Planning for Trade Shows takes a lot of time and patience, but planning ahead can save you money and a lot of hassle. Here are the Top 5 Reasons Not to Procrastinate with Your Trade Show Planning:
1) Better Booth Locations and Money Savings
Seasoned Exhibitors are familiar with how important planning ahead is when it comes to reserving your booth space and ordering show site services, but one of the biggest benefits is being able to reserve a booth space in a desirable location on the show floor. Since many shows take place at the same convention center each year (not all of them, but a lot of them), I have customers that while they are still at the show, will reserve their booth space for the following year. So they will essentially reserve their booth 1 year before the next show comes around. This is smart, since not only can they take advantage of early bird specials to save money, but they also get to select the best possible location. Finding a booth space in a high-traffic area with the most exposure is critical. For example, having a corner booth allows for exposure from two aisle ways and so those fill up quickly. Getting in early will give you an opportunity to grab these before they’re gone.
2) Avoiding the Late Fee Trap
There is nothing worse than taking money and lighting it on fire, but that is essentially what some exhibitors do when they pay late fees for not taking the time to plan ahead and follow the Exhibitor Handbook’s important dates. Aside from reserving booth spaces late and having to pay additional costs, watch out for other late charges with shipping freight to the show or ordering show site services. One important date is called the ‘Advance Warehouse’ date. This is where freight can be sent in advance of the show’s start date. This option is best since it allows you to confirm that your freight was indeed received before the show gets started and also because the fees charged by the show are less. If you miss the Advance Warehouse date, you generally have two options. One is to still ship to the Advance Warehouse, but pay a late fee. The other is bypass the Advance Warehouse and ship direct to ‘Show Site’, but keep in mind the fees will be higher and you run the risk of cutting it too close with your freight. Any hiccup in the shipping logistics might be a disaster if it doesn’t arrive in time.
3) Expedited Shipping Costs and Your Stuff Not Showing Up
It’s one thing to expedite a job and ship it overnight, but it’s a whole another story when you take these steps to rush a job for overnight shipping and it is doesn’t show up because UPS or FedEx drops the ball. That’s exactly what happened to a sizable job we did last week for a company exhibiting in Chicago. We rushed to get custom printed graphics produced in just 3 days and schedule a Next Day Air Priority Saturday Delivery and guess what?! They didn’t show up. FedEx mis-routed the package and since the local sorting facility was closed on Sunday we had to wait until Monday to finally received the graphics and set them up. Now fortunately in this case, the actual show started on Tuesday, so they were up and done by the time the doors opened, but it certainly kept all of us on edge all weekend because of this. Plan Early and Ship Early. Give yourself enough time to plan for worst cast scenarios because it’s only a matter of time until a glitch like this can happen to you.
Another problem that can arise from procrastination is your supplier not being able to get the job done. If the production time for a job typically takes 5-6 business days in the slow season, then it wouldn’t surprise me if that moves to 8-10 business days or more during the busy trade show season. Production calendars get full and can often create a problem with getting the job done on time. So make sure that if it has been a week or more since the last time you asked about the lead production time, I would ask again because things can change.
5)Peace of Mind
Lastly, the best reason to plan ahead and not procrastinate as your next show rolls around is for your own personal peace of mind and sanity. It feels great to have all your ducks in a row and not have to worry about small details that can create a lot of unnecessary stress. My advice is to mark important dates on your Google Calendar or your other organizational tool of your choice and then pad it with several days to weeks to stay ahead of the curve. What is the quote? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Or something like that! Hope this helps.