Generally speaking, when tasked with the job of organizing an event or exhibition stand at an overseas trade fair, you will not have the advantage of working in close physical proximity with all the various people you will liaise with during the organizational process. It may feel like most of what you plan, will have a higher rate of failure if you are not on hand to check everything with your vendors and the venue. You may even have to rely on people who don’t speak your native language, so on top of it all, there is also the chance that your requests or instructions become lost in translation.
However, if you are prepared well in advance, there is no reason you can’t put on a great show far from your familiar surroundings. As an individual organizer (representing your own business) you can divide your focus into the following 3 areas. Alternatively, if you are part of a larger team within your business, divide the most suitable people on your team to be responsible for each of these areas.
Before you begin, be aware of external deadlines from vendors, the event venue as well as your own internal milestones relevant in to the training of staff and Marketing & PR. Knowing these deadlines will mean that you know exactly when to begin executing your plans and can be the general framework to keep everyone in check.
After confirming your timeline, it is helpful to identify the overall purpose of your exhibition stand, event or trade fair. Your goal will help to guide you (and your team) in working more efficiently towards your overall intention. If you or anyone on the team feel unsure at any stage during the process, ask yourself; will this action help me to reach my overall objective? This way you will hopefully avoid any unnecessary additional work. We recommend that you split either your own efforts (if you are the sole planner or exhibitor) or your team (if you are a larger business working with a team of people) into the following 3 areas to make your organizational process efficient and concise.
1. Logistics/Operations Coordinator
The person in charge of logistics and operations will have to spend a lot of time liaising with suppliers and the venue. Their strength will lie in organization as well as functionality and aesthetics as they will have to imagine the physical appearance, accessibility of your stand as well as being responsible for the ordering and timely deliveries of the furniture, PA system, TVs, banners, screens, etc. As there are quite a lot of separate items to order, it may be worthwhile allowing the Logistics/Operations Coordinator to enlist the help of the venue. Usually, this is not the cheapest option, but definitely helps to take the pressure off as they can supply the majority of items required. They will probably even have extra staff to help with setting up, so it’s worth considering if there is a shortage of team members.
2. Team Coordinator
Choose carefully when selecting a Team Coordinator to book flights, accommodation and transfers as this person will also schedule and oversee pre-event training. They should be very organized but at the same time, will help to keep morale and positive spirits high in the days preceding, during and even after the event. Having a schedule of the internal and external deadlines, will help the Team Coordinator to plan out regular training on product knowledge so that the team can effectively communicate this to visitors and potential clients. Again, remembering the overall objective should help the team leader to choose the right people who have the right experience making them suitable to front your overall operation during the event/exhibition/trade fair.
3. Marketing & PR Coordinator
The relevant team member who normally deals with marketing will already have their campaign thought out from the beginning and will be the person who communicates the overall objective to potential visitors and clients. They will work with the Logistics/Operations Coordinator when scheduling the timely arrival of promotional materials, banners and marketing material for distribution during the event. In the months preceding the event, they should brief the Team Coordinator’s group every time a marketing e-mail, press release, etc is launched so that the teams can handle pre-event inquiries.
During the days before the event, they can brief the Team Coordinator’s group on the marketing material and handouts so that the communication of the overall objective is clear to everyone. On set up day, their vision along with that of the Logistics/Operations Coordinator will help to make the exhibition stand easy to navigate, pleasing to look at and communicate clearly the objective of the business.
The Logistics/Operations, Team and Marketing & PR Coordinators should all maintain transparent and clear communication throughout the event planning process as all of their combined efforts should result in the exhibition event running smoothly and according to plan. The above guide aims to facilitate a smooth planning process, specifically for groups of 10 people or more when traveling abroad to represent their businesses at international trade fairs or exhibition style events.