I am new to trade shows as a whole. It is like experiencing this whole secret world that most people do not even know exist. It is where art, engineering, skilled labor and project management come together to make beautiful displays and interactive environments for their clients to present their brand to the world.
Recently I observed my first trade show in San Antonio while assisting an install at AABB for Wellsky. It was an amazing experience. The trade show world surprises me more every day. It is something that is incredibly hard to put into words. Witnessing the install was like watching organized chaos; it’s like a whole world being assembled in 3 days. Everyone on the floor and behind the scenes played a vital role. If anyone made a mistake the whole install could fall apart.
The install started out with the assembly of a very large backlit hanging sign. The weight of this sign made it harder than your usual fabric structure to put up. The building of the sign itself went well, however, figuring out who to talk to in order to get a sign up of that size was a little more complicated. As expected, we figured it out and the riggers along with PSAV worked together to help us get our structure in the air.
Next, we built all of our booth components; the towers, conference room, furniture and electronics. I paid close attention here because, not only is it important to know what is needed to create these displays, but also because I like to know how things work and go together.
While the rest of the booth was being built, a large touchscreen TV delivered for an interactive game with prizes. The game ended up being a great traffic driver and kept people coming into the booth. The whole game would not have come together though, if it weren’t for one very skilled man on the AV team. He came over to check everything was going okay multiple times throughout the day. There ended up being an issue with the resolution on the laptop in relation to what was allowed on the TV and he made at least 4 phone calls to figure out how to solve the problem.
There were other issues that came up during our install; things that you cannot plan for. From this experience, I have learned that one of the most important skill sets you can have is that of a quick thinker and a problem solver. There is always a solution to the problem, if you think hard enough, and you can’t be afraid to take charge, jump in and get your hands dirty.
In the end, I gained a much deeper understanding of how a trade show booth comes together. There are so many individuals involved in making sure everything goes just right. It is so important for us as account managers to know what everyone’s role is.
Meeting our I&D team and seeing the booth come together was very important for the advancement of my career. Observing how they work helped me to understand what information to provide installers, riggers, electricians and everyone else involved, allowing them to perform a great job for our clients. We had 3 guys on our team, each knew exactly what to do. Installers, even the ones on other booths, are very helpful. Needing another set of hands one day, a friend working on a different booth, stopped what he was doing to come over and assist.
Over the last six months, I have been learning more and more about trade shows and I know I will continue to learn more throughout my entire career. I am so thankful to be a part of this world.
Article Written by Devin Barnes, Account Manager from PRO Expo Exhibits
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