Julian Agostini, Mash Media MD, questions personality traits and the exhibitor experience.
Middle child syndrome – does it exist? From a personal point of view, our middle child is, without a doubt, the most grounded and least maintenance of the three but I do think there is something to be said for personality traits revealing which number child you are.
I recently encountered an eldest child situation at Mash Towers and it’s fair to say that I lost. I used to watch, dumbfounded and sometimes wincing, as my parents would get frustrated with my older brother over an incredibly trivial point that descended into a war of attrition.
With the broadest of brushes, it would appear that the eldest or only child is never wrong – in their own eyes of course.
Apologies are a painful place that they don’t appear to visit and there is always a set of logical reasons and circumstances, which have resulted in any misdemeanour or poor result.
Ultimately, this makes them quite tricky people to manage, as any form of criticism or discussion about areas required for improvement can very easily go the wrong way. The more extreme examples of this are virtually ‘uncoachable’. They become deaf to any advice very quickly and you end up in conversations like this:
‘What I’d like you to do going forward is abc…?’
‘No that doesn’t work because then this happens...’
‘OK then, why don’t you try xyz…?’
‘I’m already doing all of that...’
With it already getting awkward, both parties leave the conversation no further ahead.
A very wise woman once explained to me that my ‘one size fits all’ approach is not appropriate in these circumstances. She explained that any changes you want them to implement must be their idea.
I get that and took it on board (the youngest child may be the idiot risk taker but we are coachable because we’ve spent a lifetime being advised by parents and older siblings).
It also reminded me of conversations with exhibitors. You can absolutely guarantee that if the exhibition doesn’t work, it will definitely not be anything to do with the performance of the exhibitor. It is irrelevant that you watched them tear up their investment with three disinterested sales people on their stand who spent the entire event looking bored, spoke mainly to each other or played on their devices. Explaining this back to the person who booked the stand is like trying to tell a southwest London parent that Tristan doesn’t like rugby.
Simply put, most exhibitors refuse to be told how to approach participation and yet they are not very good at it. It’s a quandary. They don’t need exhibitor training, they’ve done this for years, thank you very much and they are already doing all those things that you might suggest anyway. Oh dear, say good-bye to your re-book.
Good exhibiting is fairly straightforward; the ones who genuinely know how to do it will always have a good show. There’s no fluke involved, but try telling the oldest child that.
Many organisers provide exhibitor training free of charge, there are also the AEO Masterclasses (which are excellent) available for the exhibitors of members but even with these great added value offers, the vast majority of exhibitors refuse to invest any time in learning. If they won’t be told to improve or even coaxed, how do we make it their idea to self-improve? Competition and accolades are one certain way to entice the eldest – be top of the class.
At the 2017 International Confex, Event Production Show and Office* events, we are introducing awards for exhibitor performance. This will deal mainly with how the stand is worked rather than designed etc. It will require participants to submit a set of objectives pre-show and will allow them to win 10sqm free of charge, so not be sniffed at.
In addition, we are introducing a Secret Shopper service, which will then provide a league table of the exhibitors based on the shopper’s experience. Exhibitors are being informed about this as they book and simply have to tick a box (which they are encouraged to do) in order to be involved. Once in, no one wants to come bottom of the league or anywhere near it but if they do, the good news is that it won’t be their fault.