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They Should Make A Reality TV Show About Trade Shows

My colleague said to me the other day what a great reality TV show there could be based on trade shows.  What a great idea!

Just imagine: The team is pulled together from every walk of life.  There are the veteran show goers, the yuppies, the newbies, the professionals and the trades.  The old, the young and the in-between.  Each episode they are faced with a bizarre set of circumstances which tests everything from their patience to their friendships. 

The Challenges

  • There have been cutbacks.  The team is given a limited budget, way too much to do in ½ the time needed to do it and it’s sweltering hot.  The show setup time is a single day, on a Sunday. 
  • Everything is last-minute and there are copious amounts of huge boxes of product to get to the show in a single trip.  Drayage isn’t in the budget.  They have to hire a single vehicle that will hold both them and the boxes.  They have to strategize how to get them onto the show floor without breaking any rules.
  • Before day’s end they have to hunt down the two missing boxes of critical electronics that didn’t yet clear customs.
  • They have to put the exhibit up themselves, but when they get to the booth there is no exhibit.  A computer glitch left the booth # off the label and it’s somewhere on the show floor, but where?  Which building?  They have to hunt it down.
  • When the exhibit finally surfaces, the crate has been broken, their tools stolen, and the instructions strewn about.  All they have is a jackknife to put up the exhibit.
  • The install is finally underway and a union worker pedals by advising they have to hire show labor.  What do the show rules say, where is the book?  It sounds like payment for nonexistent services will solve the problem.
  • The company credit card was left back at the hotel, which is an hour from town – there is no going back.  The cash they have for cab fare goes to pay the bill and they’ll have to take the bus.
  • There are 140,000 people attending the show and the bus lineups are over an hour long, but they have to be back to the hotel to catch up on their email or they won’t be able to attend the show next time.
  • Everybody is oversubscribed and the internet has slowed to a snail’s pace and the emails all have deadlines attached to them.

What do they do?  How will they stretch their budget and keep their sanity?  There is strife and jetlag and tempers are soaring.  Who gets eliminated and why?  Who stays and why?

Do any of these challenges bring back memories?  They should, because they are all based on real-life experiences at trade shows.  Perhaps you have your own challenges to add to the program?  If your inner screenwriter is dying to get out and you have more challenges to add to the list, please add them in the comment box below!

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About the Author

Kelly Pollock was an Exhibiting Consultant with Skyline British Columbia.

6 responses to “They Should Make A Reality TV Show About Trade Shows

  1. Your laborer shows up with a bad limp, flops down on top of a crate, and tells you about being hit by a car two years ago. “I can’t lift nothin’ over 15 pounds.”

  2. Once we were making luggage tags in our booth. Business cards were inserted into sleeves, laminated, and a plastic band was looped through a hole. This plastic band was for attaching the tag to suitcases.

    We had loops, plastic sleeves, and company cards. When we ran out of giveaways, people started taking the plastic bands .. they had no idea what they were, but it didn’t matter!

    Bottom line, if it ain’t nailed down, it’s THEIRS!

  3. A great idea! Every time I have to prepare for a trade show I think, “This would make a great reality show.” Lots of options to go overseas to see the differences in how they do it. If anyone wants to get together to pitch the idea… I’m in!

  4. I worked trade shows through out the United States for over 40 years. I worked as a lead set up man, a trade show labor supervisor, logistics supervisor, i even did payroll and client services. I must say with all the problems, union hassles, and getting qualified union labor, I loved going to work everyday of my working career. I must say that a reality show based on trade shows should be a great success. Not many people know what goes on before opening day. They just get to see the glitz and glamor.

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