4 Reasons Your Trade Show Program Needs a Timeline

By Bart Sakosky

When Mick Jagger proclaimed that time was on his side, I can’t help but wonder if he was actually talking about timelines. They are a great way to use time to your advantage. At Exhibit Concepts, we believe that creating an inclusive, realistic timeline is critical to a successful project, particularly when it comes to optimizing productivity. Better yet, it makes putting time on your side a real possibility.
When considering the art of productivity, the Japanese serve as a compelling example of successfully changing an industry with a simple philosophy about waste: Muda. Translated, it means “futility; uselessness; wastefulness” also known as lean manufacturing.  This approach to eliminating waste has completely transformed the heart of the automotive industry. It has guided many automakers to properly allocate resources in order to find the most effective way to increase profitability.

The elimination of waste is also very important in the trade show industry, and one of the aspects we have focused on is using a timeline to guide us to a path of prosperous productivity. With over 80,000 square feet devoted to manufacturing and prep at our headquarters in Dayton, Ohio and another 10,000 square feet in our Chicago office, efficiency is key. Creating a detailed timeline and sticking to it from concept through all phases of production and shipment is how we get there.

Here are a few ways timelines can benefit your trade show program:

1.    Reap the Rewards of Anticipation
While we cannot predict everything, there are many trade shows that our clients attend consistently, year after year. When we know a show is coming, our team can properly allocate resources to deliver the best possible experience for clients.

Better yet, incorporating the trade shows we know will occur gives us flexibility to handle the other shows that appear in the schedule along the way.

2.    Time to Take Responsibility
Timelines aren’t just about scheduling; assigning responsible parties to each task along the way is a crucial component. The success of any company lies with good communication, and making individuals responsible for the outcome of important tasks is essential. Likewise, client responsibility should be noted in the document. Ownership and accountability ensures all parties stay on track and sets expectations with great clarity.

3.    Decrease Stress & Reduce Errors
We are human, and human beings make mistakes. It’s just par for the course in any industry.  However, when timelines are compressed, stress increases and stress can sometimes lead to errors. Creating and sticking to a comfortable timeline ensures we catch any mistakes along the way and have the time to fix them before they become a serious problem.

As an added bonus, this can bring peace of mind, project readiness, accurate and dependable delivery, and ultimately our client’s overall fulfillment of their project.

4.    Inspiring Perpetual Learning
The best thing any of us can be is a student of life. This means allowing ourselves to learn from our mistakes while also finding new ways to produce a better outcome. We are always learning and we are always making changes to streamline processes, increase profitability, and ultimately deliver a seamless experience for our clients.

With dozens of tasks attached to each show’s timeline, trade show managers rely on our ability to maintain cohesion between each stage of the process. Exhibit Concepts’ transparency with each task helps our clients identify, participate, and take ownership in the timeline. The result is a successful show for all involved.  And like The Rolling Stones also said, “You can’t always get what you want.” But if we embrace timelines and stick to them, we can get a good outcome.


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