It’s Monday morning in San Francisco. Another Trade Show Season is upon us with the opening of VM World. For most of us, it’s steady work for the next six months. For those who are really good, it’s insane, non-stop work until after Easter. The difference is in how you prepare.
You are good at what you do, but how are you incorporating your Client’s needs into your full presentation? You need to be the nurturing, care-giving, flat-out ass-saving Knight in Shining Armor whenever and however your Client needs you to be. You need to prove to your Client that you aren't just a "Booth Babe" but an integral part of the Trade Show Support Staff. In other words, you have to be able to pick up the ball, should the Client drop it, by foreseeing anything that could be missing or go wrong.
What’s in your wallet?
A good friend and occasional work associate of mine, Ken Newman wrote a blog about keeping an Emergency Trade Show Tool Kit with you for each show you work. As someone who has been a Professional Presenter as well as Producer for umpteen years, he knows his stuff.
And then there are women who do this kind of work. Not to take anything away from Ken, but let me list what I have in my bag when I go to work. I guarantee that each item on this list I have needed at least once, and on several occasions I have saved the show because for some reason, I magically produced spot cleaner out of my purse, or a 4G thumb drive, or even a small can of WD-40.
What I have with me when I go to work…
Simple Cosmetic Stuff:
- Eyelashes, Eyelash glue and Eyelash comb
- Toothpaste, Toothbrush, Dental Floss and Dental Pics. Bring extra clean Dental Pics for the client because they always munch on snacks when doing booth duty and never check their teeth.
- Small Hand Mirror to make sure that you NEVER have anything in your teeth. Even if you have a mint, check your teeth. Consider taping a small locker mirror to the inside of the storage door so you can check yourself throughout the day.
- Nail glue and nail tips.
- Nail file, polish, and polish remover. NEVER have a bad manicure at a booth. That is grounds for dismissal.
- Washcloth for deodorant—the first day you will probably have to change into a branded shirt. Chances are you will get deodorant on the shirt. Paper towels will leave all kinds of white noodles on your shirt, where a washcloth or small gym towel will not.
- Plastic baggie for the wet washcloth.
- Clean panties. If you have to ask…
- Contacts, contact lens solution and drops. It’s dry as hell on the TS Floor. You need to be able to see your leads and read their badges from miles away.
- Anti-bac lotion and spray. Bath & Body Works has great Anti-bac to keep you moisturized and germ free. Spray can be found as swag. Use it on your booth's horizontal surfaces.
- Baby powder. It can get hot as hell on the TS Floor. Heat rash isn’t pretty and itches.
- Q-Tips. Are you presenting? Well you need to clean your ear before you stick in your earpiece. And Q-Tips are great for make-up touches in a pinch.
- Alcohol wipes. On the ear? Well, just in case you need to swap something with a fellow presenter, it had better be sterile!!
- Extra batteries for your ear, extra earpiece just in case, and why not throw the surgical tape in there too so you can keep it in place. If you are a CG and are able to whip out materials for your presenter that he/she might have forgotten, you are now not only a hero, you are next to god.
- Cellulite cream—shrinks the arm flab.
- Prep-H—while you might think it is for the Client, it takes the bags out from underneath the eyes, especially when you have to work the Client Party as well as the show.
- Hair essentials like hair spray, brush, bobby pins, ponytail holder are given. Have hair extensions? Bring an extra clip because if you don’t, yours will break.
- Humid outside? Try BIOSILK to calm the frizz and pack a mini-flat iron.
Now that you have yourself prepared, let’s stock your wallet for the things that the Client needs:
- Airborne, cough drops, throat lozenges, and any other throat medication that will not make you sound like Kathleen Turner by Day Two. Clients always forget this too, so have plenty in fruity flavors.
- Chapsticks. Neutral flavors. Have about four new and sealed ones in your bag, as your Client will need one because it is so dry. Be a savior and offer a fresh one, as you know you will pick up five or six more as swag as you are walking around.
- Lighter and/or matches. You better not smoke, but your Client might.
- Universal tool kit—you can’t carry a Swiss Army Knife on a plane, but little keychain tool kits are TSA friendly. They have a regular and Phillips Screwdriver as well as a few other tips that make booths go together without having to spend precious time looking for a Freeman Representative.
- Two jump drives, at least 2G. Your Client will inevitably forget something like all the literature for you to distribute. Save the day by jumping in and transferring files to your drive and running to FedEx/Kinko’s to print it out. The other jump drive has your resume, headshots, and demo reel on it for the booth next door that sees how spectacular you are and wants to hire you for their next show.
- Pocket spot stain remover. Eating in the booth is a no-no, but when your Client does it and drips mustard on his white business shirt, you are a hero.
- Spork or two. Again, your Client will want to eat in the booth and have a yogurt, and forget the utensils.
- A list of phone numbers for your favorite local restaurants in the area. Sure you can Google it. But it’s easier if you just hand over a list and let the Client pick. Then make the reservation because you know the staff and get free drinks for your referrals.
- Corkscrew and bottle opener. Somehow beer will show up in your booth. Your Client doesn't have time to find catering to open an import. Luckily, you have that taken care of.
- Multiple electrical outlet adapter. There are never enough electrical outlets for all the phones, laptops, etc. Turn one plug into four with ease and you will stop pecking-order from establishing in the booth to charge cell phones.
Think you are packed yet? Nope. There are a few more:
- Snacks. You will get hungry and not have time to get lunch. Corazonas Oatmeal Squares can fit in your bag, are healthy and tasty, and have a long shelf life. Oh, and they are cheaper than Cliff Bars and other filler snacks.
- Business cards—both yours and your agency's card. Know when to hand out each one.
- Three pairs of shoes. One pair to walk to work in, the others are to rotate throughout the show. You will break the heel in your Jimmy Choo’s half way through your first presentation, so have a back-up.
- Two umbrellas and disposable ponchos. During hurricane season your Client probably forgot to pack an umbrella.
- Pack of tissues or emergency TP. You will run to the bathroom on your three minute break in between shows and use the stall that has run out of TP. Murphy’s Law of Trade Shows.
- Safety Pins. Broken bra straps aren’t fun.
- Backup pair of earrings.
- Long sleeved, unbranded black or white t-shirt. Convention halls are freezing on the first day in the winter, and you need to be warm and happy!
- Extra socks. Change them throughout the show. The dirty ones go in your Ziplock bag.
- The usual assortment of medications: Advil, Tylenol, Tums, Pepto, Immodium, Midol, Vitamin C, etc. Have enough for everyone.
- Pens in all colors, highlighters, paper clips, and a few stamps.
- Phone chargers for both iPhones and Androids. Your Client will forget his in the hotel room, and you will kill your battery using your phone as a hot-spot for the internet for the booth.
- Any adapters that will convert from PC to Mac and back again.
- AA and AAA batteries. If you have a presenter, you may just have saved his butt too if his back-up died.
- Dollar bills and quarters for vending machines, tips for errands, etc. No one ever has smaller than a $20 when the show starts, and someone needs a buck for a soda.
I'm sure the list will get longer as Trade Show Season continues, but I thought I would share some simple essentials that will help YOU be a hero at your booth. A few saves for your Client, and you have gone from a simple "Booth Babe" to an invaluable part of the Trade Show Support Staff. You are prepared and you are irreplaceable. And you have a contract for next year waiting.
Have a fabulous Trade Show Season everyone! And remember...
Life is Good.