat, once again. The water balloon slips from your grasp and soaks your new pair of Under Armour Curry Two shoes.


Here are a few human-thrown curve balls that our customers have experienced, just in the past few months:


Spilled coffeeThe general contractor used an old address on the advance shipping labels included in the show book. The shipment is returned as “undeliverable”.


During dismantle, someone from the adjoining booth spilled coffee on the lights’ electrical connection, shorting out the transformer.


The carefully-trained rep working the show, needed to leave the show early for an emergency and relied on the new guy to hand in the outbound shipping forms. The forms went into a briefcase and didn’t see the light of day until two weeks later.


In all three of these instances, our clients were relying on a human being to correctly carry out what is expected. What are humans prone to do? Yes, you filled in the blank -  make mistakes.


Fortunately, there were happy endings to each of these three potential disasters.


For the first situation, luckily the shipment (UPS) arrived back to our dock and there was still time to re-label and re-send to the correct address.


The shorted transformer was discovered because the customer had Prairie inspect the properties after the event, while we updated the graphic. If the display had been headed directly to another show, that would have been an issue. The customer decided to invest in a few extra transformers to include in their inventory. Good idea.


LogisticsIn the last instance, the customer was using a freight company that specializes in trade show shipments. The shipper had several other pick-ups at the event and caught the mistake before the freight would’ve been forced, or ended up at the general contractor’s warehouse. Additional hefty handling charges and the panic of a missing display, were avoided.


So sometimes, no matter how you plan, no matter how you install back-ups into your system, if one of the thousands of moving parts of a trade show does not perform the way you expect it to, you are ultimately responsible and will have to deal with the outcome. It’s a given. Remember, it’s that human factor.


Herding catsSo what do you do next time? Save the 180 degree swivel turn for a non-wavy day, only play water balloon toss in bare feet or flip flops and never, ever let the cats see you sweat and struggle. If you remain calm and poised, and not let them know they’re being backed into a corner, they will fall right in line.


A little catnip helps in the process as well.


Best Regards,


Steve Moskal













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Steve Moskal
Steve Moskal

Steve Moskal

Other posts by Steve Moskal
Contact author Full biography

Full biography

Steve’s journey in the trade show and event world started in 1983 with one of the original Nomadic Display sales organizations in North America. In 1994, he co-founded Prairie Display/Chicago.

Steve was an Allied Board Member of TSEA (Trade Show Exhibitors Association) from 2007 to 2011 and recipient of the TSEA President’s Award in 2009. He also served as Financial Chair of the Midwest Exhibit and Event Professionals (formerly the Chicago chapter of TSEA) and as a commissioner with the Elmhurst Economic Development Commission from 2011 to 2016. Currently he is Vice President of Education for the Addison/Elmhurst, IL Toastmasters Club.

When not working with customers and co-workers at Prairie, you can find him trying to spend more time biking and pursuing other creative endeavors. Steve lives in Oak Brook, IL with his beautiful and equally understanding wife of 26 years, Shelley.

Steve is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, with a B.A. in Journalism and a Fine Arts minor.


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