Its Time to Manage Your Floor Plan in the Cloud
As we enter 2021 and look toward a world where live events are once again possible, it’s time to rethink how planners are able to do more with less. Lets face it, events will take time to recover and the resources we were all accustomed to having just won’t be there. What I mean is that as a show organizer who manages roughly 3-4 high profile (20K – 30K attendee) events per year, I was used to an army of people that I could rely on for anything from design work to labor estimates to renderings and CAD floor plans. Moving forward, cloud based software & automation will be key to planning world-class events with way less budget and resources. Here’s a few simple places to start.
Cloud Based Floor Plan Applications
There are a range of online cloud-based floor plan applications that can easily step in and take over the role of your former CAD designer and layout person. Many of these applications will allow you to upload your PDF floor plan, layout your booths, number them, color code them, resize them and more. The main value here is that what used to take you days can now be done in seconds with the real-time drag & drop editors. It’s never been easier to manage exhibitor booth selection, exhibitor booth sales, real-time changes and more.
Since our organization had to drastically cut headcount, we no longer have the extensive sales staff and decided to shift completely to selling booths online. At first we were skeptical about not having a live human interaction while working with our exhibitors, but what we’ve found is that the interactive floor plan gives exhibitors a much better experience with all the details at their fingertips including booth location, items included, sponsorship options, and a way to pay directly online. Our sales cycle has now been cut down from weeks to just days or minutes.
Some planners will choose to embed the online floor plan directly into their event websites so that attendees have visibility into where exhibitors are located and they can begin to map out their upcoming onsite event experience.
Online Exhibitor Resource Center
Another great event planning tool to help you do more with less is an exhibitor resource center (ERC). An ERC can help support or even replace traditional exhibitor fulfillment personnel responsible for collecting exhibitor assets like company logos, descriptions, insurance docs, etc. Again, as part of our company’s downsizing due to Covid layoffs, we lost many of the folks on the team responsible for working with exhibitors post-sale. The ERC has allowed us to automate many of these functions including sending automatic emails reminders to exhibitors to complete tasks. We’ve also been able to consolidate tools like getting rid of DropBox Business ($20 per month), Monday.com ($50 per month) and other cloud applications by moving to a single online exhibitor management platform that does it all.
Surprisingly many of our exhibitor contacts that we pegged as “not so tech savvy”, have seamlessly adopted the online interactive floor plan and exhibitor resource center tools. We attribute a large part of this to Covid pushing everyone into a virtual world where they were forced to interact with new online cloud-based applications whether they like it or not.
Although slightly intimidating at first, doing more with less and leveraging online cloud based event management software has ultimately saved our business time and money. Covid forced us to rebuild and the rebuilding process has been more focused on technology vs. outdated paper processes that ultimately wasted precious resources. We are now encouraging all of our clients and peers to adopt a similar philosophy as we head into the new world of events.