Category Archives: How To Run A Conference

Event Management Tips: Planning for and Managing an Incident or Emergency On-Site During an Event

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In my last tip I outlined the importance of having a back-up plan when organising an event. In that post I reviewed the natural occurrences that can disrupt an event, such as adverse weather, and man-made concerns like bomb threats or terrorist activity.

In this blog I am going to discuss why it is important for Event Managers to plan for a major incident or emergency, especially in these days of terrorist attacks. It is the event manager’s responsibility to make sure all visitors and workers are not exposed to health and safety risks. This includes during the event and during the setup and takedown of the event for those who have access at those times.

The level of planning for an emergency will be dependent on the size and scale of the event as well as other factors including the degree of risk, the audience, the location of the event and its duration. A safety plan should be created that references all these aspects.

It is important to communicate all your plans with your employees and the events team during the planning. The plan should designate who is responsible for the various aspects of safety if an incident arises, as well as the communication paths and decision-making structure.

Good communication and liaison is important in order to share how risks will be controlled with the venue, management, emergency services and suppliers. It is also needed to communicate your prepared safety plan effectively.
This link gives an example of a guidance note for event organisers when producing an event emergency plan.

Planning for incidents and emergencies at an event

emergency excit

Planning for Event Staff:

  • Create an event handbook
  • Know your location – understand the threats
  • Check venue security provisions are in place
  • Instigate a direct line of reporting in an emergency
  • Make sure all staff have emergency phone numbers for both event staff, venue and emergency services stored in their mobile phone contacts
  • Make sure staff know the emergency exits and first aid points
  • Confirm staff next of kin and passport details are up to date
  • Carry some cash at all times as this may be needed in an emergency
  • Download CitizenAid app on mobile phone
  • Risk Assessment: Consider the key risks, both for staff and delegates, include contingency plans to deal with situations of limited impact as well as responses to more serious emergencies
  • Produce and share emergency procedures with your staff, as well as incorporating the venue’s emergency procedures. Ensure that all relevant staff members understand what they should do in the event of an emergency, no matter what their normal working role is, including raising the alarm. Identify to them the location of exits and emergency equipment. They should know from whom they should receive instructions etc.
  • Have a pre-event briefing with all staff, show the National Counter-terrorism office video Run Hide and Tell
  • Pre-event make sure you charge phones and battery packs
  • Have radios on back-up in case the network goes down
  • Be mindful of local staff who may be affected as the incident is occurring in their local area or city

The Emergency Plan

Met_Police_Response_Car

 

This should cover the following depending on the size and location of the event:

  • Mobilising onsite resources to attend and tackle the incident
  • Removing people from immediate danger
  • The management of any casualties including providing medical assistance
  • Raising the alarm and informing the public and telling staff what they need to do. It is worth having a code that you only use to tell staff there is an incident
  • Alerting and assisting emergency services
  • Incident control
  • Traffic management, including emergency vehicles
  • Controlling crowds and attendees including evacuation if safe to do so. If the incident is terrorist related you may need to instigate lock-down – follow instructions from the emergency services
  • Evacuation of disabled people and other vulnerable classes of people including children who may become separated from their parents. Plan for additional assistance requirements
  • Handing over to the emergency services where applicable
    Dealing with displaced and non-injured attendees; if in lock-down provide refreshments
  • Protecting property
  • Ensure that the plan is flexible to cope with changes in events
  • The plan for emergency situations should set out the overall framework for the initiation, management, co-ordination and control of personnel and assets in an emergency onsite

Emergency Procedures

  • Check all escape routes are available, well lit, unlocked and unobstructed
  • Appoint people to be responsible for implementing the emergency procedures in the event of an incident or emergency
  • Ensure that a clear management structure is place, identifying the key decision makers
  • Discuss plans with the police, fire and rescue service, the ambulance service, emergency planning and, for fixed premises such as stadiums and arenas, the venue management
  • Agree with the emergency services on issues such as access routes to the site, the use of any grid-referenced maps, rendezvous points, and transfer of authority for a major incident from the event organiser to the emergency services
  • Stopping the show/conference: Identify key people and initiate a show-stop procedure, communicate with presenters and attendees; have an agreed public announcement for this.
  • Evacuation – Remain calm and encourage attendees to keep calm. Work as a team. If evacuation is required direct people towards emergency exits
  • Lock-down: After stopping the conference or show direct people to a safe area within the building; explain to attendees why it is not safe to leave. Provide refreshments if required. Keep in contact with the police and emergency services regarding the situation
  • Review after the incident. If incident impact has been limited you may be able to start the show or event again. Only restart after consultation with emergency services. Make sure staff and services are ready and in position for the restart
    After an Incident
  • If evacuation proves necessary, make sure delegates are assembled in the correct holding area, check everyone is alright. Listen to emergency services for information about when to release attendees
  • If in lock down make sure attendees have refreshments, if in a hotel check whether bedrooms are available, work with the venue or hotel operations management
  • Only allow people to leave when instructed to do so by the emergency services
  • Assist delegates if they require accommodation, transportation, flights etc…
  • Have a debrief afterwards with events staff as well as venue see what went well and what can be improved upon.
  • Review incident and emergency plans for future events

