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The Missing Booth

Missing Booth

You and your team arrive, but your booth doesn’t!

Ed Avis is the publisher of el Restaurante Magazine, a trade publication for owners of Mexican/Latin restaurants in the United States, where he also writes a blog online. Look for my upcoming podcast interview with Avis for Trade Show On-Air, expected to be available on iTunes later this week.

In one of Ed’s archives, I found an entertaining post called “Trade Show Horror Stories“, with one particular story about a show he participated in at the Javits Center in New York City, where it appeared they lost his company’s booth.

Avis writes, “One time Kathy (one of the magazine editors) arrived at a food show at the Javits Center in New York and the el Restaurante Mexicano display was missing. The tracking information showed that it had arrived at Javits, so Kathy knew it was there somewhere. But show management couldn’t find it. Fortunately the magazines did show up, so Kathy had something to hand out to people wondering what her blank booth was all about (in fact, she says she probably attracted more people than she would have with her normal booth). The show ended and the booth was never found…but six months later it arrived back at our office!”

Six months later!  And they just sent it back like nothing happened.  This actually happens more often then you would expect at convention centers worldwide.

What do you do if this happens to you? says, “The first thing you need to do is gather what you do have. Did you and your staff carry certain items for the show; graphics, products, brochures, anything that you can create a new display around?  Once you gather everything together, your new foundation is set. The next steps are hectic but all doable. Someone needs to contact your main office and have them ship overnight any additional products or brochures to you right away for the show opening. Then have them email you your artwork for your graphics. There are many printers that can expedite your printing (at a higher cost) so you can create an atmosphere for your booth space. It is better to always have a digital copy of your graphics, just in case, and to always carry some supplies with you instead of packing everything with your display booth, (this could help with those last minute unexpected costs). The show manager should have tables and chairs that you can rent to furnish your space and with a touch of creativity (and a local craft store) you can have a great space.”

Take a deep breath. Don’t panic. If you scramble calmly with minimal stress, you’ll allow your creative side to kick in and save the day. Like Kathy said in Ed’s story above, the awkward booth adjustment may have attracted more people to her booth then she would have with her typical set up.

And when all else fails, throw a little humor in the mix. wrote, ” An alternative might be to order a bold banner stand or sign that says, “Coming Soon! The Lost (Company Name Here) Trade Show Display!”  Attendees always appreciate humor, and they’ll probably stop by to commiserate with you, particularly if they’ve ever been in your shoes.”