If you were still managing your exhibitor floor plan in 2020 without the aid of interactive technology, you were behind the times to say the least. Now that we’re into 2021 – where the entire world has been forced to go virtual – planning your next on-site event without floor plan technology would make the event seem completely out of the dinosaur ages to your exhibitors.
But before implementing an online solution, you should first ask what key challenges exist with your current floor plan management process. Once you define those challenges, you’ll then want to fit in a solution specifically for your needs. Just implementing any floor plan management technology without doing your due diligence can even be counterproductive. Even if your current floor plan management process is archaic, it’s still better than investing time and energy into something that will just add to your existing problems without even solving your current ones.
So if precisely defining your floor plan management challenges is step one, then step two is to analyze a solution that best matches those challenges. Here are two examples of how you might go through the process of defining floor plan management challenges and mapping them to technology solutions:
Example Challenge #1: Change Management
Perhaps the most universal challenge event planners face with every show in the floor plan management process is change management. Trying to document “versions” of your floor plan with every iteration while at the same time making sure all your exhibitors have the latest and greatest version is just insanity today. This alone drives most event planners from managing their floor plans with PDF versions to an interactive floor plan for exhibitors, and understandably so.
Solution: Interactive Floor Plan Software
Any exhibitor floor plan software that doesn’t give you the flexibility to update various aspects of the floor plan instantly is really just a PDF floor plan dressed up in software clothing. What to look out for when shopping for floor plan management software is if the solution allows you to manage these changes in a user friendly way. Need to add another aisle of booths last minute? Instead of waiting on your CAD designer to come back with the latest version, proper floor plan technology should allow you to do this on your own in 30 seconds. Did one of your exhibitors purchase two 10×10 booths and you need to combine them into a single 20×10? That should be something you can manage while taking a sip of your coffee and be done before setting the cup back down. So make sure when you’re out shopping for the right floor plan management software that your most technologically challenged colleague can learn to use in their sleep.
Example Challenge #2: Booth Assignment
Placing a single exhibitor into their desired booth is easy enough, but when you’re dealing with twenty, fifty, or even hundreds of exhibitors, that’s a whole other beast. Exhibitor A will only accept a corner booth, Exhibitor B doesn’t want to be placed next to their competitor, Exhibitor C was promised early selection and special treatment, and you’re beginning to wonder if anyone even still works at Exhibiting company D. Sound familiar? Add to that hard deadlines and everything else you need to collect from your exhibitors. What if you want to give your exhibitors more autonomy in selecting their own booths, while still having the ability to moderate and approve the final assignment? Managing all of this with a single PDF and spreadsheets is a recipe for disaster.
Solution: Online Booth Assignment Flexibility
Your floor plan management process may differ from event to event, or if you manage just one annual event your process may only be what it is because of current limitations with a static PDF. That is why having a floor plan management software that gives you maximum flexibility with how you assign booths, one that allows exhibitors to self-assign, or a mixture of both is extremely important. If you purchase a floor plan management software and then later find out that the process for assigning booths is limited, you’re probably no better off then where you started. So make sure when you’re reviewing different floor plan and exhibitor management software that the options in which booths are assigned fit exactly how you envision the process to be.
Hopefully by now you have a little better understanding of how to properly make a smooth transition from static PDF floor plans to interactive versions online. First, you must understand what problems you particularly face in your current process, and be extremely precise about them. Next you need to look for solutions that fit those well defined challenges, so that you’re not just implementing technology for the sake of it, but you’re actually solving your day-to-day problems and making the rest of your life just a little bit less stressful. Good luck!