For exhibit and event professionals  

Your Dilemma Answers: How do I get my boss’s feet into my size 6 shoes?

September 4, 2010 By Editor

My boss balks every time I ask for more than one person to go with me to a show. I don’t think he’s being mean; he just doesn’t understand how much work has to be done there. How can I convince him to come along and “talk a walk in my shoes”? Have any of your readers tried this tack? If so, I’d love to hear about how they did it — and their results. Thanks.

— Regina, Exhibits Manager



Let him find out how hard it is to fill your shoes

Regina, unless your boss has a background in the event or exhibit industry, all he knows is how good your booth looks and how successful your participation in a show has been. How it all comes together is a mystery to him. So, it’s time to open his eyes to the realities of what you do. But how?

Some experts from MC² provide their sage advice:

  • Find a good reason for him to attend an event.
  • Show — and tell — him about your responsibilities.

Find a good reason for him to attend an event

Undoubtedly, your boss is busy doing his own job and may not feel as if he can take time away from the office “just to go to an event.” It’s up to you to give him a compelling reason to hit the road.

Caroline Meyers, corporate communications director at MC², provides some possible options.

“Set up appointments for your boss with clients, media, show organizers or the like to get him to the show. Then, expose him to the inner workings of exhibit management on the show floor.”

Rebecca Thompson, an account executive with MC² Southwest, explains how she persuaded her boss to go to an event — and how it worked out for her.

“Convincing the boss to spend more money than he feels is necessary is always a challenge. Several years back, I went solo to a new event to manage a small booth and hardly had enough time to sleep. The next year, I convinced my boss to come along so he could connect with all the C-level types. I had great success by revealing all the other activities that go on at the show outside the booth and assigning him more than a few of them. From then on, he sent at least three or four people to each show, and our ROI increased greatly.

“After all, trade shows give you the opportunity to do some competitive analysis and network at the social events, in addition to working in your booth. Send only two people, and you run the risk of leaving an interested visitor unattended at the booth, plus another one who might have been interested standing with your competition at the reception. Good luck!”

Show — and tell — him about your responsibilities

Of course, you may not be able to convince your boss to come to an event with you on the first try. Does that mean you have to just sit back and wait until he relents? Not at all.

Denise Lindroth, national account executive for MC², describes what another event professional did until her boss finally saw the show floor.

“I have a client who creates a ‘show summary’ document she reviews with her supervisor outlining what will take place at a show: everything from install and dismantle info to what time product is to be placed, the team members who will be there, etc. This has always allowed her to convey to her boss, or at least try to, the amount of work and logistics that go into each show, since her boss doesn’t typically attend these events.

“However, on a recent occasion, her boss finally decided to attend an upcoming show since their company was also hosting the opening session with a premier keynote speaker. Stopping by the booth on the way to the main ballroom, where the crew was preparing for the opening session, the boss was amazed at what was transpiring within the company booth space. It was product day, and the seemingly endless stacks of boxes on skids, containing product and giveaways, were everywhere.  The boss was amazed at how much goes into getting the booth ‘merchandised’ and show ready. Since the booth was always ready on show day, her boss had never really understood why an additional person was needed. Now, the boss did, and the company has since added a coordinator.”

Regina, you can’t expect your boss to understand all you do at an event — and why you may need help — unless you do something to open his eyes. Come up with a good reason for him to come to a show, and then make sure he sees all the work it takes to pull together a booth and gather those all-important leads. And until the day that happens, give him precise accounts of all the details involved in participating in an event. Don’t worry about getting his feet into your size 6s; show him your shoes are hard to fill.


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