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I spent two weeks in Las Vegas this fall working with three clients at the National Business Aviation Association show. Being there that long – from raw concrete floor through install, show, dismantle and ship out – is like stepping out of your regular life for an alternate life; one that has both plusses and minuses.

One thing I really like about working the show floor is that I can focus on one thing and one thing only: success for our exhibiting clients. All the other business owner, sales manager, office stuff takes a back seat to making sure we are setting our clients up for success – for a positive return on their investment – at this show.

I was sitting around a local microbrew one evening with the crew, having an Oktoberfest beer, and we were all telling stories about adult children and grandchildren. The thought occurred to me that 25 years ago, we would have been heading to some high-zoot club on the strip for the night. Man, we’re getting old. But we’re still out here.

Bringing the right guys with you to do a show like this is critical. We brought one of our lead carpenters from the shop who has years of I&D supervision experience and a lead man from our I&D company’s Atlanta office. These guys are on it. I’d take them anywhere. When they’re not here, it is noticed by our team and by our clients. They know who the hardest workers are.

Old hotel casinos smell bad. There is no smell like it anywhere else in the world. And it is not good. It must just be years and years of stale smoke and spilled drinks.

A good I&D city manager sets the stage for success. These guys are master jugglers – better than any act in this town. They’re balancing their company’s needs, the exhibit house’s needs, the end client’s needs and all the wide and varied personalities of their men. I don’t know how they do it and stay sane. Kudos to Jason Jenne and Sean Privette from Zenith Labornet, who are real men of genius.

It doesn’t seem to matter how much time you spend thinking about, talking about and planning about a new exhibit property. Once you hit the show floor, all the details, good and not-so-good, will come to light. Everyone involved in engineering a new exhibit should be required to put in time on the show floor solving those issues as they come up.  You’ll never truly know this business until you work on the show floor.

Boulder City, Nev., is a cool place to escape to when you get over-stimulated by all the lights and noise of Las Vegas. It’s a quiet little town out near Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, and it’s the only town in Nevada without gambling. It’s a trip back in time. And there’s a nice little micro-brewery there. Sit at a table outside and look at real stars and feel the fresh desert air.

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has been in the middle of a political firestorm ever since the current political administration started bashing business aviation several years ago. Their program “No Plane/No Gain” was designed to promote the industry as one that creates jobs, fosters economic development, provides a transportation lifeline for towns across the U.S. and helps people and communities in crisis.

Their recently launched media campaign uses Warren Buffett as a spokesman to promote business aviation as a facilitator for face-to-face communication. After reading the five ads in the campaign, each containing a quote from Buffett, I could just as easily have seen these same ads promoting our industry. See if you don’t agree:

“Can you really be there for your customer if you’re not really there?”

“You’re more likely to be on the same page when you’re in the same room.”

“Ever give a firm handshake over a speaker phone?”

“How are they going to see things your way if they can’t even see you?”

“How will you ever see eye-to-eye if you’re never face to face?”

I love these quotes. I would love to have seen these used to promote the tradeshow and event industry as well as business aviation. Whether by plane, train or automobile, we’re trying to promote the same thing: being there face-to-face.

Have a wonderful holiday season. Spend some time face-to-face with your family and friends.

See you on the show floor.

Jim Obermeyer has been in the tradeshow industry 30 years, both as a corporate trade show manager and exhibit house executive. He is a partner in the trade show and event marketing firm Reveal. He can be reached at jobermeyer@revealexhibits.com.

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