John Yohe, Nth Degree’s President & CEO, along with Brad Langley, President, Events, graciously accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from Opus Events Agency. Raw footage below for your viewing pleasure!
Check out this article on Entrepreneur.com – Nth Degree’s Senior Account Director, Maureen Burke, offers her perspective on how you can make the most of your trade show exhibit.
The global look and feel premise is simple – implementing it is a different story. A successful program balances global branding considerations with the needs/requirements of your in-country teams.
So how do you develop a program with the right balance? Here’s a multi-faceted approach to the process that includes both strategic and tactical considerations.
Conduct a needs assessment with all global stakeholders. Taking this measured first step will help drive the overall exhibit plan while keeping your stakeholders’ interests in mind. You can look forward to company-wide support based on this strategic approach.
Build a budget based on both the strategic and logistical needs. Identifying your needs up front will ensure that you have the right budget resources in place to build a program that properly reflects your company’s brand identity and meets your strategic marketing goals. Then, develop a budget that is a true reflection of operational costs globally so there are no surprises. Enlist outside help if you haven’t managed projects in all geographical areas – cost categories can vary dramatically and your home country budget rules often don’t apply.
Determine what exhibit components you need. Understanding and executing tactical planning such as determining the components of your exhibit will help you create an efficient plan with your selected suppliers worldwide.
Decide how to source the properties you need: Review what options are available from build and ship to build and burn as well as rental and hybrid options by examining the variety of processes available around the world.
Procure what you need on a continent-by-continent basis. Ordering exhibit services differs from continent to continent. Consult with show organizers and your in-country colleagues to understand these differences and source what you need at the best price. Take advantage of turnkey solutions outside of North America that can control costs and save you money.
Engage the global stakeholders to leverage in-country resources along the way: You have company-wide support because you involved stakeholders in the first stages of planning. Now you will need their help to implement your program. Ask them questions to determine best practices in each country where you exhibit and employ their influence to secure the best in-country resources.
Once you’ve established a branding plan and created a budget then lead the implementation without deviating from the strategy. Being both structured and resourceful in your approach can help to create and maintain efficiencies and keep your solution on target.
Learn more about how Nth Degree can support your global exhibit strategy by clicking here.
As a first-time exhibitor in Europe, it is important to be aware that there are several key differences between exhibiting in the U.S. and in Europe. Ask yourself these imperative questions when preparing for these variations:
- How much electricity should I order?
Many exhibit managers have been known to accidentally order double the amount of electricity actually needed. In the U.S. for example, your exhibit may require six, 16-amp (120-volt) outlets, for a total of 96-amps. On a German order form you might see one, 220-volt 16-amp outlet for $225*; however, you also see a 220-volt 8-amp outlet for $125. In this scenario, many American convention managers would order six of the 220-volt 16-amp outlets for a total of $1,350, plus the transformers required to convert 220-volt to 120-volt. What you may not realize is that a 16-amp outlet transformer will convert a 220-volt 8-amp outlet into a 120-volt 16-amp outlet. So, you can order the 220-volt 8-amp outlet for $750, which would save you $600 overall.
*All monetary amounts represent the U.S. dollar.
- How much truck space is needed for crates being shipped to Europe?
Shipping crates in the U.S. are designed to fill U.S. type delivery trucks and utilize as much available space as possible. In Europe however, U.S. crates are not designed to the measurements of European trucks and therefore exhibitors often end up requiring additional truck space. We advise you to consider various options such as alternative shipping containers or different shipping methods.
- What is the difference between the Metric and United States Customary system of measurement?
The U.S. relies on the United States customary system of measurement, while throughout Europe (except the U.K.) the metric system is used. This difference in measurement really comes into play in terms of booth design. In Europe, a common booth space is 3 meters x 3 meters, which is 9’ 10 ¼” x 9’ 10 ¼” in the U.S. It is vital to adjust U.S. measurements so that you end up with an exhibit that fits correctly in your European booth space.
- How far in advance should I book hotel rooms?
Hotels in many European cities are booked solid up to 6 months before a convention opens. In this dilemma, convention managers end up booking hotel rooms for staff in distant cities, which adds extra cost to your budgets and more travel time to your schedule. Experience has proven that it is best to plan for and book hotel rooms 9 months to 1 year in advance of the event.
- Do U.S. code regulations apply in Europe?
Many convention managers are under the misconception that if they meet code regulations in the U.S. then they will not need to make any changes or do further work to meet code in Europe. However, meeting code for items such as fire safety in France or Spain, for example, is much different than in the states. What this boils down to is paperwork. Show organizers provide exhibitors with submission deadline dates for all documentation. Your job as the convention manager is to complete all your documentation accurately and on time. By taking action in advance, you will avoid having to redesign complicated elements of your booth.
- When should my U.S. based team plan on arriving in the convention city?
It is always wise to arrive at least one day before your convention set-up begins to become acclimated to the local time. Again, planning far in advance for overseas conventions will help you do a better job in representing your company. We recommend arriving a day early during local daytime hours and not going to sleep until the locals do in order to wake up fresh the next day.
- How long will it take for our shipments to clear Customs?
Clearing Customs on any shipment (even a FedEx Small Pak) can take anywhere from 1-3 days before ever making it to the delivery truck. Plan on shipping any exhibit properties 30 days before the installation begins to ensure your properties arrive in plenty of time.
- Are European conventions Americanized?
