Posted on Sun 15th Dec 2019 at 8:19pm
When we’re delivering shows for our customers we dispatch a big team of people to put in the floorcoverings, shell scheme, electrics, lighting, and signage, and it’s my job to ensure that everything is installed in the right order, at the right time, and in the right place.
With the number of shows we work on around the country, there’s a lot of travelling involved and that can take its toll on a team, but with good planning and the right resources, we’re able to take traffic problems in our stride and deliver our trademark customer service to several shows a week no matter where they are located.
As an account manager, my role often means being at the venue at the moment the build starts and leaving when the show opens, and I’ve signed it all off. Picking a typical week this year, our team built three shows simultaneously in Telford, Manchester and Bolton, namely AQUA, PHEX and The National Apprenticeship Show.
No week is the same, but once I’ve finished one show, more often than not I’ve got time to go home, relax with the dog and a glass of wine, get a night’s sleep and then head back to Showlite HQ to get the next show ready for deployment.
In an ideal world, I’d have a teleporter, and I’d be able to walk from one show to another in a moment, but in the real world, I need to deputise team members to manage each simultaneous build. So while my colleagues were heading to Telford and Bolton, I embarked for Manchester and PHEX the night before the start of the build, and picked a conveniently located hotel within walking distance of the Manchester United Stadium, the venue for this event. It's not always possible to find suitable accommodation nearby, but after years of visiting venues with Showlite, I have a list of trusted favourites that are clean, well looked after, and not too far from the show floor.
For PHEX at Manchester, we arrived on-site as a team at 8 am, after coordinating our arrival time with the venue and the organiser, and immediately set to work marking out the show floor in preparation for the build. Then all the equipment was moved in and, as usual, the build went smoothly whilst I supervised, dealing with any delays or problems with the build sequence, and liaising with the organiser to ensure the build was progressing to their satisfaction. As the build went on, I continued checking that the right stands were going up and that they were correctly configured.
Once the build was complete I walked the show floor a couple of times with a detailed checklist to confirm everything was in good order and then we let the exhibitors in and opened our exhibitor helpdesk to assist with their stand related matters from problems to requests for additional equipment, power & furniture. As usual, we also answered a lot of general enquiries, helping out some first-time exhibitors with advice and directing people around the venue!
With the exhibitors in place and happy, I was able to sign off the show, and we could open the doors to the visitors.
Whilst all this was going on my colleagues were in Telford and Bolton doing the same thing. Telford was quite a challenge for the AQUA event, servicing the Aquarist and Aquarium industry. As you can imagine there were a lot of live fish on site, so we needed to ensure the electrics were installed in accordance with stringent safety regulations. With the exhibitions open for business, a few team members stay behind at each one to deal with any issues for the duration of the show, and I set off home.
As you can imagine, traffic plays a big part in my work, and I use the Waze app as my satnav because it’s an absolute gem when it comes to diverting me around heavy traffic, accidents or detours. More than once it has instructed me to leave the motorway and sent me on a diversion around the tailbacks and contraflows that will delay other drivers.
On the way home I stop once for a quick coffee and then again for something to eat. Like most people, I’m not a huge fan of service stations, but it’s important to break up a long journey with rest time to keep my concentration up.
Staying alert and hydrated can be difficult, coffee helps in the short term, but tiredness can kick in very suddenly when it wears off, so I ensure I have water and sundries in the car to keep myself in tiptop driving condition.
Once I'm home, there's time to relax in the evening before heading back into the office to prepare for the next show and draw up a new travel plan.