Time management is a sacrosanct principle every trade show organizer has to have.
If you feel like you've been cutting it close in a couple of key areas while organizing your next trade show, here are a few tips to help speed things up and keep you on task.
1. Plan ahead
This seems simple enough, but rarely is it accomplished as it should be. You may ask yourself how much more you can possibly plan ahead for, but in reality, there's a ton. Just think of all the unexpected tasks that have popped up at your last few events. Now write them down—these are what you have to watch for the next time around.
Trade Show Advisor reported that simple things like hotel reservations, installation and dismantle time and dates, venue floor set up and booking event sponsors are often the small details that get lost in the frenzy of getting the bigger picture together—the event. Tackling these ahead of time can save an organization from the countless costs that add up if forgotten. For example, ordering a rental car ahead of time will save you from the exorbitant costs of cab fare. Similarly, booking hotel accommodations months ahead of time, instead of weeks, could mean the difference between staying in a hotel across the street from the venue, or one that is 30 minutes away.
"Don't be afraid to delegate."
2. Hand things off
Delegating certain projects to other members of the team may feel like you're just handing other people work you don't want to do, but that isn't the case in the slightest. A McKinsey and Co. study reported that time management skills in the modern era aren't a result of poor handling on the employees part, but rather an institutional issue tied to the organization. Simply put—it's not your fault there's so much work to be done, it's the company's.
After you've drawn up a plan of attack for the next 3-, 6- or 9-month stretch, you'll want to get everyone on your team situated on a social planning tool. Basecamp has been around forever, and that's a go-to for many groups working on different components of a project. Slack also offers an exceptional product for making sure everyone is on the same page.
Once you have a way to keep everyone on the team in the loop, identify which tasks need you specifically to succeed, and which just need a sign-off. This is an excellent way to keep you churning through deadlines at a decent clip, while giving members of your team a chance to prove they can take on the bigger picture stuff.
3. Everything finance
If you don't have a degree in accounting or experience dealing with contracts, much of the trade show organizer's duties will be foreign. Deadlines are natural components of contracts, and they're seemingly due every day. Everything from the venue, to catering, to general service contractor to exhibitors requires a sign-off.
Event Manager Blog reported that it may help to take a couple of necessary precautions:
- Write everything down that may need your signature, sign-off or a check made payable to something.
- Invest in bidding, contracting or invoice software BidSketch or Quick Books. Make sure to vet the program first to see if it's right for you.
These two tasks seem simple on paper, but take time to set up. Don't cut corners while coming up with a fail-proof plan to handle everything financial—missing something will cost you an arm and a leg.
4. Establish a plan for leads
Most exhibitors attend for one thing—qualified leads. According to Ring Central, it's important that trade show organizers plan ahead how they'll help facilitate interactions between professionals and attendees. Otherwise, you'll be sifting through a lot of angry feedback from both sides.
Employ the help of a mobile event app to handle the networking part for you. Many apps can be customized to facilitate discussions through meet-ups, chat rooms or a lead capture system that gets the sales funnel going right on the floor. Avoiding any potential setbacks here can clear your schedule to focus on what really needs to be done.
5. Above all else
Have fun. While organizing a trade show involves a ton of pre-show planning, careful time management during the show and quickly executed steps to be followed during clean-up, you need to find a time to enjoy yourself in the middle somewhere.
When you're having fun, time flies by. When you aren't, you can start to focus on the negatives and forget not only the positives, but key steps you need to take to ensure the overall success. Lamenting over a missed deadline could easily cause you to miss another.
As you plan your next trade show, remember to keep in mind that planning makes for perfection. If you get everything—even down to what day the last staff member needs to work—on paper, the show will fall into place.