It's an Adventure!

Kelli Steckbauer | August 31, 2016

Picture this – you just won your international dream vacation. How do you prepare?

If you’re like me, you’re starting to think about passports, currency, language, culture. How will you fit in and make the most of your time?

Of course, the same considerations need to be made when your show calendar takes you on the global stage. After all, if you expect everything to operate in the same fashion as it does here in the US, you’ll probably have some very anxious moments ahead of you!

Thank goodness I was prepared when I traveled to South Africa for the International Aids Conference in Durban. My research paid off – and I hope the great experience resulting from my careful planning can be applied to your next international show.

So what can I tell you about the South African trade show floor?

  • Safety Regulations. Mandatory safety meetings are a must before the crew can access the hall. Those meetings pay off, too -- labor crews are extremely diligent in keeping the areas clean and void of hazards.
  • Booth Assembly. Advance approval of your set-up drawings by the show organizer is required, but it’s only a first step in assuring the architecture is up to par. Once your exhibit is built, an architect will still need to confirm its sturdiness. This is far more than a cursory glance. I was surprised when our inspector literally shook the walls to ensure everything was structurally safe and secure. If the architect does not sign off on a booth, it must be dismantled with risk of the show not opening at all.
  • Security. We live in an era of increasing concern about the security of guests in a large venue. While this is true for trade shows around the world, the concern is not necessarily that protestors will picket your venue. In South Africa, there is a very real risk that those protestors may obtain attendee credentials and make their way to your booth. Just like being aware of the exit row on an airplane, it’s always a good idea to have an “escape route” in case something like this would happen. Safety needs to always be a priority for you and your staff.
  • Labor. There are no unions and skilled labor is a precious commodity. Make sure your South African partner is hooking you up with a skilled labor team to ensure your build meets your expectations. You can pay significantly less for unskilled labor, but the end result is worth the extra investment.

It may not be vacation, but a little preparation will pay off in peace of mind when those show doors open. Here’s hoping you have a great experience at your next South African event – or wherever your face-to-face calendar takes you!

Kelli Steckbauer demonstrates her passion for experiential marketing as Vice President of Operations for MG. In addition to maintaining the highest service and satisfaction standards for employees and clients alike as part of MG’s leadership team, Kelli plays an active role in advancing the industry through speaking engagements and is a regular contributor to several publications.