It is absolutely vital to the exhibitor’s success to adopt a cultural awareness of the country where they are exhibiting and to accept the locals’ way of doing things. It is important for American staff members to remember this rule, keep an open mind and have appropriate expectations prior to traveling to the convention. For example, in the U.S. its taboo for employees to consume alcohol during work hours but in countries like Italy and France wine is served and enjoyed during most meals. It is essential to prepare yourself and know what to expect in every country you travel to and to make this a part of your advanced planning. Offering a brief training for staff traveling overseas can be very useful.
- What costs should I anticipate for the use of cell phones and communication devices overseas?
Global communication soars to a new level when traveling abroad both in terms of importance and cost. Staying connected to your home base in America is certainly important, yet many convention managers don’t expect such a high price tag for making calls or using email. One of the first steps you should take when traveling out of the country is to check with your wireless provider about an International Rate Plan.PDA’s to download emails and laptop connection fees should also be calculated into your communication costs. The main hotels in Europe charge about 15 – 25 Euros per day to connect to their wireless internet services. Exhibitors should be aware of this additional cost and budget for it ahead of time.
- Is it important to have staff on-site that speak the local language?
One of the most important aspects of exhibiting on a global level is to gain international status and to attract more qualified clients. How can you accomplish this? English is the exhibition language in Europe, yet on average only about 60% of attendees will speak English at European shows and conventions. Attendees are more comfortable using their first language and will be more inclined to approach and stay at exhibits where they are able to speak in that language. This means that an exhibitor without an interpreter or a fluent speaker on staff could potentially miss out on over 40% of business. To avoid this happening to you, hire an interpreter or fluent speaker for the entirety of the convention or at the very least, attempt to greet potential clients in the local language.
Consider a multiple day event that occupies hundreds of thousands of feet of space offering numerous educational tracks with hundreds of speakers. In addition, there are frequently scheduled keynote presentations on the main stage all day long and there’s the on-going buzz of hundreds, if not thousands of exhibitors on the expo floor. Navigating such an event is a daunting task even for the most seasoned of conference attendees. Further add to the mix the unique styles and personalities of each individual attendee and you are faced with the complex task of ensuring that every single member of your audience will find value in all of the various touch points at your event.
To illustrate the complexities of shaping tailored experiences, consider below how the unique mindsets of four different generations dramatically affect their learning styles, and by extension, their propensity for making connections with their peers. For example:
- Traditionalists (1930-1945) are generally trusting of authority figures and have a strong work ethic. They like to share their experiences and enjoy participation. When learning about technology, they require hands-on instruction.
- Baby Boomers (1946-1964) prefer more traditional, instructor-led training, and are generally willing to engage in learning activities. They are the most highly-educated of all the groups and very interested in advancing their careers.
- Generation X (1965-1976) is more likely to embrace independent e-learning and technology-based training, but still feels most comfortable with the involvement of an instructor to some degree. They can be cynical, and are usually very self-reliant.
- Generation Y and the Millennials (1977-1999) are accustomed to instant gratification and prefer fluid learning and self-guided discovery. They are confident using desktop technology, and participate in social media to collaborate and share information.
You can improve your chances of engaging all of your attendees at a level that makes a lasting impact on them by pursuing the following and remaining vigilant to the outcomes:
- Create Personas: Building caricatures of each audience group will enable you to understand how factors such as attendee mindsets, motivations, core values, capabilities and constraints affect how they consume your event. Attendees have different approaches to learning and engaging, and broadening your understanding of their preferences will bring more value and excitement to the overall event experience.
- Acknowledge Time Constraints: If you are truly giving your attendees value for money, then you are creating an event that keeps attendees occupied from morning till night. However, it’s unrealistic to think that attendees will be able to consume it all, so it’s important to avoid creating a schedule that leaves them feeling frustrated. Therefore, be creative with the timetable. It probably doesn’t make sense to have every day looking the same. Can you deliver content that gives people an opportunity to make the most of the practical education you’re offering, be inspired by the keynotes, and be guided by the up-to-the-minute solutions your exhibitors are showcasing on the expo floor? Mix it up and be sure to monitor the impact on levels of engagement.
- Deliver Content in Non-Traditional Ways: Your event must accommodate all learning styles, otherwise you run the risk of alienating large swaths of your audience. Avoid the exclusive use of the talking head format. In fact, you should attempt to attract and develop speakers with diverse delivery styles—ask them to submit a quick video that illustrates their teaching style and philosophy as part of the selection process, for example. Furthermore, would panel discussions be more appropriate for some sessions or personas? What about small peer-lead breakout sessions? How about roundtable discussions lead by a topic expert who moves throughout the room as a facilitator, as opposed to commanding the entire room? What would a more fluid, unscripted generation of topics and discussion look like? Can you think about alternative structures and formats that would allow your attendees to consume content in meaningful (and playful) ways?
- Design Space with Different Behaviors in Mind: It’s important that you design a physical space that allows attendees to gravitate to a mode of interaction that is most comfortable for them. Some attendees want to be anonymous, while others want to be in the thick of things. Whether it’s the bustling expo hall, the often times lavish and imposing keynote theater, the practical classrooms, as well as the quiet networking spaces and public lounge areas, your challenge is to create spaces within spaces that cater to your attendees’ preferred sense of engagement. Have you considered creating designated spaces within the keynote room that allow attendees to hang out in the shadows and observe, maybe even continue to work given access to a wireless network? How about quieter meeting rooms or briefing centers away from the helter-skelter pace of the expo floor that are more conducive to getting business done? Even simple seating arrangements can enhance an experience. For example, within a public lounge can you facilitate more intimate conversation by providing obvious seating for just two or three people? And finally, have you ever considered leaving space empty save some basic functional furniture for the impromptu creation of a meeting place as the needs of your attendees arose?