Find out more
B2B Event Management Logistics Tips – Risk Assessment, Health and Safety, insurance and contingency planning

Health and Safety Executive and Excellent Government website on event safety and emergency procedures

Managing an event

Incidents and Emergencies

Why it is so important to have a back-up plan when organising events, and how to deal with problems

Now that winter is here it has reminded me how important it is to have a back-up plan. Unforeseen circumstances can affect your event causing them not to run to order.

Along with risk assessment and health and safety is always advisable to have a plan B.  So many outside circumstances can affect your event.  It is also very important to make sure whatever event you are holding that you have the right kind of insurance cover which includes cancellation.  You should also have all the details of attendee emergency contact details and a detailed process for a disaster with line of management contacts and a plan for implementation.

  • Natural Problems -Weather is a factor outside of our control, especially if organising an outdoor event, you should always have an alternative plan in case the event cannot go ahead outside.
    • Snow can affect not just transportation of delegates getting to an event; it can delay speakers or key attendees attending.  Remember to consider the date and time of year you are holding your event. How probable is weather going to affect your event by blocked roads due to snow or heavy rain causing flooding.
    • Winter time can also be a time when people tend to get colds or flu.  Have a back-up if your key speaker is unable to attend.  You may have to change to another speaker or the order of the programme.
    • Heatwave – It is lovey to have sunshine for your event but too much heat can also be dangerous.  Make sure you have plenty of cover and shade, fans or air conditioning, plenty of water for people to drink.
    • Fire can also affect a venue or area, be aware of previous history of any of these events to the venue/location.
    • Drought can cause water shortages and some areas have to reduce the availability of water.  You may need to use bottled water instead of jugs of tap water for drinking.
    • Strong winds can affect power as well as transportation to an event and if you are holding an event outside you need to make sure all power cables and marquees and free-standing temporary buildings, posts, signage, fencing etc… are anchored.

 

  • Man Made Problems – A Strike this can affect the venue, staffing, and public transportation to an event.
  • Terrorism – if travelling abroad check with government websites regarding travelling to certain countries.
  • Politics – streets being closed due to protestors, check with local authorities and police as to what is being affected.
  • Power outage – hopefully this can be temporary but always check with venue what they do in the event of this happening do they have back-up generators?
  • Fire – At venue make sure that you are aware of all emergency exits and also the drill in where to meet should this occur.
  • Health – If required have a medical team and ambulance on site.  Ill health or food poisoning, check all food standards and certification, know where the nearest Dr Surgery, hospital etc…
  • Security – make sure that you have the right level of security in place whether it is security on access or if an exhibition make sure expensive equipment is secured.

On the whole most of the time the event will run according to plan, but the better prepared you are the better the outcome should the unexpected happen.

 

Corporate reasons for having a conference

Conferences-And-Meetings

There can be many business reasons why a company should consider having a conference, and events are an important part of the marketing mix.  Listed below are some marketing reasons for holding a conference or seminar that a company or organisation may use to promote.

