Trade Show TalesBlog

Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category

Myanmar in Photos (January 2015)

February 18th, 2015 1 COMMENT

20150109_125558Recently, a work colleague went to Myanmar for two weeks. He started in Yangon (Rangoon), spent a few days there, and then took a week-long cruise on the Irrawaddy River to Mandalay. As you know, Myanmar has largely been a closed society until a few years ago, so tourism was limited.

We thought you might enjoy seeing some of his photos. He took hundreds, but I’ve limited it to 42. There are no descriptions, so you’ll need to use your imagination.

Click on any photo to scroll through the entire gallery.

–Mel White
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
mel@classicexhibits.com

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Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.


 

What Smells? Top 11 Trade Show Odors

February 2nd, 2015 COMMENTS

What Smells? Pleasant and Unpleasant Trade Show OdorsLike me, you probably attend two, three, or 30 trade shows every year. Trade shows are mesmerizing, not only for the creativity but also for the visual and auditory over stimulation. The larger the show, the more the sensory overload. It can be exhausting, but for most of us, it’s exhilarating for those two or three days.

It’s tempting to focus on the sights and sounds, but trade shows are about other senses as well, such as taste, touch, and smell. We don’t often think about the familiar “smells” of trade shows, but there are many, which we all recognize as  pleasant or unpleasant. Indulge me for a minute as I explore the olfactory sensations common to most trade shows and events. In other words, what stinks and what doesn’t.

The Top 11 Trade Show Odors

B.O. You knew this would be on the list. Go ahead, call me a brainwashed, overly-sanitize consumer of the antiperspirant consortium. I accept that label. But I don’t think I’m alone in being repelled by the acidic pungency of B.O. I can deal with mild, slightly sour B.O. but the clingy stench that leaps from the B.O.’er to your clothing in milli-seconds is totally unacceptable.

Peppermint. Mints are the 6th food group at trade shows. They are everywhere from standard star mints to licorice mints and from packaged promotional mints to over-the-counter mints. Thank goodness for mints. I am especially thankful for Altoids, the nuclear bomb of mints. One Altoids has the power to create a nearly impenetrable minty force field (with one exception – see #10).

Hangover. This smell varies from person to person. On a scale of 1-10, with one being OK and ten being gross, here are three examples:

#1 – Musky. This person got home late, had a few too many drinks, and may have been in a smoky bar.

#5 – Vodka sweats. Not only is alcohol still in their bloodstream, but they are perspiring booze. Whether you like it or not, you’re sharing every fancy martini they had last night . . . but with a hint of salt.

#10 – Vomit (mingled with the above). Enough said.

Propane Fumes. Most forklifts and hi-lifts at convention halls use propane as fuel. The smell isn’t necessarily offensive, particularly if it’s only momentary. It’s the combination of the smell and the heat from the exhaust at a summer show which can be overwhelming. I know they make electric forklifts. With all due respect to Hank Hill and the Strickland Propane Co, I prefer electricity.

Windex. This smell varies depending on the brand and the cleanser, but the unmistakable aroma of cleaning solvents permeates every show hall when the doors officially open. If you’re a germaphobe, it’s the equivalent of crack cocaine.

chocolate-chip-cookie_revisedFresh Baked Cookies. Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies have become a trade show staple for many exhibitors. It’s a smart idea, but you have to be willing to feed not only prospective customers but also every other exhibitor within a 500 ft. radius Just writing about it makes me want to drive to the mall and purchase a half-dozen cookies at Mrs. Fields. Yum! (ditto — popcorn)

Men’s Cologne/Women’s Perfume. Before anyone corrects me, I know there is some hoity-toity difference between cologne and perfume, but I’m lumping them together anyway. Personally I don’t mind the scent of cologne/perfume, but I emphasize “scent.” It should be subtle. Recall my earlier observation about B.O. This applies to perfume and cologne as well. If your cologne causes someone to visibly wince in pain, then you may want to scale it back a gallon or two.

Feet. Your feet. Not others. Most of us are desk jockeys. We’re not accustomed to walking the show floor or standing for hours. We’re weak. I’m not saying your feet stink, but your may want to add a little Industrial Strength Odor Eaters to your shoes before and after the show. And don’t even think about wearing those socks more than once. Show some mercy.

