Ten Tips for Avoiding Operations Snafus

By Lynn McCullough Director of Meetings & Association Management, CMA Association Management | October 28, 2008

No matter how organized you are, or how much advance preparation you put into a show or how much attention to detail you apply, sometimes it is impossible to avoid the proverbial operations snafu. Or is it?

As a fellow show organizer, I follow virtually the same routine as you do when planning a meeting and it's a safe bet that we use a similar checklist. However, whether you have five years of experience or 25, when it comes to show operations, everyone can use some help avoiding simple and possibly costly mistakes. In this article, members of the Association for Convention Operations Management (ACOM) share a few seemingly obvious but often overlooked tips which you can use when planning your next event.

1. Do your site homework. "When you go on site tours of the facility, go during both busy and slow times to see how they operate during show times and how they handle pressure situations," suggests Eric Blanc, CMP, Account Executive, Exposition Services for Freeman. "The one thing you want to know is how the staff will react in a crunch. This will help give you a better idea of how they will handle your event. It will also give you a chance to see if there are any specific areas of concern that you need to address prior to your event," he adds.

2. Maximize your floor space, within fire marshal regulations. "Some facilities have a tendency to inflate their maximum capacities," observes Blanc. "Unfortunately, these maximums are often not approved by the fire marshal. That can cause challenges when trying to get fire marshal approval on sold-out shows." Don't start selling booths on a show until your floor plan has been approved by the fire marshal. "Otherwise, you may encounter problems with floor plans that utilize smaller than normal aisles or those that differ from standard sets," says Blanc. He suggests meeting in advance with a service contractor that operates on a regular basis in that particular facility. Together, you should review pre-existing floor plans that maximize space and are fire marshal approved.

3. Ensure that the space you are contracting is adequate for your show's projected growth. Now that most shows are back on a solid growth curve, you should review your space needs for the next five years. "Make sure your space will accommodate your show at its current size, as well as with any projected expansion," Blanc says. If you underestimated the size of your show for 2005, it will have a cumulative effect in future years. "You may be walking away from a 10 percent increase in revenue because you are unable to accommodate more booth space because it does not meet fire marshal regulations," he explains.

4. Use a paging microphone during set-up and tear-down. Cell phones and walkie-talkies are staples, but the good old-fashioned paging microphones are ideal for communication during set up, especially for shows that occupy more than one hall or level of the facility, advises Melinda Burnett, CMP, Convention Services Manager for the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. "They enable you to ensure that people are on and off the docks in a timely manner, and that vendors do not park where they are not supposed to. For most shows, I am on the speaker announcing that if a car is not moved off of the dock, we will issue a ticket. People have been towed. While they get annoyed, you can guarantee they won't do it again!," she explains. Paging microphones also help when there is a problem and you need to locate someone immediately.

Choose a Social Network!

The social network you are looking for is not available.


Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Jason Ferrara
Paul van Meerendonk
David Lund
Tom O'Rourke
David Ashen
Amy Bair
Emil Atanassov
Brenda Fields
Pedro Colaco
Lizz Chambers
Coming up in May 2019...

Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.