I spent the last nine days of September in California for my company’s annual convention and if you followed along on InstaStories, you got to see Behind-the-Scenes of the Expo. As a Trade Show Manager, my job was to manage our huge expo floor that consisted of over 750 exhibitors from around the world in over 300,00 square feet of space. It’s a massive job, but thankfully I worked with a great team who supported me and were my eyes and ears because it was impossible to be in more than one place at a time.
If you missed the InstaStories, you’re in luck because I will be doing a quick recap of the whole event here on the blog for the next three days. In addition to giving you a behind-the-scenes of my days at the show, I will also be showing you my lovely outfits for the show. So make sure you check back tomorrow as I start a recap of my fashion as an Event Planner on show site.
Day 1 – Thursday, September 20
I flew to Orlando, met my boss who lives in Florida, had breakfast with her in the airport and then we flew to Los Angeles. We met up with the Director of Sales and made our way to Anaheim. Once we checked in, we met up with one of our vendors to run errands and also look for a location for the company dinner on Saturday. After visiting several restaurants in Huntington Beach, we finally ended up at BLK Earth Sea Spirits. We talked to their Events Manager, made arrangements for our group and did an impromtu tasting of a few items on the menu. If you’re ever in Huntington Beach, make sure you stop by BLK for a cronut. AMAZING, especially because it’s served warm with ice cream.
Day 2 – Friday, September 21
Today is the first official day we move into the Anaheim Convention Center (ACC). I start with breakfast with my boss and the Sales Director. The president and one of the Chiefs stop by our table. The president brings up my incident with my co-worker, we discuss it a little more and I tell him, “at the end of the day, I’m a professional. I’d never let my personal feelings about someone affect me professionally”. And I meant it. I may not like you personally, but I won’t let you stop me from handling business or getting business done. After breakfast, I walk over to the ACC and meet my team. I hired 3 AMAZING women as my floor managers for the event. Since the exhibit hall is so big, I split it into three sections and each of them manages a section, while I rove and run all over the expo floor.
After I hook up with my team, I brief them on all they need to know about the event and we walk the floor. Then I jet off to take care of some other things around the center. In the afternoon, I attend the pre-conference meeting (aka pre-con) with all important staff on my team and the ACC. Pre-cons are standard in the event industry. This allows everyone to sit in the same room face-to-face and meet, learn the important objectives of the event and ask any outstanding questions. Friday ends with dinner at the Anaheim Packing District and drinks at Mini Monster.
Day 3 – Saturday, September 22
Most of my co-workers arrive today; they do a tour of the ACC, which I skip because I am busy in the expo hall unpacking and monitoring the first day of move-in for exhibitors. Around 12:00, I check with the freight team to see if the t-shirts I ordered for the golf tournament, 5K and volunteers have arrived. I find out it’s delayed and hasn’t arrived. I instantly go into panic mode because the golf tournament is early Monday morning. I call the vendor on the phone and he calls UPS. UPS tells me the shirts won’t arrive until Monday, but they are sitting in their warehouse in Anaheim. So I decide to our a courier to pick up the shirts for me and bring them to the golf tournament. As I am pulling up the address for UPS, I realize the warehouse is still open. My Chief and I dash in a Lyft and head over to UPS. I am praying the whole time they can find my boxes however, they tell me they are on a trailer and stuck there until Monday morning. I leave UPS super blown and head to lunch with my co-workers. After lunch, it’s back to the expo to check on my team. We finish at 6 pm and then I meet up with my co-workers for dinner at BLK still a little salty about my t-shirts.
Day 4 – Sunday, September 23
Sunday, more exhibitors move in and the show floor is starting to take shape. My favorite booth so far looks like it’s going to be this one with really cool LED towers that show video. I run over to the golf club to drop off signage and do a quick walkthrough of the course. The golf expert I was supposed to meet wasn’t there which really makes me mad. One the way back to the ACC, I send a quick email to the club manager about my frustration with working with the expert and leave my number in case he wants to call me later. A few hours later he calls, I explain how important this event is and how the planning of the event has been a hassle because the expert lacks communication skills. The manager assures me tomorrow will be great and we end the call. I feel slightly better, but make a plan with my golf team to head to the golf club a little earlier the next day, just in case.
The day ends with dinner with my department and our Education team, but honestly, after dinner, all I wanted to do was call a Lyft and get back to my bed. I manage to make it through dinner and as soon as they start clearing away plates, I order a Lyft. Early morning the next day with the golf tournament.
Day 5 – Monday, September 24
I barely slept the night before because I spent the night stressing over the golf tournament. I finally get up at 4:30, get dressed and I am downstairs by 5:15 am to grab the balls from storage and wait for my team. We arrive at the golf club a little before 6 and set up our registration area. Participants start rolling in after 6. I finally get a break at 7:15 am to call the courier and check on the status of the t-shirts. Turns out they never processed my card, so no courier was dispatched. Once again I am hot. I tell them to cancel my order and just decide to pick up the shirts myself.
The tournament starts at 8 and I am off to the UPS warehouse once again. FINALLY, they find my shirts and I hop in another Lyft back to the ACC to sort the shirts. Once the shirts are sorted, I call the courier again and have them pick up shirts to be brought to the golf club to be distributed to participants. Honestly there are a million things that could go wrong when planning events and not having t-shirts arrive when they are supposed to is something small. But it gave me SO much stress, I wanted to hug these boxes when I saw them.
After I sort shirts, I run back to the exhibit hall and check on my team. My goal was to go back to my hotel room and change into a dress, but so much was happening on the show floor, I didn’t make it back to my room to change until 3:00 pm. The official workday ends with our outdoor Networking Reception complete with several food trucks. If you’ve ever been to Truckeroo in Washington, DC, that’s exactly what the event reminded me of. Outdoor air, open bar and unlimited tastings from seven different food trucks. After the event is over, I make my way to the restaurant at one of the nearby hotels and have dinner with a big group of my co-workers. Of course, I was one of the first to leave because I have another early morning the next day with the 5K.
Check back tomorrow for my recap on the opening day and see what I wore the first day of the convention.