Reasons for a conference could be:

  • A medium for passing on information, specifically for new products and services
  • Internal communication to employees regarding internal information, such as training, boosting morale, making announcements, launch a new culture
  • Used by associations to network and educate their members
  • Yearly or quarterly way to communicate with their sales force, partners or distributors
  • A forum for discussing world issues or topical subjects

An example of benefits for the business client to attend a software companies conference or seminar

  • Excellent communication forum for the end user, ability to meet senior managers from the corporation,  to get advise, discuss business propositions, get answers straight from the software engineers, product developers
  • Ability to fast track communications to the highest level
  • Good for the client to feel that they are having an impact on the future direction of the company and its products in relation to their requirements
  • Excellent for networking and meeting other users and hearing their business experiences, share ideas, solutions to problems
  • Good for education and increasing knowledge of the products and business environment
  • The event enables the attendee to build up a picture of the quality of the company products or services

Benefits from the Companies perspective

  • One of the marketing vehicles for increasing regular communications with both current, new and potential customer
  • A platform enabling the company to know the client better and understand their business needs for the portfolio of products and services that they are developing
  • Make the customer feel that they are being listened to and giving the company first hand research into the future product direction
  • Excellent PR opportunity to made customer feel important and build on loyalty and customer relationship by sponsoring a drinks reception and dinner
  • Good opportunity to get the TPV/Resellers involved promoting the companies products and making them more involved with the clients, as well as strengthening the business alliance
  • Opportunity to increase sales of products with users through workshops demonstrations
  • Event feedback should be measured against the objectives to understand the bench mark for the next event.  All events should be reviewed and measured to see if it has been a good marketing vehicle for ROI, and how to improve on future events.

Exhibition on-site logistics tips

On-Site Logistics

Build-up – Arrive during the build of the stand. Prepare the stand for display with any graphics, audio visual equipment, furniture in position, hardware, brochures, give-aways, catering etc.

  • Store any additional travel boxes with stand builder or in exhibition storage area.
  • Check all boxes and items have been delivered to the stand or collect them as required.
  • Prepare and give to company representatives and exhibitors their stand roster schedule. Make sure that you have the right combination of expertise on the stand at all times and that you have scheduled meal and coffee breaks.
  • Let all staff know who is the official company spokesperson should you have press coming to the stand.
  • Inform staff of any competitions and how they work, and how the lead forms are filled in and processed.
  • Perform a practice run with all equipment to check it is working. Rehearse any presentation.
  • Inform staff who is in charge of the stand and what each person’s role and responsibilities are.
  • If press packs are required deliver them to the press centre.
  • Re-confirm any booked meeting rooms.
  • Re-confirm times, places and staff attending any hospitality events such as parties, drinks receptions and dinners.

Logistics during Show

  • Before the show opens make sure that you arrive first before the opening of exhibition hall so that you can unlock the office and storage areas and make sure that everything is ready and working before the tradeshow opens.
  • During the show check the stock levels of give-aways, display literature and catering.
  • Make sure that staff do not put all their coats and bags in the back office rather than in the cloakroom where they should be.
  • Make sure that you or another designated person is allocated the responsibility for turning equipment off or locking up at the end of the day.
  • At the end of the day run through any logistics for the next day and identify any problems experienced and communicate what can be done better. Then unwind with staff informally.
  • Take plenty of photos of stand during the show.
  • Collect leads and, if appropriate, make sure that those back at the office prepare any follow up that is required.

Close of Show logistics

  • Allocate duties and responsibilities to staff regarding the close of show and tear down. Debrief staff.
  • Collect any storage boxes.
  • Clearly label any boxes that are returning to the home office.
  • Make sure items from the stand are packed securely and put away. Use your inventory check list for this.
  • Arrange for the transportation of any boxes. If items are being collected by the stand builder make sure that they know which these are and confirm when you expect them back in the office.

In the final tip we will be outlining follow up process from the exhibition and feedback.

Tips – Final Preparation Before Going On-site at an Exhibition

Image result for check list on-site exhibition logistics

Preparation Just Before Going On-Site

You have done your check list and double checked that everything has been ordered and re-confirmed this with your suppliers. You have gone through the timeline and made sure that you are up to date and have everything ready to go. Now use this list to remind yourself of other things you need to have achieved:

