Opening Day.  It’s an exciting time for show organizers, as well as exhibitors.  All of the hard work and preparation that has been put in over so many months, by so many people, culminates into this all-important day.  You would be hard pressed to find a better authority regarding opening day than Mike Blazejewski, CompuSystems’ Vice President of Field Operations.  Mike has been in the trade show business for 16 years and has overseen the onsite operations for more than 250 shows!  In this blog, Mike shares his top 10 tips to ensure a successful opening day.

10. Plenty of Signage

Trade shows can be stressful and typically, badge pickup isn’t high on a registrant’s list of priorities.   Make sure there is clear signage leading to the registration areas, as well as clear signage inside.  Also, keep it simple. For example, in “Express Badge Pickup” have the sign read, “I have my bar code” so it’s clear what that section of counters is for.  Color coding helps too.  Each designated registration area can have a different color.  On the attendee’s confirmation, you can then have verbiage that says, “Once onsite, take this bar code to the blue “I have my bar code” area within registration.”

9. Hire Great Line Monitors

Line monitors are pivotal for guiding the masses of people that flood in on opening day. Make sure you have an ample amount directing registrants to the correct lines. It not only speeds up the lines, but it also saves the attendee from hearing the inevitable (and loathed) “I’m sorry, I can’t do that here.  Please go wait in that line.” response.

8. Resend Confirmations the Day Before the Show

These days we are bombarded with emails.  Receiving another confirmation right before the show makes it easier for the attendee to find their bar code and get their badge generated quickly.

7. Make Sure Your Registration Vendor’s Scanners Can Read Smartphones

It appears that about 50% of attendees no longer bring paper printouts onsite.  If your bar code scanners can’t read smartphones, your lines will slow down tremendously.

6. Shows are Seeing Higher App Adoption Rates

Send push notifications the morning of opening day to remind registrants where registration locations are.  Also, most registration vendors can integrate with app providers. Make sure their bar code confirmation is located within the app.

5. Make Sure the Registration Staff Knows Your Show Rules and Info

Registration is quite literally a big information counter.  They get asked every question under the moon. Make sure all staff is given a brief overview of the show and most commonly asked questions. Tape cheat sheets to all the typists’ terminals.

4. Make Sure Help is Readily Available

Your registration vendor should be out in the registration areas, available to help and easy to locate.  Show management should also be readily available in all locations to deal with any escalated issues.  Attendees don’t like to wait; make sure help is always a stone’s throw away.

3. Use Remote Registration Areas

If it’s in the budget, put a small badge pickup area in the large, show hotels.  Even better, if you have a good amount of non-local attendance, put a badge pickup area in baggage claim at the airport.   Even pickup areas near the hotel bars for a few hours at night will greatly help. There is nothing better than seeing someone walk into the convention center already wearing their badge!

2. Go over Registration and Temporary Staff Hours with a Fine-Toothed Comb

There is nothing worse than being under/over staffed or opening registration too late. If you have an early morning breakfast or session for which attendees need a badge, make sure registration is open at least an hour before it starts.  If not, you will likely walk into a group of not-so-happy campers in the morning.

1. Make Sure You Have the Correct Amount of Equipment Needed to Get the Job Done on Opening Morning

It’s a fairly simple math equation. If you have history on the show, use it.  Look at how many people historically pickup their badge in the first four hours of opening day and make sure you have enough stations to cover that. Most registration companies have formulas that do this for you; make sure to heed their advice!  Too little equipment will give you monstrous lines.  Too much equipment can give the feeling that show attendance is down. Find the perfect ratio and your opening day will be a success from all sides. And remember, keep those lines moving! When there are lines, be polite and work with a smile but try to get the attendees in and out as fast as possible. Limit handouts at the registration counters to speed up this process.

All told, there are many different moving parts when it comes to having a successful opening day.  Now that you’ve read Mike’s tips, perhaps you can institute some of them in an upcoming event to see the difference they can make.  Good luck!