The Roadshow’s Greatest Hits

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Some of the Best Questions Asked at the Rental & Staging Roadshows

After my last

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column, a number of people have written in to ask about the Roadshow experience. As I mentioned last month, there really aren’t very many events of this kind for our industry, especially not with this type of attendee composition, and a lot of people seemed interested in what I had meant when I said that.

Well, first of all, the attendees themselves are somewhat different than we’d find at InfoComm or other major tradeshows. At these tradeshows, most attendees are management, sales, or very senior technical people. As I’ve heard (often and loudly) from technicians, very few of them get to go to InfoComm — either because of expense or because there are shows on and most can’t go. At the Roadshow, given its one-day local format, we tend to get a lot more of the active technical people and larger numbers from each company.

Second, the exhibitors are also somewhat different. While some excellent senior marketing people do attend, most of the sponsoring organizations seem to send their regional technical people, and the equipment that is exhibited by the sponsors tends to be in working situations rather than being in a tradeshow booth set up to look pretty. At the last Roadshow in NYC, I had a chance for a really in-depth discussion and some hands-on time with a major audio manufacturer’s regional technical people over one of their latest digital consoles. Because it was in a one-day local format, several of my technicians were able to attend, and had a chance to compare notes with both the manufacturer’s personnel and with techs from other regional companies. A good time was had by all.

Third, as I mentioned last month, the casual atmosphere (including a nice box lunch where techs from all over the region get to actually sit down together and talk) tends to promote some open and frank discussions about the business, the technology — and where it’s all going.

So, in thinking about just what an open forum this has actually turned out to be, I compiled a list of my favorite questions (and answers) about a number of topics, listed from most frequently asked to least — I call them “The Roadshow’s Greatest Hits”:

Q: How do I get promoted/noticed/listened to inside my company?
A:
Drop the phrase “it’s not my job” from your lexicon. It’s all your job. Team players stand out as team members, and then get asked to head the team. To run a show well, you need at least some operational understanding of all the jobs. If you want to stick to everybody only working within a single job description or comfort zone, find a union shop to work for. Specialization is great, but not for leaders. Besides, in today’s environment within small companies (and most rental and staging companies are) flexibility equals job security.

Q:What skill or discipline is most important to delivering a large show well?
A:
Believe it or not, packing. The best rental manager I’ve ever known is Chris Thorne at Riverview Systems, who pounded into my head (sometimes literally) that shows are won or lost in the warehouse, long before they leave the shop. As an industry, we have a tendency to tell war stories about the time we saved a show with ingenuity and baling wire at the last second — overlooking that, if we had to save it, our planning had failed.

Q: At this point, should we be buying all 16:9 screens and projectors?
A:
Sure. Or 3:4. Or 16:10. Pick ‘em. There will be requirements for all kinds of formats, and the one you choose is irrelevant — provided you have the ability to mask any screen you own to another ratio. Stop thinking of screens having a fixed ratio, and start thinking about them for overall size and flexible masking.

Q: How do I organize a show so that we can remain calm even when the clients are losing their heads about it?
A:
Come to the Roadshow and find out.

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