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Product launches and exhibitions

The team at 41 Portland Place have a wealth of event knowledge. Each month we share tips on how to make your event a success.

Organising a successful product launch or exhibition

Exhibitions can be a valuable marketing tool to your business. They provide an excellent opportunity to invite existing and potential clients to view your products and services. Outlined below are a few tips that will help ensure that your exhibition is carefully planned and organised, enjoyed by all your guests and so successful that it creates a return on your investment.

Working with the venue

Coordinating exhibitions can often prove to be quite daunting, often organisers are caught in the middle juggling and managing the numerous requests and expectations of their own team, the suppliers and the venue! It is therefore imperative that the venue representative you are dealing with completely understands your remit and objectives and is flexible to your needs and requests, especially those last minute ones.

Obtain information from the venue

As a client, you are able to request information from the venue to assist you with the operational and logistical planning of the event. Feel free to request documents such as scaled floor plans, door measurements, table dimensions to help you plan the set up of your exhibition.

Be aware that due to health and safety legislation the venue is obliged to request risk assessments and method statements for any “unusual” activity which is not being looked after by the venue such as the installation of lights, use of ladders, furniture deliveries, etc. A method statement is just a description of the work that is being carried out and the risk assessment lists all possible accidents that the work might cause and how to try and avoid injuries. Additionally to these two documents you will be required to complete a permit to work and you must ensure that, if you do bring in any electrical equipment, all items are PAT tested.

Clarify your requirements with the venue in advance of the event

It is important that the venue understands what you need or don’t need in the room. For example if you require clothed trestle tables for the Exhibitors, advise the venue of where you want them and at what time.

Power and other audio visual requirements are also something that should be clearly displayed on a floor plan. This will give the venue sufficient instructions to run extension leads and connectivity to the required locations.

Know your venue limitations

First and foremost, it is important that you know the trading hours of the venue. Make sure that these hours are in line with your set up schedule, if you can negotiate free set up time the day prior that’s great, but even if you cannot get this time in gratis it may be money well spent out of your budget.  In the case where set up extends later that anticipated, check that you have the option to stay later even if this is not planned into your schedule.  Always plan for the unexpected!

With many of the Heritage listed venues in London, there are certain constraints when it comes to hanging banners and other displays on the walls and windows. If this is something that is required, talk to the venue in the planning stage and discuss alternatives for display. For example you could use free standing stands instead of walls.

Employ a stylist

Employing a visual stylist is a great way to ensure your products and services are displayed in the best way possible. Trusting a visual expert to position the products and create a flow and style to the event may enhance the exhibitors’ experience. They also provide added support to the team and have an impeccable eye for the finer details.

If a restrictive event budget does not permit you hiring a stylist, utilise the venue as much as you can. Often a venue has photos or information from other exhibitions they have hosted, so be bold enough to request this information from the event organiser. You may be pleasantly surprised how much inspiration can be gained from a previous event!

Deliveries and suppliers

Often with exhibitions, several deliveries arrive at the venue in advance of the event. It is imperative that the goods delivered are addressed appropriately to ensure they are delivered to the correct place at the correct time.

It is always best to check storage details with the venue in advance of communicating with suppliers about delivery. Ask the following questions:

  • What is the delivery address? Is it different to the venue address?
  • Is there space for the delivery? (How many boxes? Large items – Will they fit in the lift/will they fit through the delivery entrance/stairs etc?)
  • When is the optimum time to deliver the goods, are there time restrictions on deliveries?
  • Where will the goods be stored in advance of the event?
  • Is the storage space secure?

Always clarify the best point of delivery access and ensure this is communicated to the delivery drivers. Bear in mind that the front of the building is often not the best access point. Rear entry points often have wider door spans which make it easier to bring in goods. They may also be closer to the service lifts if required.

Ensure all goods are marked correctly with details such as the event title, date, event organisers name and quantity of boxes.

Schedule and catering breaks

Catering is an extremely important part of the event. Quality catering at the exhibition will inevitably enhance the guest’s experience. Hence it is important that not only is catering selected correctly, but the service is scheduled appropriately.

With regard to selection, feel free to request a menu tasting with the caterers in advance of the event. That way you can personally discuss your menu options with the organiser and the Chef to ensure seasonality and fit to the profile of the event.

Exhibitions generally run over a day / afternoon period so when is the most appropriate time to serve catering? You don’t want to have catering sitting out for long periods as it will tire so keep the catering times scheduled in accordance with the guest’s arrival time. It would be recommended to set specific times to serve catering.

Over regular meal times, it is advisable to select more substantial items to serve as guests are generally hungrier. During the morning coffee, afternoon tea and early evening periods canapés can be a good selection to balance the flow of the food against the numbers on site.

Also, bear in mind that for catering choices such as buffets and bars, you will need to allow space within the room for the set up.

Goodie bags

Goodie bags are a great way to give your clients a sample of your product and also allow you easy promotional opportunities. Make sure the goodie bags are well presented so guests are proud to carry it down the street and advertise your brand. Go the extra mile and wrap the contents of the bag (even the brochures) so the clients feel like the contents are ‘presents’. Coloured tissue paper is always a nice touch to cover the contents.

If your exhibition budget is tight, why not ask the venue’s Chef to make a ‘goodie’ bag for you. 41 Portland Place’s Chef makes delicious chocolate brownies wrapped in cellophane and stylish ribbon for around £2.50 / bag. An inexpensive gift for your clients with the opportunity for you to attach a business card / promotional brochure.