Sometimes venue sales people do not understand the challenges of a tight flip caused by back-to-back events in their venues.

A recent issue I experienced was finding out from a venue that they had sold our space for an unrelated event that was occurring IN BETWEEN our event programing. The venue sold the space on an evening when our program was scheduled to end at 5:00 PM and resume again the next morning at 7:00 AM. We discovered we had to move out a trade show, a break out, the main plenary and registration all within one hour. To top it off we were notified of this flip via a supplier – and not the venue – the week prior to the event.

With a little creative thinking and co-operation we were able to work through this curveball.

1. The first step was to notify our affected suppliers immediately of the changes to the timeline and distribute a revised schedule communicating the changes. We also worked with the venue to arrange storage space and recruited volunteers to help take down registration at the end of the day and set it back up in the morning.

Impact: This impacted our suppliers, as they had to arrange for additional staff which resulted in higher labour costs. Make sure you negotiate with the venue that they cover these additional costs and complimentary rental of storage space for equipment if required.

2. The second step was to notify the exhibitors. For this event, our tradeshow hall was affected. It was scheduled to close and move out one hour prior to the space being required for the other event. In this case we had to notify the exhibitors and help them to move out as efficiently as possible. We had various packing supplies available in the show hall as well as staff to help with getting items ready for the show services company to take back to their warehouse for shipping.

Impact: Many exhibitors require hours to take down their booths and equipment. As this was an annual event, it was important to ensure the exhibitors were not left with a bad taste for next years’ event. We had to ensure that we were there for them to assist and appease as much as possible.

Lessons Learned

What we found with this event was that communication with the affected suppliers and attendees was critical. Ensuring that they knew that this was not a normal situation for this event and that we were accommodating the venue’s needs was important. By notifying suppliers and exhibitors as quickly as possible and arranging for special services, we were able to accommodate this flip.

However, this situation can be avoided in your venue negotiations. If possible, negotiate a 24 hour hold for the space you have contracted. This may add a significant fee to your budget depending on the time of year and the demand for space, but it may save you the logistical nightmare of trying to accommodate a tight flip.