Recently, after completing a successful project at the Jacob Javits Center in NY, I sat with my client at the airport, ready for our long trek back to London. We reflected on just how different it is to manage a project in the U.S. compared to Europe and Asia. The main difference (aside from being able to get the best steaks) is that the States is the only place where the exhibition industry’s build teams are governed by a Union workforce. Not saying it’s better or worse than other countries – just different – the basics of delivery on a project are all the same no matter where you are in the world. The success of the project is dependent on short build times and the same high level of expectation is in place regardless of the city. Also, whether you are in London, Düsseldorf or NY, exhibit designers like to push the boundaries on displays in order to stand out from their neighbors and surpass the competition. As many of us know, this filters down to the delivery program.
This discussion reminded me that many of the key challenges overseas exhibition managers face can be overcome by following some simple steps:
- Make sure you have all of the service forms filled out on time, starting with the EAC (Exhibitor Appointed Contractor) form and then meet any requirements for services within the discounted deadline.
- If you are shipping your goods straight to the hall in a container, then make sure the goods do not fall within special handling and that they can be unloaded with a fork truck. Always know the weight of the goods coming in and have a full inventory of items.
- Make sure your shipping company lets you know the ETA so you can have the relevant crews booked – it’s expensive if you book them and your shipments are delayed.
- When building off drawings, it’s always best to have a set of drawings in imperial measurements. Nth Degree’s staff can read metric and imperial, but most other EAC’s can’t.
- Health and Safety rules are different in the U.S. to Europe – abide by local rules and DO NOT try to impose your own country’s regulations in the United States. The results will not be in your favor!
- Be aware of the convention centers with strict union rules that only allow outside workers to supervise – meaning no physical work can be carried out by non-union workers.
- Have a clear and concise plan and timeline that you share with your I&D team’s Project Manager and try to stick to it.
- Work with your I&D Project Manager to make sure you are tracking the budget every day for all trades.
- Make sure if you are bringing anything electrical that it works on a 110 Volt/60 Hertz cycle system as your lighting will flicker if it’s made for Europe.
- Be certain to have a sign-off process so that you are happy with everything at the end in terms of finish and budget. This will also benefit you when you approach the dismantle as you will have a good relationship with your crew.
Above all, respect that you are in another country and different rules apply. If you approach the project with a friendly can-do attitude you will have a good experience. Cheers!