Michael D. Lynn accepts a slightly oversized check from April Hurley
From our recent podcast, here’s a transcript of an interview with 2014 The Expo Group’s Exhibit Marketer of the Year Winner, Michael D. Lynne.
Todd: Michael, thanks for joining us and welcome to The Exposure Podcast.
Michael: Todd, pleasure to be here.
Todd: Since we’re launching this month our big promotion for “Exhibit Marketer of the Year,” tell me how did you find out that you had won last year?
Michael: Well, I actually got a call from April Hurley at The Expo Group who’s one of your Vice Presidents. (She) was nice enough to give me a call and tell me I’d been submitted and selected.
Todd: How was the event for you? Did you have fun?
Michael: Oh, we had a great time. My wife… she went up with me and she loved it and thought it was great to finally get recognized. I would have like to have seen a lot more of my industry counterparts there. I think we need to get them more involved with E2MA but you know that’s an ongoing process.
Todd: Absolutely, we’re going to put the word out this month as well and invite everyone to attend. I wanted to ask your opinion since you are now one of the “Exhibit Marketers of the Year,” what’s a trait, of a good exhibit marketer?
Michael: Well, what I’m seeing in the industry nowadays (is) an exhibit marketer is not just focused on what I consider exhibits. The way companies are restructuring and doing everything… to me an exhibit manager of the old days just handled exhibits. (He) is now an exhibits manager. He’s an events manager. He’s a protocol professional and they (need to) get well rounded, well-versed in each of those areas.
Because they never know what they are going to be tasked with, and it seems like it’s getting harder every year to get this across to people to get the education, the training that they need, but I’m really seeing that the key that’s going along with any exhibition or any event is to be well-versed in the area of protocol.
Todd: You know that’s twice that you’ve mentioned the word “protocol,” and I’ve have to confess I’m not exactly sure what you mean by that … can you explain a little bit more?
Michael: It’s everything from the handling of a guest from the pre-handling of the arrival and (making sure) their experience is easier. I see a lot of times they think somebody can just go out here and make decisions at the hotel or whatever, but it’s making sure all of the finer points of details are handled.
I was specifically contacted by an individual (from Japan) I met last year at one of the protocol conferences and he wanted assistance in how to handle guests from start to finish and I say the Japanese are probably the best people on how they treat their guests, but you’re running into situations where it’s not just what you think the guest wants, you (need to) anticipate and work everything for the guest, but also for your seniors, or your bosses or whoever you’re working with. You need background bio’s, how the meeting going to be done, proper seating at meetings, proper seating at dinners, how to handle a business lunch, receiving lines and you know it’s just endless all the way through to what I consider as doing the thank you notes at the end. So that’s just kind of a general overview that I’m thinking people really need this type training.
I’m seeing it more. It’s actually come across now inside of our company where we’re teaching the up and comers, what we consider high potential people, to be well-versed in how to handle these type situations because you see a lot of generations that think when they go to a reception or an event that it’s party time. And you’re actually there on company time or you’re there doing business. And these guys think it’s great to see (if they can) drink every bottle of liquor or every bottle of beer I’ve got.
You know, and to me as a professional and I try to get across to other people I teach, I just don’t think that when in event work it’s proper to be drinking and doing certain things. You’re there to represent the company. You’re there to put out image. You’re there to do business work. And you just need to be very professional. After the events over you know you can always go to your room and have a beer and watch the ballgame.
Todd: So you’re a big believer in taking all these finer points that you’ve learned and you’ve accumulated over the years and using that to train those folks who may not have the experience that you have.
Michael: Yeah, it used to be what I consider the old way of learning etiquette. You know when your grandmother smacked you in the back of the head for not saying “Yes Sir” and “Yes Ma-am,” but you’re taking it to higher levels. We’ve actually started some very unique training courses in these areas because it is becoming a consistent issue and if you actually go back several years and look there was a an article in USA Today, I believe it was the front page of the business section on Bill Swanson who is the Chairman of Raytheon who I used to work for and he reiterates in there along with four other CEO’s of how they evaluate people at lunches, dinners, receptions on company travel for either being hired or moving up to other positions in the company. And it’s very interesting to read how they looked at these people. There is finesse on how people look at some of this stuff when they’re at these events.
Todd: You’re also known as the “Ambassador of Certifications,” so in addition to protocol, apparently you are a pretty good at getting certified. Why is certification important to you?
Michael: Well, you look at it from different areas; I started out working on my Certified Manager of Exhibitions, and received that and then some people said, “Well Mike, you’re starting to do a lot of events so you need to go and get the CMP- Certified Meeting Professional”, which is under the Convention industry Council and it’s considered kind of the number one standard certification to obtain.
And I put in about a year’s worth of study on that; (I) learned a lot (and) met a lot of great people because you’re in study groups. After that, I went through the Certified Meeting Manager which is under MPI which started more as an International Certification out of Europe for meeting professionals, and you know just kept going from there. I went to IAEE and got the CEM which is the Certified Exhibition Manager which is like a tradeshow organizer and by doing that, I got to see what the organizers go through when they’re trying to work with me as an Exhibit Manager and then I got the Certifications in Protocol. So I have the Certification Protocol, Etiquette and Civility.
