In our world of event planning and tradeshows, it is a given that something will go wrong. Signage could get ripped, damaged, or not installed properly. Booth staffers could come down with the epic flu of the year. Your booth location may have looked good on paper but is less than desirable when you get onsite. So how can you work through all the issues that pop up and have a successful event? Is it luck? We don’t think so.  

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” which to us at Freemind Seattle means that there is no luck necessary for a great event! A great event is pulled off by hard work and expertise, it’s all about staying calm and finding the best solution. Melissa Bathum and Kori Monson are the best in the business when it comes to ensuring things are done well, on time and stress-free. So, Victoria asked the pros: “How would they handle these situations?”  

Here is how to think about some common issues that happen at tradeshows in order to make the best decision while staying calm. Even if you aren’t a natural ‘keep calm and carry on’ type, you can learn how to use your mental toolbox to solve problems effectively:   

The SWAG hasn’t arrived!  

 First ask: Will it arrive at any time during the conference? Or will it arrive after? Or is it just lost completely?   

Arriving sometime during the conference: Give your attendees a sticker for their badge, a card to hold on to, a raffle ticket or wristbands to show at your booth (or designated area) in order to receive the SWAG item once it arrives.   

Arriving after?: If possible, scan your attendees’ badges in order to gather their registration information. You can then mail out the items to them individually at your expense. No badge scanning capability? Have attendees drop business cards into a bowl, or to fill out a short form (we suggest name, company and email address).   

The SWAG is lost forever?: Change the approach. Go to a store and get 1 “large” (read: desirable to attendee) item to raffle off for each day. This will still encourage people to come to the booth for you to engage with. (Kori also says “Fire your SWAG vendor and get a new one. Any good vendor will make sure your items arrive”)  

The booth owner comes in and doesn’t like the setup? (Even after you go through months of design and they have seen renderings…they are still. not. happy.)  

Three thoughts go through Kori’s mind when this happens:  

  1. Sorry, this is how you designed it. This is how it is.   
  1. Thank you for the feedback…let’s think about this for the next show.  
  1. Absolutely, give me 30 min to gather some labor and we can adjust. However, there will be some additional costs for that labor. After we get those costs estimates we can make a call on how you would like to proceed.  

1 is NEVER the answer.   

2 is the answer you give AFTER you’ve given solutions.   

3 is the best first step. This is where you should start.   

Get ahead of the problems! 

The best advice we can give is to set yourself and the event up for success. Which means thinking ahead and trying to build plan C, D & E into your Plan A.  

For example, for any event or tradeshow, we are hired for that has SWAG or collateral, we create a very simple sheet in Excel that we can enter in all the information we need to ensure a smooth process. We like to track: Order ID, Tracking Number, Description of SWAG, Amount Ordered and Onsite Contact Person. That way, we know who to contact on site for delivery, what kind of SWAG and how much is coming.  

Use past experiences of what has happened to better inform and prep yourselves in the beginning stages of planning. The better prepared, the faster the fix!  

Long story short… 

Ultimately, we are in this business because we are problem solvers and “fixers”.  It’s hard to tell you what exactly we would do in every situation because it all depends on the event, the location, the day of the week, and the client’s needs. What we can tell you that failure is not an option for the Freemind Seattle team, looking for solutions is the only way we know how to do things.   

You may not recognize us personally on the show floor, but you will recognize our work. Professional touches make all the difference on a busy trade show floor. And those potential clients you are hoping to attract will appreciate our attention to detail. From spacious floor layouts and amazing SWAG, to well developed and delivered information to all vendors and attendees. We are prepared, experienced and excited to tackle our next project.