Tanya Dennis: Stand up and be accountable

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Tanya Dennis, operations manager at MRO Network says ROI is as important for ops as it is for marketing and sales professionals.

 

Last month my mentor asked me why I had so much written down on my 2016 goal list. My immediate response was: “because I want to be great”.

 

But, great at what exactly?

 

Having a mentor for the past 10 months has been challenging; not because of the time commitment or the extra tasks and events, but because of accountability. My mentor has held me accountable for every single decision I’ve made, good and bad.

 

When I said I was going to start a blog, she wanted to know my rationale behind this decision. When I said I wanted to enrol on a digital marketing course she sat me down and tried to figure out why I was about to commit to this. As long as I had a good enough reason for my decisions and could see where they’d fit in either my short or long term goals, then and only then, would we move forward with a plan.


It’s easy for us to just say yes to things. As long as it is physically possible, within budget and is not going against any health or safety restrictions, then why not? You want a drone? Sure! A twitter wall? Let’s do it!


When I was made operations manager in October 2015, I was forced to start seeing things differently – to dissect your choices is very important in this industry. Just because we can afford it doesn’t mean it is right for us. ROI is an essential part of exhibitions and not necessarily something that operations focus on very much.


Our focus is on if the show is functional, safe, within budget and aesthetic. ROI is traditionally a sales and marketing buzzword that we tend to gloss over.


However, we as an industry are now forced to be more creative and unique in order to compete with the ever growing, widely available, online networking solutions.

 

Ops need to be careful not to agree to things just for the sake of it. We need to be as vocal as everyone else; why do we need that extra feature area? How will it further enhance the visitor’s experience? Or is it only to take up unused space? Until we ask why, how will we be able to offer useful alternative solutions?

 

The first time I said no to one of the sales managers was a nerve-racking but empowering moment. I wasn’t saying that it was a bad idea; I was saying it was an unnecessary idea for our show. And that’s okay. Although it is essential that we incorporate the new technologies available to us, we have to make sure we’re not doing it for doing its sake.

 

I’ll never forget the time someone suggested we put a bar and DJ in the middle of our exhibition because, ‘our guys like a good drink’. The idea was accepted and ops were asked to put plans together. We went along with it and made it happen. The downside to having a DJ and bar in a very corporate exhibition is that there is a possibility that the bar won’t be used at all and the DJ will illicit complaints.

 

Entertainment works at a lot of events, but a simple discussion with some of the longstanding exhibitors and visitors would have taught us that, yes our guys ‘like a drink’, after the exhibition. And no the DJ is not a good idea because a lot of business meetings take place at the exhibition.

 

Our customers are the most important part of the exhibition, and ensuring they get something valuable out of it should be at the forefront of our mind. Every decision that is made should be with them in mind. After all, no customers = no exhibition!

 

Ops teams need to make accountability a part of our planning process to ensure that the rationale behind each decision is sound and much like my mentor; help to lead the event to greatness.

Tanya Dennis
Posted by Tanya Dennis
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