Carpet and Visqueen Vapors. Visqueen is the plastic covering used to protect carpet from general abuse and tire marks during installation. Both carpet and visqueen give off vapors. New carpet in particular can be vapor intensive. Some folks love that smell. Then again, some folks love the smell of gasoline. I don’t get it frankly.

bad-breath-deviceBad Breath. Yikes. Combine alcohol, coffee, late nights, and a travel toothbrush and you have the perfect petri dish for bad breath. Mints help to mask the odor, but even mints can’t subdue halitosis that’s become a living, breathing alien organism. With family, you can hand them dental floss, a toothbrush, and Listerine, but with colleagues and strangers you pretty much have to gut it out. I once had a colleague hand a customer three Certs and then smile. Seriously. I’m not that brazen.

Desperation. Nothing smells worse than the exhibitor who leaves all the planning for the plane ride. No pre-show marketing. No review of the graphics. Incomplete forms faxed two days before the show. No scheduled meetings with clients. Four days later, the show is about to end, and there aren’t enough leads to fill a shot glass. If they are honest, they’ll regroup and do better job next time. If not, they’ll do what every lazy, worthless, sad-sack exhibitor does . . . blame it on the show and the ineffectiveness of trade show marketing. Now that stinks!

No doubt, I’ve missed some obvious trade show smells. I encourage you to share your smells . . . that didn’t come out quite right. Let’s give it one more try . . . I invited you to share your observations and stories about smells. What odors do you associate with trade shows. The Good. The Bad. The Really Ugly.

Let the comments begin . . . .

–Mel White
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
mel@classicexhibits.com

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Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions and engineered aluminum extrusions (ClassicMODUL). Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100.


 

Even For Ladies

February 27th, 2014 1 COMMENT

A product description sign at EuroShop. Honestly, I half expected to see Ron Burgundy standing in the booth pitching the product.

“You know I love the ladies, but when it comes to most lightboxes . . . ”

How to Entertain Yourself During Any Meeting

January 1st, 2014 COMMENTS

crazyoffice

No More Boring Meetings

You’ve read countless articles about how to manage meetings so they’re efficient, informative, and productive. Unfortunately, no one ever suggests how to make the meeting more interesting. Not for the group but for you! It may be a group meeting, but that doesn’t mean you have to be bored listening to sales projections, productivity reports, or policy updates.

Here are some suggestions on how to entertain yourself during any meeting. It may be too much to expect your boss to appreciate your attempt to enliven the meeting. But, hey, it’s only a job, and you were looking for a reason to explain full-time employment, mortgage payments, groceries, and utilities to your kids.

Successful Meetings and Horshack

Animated Hand Raise

One of the all-time great television characters was Arnold Horshack (Ron Palillo), the braying geek on “Welcome Back Kotter.” Whenever Arnold had a question or comment, he scream “Oh! Oh Oh!” and raise his hand. We all know that animated hand-raising is fun. I prefer the exaggerated hand wave with some subtle finger movement. I strongly disapprove of the combination finger pointing/finger snapping hand-raising. It’s important to know the difference between being rude and being aggressively rude. You don’t need a catch-phrase, but a personal catch-phrase and a copyright could turn your meeting entertainment into a profitable business.

Taking Notes

You should be suspicious of anyone who doesn’t bring a pen and paper to a meeting. It’s just plain wrong. You, on the other hand, should take excessive notes. From the moment anyone begins speaking, begin writing. During any conversation, take notes. When there is a pause and no one is talking, keep writing. It’s a great way to stay awake during any meeting, plus you’ll be praised by your superiors for taking the meeting seriously and resented by your colleagues for taking the meeting seriously. It’s also a terrific opportunity to write a thank you letter to your Aunt Eileen for the $5 she sent on your 8th birthday. You’ll feel better and that’s all that really matters.

Winking

Remember the episode of Seinfeld where George had an eye twitch and everyone thought he was winking at them? Winking is fun, at least for the “winker” if not  for the “winkie.” When your boss says something like, “We must cut administrative expenses by 20 percent this quarter.” Give one of your co-workers a knowing wink. When two colleagues disagree about an issue, give them both a subtle but separate wink. It says, “I understand and am on your side.” Oh yes, winking can also get you hauled into HR for sexual harassment, so use your power wisely. Every great power has its kryptonite.