  • Check all monies and invoices have been paid.
  • Check you have ordered any necessary:
    • Power
    • Telecommunications facilities
    • Equipment
    • Stand cleaning
    • Insurance
    • Furniture
    • Floral displays
    • Catering
  • Check and inform the appropriate people of any travel arrangements, hotel accommodation and meeting rooms that you have booked.
  • If you are having any speakers represent your company at any of the sessions make sure that they have travel and hotel bookings and that these have been confirmed. Check that they have been sent their seminar session information including session times, plans of the conference rooms and exhibition layout.
  • Make sure that any staff who are due to attend and help have been sent details of the exhibition, including your stand number and hall. They will need to know what days and times they are attending and when to meet, and they will need a show plan.
  • Have a conference call or meeting with everyone attending to run through the schedule of the show and what is expected from their participation.
  • Make sure all staff to understand the objectives and goals you want to achieve at this exhibition.
  • Prepare staff – make sure they have a complete knowledge of your company and its products and services, both current and new, and also that they know the relevant market trends and competition so that they are able to talk effectively with prospective customers.
  • Run though pre-training required by staff and make sure they are familiar with any equipment, demonstrations or presentations that they will need to use or refer to.
  • Run through the process of lead collection and allocate staff in the home office to follow up these appropriately as soon as possible after they have been generated.
  • Make an inventory and pack items to be taken to the show, such as literature, give-aways and lead forms as well as equipment, software and stock. These can often be delivered to the show by the stand builders or by using the services of a transportation freighting company. Make sure that if you are exhibiting in a non-EU country that you have filled out the correct customs forms for clearance and re-entry back to your home country.
  • Confirm that freight has arrived and all contractors are on schedule.
  • Check that you have sent out badges or passes as required.
  • Prepare an exhibition handbook with all information about the exhibition and your company’s participation, as well as supplier contact and names.
  • Plan to travel out during the build-up of the stand to make sure all is running to schedule and that you are there to supervise the stand build. Take photo of stand before show opening.

The next blog tip will be live on-site logistics

Final Check for Exhibitor to review before going to a Tradeshow

Preparation Just Before Going On-Site

You have done your check list and double checked that everything has been ordered and re-confirmed this with your suppliers. You have gone through the timeline and made sure that you are up to date and have everything ready to go. Now use this list to remind yourself of other things you need to have achieved:

  • Check all monies and invoices have been paid.
  • Check you have ordered any necessary:
    • Power
    • Telecommunications facilities
    • Equipment
    • Stand cleaning
    • Insurance
    • Furniture
    • Floral displays
    • Catering
  • Check and inform the appropriate people of any travel arrangements, hotel accommodation and meeting rooms that you have booked.
  • If you are having any speakers represent your company at any of the sessions make sure that they have travel and hotel bookings and that these have been confirmed. Check that they have been sent their seminar session information including session times, plans of the conference rooms and exhibition layout.
  • Make sure that any staff who are due to attend and help have been sent details of the exhibition, including your stand number and hall. They will need to know what days and times they are attending and when to meet, and they will need a show plan.
  • Have a conference call or meeting with everyone attending to run through the schedule of the show and what is expected from their participation.
  • Make sure all staff to understand the objectives and goals you want to achieve at this exhibition.
  • Prepare staff – make sure they have a complete knowledge of your company and its products and services, both current and new, and also that they know the relevant market trends and competition so that they are able to talk effectively with prospective customers.
  • Run though pre-training required by staff and make sure they are familiar with any equipment, demonstrations or presentations that they will need to use or refer to.
  • Run through the process of lead collection and allocate staff in the home office to follow up these appropriately as soon as possible after they have been generated.
  • Make an inventory and pack items to be taken to the show, such as literature, give-aways and lead forms as well as equipment, software and stock. These can often be delivered to the show by the stand builders or by using the services of a transportation freighting company. Make sure that if you are exhibiting in a non-EU country that you have filled out the correct customs forms for clearance and re-entry back to your home country.
  • Confirm that freight has arrived and all contractors are on schedule.
  • Check that you have sent out badges or passes as required.
  • Prepare an exhibition handbook with all information about the exhibition and your company’s participation, as well as supplier contact and names.
  • Plan to travel out during the build-up of the stand to make sure all is running to schedule and that you are there to supervise the stand build. Take photo of stand before show opening.
  • Final check all travel/accommodation arrangements and information to arrive exhibition in time for the build up.

Tips on Marketing and Publicity for Exhibitors – Promoting your Exhibition

Your marketing and publicity should be part of your whole marketing plan for exhibiting. Trade shows are a powerful element of the marketing mix in that they enable you to have face to face conversations with your customers and prospects, and to gather sales leads.

Your business and brand needs to be known to potential customers who are attending the trade show. The attendees will gravitate towards the brands that are familiar, visible and readily available to them. You want as many of the right kind of attendees to come to your stand.

Image result for photos marketing exhibitions

You need to ensure that you meet the right people, set up productive meetings and drive traffic to your stand. To do this you need to make sure that your marketing is targeted to the right attendees: those who will be interested in your products and who could potentially lead to a sale.

