Weekly Insights: The Show Must Go On! (In Spite of a Snowpocalypse)

Photo: FreeImages.com/penywise

Photo: FreeImages.com/penywise

“Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow …” could be the new motto for the Yankee Dental Congress after their show this week in Boston.

A blizzard of legendary proportions was approaching the East Coast just as setup began on Monday. But as it turns out, there were several things working to the show’s advantage, according to Shannon McCarthy from the Massachusetts Dental Society, producer of the Yankee Dental Congress, which is one of the largest medical shows in the country with more than 25,000 attendees.

First of all, the snow came during the beginning stages of setup rather than the event itself. “We sent an e-blast to exhibitors on Sunday to let them know they could set up on Monday if possible,” McCarthy said. A few of them did, but then Tuesday (the actual day of the storm) was completely dead except for only a skeleton crew on hand. If show organizers were a bit worried for Wednesday (the final day of setup), it turned out that wasn’t a problem.

“Everyone moved super-fast and by 9:00 that night they were rolling out the aisle carpet,” McCarthy said. That, in fact was earlier than in some years past.

Another factor in their favor was that their general contractor, Freeman, was already in the building from a show the previous week, so had done some preparations in advance with freight already on the floor. The team spent Tuesday putting up signs and other things.

Katie Hauser from the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority said, “From a facility perspective … We know our job is to get as many staff here as we can, work overtime the next day to catch up on work that may have fallen behind and get that snow out of the way!”

The show sent out a quick update to attendees on Wednesday to let them know things were up and running at the facility and the parking lots were clear. (Yankee Dental Congress is primarily a regional, drive-in show … which also worked in their favor because people weren’t relying on the airports.) By the time attendees arrived and the event opened on Thursday, things were running according to plan. The only negative issues came from a few companies who weren’t from the area and not used to that kind of weather.

Today, McCarthy reported that “Right now, it’s smooth sailing. The show floor is very busy today.”

While luck played a big role in the timing of the storm, event organizers deserve a lot of credit for their quick-thinking, adjusting move-in schedules then communicating those changes to exhibitors, and reassuring attendees via e-mail and Facebook posts.

But now they’re predicting the next snowstorm for move-out day … just another day in the life of a winter event in New England!

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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