In managing numerous tradeshows and conferences over the years, I learned you can never be too prepared. Keeping this in mind, two items consistent with all my shows were my “handy dandy” toolbox and the pre-event checklist.
I was reminded of this when I recently attended Marketplace 2018 – the 37th Annual Governors Conference on Minority Business Development at the Potawatomi Hotel on December 12-13, 2018. Our M&IW conference team provided attendee registration and management for more than 800 attendees. Additionally, Meetings & Incentives Worldwide was a sponsor and exhibitor at the event.
Early on, I prepared for an event with an empty box. However, I soon learned a pre-stocked toolbox was beneficial and a great timesaver! I also realized every event is not the same and that is where the inception of the pre-event checklist began. You might be thinking these are one in the same, but they are not. The toolbox holds essential items needed for any event; whereas the pre-event checklist will ensure you remember to pack more specific or personal items needed just for that event.
The toolbox is the go-to for everything one could possibly need at any type of event. This consists of items needed for set up, break down and all the possible unexpected mishaps that can and do happen in between. I divide my toolbox into four areas – hardware, medical, office supplies & shipping materials and cleaning. When filling your toolbox, think compact. When building the toolbox base the type and size of the container on the contents that fit the unique needs of your company. The medical items can be placed in a small first aid kit. The stapler and hammer do not have to be full size, they only need to be of good quality. Pack small where you can and replenish the toolbox when you return to headquarters.
The toolbox should be stored in a secure place onsite so that items to do not walk. Also, remind your planning team to return items after use. There is nothing worse than knowing you had scissors packed only to find they are no longer in the toolbox.
Unlike the toolkit, the checklist changes from one event to the other. It is based on the length of tradeshow, distance from your headquarters location, size of the booth and number of staff attending. Some of the items that most likely would be included are; extra business cards for each employee manning the booth, water, snacks, mints, phone charges, promotional items, booth decorations, door prizes and bring the completed event registration forms along with shipping and returning labels.
Hopefully, this information is helpful in creating your perfect tradeshow toolbox. Remember, preparation is the key to a smooth-running event. We attend events to network, sell and fill the sales funnel, not to waste valuable time hunting down forgotten items. Be smart, pack smart, think smart!