EN asks three event suppliers to discuss the elements of their role that organisers might not consider.
The cleaning service is the last service along the line. There is a science to cleaning and a set of logistics, and you’ve only got a certain amount of time to carry out the task, just the same as every other contractor. We as a contractor cannot be late because if we’re late the show doesn’t open on time, and cleaners often have to chuck extra resources at a job for no financial remuneration.
If there’s a delay it never gets fed down the line; we’re not aware of it until it happens.
One way of fixing it would be to make sure that when contractors turn up onsite they should put forward schedules that they can keep to. If they need ten men for ten hours then put that down, don’t think it can be done by eight men in nine hours. And, if it does go wrong, that information needs to be passed down the line to everyone. It we knew earlier we could get more resources in. I go on jobs where they have briefings and the cleaner is never invited. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’ve probably been to about ten debriefs (bearing in mind we do 250 jobs a year).
Shows can’t open dirty. You could have the best design in the world and the best product in the world but if your stand is surrounded by rubbish and hasn’t been cleaned…
We’re the ones who will get blamed if the show isn’t done properly. They will ignore the fact that other contractors have failed in their obligation and we’ve done our job the best it can be done. It’s become our problem, but it’s not our fault.
It is very difficult to point at something and say, “I wish another party in the industry understood this because it would make my life easier,” it’s not helpful and won’t help you foster those all-important working relationships.
We still find ourselves needing to explain, for example, how equipment left blocking an aisle can throw out the whole build of other stands. Over the least 10 years, as an industry, we have built a better, clearer and more relevant set of Health & Safety procedures, but I still encounter the mindset that these procedures are a time-consuming tiresome burden, rather than an asset for the benefit and safety of everyone.
You cannot expect people new to the industry to know all this the moment they join up. Understanding that safe practices also make build-up and breakdown more efficient is something you glean from experience, and if we’re serious about bringing talented young people into events and exhibitions, then we need to find a way to pool and impart our collective experience of event contracting to the next generation.
We’re constantly evolving practices and build techniques that allow us to maintain the quality and wow factor within the constraints given, and we need to help the rest of the industry understand how good and poor practice affects our ability to deliver what everyone wants…How we do that is, perhaps, something for ESSA, AEO and the AEV to look at.
I wish organisers knew a little bit more about lighting before choosing their venue and even considered how their event will look in photographs. I’ve had many an organiser say to me “it’s a great venue, full of natural daylight” only to discover that the venue just has light flooding in from the one side – but no natural light coming in from the ceiling or the other side of the venue – so half of attendees are in a flood of light, and silhouetted against the windows, whilst anyone on the other side of the room is very dimly lit.
Lighting should play a huge part in your event. Choosing a venue that has invested in modern digital lighting or simply replaced their traditional tungsten lamps with LED lighting is a huge bonus – not just for your photographer but for your attendees too. LED gives a much brighter and better lighting. Your eye will quickly adapt to a room with a yellow colour cast, but the camera sees it for what it is and your photographs will be lacking the correct colour balance until corrected in Lightroom / Photoshop. A professional photographer will try to avoid using flash – it is unnatural to blast a subject that way, it is intrusive to your attendees and doesn’t give a good tone to an image. Whilst we can of course all use Lightroom/Photoshop to colour correct, there is only so much you can do with a poorly lit image.
Good quality photography should be a requisite for every event; make sure you work with your photographer and get them involved to ensure your event really is shown in the best possible light.