In exhibition and event planning everything is interdependent, which on the one hand is quite exciting, but on the other hand can also be quite stressful. My work begins long before an exhibition actually opens its doors. For Agritechnica, the most important exhibition for agricultural machinery and equipment , for example, the whole planning process takes almost an entire year. Depending on the actual requirements, most individual planning stages take over six months. Given that we exhibit at four to six events every year, you very often find yourself trying to juggle several balls at once in your day-to-day work.
With such extensive timeframes, something always crops up in the meantime. The planning process for Bauma for example, the world’s largest trade fair for construction machinery in Munich, lasts three years and starts with us making hotel reservations for the staff who will be manning the stand. People travel from all over the world to attend these huge events so you have to book the hotels extremely early. If you leave it too late, you either end up paying through the nose or find that all the rooms have gone. Once a hotel operator went bankrupt one and a half years after we have made our reservations, so we had to look for another hotel.
That just goes to show that in exhibition and event planning, even the most random factors are interconnected. Another example is our new industrial app, which we use to showcase our products at exhibitions and trade fairs. In order to be able to use the app, the new product obviously has to be ready first. Photos are then taken of it, which are subsequently incorporated into the presentations. Then someone else has to add the presentations into the app. In the meantime we ask the individual product managers to provide appropriate text for the products. Then of course the catalogue must be drawn up and subsequently incorporated into the app.
There is an unbelievable number of issues to consider and lots of contact points to coordinate. From an organisational point of view you need to be flexible and a gifted improviser. The individual stages involve many different parties, including the colleague who puts the product catalogues together, the photographer, the plant that manufactures the product, the contractor that does the layout for the presentation, the agency that makes the catalogue, another agency for the app, etc. etc. What a lot of people don’t realise is that exhibiting at these events doesn’t just involve turning up for a few days. It’s not just about booking a hotel and sticking two or three colleagues on a stand – it is an exercise in coordination and organisation.
The images will give you a picture of how hectic it can be constructing a stand and what the finished product looks like on the first day of the event.
It is also impossible to keep all the projects in your head and to memorise by heart exactly how far down the line each
project is. My colleague likes to keep lists, I create mind maps, and others draw up spreadsheets. The challenge comes when things don’t run to schedule. You constantly have to reorganise and restructure everything, identify the most important priorities and then come up with new solutions.
But when everything is in place it’s a great feeling. You walk up to the stand and see that it doesn’t all just exist in theory or on your mind map, it’s really there and looks great. It’s a very fitting reward for all the hard work.