Image result for photos marketing exhibitions

Depending on your budget there are different types of marketing and ways of promoting your exhibit at a trade show. Some are free and others are chargeable. There are also different ways of marketing and promoting your presence at a trade show.

We will look at the various ways of promoting your event in this tip blog  and then in the next blog tip we will look at the different types of traditional and on-line marketing that you should consider using.

When you start the planning process you need to finalise the theme of the exhibition. All the marketing and communications of the company exhibition and promotion should have the same branding and look-and-feel. All communication about the exhibition should make consistent use of the appearance and branding. If you are highlighting new products then the communications and graphics should reflect the same graphical design.

The Promotion of the Event

  • The marketing of your exhibition is not just about the promotion of the stand and brand but it is also integral to promoting your business, services, and expertise.
  • Whatever marketing methods you adopt make sure you measure the results. This is so that you can determine the most effective method of getting people to your stand and so that you can analyse your Return on Investment (ROI).
  • Make sure that all your promotion is highly focused and correctly targeted.
  • Consider all possible methods of communication because different people like to receive communication in different ways. Use the full range of traditional offline promotion as well as online promotion and social media.

We will outline the marketing and promotion of exhibitions in three sections:

  • Promotion through the Trade Show organisation. (This blog)
  • Traditional Marketing Media promotion. (next blog tip)
  • On-line, Social Media. (next blog tip)

Promotion through a Trade Show Organisation

If you are exhibiting at a trade show then you should not just rely on the organising company to promote the event because you want to stand out from the other competitors and companies who will be promoted at the same time. Do, however, take advantage of their promotional publication to advertise your company stand and products because they will use their large database of previous and new attendees who are already targeted into your market. Promotional opportunities provided by the organisers will vary from trade show to trade show but usually consist of:

  • Promotion of your company in their catalogue of exhibitors. This usually requires a short abstract about your company, what it is that you are promoting, a list of products, photos of the products, and stand location and contact details.
  • An entry onto their website again listing your company products and contact information. Remember products can be searched and products cross-linked.
  • PR article for their newsletter promotion.
  • Advertising on website or pre-event magazine.
  • Sponsorship opportunities. These will be chargeable, but your brand or company name will be promoted on banners, on part of the website, on promotion media and at the exhibition.
  • Taking advantage of speaker opportunities that may arise if the trade show is running an educational seminar or is associated with a specific conference connected to the market segment into which you are marketing.
  • Use the trade show logo on your in-house marketing material and emails to advertise that your company will be exhibiting.

In summary you need to use the best method of promoting your trade show attendance to your market and potential customers. The main point is to make your attendance at the show known so that those coming are aware of your presence and want to visit your stand. It does not matter how good your stand and products are if you don’t get footfall and generate leads to your products.

Tips of Exhibitors – How to Budget for an Exhibition

Event_Budget-1Having already prepared your strategy and objectives for attending an exhibition as well as completing the trade show Marketing Plan, you now need to produce a working budget. The budget needs to be flexible and, as a guide, the trade show cost is normally three times the cost of the exhibition space.
Setting the budget is important to ensure you have funds that are sufficient to fulfil the exhibition’s objectives and to make sure that the exhibition is delivered to the right standard. The details of how to set a budget are discussed below.

Budget Checklist and Budget Control

  • Compile a checklist of:
    – Fixed costs which are normally around 60% of the total budget.
    – Variable costs (for example, supplier costs). This is normally around 25% of the budget.
    – Calculate a reasonable contingency of around 15% of other budget costs.
    – Review your costs regularly. It is most important to establish budgetary control of costs at the beginning of the project planning. This will enable you to know where you are with the on-going costs during the build up to the exhibition. You may find you are able to add enhancements to the stand or you may need to cut back on planned expenditure.

Fixed Costs

These costs need to be covered regardless of the number of attendees or size of an exhibition. Dependent on the type of exhibition stand they normally include exhibition floor reservation and associated payments to the exhibition organiser, the stand build, and furniture which probably makes the largest proportion of the costs.

