By Dana Freker Doody
The site visit is one of the most effective planning methods for trade shows and events. Planners have multitudes of questions and details to discover ranging from the strength of the WiFi to the ratio of servers to diners for a formal meal.
Being on site should also be a time to imagine. Think about how your attendees are using the space, what their emotions might be within it, how you can leave a memorable impression on them through interactive activities, creative showpieces and fascinating experiences.
Here are a few questions that can be added to the list to inspire the entire planning team.
As the show or event manager, you should be in the lead, communicating specifically what you want to see, what your specific objectives are for the visit, and what the overall strategic goals are for the event. Be sure an agenda is set in advance, and keep to it.
Every member of your team is on the visit for different reasons, they each have their own motivations and a running list of questions they need answered. Assure them time to get all those details covered, but also communicate the need for them to think collectively about the event goals.
Some great questions to ask of your convention services manager and the contractor’s account team:
• What have you seen done in this space that was exciting?
• How have groups used this room successfully? Alternatively, what just never seems to work in here?
• Knowing our overall event goals, why do you think this room or space is a good fit?
And my favorite question from my days as a news reporter:
• What should I know that I haven’t asked?
If your Marketing Manager is not making the site visit, but is always good at creating ideas for the lobby, use handheld devices to stream them in for an hour. Likewise if a committee head needs to deal with the AV team, introduce them while you are onsite with five minutes of Skype or FaceTime, to start the relationship that will burgeon in the coming months.
Technology also enables quick and easy photos, which can be made even more useful with a few apps that allowing the team to communicate their ideas and record discussion points. Try a few of these:
• Skitch – Take a picture and then immediately mark it up with information and send it to your colleagues by email or save in Evernote.
• Penultimate – Note writing app that allows you to import images and mark up and send or save in Evernote.
• Paper by FiftyThree – popular free sketching app that provides a fun way to sketch your ideas and store them in individual journals.
• Evernote – The ability to synch your notes across multiple platforms is outstanding. Plus there are several great apps (like Skitch) that work directly with it
• Dropbox – You are going to need a place to store all those photos you’re taking on site and Dropbox just upped their space available to 1TB (that’s 1,024 GB!) for $9.99 a month for Dropbox Pro.
Remember Millennials are people, too. People who are important to have attending your trade show, engaged in your events, and involved in your overall community or association. We were all young once. It just so happens young people today are interacting with each other and the world in different ways.
Millennials want a seamless experience, and they need to know you are you. Your website, storefront, event graphics, marketing materials, staff shirts and the rest should all adhere to the style of the organization and communicate the entity’s values with a consistent tone. This helps reinforce what you stand for, and millennials especially seek to have relationships with authentic brands. They want to feel good about themselves and the relationships. So look onsite for spots where you can communicate who you are.
Simplify the way you deliver information particularly for millennials, who are consuming information in new and exciting delivery formats. Have one small banner instead of six smaller ones, for example. Reduce the text by asking yourself if people really need to know all those details. If they do, that’s fine, just establish a hierarchy of messaging to keep it clear.
What else do you look for on site visits? Are you doing fewer than you used to? Comment below to share.