By Dean Dexter

I consider myself a trade show and event evangelist. I help companies produce great events. After each event, my staff and I evaluate what went right and what didn’t. No event is ever perfect and we are always looking to improve. I want to repeat that statement, because in the thousands of events I’ve worked, I find it to be the one constant: no event is ever perfect.

Success vs. Failure

We finished two events recently. Both experienced a bit more than their share of issues: freight delays, installation labor problems, the client’s own demonstrations not working or not ready. I don’t want to minimize these issues because they are important and contribute to the overall success or failure of an event. In fact, avoiding problems and minimizing any that do occur in order to help clients succeed is what this part of our business is all about. I view any and all issues seriously. Typically, we have on-site staff at events to handle problems and find solutions that make problems invisible to our clients. But what struck me as interesting is out of these two similar events, only one felt like a failure. The other was an absolute success; the client felt they had “knocked it out of the park”. So, I was left to ponder the difference between these events. Why had one client achieved the results they wanted despite the problems encountered, while the other client had taken a downward spiral?

Attitude Saves the Day

The contrast between the two outcomes reminded me of a flight I had taken over central Alabama a number of years ago. I was piloting a small plane, flying solo. No issues, everything was going along great, when suddenly the engine quit! I have to admit that there is no silence quite like the absence of engine noise when you are expecting and depending on it. Luckily, training took over. I adjusted the plane’s attitude to get the nose down and increase airspeed. The increased airspeed would help me as I attempted to restart the engine. Obviously, since I am writing this now, it worked. I restarted the engine, hit the throttle and landed at a nearby airport. After inspecting the plane and satisfying myself that everything was working as it should, I was on my way again. But, the difference between what is now a great story and a possible sad postscript, was the plane’s attitude. By adjusting the nose down a bit, I was able to restart the engine and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Secret to Exhibit Success

The all-too-often overlooked secret to exhibit success is attitude, as well. Just like on my flight, attitude makes all the difference when encountering problems. I don’t want to minimize what can be serious problems, but putting on a smile and making the best of it really does work. I’m often surprised by the results a positive attitude can produce. I’m reminded of a company that not only discovered that the exhibit graphics they had designed weren’t right, but also watched as a freak wind blew part of their display over and destroyed an LCD monitor. But instead of going down in flames, the exhibit staff worked it out. They had a winning attitude and it showed. The client had awesome exhibit traffic and their customers never knew that here had been any problems. In fact, many visitors commented on how amazing everything looked. The company now considers it one of the best events they’ve attended and can’t wait to go back to this show again.

Get Your Nose Down and Succeed

When faced with things that aren’t going exactly like we want them to, we’re faced with a choice. We can pull back, focus on what’s not working and risk spiralling out of control. Or, we can adjust our attitude and get our noses down, increase speed and make the best of the situation. If a winning attitude can make such a dramatic difference when things aren’t going well, just imagine what it can do when things are working exactly like you want. Just remember, your secret weapon for exhibit success is your own attitude.

Let’s get out there and make amazing!