  • Fixed Production Costs – these include:
  • Exhibiting charges due to the organiser for floor space only or a shell scheme, online marketing entry, exhibition brochure promotion, logo, sponsorship, badges, and storage space.
  • Stand build – the design of exhibition stand and associated costs, the set build or refurbishment of a pre-existing stand, flooring carpets, backdrop, furnishings, graphics, banners, and lighting hire and installation.
  • Supplier costs for furnishings, hire of equipment, such as PC or demonstration equipment, products, lead collection, scanner hire, hostess, photography, security etc.
  • Audio Visual – such as screen, projection, video, camera recording, and laser projection.
  • Sound if using for presentation on the stand to include – speakers, microphones of all types, CD player, mixer, cabling, adaptors, music etc.
  • Speaker support – design, image production, animated images, script writing, and training rehearsals.
  • Crew – you may need to allow for the costs of people for design and equipment hire, installation, freight transportation, rigging and de-rigging and all the technicians for any equipment used in the exhibition (as listed above). You may need to allow for per diem allowances for the exhibition crew too.

Fees and Insurance – this includes event management fees if an agency is being used to help with exhibition management or logistics. You may also need to pay for equipment insurance, or event insurance to cover public liability etc.

Invitation process – although the exhibition organisers will be inviting the general public you may still wish to invite your specific clients or potential clients separately. This will be a once only cost and is not dependent on the number of delegates attending. This can include:

  • Invitation design costs.
  • Print costs for direct mail.
  • Brochure.
  • Website setup.
  • Database list of invitees.
  • Telemarketing follow up.
  • Any advertising, posters and promotional costs.
  • Follow up activity to boost attendee response.

Hospitality costs – This can include both on-site hospitality on the stand, such as food and drinks, and off-site hospitality such as a dinner or a party for your clients and prospects during the exhibition.

Meeting room hire –  if required during the exhibition for private meetings with clients. Normally you will have to pay a deposit on the room hire when booking for the event with a sliding scale of payment to be made as you approach the event. Note that some conference centres do not always include the same services as hotels and these can sometimes be an additional charge to the room hire.

Set up Services – this can include supply of electrical facilities, power, waste disposal, cleaning of the stand, Wi-Fi Access and telephone. Always check exactly what services are included and for what period they are offered.

Variable Costs

These are usually the smaller proportion of your budget and will be dependent on the number of staff and attendees that you expect to attend. It is impossible to be absolutely accurate on your variable costs as exhibitions are dynamic events and constantly change. This is why it is important to create a workable budget in the early stages of your planning. Past historical documentation can be valuable when looking at numbers and previous costs. The variable items need to be checked carefully if the budget is to be kept under control.

Variable costs include:

  • Staff food & drink.
  • Refreshment breaks.
  • Accommodation of staff.
  • Travel costs for staff.
  • Training of staff.
  • Stand promotional give-aways.
  • Graphics and print materials.
  • Press packs and promotion.
  • Flowers.
  • Insurance.
  • Client entertainment and dinners.

Contingency Budget

Always build in at least an extra 15 % of variable and non-variable budget costs as a contingency budget for the unexpected, such as additional drinks, crew overtime, additional catering, and unforeseen hire costs etc. You also need to put in here any currency conversion fluctuation that you may need to cover.

Reference: Planning Successful Exhibition Budgets – http://www.tradeshowinstitute.com/downloads/Trade%20Show%20Budgeting.pdf

Guest Blog: How to pick the perfect giveaway for your event

Swags gotta have swags!

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If you’re anything like me, and by that I mean cheap and love freebies, you would relate marketing events and fairs to a shopping trip for practical stuff you’ll need for the coming year or so. When I’m at such events, I’m usually also on the lookout for freebies I can get concrete use out of. Swags such as pens, notepads and T-shirts are very common at events and for good reason – they’re things everyone needs on a daily basis. In other words, they’re practical. But practical as they are, you don’t always have to go for the same old pens and T-shirts. If you prefer to stand out, you could opt for more creative giveaway ideas.

The basic aim of a swag is to lure event-goers to your stand. That’s the very first step to getting people interested in what you’re offering. Hook them in with a good freebie and proceed from there. From the point of view as a freebie-consumer, you could have the most mundane and mainstream product/service and your stall could be the dullest one in the entire event hall. But if you’ve got an attractive-enough giveaway, I’m making a bee-line for you.

The last event I’d gone to was a work fair some two months ago and while I was looking forward to seeing what job offers there were out there, I was personally more excited about the freebies. They definitely fulfilled their aim of luring me to the different job stalls as I managed to score a number of interviews. But I was perhaps a little over-excited about the freebies which may have compromised my composure during the interviews!

