How to Manage an Exhibition Crisis

Posted 23/05/2018
How to Manage an Exhibition Crisis

Exhibiting can be a risky business. To ensure success, you have to get a lot of things right – from selecting the best team to shipping your booth on time. And even when you do plan meticulously, equipment can break, staff can miss their flights – bad things happen.

If you don’t know how to deal with a problem appropriately it’s easy to make rash decisions. You can unintentionally make a crisis worse if you don’t take your time to analyze the situation.

We have over ten years’ experience in the industry. Inevitably, we’ve become familiar with a lot of worst-case scenarios.

Discover what we’ve learnt to help you deal with a major exhibiting crisis and come out on top.

When the Rules Are Broken

Take heed of exhibition rules or you could land in hot water…

The RSA conference in San Francisco has a ban on promotions outside of the exhibition room. Security firm Fortify Software broke this rule and paid the price.

For their ‘Hackistan’ stunt, staff dressed as Russian hackers who had taken over Fortify Software. Trade booth staff handed out flyers outside of the venue to promote their display.

Once RSA officials caught on to the rebellion, they advised the company to shut down the activity immediately. Fortify Software turned a blind eye to their warnings and were banned from the conference as a result.

This situation could have ended very differently if Fortify Software had reacted appropriately. All exhibitions have regulations. If you accidentally break a rule, here’s how to not get kicked out:

  1. Check the trade show contract if you’re concerned that a rule has been broken

This allows you to take appropriate action. No clear answer? Get advice from the trade show personnel.

  1. Apologise as soon as possible and end the activity

Once officials realise you’ve rectified your mistake, it’s likely you can continue exhibiting as normal.

Follow this advice to fix your mistake if you break the exhibition rules – it will save you time and money.

When Staff Miss Their Flight or don’t show up

When staff are travelling overseas to an exhibition, you have to consider the possibility that they will miss their flight. But this doesn’t have to spell disaster for the expo.

Here are some great strategies to use when you’re suddenly short-staffed:

  1. Check your staff’s ticket type

Can it be changed or refunded? Maybe there’s a chance they can jump on another flight ASAP.

  1. Revise your expo strategy to make up for missing staff

For example, your booth hostess might have similar skills to a lead generator. Can they cover for the missing staff member so you can hit your lead generation targets?

  1. Adjust the schedule

Let’s say you have a product demonstration in the morning but your presenter won’t arrive until the afternoon. Move the presentation back and keep relevant individuals informed so the show can go on.

In the event that an employee fails to attend the exhibit, use the above tips to overcome this challenge. The right solution should have the least impact on your trade show objectives.

How to Manage and Exhibition Crisis

When Equipment Breaks or is Lost

Suffer a technical problem during a presentation and things can go very wrong, fast.

LG reminded us of this fact during a painful-to-watch product demo for its new smart home manager, Clio. When asked basic commands, rather than oblige the robot stared blankly into space.

Viewers were quick to mock the event on social media. Guardian journalist Olivia Solon aired her amusement on Twitter:

“That awkward moment when LG brags about its wifi and AI-powered appliances doing everything seamlessly but the robot didn’t get the memo.”

Your business doesn’t have to suffer the same humiliation. The following tips will help presenters cope with equipment failures:

  1. Don’t try to fix the problem during the demonstration if you can avoid it

Doing so could result in further embarrassment. If the presentation fails to load, why let the audience know there were supposed to be slides? Do without and save face.

  1. Ask for technical assistance if it’s on hand

Exhibitions are full of people who can support you during a technical fault, from fellow exhibitors to event personnel.

  1. Own up to the error

If you can laugh at your mistakes, people will respect you for it. This decreases the chance that they will poke fun on social media.

Above all else, the key to handling technical faults is staying calm. It reinforces the strength of your team which reflects well on your brand.

When the Presenter Freezes

For a presenter, there’s little more frightening than drawing a blank during a speech. Time slows down. Cheeks burn with embarrassment. The audience cringes at the prolonged silence.

Experienced speakers know how to handle a mental block. If your hosts are relatively new to presenting, train them using the following coping methods:

  1. Don’t make it a big deal

The less dramatic it is, the less likely the audience will remember it. Simply saying, “Sorry, I forgot that point, I’ll come back to it later,” is a quick way to diffuse the situation.

  1. Ask the audience what you were talking about

It’s not the most graceful solution, but any sympathiser in the audience will be happy to help.

  1. Make it look planned

Instead of staring into space, drink some water. It makes you look relaxed and gives you time to recover.

Using these tips, you can instil confidence in your staff. So if the worst should happen they are prepared to deal with it professionally. If they continue to struggle, you might have staffed your booth with the wrong people.

You’ve Got This

No good ever comes from panicking in a crisis. But sometimes staying calm is easier said than done.

Fortunately, you can use the easily-applied solutions discussed here to confidently deal with an event dilemma. Do this and there will be little left to stop you from succeeding.

Posted 23/05/2018