While focusing on the program and the food for your meeting is easy, don’t overlook the decor. Not all appointments require extensive set — your site may already have everything you need — but some events require the services of a decorating firm.
Whether you’re building a trade show or exhibit or need just the right entrance decor to set the perfect mood for your special event, there are some basic, though not always obvious, precautions you need to take when placing your order.
This advice comes from seasoned planners who learned the hard way:
If you are ordering custom pieces like furniture or unique table decorations from a company’s catalog, check to ensure the details are available in the meeting area. Is it in stock, and what is the cost? One exhibitor ordered unique chairs for the reception area his company was sponsoring, only to find they had to be brought in from another city at extra cost.
Communication is critical when planning the delivery and set-up of your exhibit materials. Is their adequate staff available? Think beyond loading and unloading shipped goods. Ask about laying carpet, setting up drapes and skirts, etc.
If items are mailed to the decorator, they may be warehoused. If you send articles directly to the convention center, verify how they will be handled. Will you need carts? Can cars pull up near the door? If there is a union, ensure a union representative is included in the discussions.
If color is vital to the theme of your event, ask the decorator to mail a sample. Don’t trust the online photo. If everything is designed around the color and it’s not right, it can throw off your complete display. Do a safety walk-through after the carpet is laid. Are seams properly lined-up and flat? Don’t overlook this critical step, especially from a liability standpoint.
Pipe and Drape
If there are large spans of pipe and drape, ensure everything is well secured. At a recent event, someone opened a door, and a wind draft took down a wall shortly before the show was scheduled to open, causing a last-minute scramble. Ensure weights are placed on the corners of the pipe bases if necessary. Tying-downs and consequences should be used on tents and awnings for outdoor events. Also, secure any loose items; unexpected weather can transform that lovely centerpiece into a dangerous projectile.
Most shows have an exhibitor service booth, a go-to place for people who have questions (if they need more plugs or the electricity has gone out, etc.). Often, the stalls are staffed during move-in and move-out. Make sure the booth is adequately staffed for the needs of your event. Experience will tell you what works.