WinkingName Calling

This takes a little more planning, since cracking into the company’s HR files is both illegal and immoral. Start by learning everyone’s full first and middle name. Some people will gladly reveal that information because they were never mocked by their family and classmates. All others were named after dead relatives, celebrities, places, pets, or moral aspirations and still bear the emotional scars. They don’t want anyone to know their middle name is “Ottermeirman” or “Saskatchewan” or “Freedom” or “Barrymore.”

Once you have that information, use it during the next meeting. Refer to everyone by their full first and middle name. Sue, for instance, becomes Susanna Sunshine and Frank becomes Franklin Graceland. After the initial shock, I’m sure everyone will be laughing, patting each other on the back, and singing. Disclaimer: I have not personally tested this so I can’t verify the “everyone will be laughing or singing.”

Bathroom Breaks

Any meeting lasting more than 15 minutes should have at least one bathroom break. Group bathroom breaks are even better since getting everyone back into the meeting usually takes an additional 10 minutes. Subtle background noise of a babbling brook or cascading waterfall should do the trick.

dwightStaring

Staring like winking takes a little practice but once you’ve master it, the fun begins. Psycho staring, however, is unacceptable. How do you know when you’re psycho staring? Usually someone screams, there’s finger pointing, and handcuffs and someone in a uniform or lab coat appears. To stare without repercussions, you’ll want to pretend you’re thinking of something really, really important. In case some asks, you’re pondering. It just so happens that there’s someone between you and an epiphany. Another strategy is to stare until you get someone’s attention, then look away. Repeat. Then on the third stare when the hair on the back of their neck is at full attention, motion like they’ve got something hanging from their lip, stuck on their cheek, or caught in their hair. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

These are just a few of my techniques to make every meeting entertaining. You are welcome to use them and add your personal flair. I don’t expect any royalties or credit —  just send me your entertaining meeting tips in return. If we wish really hard, perhaps there is a website in our future where we are a tight-knit community, or as my wife we say “an interest-specific sub-culture,” bonded by the joys of entertaining ourselves during meetings.

–Mel White
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
mel@classicexhibits.com

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Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.


 

What’s the Expiration Date of Your Trade Show Display? 20 Clues.

December 10th, 2013 12 COMMENTS

Expired Trade Show Display

Trade show displays, like yogurt and milk, have expiration dates. While it may not be printed on the box, it’s not hard to spot one that’s starting to spoil. Here are 20 Clues that it’s time to buy a new exhibit.

You Know It’s Starting to Smell When . . .

1. Graphics are attached with Velcro to a fabric backwall. While that may be OK for a FFA display at the county fair, it’s no longer acceptable at a professional trade show.

2. I&D won’t touch your property without hazardous duty pay. When show labor has to don hazmat suits before starting an install, that’s not a good sign.

3. Duct tape is an important design element. And you’re excited it now comes in designer colors — Baja Blue and Desert Sunset Yellow.

4. When your booth was purchased, a quarter could transform your hotel bed into Vibrating Magic Fingers. Ahhhhhh!

5. Attendees compliment the “vintage” theme of your booth and graphics. “Very retro!”

6. You decide to re-print your graphics and hand the graphic designer a floppy disk.

7. There are more “just in case” parts than actual display parts.

8. The shipping labels have added 50 pounds to the weight.

9. You lust over the two $99 banner stands in the adjacent booth.

10. The No Questions Asked Lifetime Warranty has expired.

11. It smells like the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Even Fabreze can’t kill that odor.

12. You found your distributor by flipping through the Yellow Pages of the phone book.

13. Your storage costs have exceeded your purchase price by a factor of 10.

14. Your graphics have a “Happy Days” theme, and the Fonz is still your unofficial spokesperson. “Ayyyyyyy!”

15. Someone tagged your crate with the Rolling Stones tongue graphic (and you think that’s cool).

16. It folds and weighs more than an AMC Gremlin.

17. Children flee in terror as if they’ve just seen a circus clown. 

18. Your competitors gush over your booth . . . . “Don’t Change a Thing! Seriously, Not a Single Thing!”

19. You found a “Win a Free Palm Pilot” Promotional Flyer in the case.

20. Your boss says, “By golly, it was good enough for Old Joe, bless his heart and God rest his soul.”

If you answered “Yes” to any of these, put your display in the compost bin.

How do you determine the expiration date of a trade show display? Please share. ;-)

–Mel White
http://www.linkedin.com/in/melmwhite
mel@classicexhibits.com

**********************************************

Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or www.classicexhibits.com.