But you know there’s so many different ones out here I just think that individuals need to be looking at being a real well-rounded individual so that when they take things to their boss, and I always tell them to try and put in for at least 40 hours of training a year and bring something back that the company or your boss can see that you’re using.
You know you’re taught by so many professionals out here. You’re at so many of these meetings. I set around with people at night and we’re discussing things (and) would you believe that every now and then something unique and interesting comes out of that? And just like I mentioned at the start of this, (after) talking with individuals in Japan, we’re now putting some very detailed check lists together of how you handle a customer from start to finish. Including how we want the driver of the cars to be briefed what they do every day, how they handle the individual, so the more I think an individual can show themselves as a top level professional (it) just helps you keep moving up in the corporation with more responsibility.
Todd: Always improving is what it sounds like to me.
Michael: Always improving. Don’t just kind of become stagnate because there’s so much new stuff out there in technology and you’re always going to find out something.
Todd: I know that you were instrumental in helping save money at the Dubai Air Show which just sounds so exotic to me to just to think about going there. Can you tell us more about what you did?
Michael: Something that came up unique in Dubai several years ago is (that) they have a permanent exhibition hall at their permanent chalet – you know a place with dining room, meeting rooms, a nice balcony or whatever to watch the air show while you’re entertaining guests. You know, the temp does get a little hot down at the UAE like 120 during the summer…
Todd: Just a little bit sure
Michael: Yeah just a little bit … so I talked to my designers and then I went to talk to the organizers and I said “Hey, I come to your show. I build this interior. Now I have to tear it out. What If I built an interior and left it?” They said, “Well, you know Mike, we’ve never had that come up.” And I said, “Well, let’s put our heads together here. If I leave my interior, you probably got a pretty good chance that I’m coming back. If I don’t come back, you got something you can market to somebody else and maybe we can both recoup some of our money.”
So we came up with a very unique design of using aluminum AGAM material so that it doesn’t warp or bend and then for some of the bigger areas, because of how the AGAM is made now, we’re using the new cloth graphics with the rubber seals in them. And so all we have to do is pull those off after the show is over. When we go back this year, because the Dubai show is in November, we’ll put up new graphics, we’ll change the carpet, we’ll put in the ceiling tiles, we’ll change the astroturf out on the deck and it will save me about $125 thousand dollars.
Michael: Then we went and said, “Hey let’s design a very unique exhibit because transportation cost, labor and everything is getting expensive.” So we designed an exhibit with the same AGAM so you’re using like a little 3 by 3 aluminum post to build our exhibit and when we got through with the show… we’ll take it all down put it in a few little boxes and it is sitting in the middle of my floor in the chalet.
So I do not have to ship it in or out.
Todd: It’s just waiting for you
Michael: And then last December when I went to the Middle East Business Show, which is at the same venue, I was able to go down with my team with some dollys, get the exhibit out, set it up, finish the show, put it back into the exhibit and storeit in the chalet this year. And by the way, that saved me $80 thousand dollars. So the bosses like it when you can show that and using this new material allows me to put up graphics basically any size I want but most of my graphics are probably two meters, three meters tall (and) three to four meters wide but they’re billboards, and it catches people’s attention and they stop and talk to us instead of seeing all this small product display.
Todd: That is fantastic and that is another reason why you were “Exhibit Marketer of the Year.” One last question before I let you go if I could. What would you say to someone who is hesitant about nominating an event marketer like yourself for this award?
Michael: Well, I don’t think anybody should be hesitant. I mean, I think it’s a great program. I mean The Expo Group was nice enough (that) they also make a donation (to) my favorite charity which was to my grandson’s charity.
I think individuals need to be keeping as much data on themselves. The hardest thing that you can do is, as they say, write your own obituary. Well, write down everything positive you’re doing during the year for a boss. If he’s also tracking and keeping up with his people and wanting to impress and motivate them, he should be writing and submitting things like this. And then, even if they don’t win, you know once it’s announced or whatever, take the package back to the individual and say, “Hey I just wanted you to know that I submitted you for this, here’s the data I used on it and oh by the way I’m using this for your performance review this year.”
Todd: Yeah, that information should be collected any way for your performance review so it’s out there and like you said, it doesn’t hurt to keep track yourself of what you’ve accomplished, and then find somebody in your company or find a client or someone that works closely with you and see if you can get them to nominate you. We certainly would appreciate that and we need as many good nominations as we can get.
Michael: Yes, yes I definitely, wholeheartedly say everybody out there should be submitting their top people for this or trying to motivate them or get them trained to the point that they can submit them. That they’re doing something fantastic for their group.
Todd: Absolutely, Michael D. Lynn, thank you so much for your time today, I do appreciate you joining us on the Exposure Podcast.
Michael: No problem Todd, great pleasure!