Having already prepared your strategy and objectives for attending an exhibition as well as completing the Trade Show Marketing Plan, you now need to review the project plan.
It is essential to know the deadline dates for completing key activities. Most importantly you need to ensure that you do not miss the deadlines of the show organisers.
It is vital to highlight all your own organisation logistics on your check list including what needs to be planned, purchased and organised before the exhibition starts. This time line and check list document is an aide memoire that should keep you focused on target and on track to accomplish your goals and objectives.
What is a Trade Show Time Line?
When creating an event time line for a conference or for a trade show and exhibition, start with the event date as the end-goal and work out all the timings backwards from that date. Everything has to be accomplished before the start of the exhibition.
For a trade show you should always check on the exhibition organisers’ website for the deadline dates for ordering services. Fill these dates into your time plan allowing for pre-planning logistics so that you can accomplish the actions by the deadline. Also note any restrictions or conditions of the contract. The more time you have to prepare before an exhibition the better the project should run and the less stress it will cause you.
An example of a timeline
|Exhibition name, Place date||Location Stand Hall stand #|
|Breakdown times and dates:|
|Week Ending DD/MM/YY [Start with the nearest to current date]||Describe the action||Initials of person or persons to accomplish this action||Describe what needs to be done, how the action is progressing, any other useful comments usually with a date you have actioned items||Date finished|
|Tends to be a week-ending date rather than an actual date unless its the tradeshow deadline date||First add time critical deadlines from the exhibition organisers and then fill in with other check list items according to when they need to be accomplished by|
|Week Ending DD/MM/YY||Show build time|
|Show date||Dates of the exhibition|
|Week Ending DD/MM/YY||Follow up items|
What is a Check List?
A check list provides a step by step guide so that you can clearly see organisation and execution of the logistics for the exhibition. This should be incorporated into the time line so that the items covered are actioned with the person responsible within the deadlines required. Items to consider for incorporation into your time line include:
- Corporate objectives as discussed in the blog titled Tips on How to Plan for an Exhibition , for example the theme of the show, strategy etc.
- Budget creation (the budget and financial actions will be covered in the next blog. It is important to note in your time line when the payments are due so you can schedule any deposits for the show or pay for required services.
- Many trade shows have a conference running in parallel and this can be a good opportunity to promote you company by applying for a speaker slot. Note that the selection for the speakers is normally way in advance of the event so you need to keep an eye on the final date of speaker slot submission
- Exhibition space & stand build, or shell scheme, branding, graphics and displays will be covered in tip sheet
- Ascertaining who is attending from the company, communicating with them the show plan, pre-show meeting and training and any rehearsals required, organising a stand rota for staff
- Hotel and travel booking
- Ordering services from the show organisers or your own suppliers such as:
- Catalogue entry, power supply, Wi-Fi, cleaning, catering, furnishing, equipment, technical equipment, software, badge names, scanner for marketing leads, collateral for show, give-aways
- Marketing of event – this is very important so that attendees know you are exhibiting and visit your stand. Do not leave this just to the show organisers’ marketing of their exhibition. You need to promote your company to your own contacts or potential clients and prospects. This could include: PR, press packs, advertising, website, on-line promotion, social media, twitter, database use, direct mail, invitations, fliers, promotion at show, sponsorship, email marketing, newsletter, collection of leads, telemarketing, competitions, internal documents and communications
- Planning of on-stand presentations and demonstrations, organising meetings with prospects or clients beforehand, booking meeting rooms, hosting dinners and corporate hospitality
- Shipping of exhibition stand, collateral etc. Be sure to check the destination customs and excise as to when road lorries are allowed to travel as certain countries do not allow goods vehicles to travel on a Sunday
- Organising security and insurance, planning for health and safety considerations
Remember that the time line and check list document is not written in stone. It should be a working document and amended as required.
It is very important to check and re-check the items and progress throughout the pre-planning period, and not just before going on-site, to make sure everything is ready. Sometimes there can be misunderstanding so it is better to be sure all is in order. The main thing to remember everyone wants the show to be a success and the more pre-planning and checking you do beforehand the better prepared you are for the unexpected.