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How to Get Started with a Tradeshow Playbook

BY: Rex Houlihan     Oct 22, 2015 2:00:00 PM

It is fun for me to watch successful veterans from all walks of life and professions improve their trade craft. Over time these experienced individuals take less time, spend less energy, and navigate through the daily grind with apparent ease.

What makes these individuals unique? Whatever their trade, be it law, auto mechanics, the food industry, professional sports, sales, nursing, you name it — all of the successful professionals have created, in one form or another, a playbook for success.

These skilled individuals have amassed a wealth of experience and knowledge. Many have documented how they get from Point A to Point B in a seemingly effortless manner.

When it comes to tradeshow and event management, I see it all the time when I walk the show floor during set up. Individuals calmly going about their work, guiding, cajoling, and occasionally cheering their team. What I don’t always see, but know is around, is that well-worn, dog-eared events playbook.

Can an iPad have dog ears? Whatever the source, contained within the notebook are contact numbers, reservation receipts, sketches, contracts, confirmations, websites, pictures, freight descriptions, weight, dimensions, colors, locations, deadline dates, code names, product numbers, shirt sizes, etc. It is a who’s who and a what’s what gathered from years of service in the events industry.

I have also had the pleasure of witnessing the birth of these playbooks as less experienced coordinators get their start. It is fascinating to watch them snap a picture of a receipt and file it in the appropriate online folder. Done! What’s next?

Whether you use a paper notebook or an electronic version is your choice. Regardless, get started building your events playbook today.

Here are a few suggestions for getting started:

Sketch a framework that will work as an overall guide for you as well as a show-to-show playbook.

Master Info

  • Emergency numbers
  • Contacts, addresses, websites for all service providers, including airlines
  • Freight inventory: pieces, weights, dimensions, colors, contents
  • Display diagrams
  • Annual show schedule with dates, locations

Individual Show Info

  • Show schedule
  • Show location, dates, times
  • Services ordered from service providers
  • Receipts for show services ordered
  • Booth personnel and contact info
  • Expected display set up: pieces, weights,
  • Expected collateral: pieces, quantities
  • Game plan for move in, show time, and move out
  • Move out instructions

Once you have built a usable framework, take it on the road. If using the electronic version, place your name on the battery charger prior to heading out. As you move from show to show, edit your playbook to fit your needs. To turbocharge your education, seek out veteran coordinators that are similarly organized professionals. You will be well on your way to becoming that successful events professional.

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Topics: Tradeshow Shipping, Event Shipping


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