My wife and I just spent the weekend with my son and future daughter-in-law. Most of the time was consumed with wedding planning. Let’s just say I had no idea how much planning a wedding has changed in the last 35 years. Either that or I was just oblivious to it back then – which certainly could have been the case.
Being the parents of the groom, we weren’t sure how much we would be involved, but because they are both living away from their home towns, and planning a wedding that is not in either home town, they are looking for help wherever they can get it.
I like to think I am pretty good at planning. I mean, that’s really what we do in this industry, isn’t it? Trade show and event planning consumes our lives. We do trade show marketing planning, pre-show, at-show and post-show planning, logistics planning, production planning, installation planning. It all requires a close attention to detail and an ability to communicate well with our clients and suppliers.
As I scan the multi-page long ‘wedding planning checklist’ published in the incredibly thick wedding planning magazine my wife is carrying around, I realize I am in way over my head. I need my account manager, my designer, my estimator, my project manager and my I&D manager if we are going to have any hope of pulling this ‘event’ off without a hitch.
And then we meet the ‘wedding planner’. She is in charge of the venue where the reception will be held. And it is apparent from the outset that she has been down this road before. No question goes unanswered. And many more are answered before they are asked. By the end of our session, we are all a bit more comfortable about what we have gotten ourselves into.
Over the course of this weekend, we tasted wedding cakes, met with florists, visited the ceremony venue, met the caterer and tasted a variety of food (all very good), and met with the reception venue staff. We reviewed the design for the invitation, reception card, RSVP card and accommodations card. We spent a lot of time creating invitation lists. And that’s just the tip of the planning iceberg. What my son and I really wanted to do by the end of this exercise was go taste beer. Lots of it.
I do wonder how many of our clients have that same overwhelmed feeling when presented with the list of action items required to pull off their big annual trade show. And as the people leading this exercise, I wonder how well we do at getting them to feel like they are in good hands with our team.
While they may be in charge of the event, they are relying heavily on our expertise, our experience, our support to create a successful trade show or event for their company. We are the ones that can bring calm to their storm, to help them feel like this isn’t as big a task as they initially thought it would be. And to make them look fabulous on their day under the lights.
I was amazed at the amount and level of detail required to pull off a wedding in this day and age. I had no idea. And we’re not talking about anything I would consider outlandish or over the top. This is a pretty basic wedding. But the more we got into it, the more it became apparent that each of these details was important to the success of the overall event.
It was also very apparent that each of the people involved in the planning – the venue hosts, caterers, florists, photographers, etc. – was critical to the success of the event. Every one works together to provide the bride and groom a day to remember.
And that’s no different than the vast majority of the work we do for our clients. They’re not usually the biggest exhibitors in their shows, and aren’t the ones with the biggest budgets. But the level of detail required to create the successful event is just as impressive.
And the work our teams do is just as important – show management, show contractors, exhibit houses, I&D companies, services suppliers. Everyone works together to provide the exhibitor the show to remember. We just don’t get to eat cake.
See you on the show floor!
Jim Obermeyer has been in the tradeshow industry over 30 years, both as a corporate trade show manager and exhibit house executive. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.