Tag Archives: OLA

Notes about organizing exhibits

From OLA/WLA Joint Conference 2008

  1. If at all possible, work with a partner (someone who has done it before).   

  2. Get planning documents for your state from the past exhibits chair.   

  3. If this is a joint conference- find out if either side has a contractual obligation to use certain companies (i.e., decorator).   

  4. Before going through a certain company- verify it makes sense (e.g., if the company is not local to the event venue, will it cost for them to travel?).    

  5. Okay it with your institution of employment and verify who will pay for your travel and other conference committee expenses.   

  6. If you send out the conference notifications too early, they get lost in the shuffle (we sent them out in Nov. and a couple of regular vendors did not register). Lynn usually sends out exhibit info in Jan. when people are back from winter break and ready to put things on the calendar.   

  7. Vendors want booth numbers (wow, do they!) so have them ready as soon as possible.   

  8. Vendors want conference name badges (wow, do they!) have them ready as soon as possible.   

  9. If someone staffs a vendor booth who does not have a name badge, be prepared to make one on the fly, because…see above.   

  10. Vendors want a conference schedule, so make sure that there are enough for them to have one, or an abbreviated version, or post one in the exhibit area…we did not have enough registration packets to give a full packet to each vendor, but they seemed to mainly just want a schedule, so if in doubt- run off copies of the schedule and have them on hand.   

  11. Showcases complimented the no-conflict times, it worked to have them near the vendor areas and I would do this again if possible.     

  12. Vendors wanted to leave early…really early (wow, did they!) so take this into consideration when scheduling. Also, clarify with the conference committee what if any expectation exists that vendors will remain set-up…do they need to agree to be there until a certain time?   

  13. There was a spelling error on a vendor sign- the problem originated with the decorator service, but there was no way to correct it during the conference…ask the decorator to bring an extra blank sign that could, in a pinch, be used to replace a sign with an error (something that can be written on).   

  14. Pass out “save the date” handouts with date and location a year in advance.   

  15. Pass out drink tickets to the vendors.   

  16. Offer snacks and coffee in vendor areas.    

  17. Organize raffle so people know how it is structured before they visit the vendors…our raffle was okay, but people looked at the exhibits and then realized there was a vendor quiz as part of the raffle entry…we spent a lot of time encouraging people to fill out the raffle forms.   

  18. Plan to be on the exhibits floor by 6:30-7:00am on the first day of conference. Be sure to eat something or bring healthy food to the vendor table for later. On the first day of the regular conference, morning hunger turned out to be a huge issue and by lunch time I was shakey.   

  19. Arrange for lunch coverage    

  20. Vendors supplied raffle prizes without being asked.   

  21. Plan to work late, especially the day of pre-conference when vendors are setting up. Have dinner plans and know ahead of time if you will be paid for work/dinner and if so, what kinds of receipts/paperwork you need to fill out.   

  22. Verify whether or not the conference committee pays for your hotel room.     

  23. We had potential vendors requesting exhibit space while the conference was in progress. When one vendor unexpectedly vacated their booth on the first day, we had an alternate who came in, paid an adjusted fee, and exhibited for the rest of the conference. It would not hurt to have one or two alternates just in case.   

  24. Put information about free tables on the website. Library groups will contact you to reserve free tables. Either arrange ahead of time for the decorator to bring signs or come prepared with 8 ½ X 11 signs for each table with the group name. Verify in advance whether or not the table needs electricity.   

  25. Advise vendors and free table folks to bring extension cords if needed as hotels often charge extra to borrow cords.   

  26. Get a copy of the information packet the decorator is sending to vendors.  Proof the packet and add clarification where necessary.   

  27. Put the exhibit cost on the web page (not just the exhibit application). I had many calls from exhibitors looking for costs on the website.
  28. Consider setting up a coat rack near the exhibits to encourage people to spend time in exhibit areas.