Wednesday, December 6, 2017
In his final blog of the year, Steve Hutin, the managing director of Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd., reflects on LiftEx 2017 and looks forward to next year.
Halfway through this year’s LiftEx trade show, where we exhibited for the first time, organisers LEEA hosted a dinner dance at The International Centre, Telford, a few hundred yards from the expo floor. Among the entertainment was a magician who visited tables to perform tricks with playing cards. Our group watched in awe as he executed a number of clever deceptions that had everyone asking, “How did you do that?”
He was adept at building suspension and holding the attention of his crowd; he made eye contact with everyone, wanted to know people’s names and tailored his performance for those sat around the table. Whilst he was an excellent magician—I have no idea how he pushed a pen through a card, removed it, yet left no hole—his biggest attribute was his ability to bond with the audience. That was the real magic touch.
Exhibitors in the room could learn a trick or two from him, noting perhaps his calm but authoritative demeanour and the way he engaged in dialogue. His instructions were concise and he outlined clearly where we should look and what we should expect. He was grateful for our attention and acknowledged our appreciation for his trade. The magician himself would have made a great exhibitor. He wouldn’t even need to do a trick—just be himself.
I’ll be taking a leaf out of his book of magic, as I will be learning from this year’s experience more generally ahead of participation at LiftEx 2018, which takes place at the MK Arena, Milton Keynes on 14-15 November.
Too many exhibitors, at LiftEx and other shows, repeat the same processes over and over again. The same people stand in front of the same banners and present the same products. It gets stale for them and, more importantly, visitors. It’s why so many exhibitions feel like Groundhog Day.
We’re ringing the changes at next year’s event—and we hope other exhibitors do too. First, we’re expanding our exhibit (stand number I2) to 6m by 4m. Our booth was crowded at times, particularly on day one, and it was apparent that we needed, one, more floor space and, two, a greater number of personnel to greet people. Some visitors had to come back three or four times before we had a chance to talk.
We weren’t the only ones bursting at the seams and I’d urge all exhibitors to put themselves in a visitor’s shoes; imagine how difficult it is to get onto an exhibit where everyone is standing shoulder to shoulder. Think about walking past a shoe shop; if it is congested and looks like a jumble sale, one is less inclined to go inside and ask to try a pair on than if it were more serene and a friendly assistant was on hand to help.
We’ll also improve our hospitality and refreshments. Where alcohol and other refrigerated beverages were on offer, next year we’ll also have a coffee machine, for example. Visitors can expect the luxury of more seating too. Again, I think more exhibitors should put themselves in the position of someone walking the aisles; they’re most likely having a long, tiring day and might appreciate a soft chair and a cold beer or glass of Prosecco.
Actually, visitors will be able to stay hydrated courtesy of RSS wherever they are in the MK Arena, thanks to a component of the gold sponsorship package we secured whilst in Telford. The deal includes strategic logo placement; digital and print advertisements; branding at the arena over the two days of the expo; 2,000 branded water bottles distributed around the show; and more. LEEA had logo’d bottles scattered around The International Centre and I immediately noted the potential outreach; think how many people picked up a free bottle.
As the main ‘water sponsor’ it’s going to be fun watching RSS bottles being distributed onto everyone else’s exhibits as well.
If your company is a fellow LiftEx 2018 exhibitor, how are you going to raise your profile?
New Year’s resolutions
This year’s show was much anticipated, chiefly because of the association’s AGM and election of its new chairman. Alan Varney, our operations director, and I were in attendance and sensed a degree of animosity between certain people. Some conflict is natural—healthy, even—but it’s important that LEEA moves forward. It was the first AGM we’ve attended for several years but I’m looking forward to the next one to see how successful the newly elected chair has been in pulling everyone together to continue with the mission in hand.
That’s almost it for another blog—and another year. It’s been a thrilling 12 months, memorable for a number of highlights. Not only has it been a record year for the business, but we’ve opened a new depot in Warrington; promoted Alan and Angela Holmes, finance director, into directorship positions; installed new IT infrastructure; invested more than ever in stock; and strengthened our relationships with some of the UK’s major projects.
It’s always important to set short- and long-term goals, and a New Year always presents a timely opportunity to revisit one’s ambitions. We keep ours simple, here at RSS: keep enjoying our work, stay safe, and maintain the highest possible levels of customer service. If we can get those three things right throughout the year, there’s no reason why it won’t be another record breaker. Let’s hope there’s plenty to raise a glass (or bottle of water!) to at LiftEx in Milton Keynes.
How will you remember 2017? What are your goals for 2018?
Thank you for reading!
Rope and Sling Specialists Ltd