You’ve packed up the stand (and worked through the first and second parts of my guide), carefully kept all of your notes and data, taken care of your money, and said goodbye to your new friends (all the money I don’t have says it’ll be the people from the catering trucks – one of my favourite events was when I talked one company into giving me free tea on demand). It’s time to head home and relax, right? Wrong! You’ve got work to do (top tip, courtesy of Mama H: if you want to relax, buy a foot spa and use it in your hotel room before bed on the nights mid-event. I’ll expect a card in the post thanking us for that one).
The event’s over, and win, lose or draw, there’s stuff to be done. Here’s what you have to do now:
- Make good – whatever you promised someone one site, make sure it gets done. I like the phrase “under-promise, over-deliver”: when you’re out on site, make sure you only make promises that you can keep or better! If you said you’ll call someone on a certain date, do it. If you said you’d send an email, make sure it happens. Fulfil your obligations, make use of the data you gathered, follow up on any social media (retweets are very quick to do!) and thank the organisers (offer constructive feedback if you have any), plus a huge pat on the back for your staff. Then get the kettle on, put your feet up and have a very quick nap
- Take stock – how was the show for you? Did you get what you wanted out of it, and if not, what stopped you? Was footfall poor? And was that due to positioning, staff, weather conditions, or something else entirely? Were problems you had fixable in future, or is it time to move on entirely? This is where your new friendships also come in handy: did other traders struggle, or did they have a good show? Make sure you use all information available to you: delegate feedback, customer response, exhibitor friendships and support from the show, before you make any decisions
- Get back on the horse – once you’ve analysed the effectiveness of the show, and whether improvements could be made (hint: the answer is ALWAYS “yes”), it’s time to re-book. Avoid hasty decisions, but don’t delay either. The best deals are to be had early on: prime spots are snapped up quickly; shows often offer discounts the sooner you book (plus there are idiosyncrasies such as the fact that VAT could increase); go back to the beginning and book your accommodation and staff, then get plotting! Could you be more creative? Did you get any good ideas from other exhibitors? Was there any inspiration from delegates? Pay attention to new opportunities which crop up throughout the year: are the show introducing goodie bags? Could you have a voucher or promotion in the show guide? Are bigger, show-wide competitions being run? Any opportunities for cross-promotion? Whatever happens, move forward
- Get ahead – packing away well makes life easier when you come to start again. Keep your event kit organised and stocked up, rather than pulling it all out of storage to pack up for the drive and setup only to find that a pen has leaked over valuable kit. Stock up on consumables now: re-stock anything which won’t expire that you’ll need again, even if it seems like something silly such as bin bags. Whilst it’s fresh in your mind, make notes of what you wish you’d done and put it in your diary, electronic calendar, or event box, so that you don’t kick yourself next time (one of my rules is that you can never have enough adhesive, cable ties or tape, but it depends on what you’re trading!)
- Stay excited – make sure you have something positive to offer next time, and keep up the good work with your delivery to clients, social media and promotion. You have been warned: this stuff can get addictive…
The event guide concludes here! I enjoyed putting it together, as it was a trip down memory lane for me and it’s nice to try and pay it forward to other people. I hope you’ve benefited from my experience and, as ever, if you have any questions, please feel free to speak up! And if this has got you terrified rather than excited… I’m someone who has no fear.