When it comes to choosing the perfect giveaway, you could always go safe or go for something less conventional. With so many options for you to choose from, it can be rather overwhelming. Here’s one easy tip to follow – swags needs to have swag. Given that I’ve never had a green thumb nor been a fan of flowers, a great example of what your giveaway (from my point of view) shouldn’t be like is a pot of flower. The best swag should satisfy the basic criteria of being practical, light, small and easy to print on and cost-effective. A pot of flower is simply the exact opposite of these.

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What the perfect giveaway should be

Practical

A pot of flower sits in the corner of the room and serves no purpose besides taking up space. Plus, I’d have to water it every day – what a chore!

This is key. Items such as T-shirts, pens and thumb drives (they could only be 512mb and I’d still take them in a heartbeat) fair well as popular giveaways for this very reason. They’re items people can use over and over again. I’ve been using pens I got from such fairs for as long as I can remember and in fact don’t even remember the last time I actually bought one.

Light & small

Imagine lugging a pot of flowers all around the fair and on the bus/train home. Sure, it could make for a good conversation starter but I’d very much just prefer a photo of it, thanks.

Nobody, not even freebie-loving me goes to an event with a huge bag with which I can fill freebies. That’s just a tad bit too excessive. That being said, a giveaway needs to be small and light enough in order for it to be practical enough to be taken away.

Easy to print on

Hey let’s print our logo on this petal and have it wilt and fall! No.

If you haven’t already figured this out, your primary purpose of having a stall at a marketing event is to – duh – market your brand! The whole purpose of giveaways is to *drumroll* give away an item by which event-goers will remember you. And if your brand or logo isn’t indicated on the giveaway, chances are that nobody’s going to remember where they got the swag from.

Cost-effective

Forget the pots, flowers are expensive enough – ask anyone with a girlfriend.

You’re guaranteed to be the most popular stall in the event hall if you’re giving away a trip for two to Las Vegas as a promotional item. But unless you’re also harvesting bills or Bill Gates from your pots of flower, that’s obviously unfeasible. Since you’re going to be giving away these items for free, you have to consider the trade-offs. It’s important to not go overboard. Set a strict budget and stick to it.

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Another great example of a good giveaway is food. It’s practical in the sense that it satisfies hunger, is a light snack and small enough to fit in your stomach. That’s unless, of course, what you’re giving away is free steak in which case does not satisfy criteria #4. I remember being so hungry at the job fair that I was absolutely famished by the time I got to the PepsiCo booth. I needed to satiate my hunger and drown out the dreadful melodies being churned out by my stomach juices. That resulted in my shameless munching on Doritos as I was speaking to the PepsiCo representatives – probably why I didn’t get the job. But hey at least I got a free bottle of Mountain Dew after – score! Kinda.

Other items I picked up from the fair include this four-coloured-inked pen and heart-shaped notepad. They do satisfy the criteria of a good giveaway but given that I already have loads of pens and notepads lying around at home from previous fairs, I haven’t had much use for them just yet.

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Hands down my favourite giveaway from the job fair is this tote bag from Estrella Damm’s stall. Given that many supermarkets are now charging consumers for plastic bags, this is an extremely handy item. You’re saving money as well as the Earth! Plus, it can be used to carry all the other freebies from the other stalls, unless someone inadvertently picked up a pot of flower. It’s also simple and versatile enough design that I’d carry it on a regular day out as well. In fact I loved it so much I took a second one when everyone had their backs turned – or so I thought. Suffice to say, I didn’t get this job either!

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In a nutshell (just FYI nutshells don’t make for good giveaways), the main purpose of a freebie is to market your product/service. You want your presence to be felt everywhere. Think of a marketing event as a point where you disseminate information regarding your brand. You’re there to promote yourself and besides networking and chatting with event-goers, another way to do that is through these freebies.

Have you ever seen anyone give away a pot of flower as a freebie? Have you ever shamelessly stuffed your face with food giveaways? What’s the favourite giveaway of yours that you’ve taken? What are some of the most unique freebies you’ve seen around? Do share some of your freebie stories with us!

AUTHOR BIO
Lin’s an all-rounder in terms of physical shape. Her weekly schedule revolves around Printsome, football and abhors cutting her nails.

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Tips for Exhibitors on how to compile a Time Line and Check List whilst planning a Tradeshow or Exhibition

 

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 #
Build date:
Breakdown times and dates:
Date Action Responsible Comments Completed
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

The Logistics:

  • 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.