It’s often pejoratively said that if someone gives the impression that they regard their career too highly and spend an exorbitant amount of time at work then they must be “married to their job.”
While in some instances it might have deeper implications, it’s also an interesting work-life dichotomy. Instead of the usual vows, they might go something more like this: “I promise to be the best negotiator I can be. I vow to be persistent while forsaking all forms of complacency.” And since your job can’t return the sentiment, you’ll have to be your own advocate. Self-advocacy is simply representing your point of view and taking action to make improvements on your behalf. It’s learning when to speak up when problems arise.
As a show manager, you are accustomed to navigating bad situations. And if you don’t self-advocate, your previous efforts are at risk. While learning to make the best out of a bad situation requires adaptability, it’s possible to become so flexible that it causes a great loss on your side. Being flexible is only meant to bend you slightly in one direction, it’s not supposed to break you. Certain situations might make you feel like you are between a rock and a hard place, but there are always steps you can take to make the best out of a bad situation.
If you find yourself dealing with the unexpected renovation of a facility that has already been booked and paid for, you aren’t alone. It’s an all too common worst-case scenario for Show Managers. This leaves you with a limited amount of time to make changes while facing the probability of a loss in revenue. The exhibit hall will need a substantial overhaul in order to make it a workable space in time for the show. To make matters worse, the venue is not willing to offset the loss with a refund. It might feel like a hopeless position to be in, but there are reasons to be optimistic. That facetious vow to always be a persistent negotiator is going to be very useful. There are ways to advocate for yourself and make the most of out of the situation to save costs. The following advice will make the lemon you’ve been handed not so sour.
How to Stretch Your Dollar
With determination and initiative on your part, you can find additional value to make-up for losses by asking for what you need. You can’t get what you don’t advocate for; just keep in mind that the potential value added should not become the expected standard for future shows.
- Ask for the exhibit hall rent be provided free of charge. The new show space, if at the same venue, should be given to you as a concession for the inconvenience.
- Request that food and beverage be given at wholesale rather than markup.
- Negotiate your General Service Contract. Try to have your contract extended to multi-year for discounted services that will apply now in an effort to offset current costs.
- Reach out to other partners, such as hotel contacts, to see if they can add any additional value to your current situation. For example, providing a room for an exhibitor free of charge because of its undesirable location within the hotel.
- Ask our local Convention and Visitors Bureau contact to see what creative solutions they can help with in regards to airfare, transportation, dining experience, and entertainment at the show.
- Use commission cut-back on the final bill to the facility in lieu of facility partners, such as electricians and audio-visual.
Self-advocating often requires you to abandon your comfort zone. Nothing tests what we are made of more than dealing with a bad situation. It has the ability to strengthen resolve and break barriers. You might find that it comes easier than you expected. Your resolve was there all along, you just needed something to bring it out.