As many of you who follow our blog may know this last weekend was the big event we have been preparing for the last couple of months, the Portland Women's Show. It is an event that both Tina and I were familiar with. We both have been exhibitors at this event in the past and we both have attended this event as paying customers. Needless to say we had really high and I mean high expectations going into this event.
Sad to say the event did not even come close to meeting our expectations. And the fault lays at the feet of one person! This years event, which I am appalled to have to say I was a part of because it was so dismal and the fault lies entirely with the current owner of the Portland Women’s Show2012.
How can I say this, simple it is experience. Tina and I have a lot of experience working events. Not to mention that Tina has been on the other side putting an event together. On a much smaller scale mind you, however the steps to generate a successful event are the same regardless of size.
So we come with a lot of first-hand knowledge when it comes to working, prepping and running events. We both have worked events that ended up being lemons for no apparent reason. Yet, I have never experienced an event that was so badly mismanaged and handled. And handled in such a way that it leaves no room for doubt where the blame falls.
When we were first looking at this event, I called and spoke with the owner to cover the usual round of questions. In that conversation it was guaranteed that there would be hardcore and diverse promotion in regards to the event for 6 to 8 weeks prior to the event. So much so they were asking for donations from vendors for radio spot pre-show give away’s. It didn’t happen! How do I know, because we donated a bracelet for the pre-show give away’s. The bracelet was not given away on a radio spot, it was posted to Facebook as a giveaway the Saturday of the event; With instruction for it to be picked up at the show by four o’clock on Sunday, only notification was a post for the winner was on Facebook.
No one exhibitor or attendee recalled any other promotion except for the little bit that occurred on Facebook. Don’t get me wrong social media is an important part of any advertising and marketing campaign these days. However it cannot and should not be the sole venue.
Same conversation, it was stated that Portland Women’s Show cash would be given away to encourage same day shopping. I have this in print form, in our vendor paperwork that this would be happening and it was posted to Facebook, where attendees could see it. IT DID NOT HAPPEN!!! Sunday night at the end of the event when I went back to Facebook to print off some of the many things posted there, they had been deleted.
This event was a 1/16 to an 1/8 of the size that it has been in past years.
The ”I’m on Fire Fireman Fashion show” was not a fashion show at all. A direct quote: “This year all of the fashion shows will have a little 'hotness' When you hear the "Fire Alarm" sound, pull out your money and get ready to buy the shirt off his back!” That is all the fireman fashion show was, there was no men’s fashion as there has been in years past. I couldn’t even tell you what charity they were raising money for.
Let me stop here for a second and extend A big THANK YOU and a huge round of applause to the firemen and the police officer whom donated their time for this event!!! They did a fantastic job!!!
Back to the scheduled program, with missing in action next.
There was no cooking demo anywhere, which many attendees were asking about. Don’t blame them, I have never been to a Portland Women’s Show where there wasn't cooking demo’s until this year.
Another post that is no longer visible on Facebook is the promotion of the massage station. While it does not state this in our vendor paperwork, it was clearly marked of where it was going to be during set up. Signage was rapidly removed prior to opening on Friday.
On Facebook and in our vendor paperwork it clearly states that there was going to be a swanky Wine/Spirits Tasting Area, Not only was the post deleted from Facebook, this area was nowhere to be found at the show.
While I won’t bore you with more details let me just say that this is a glimpse of the iceberg size list of issues surrounding this event. We had some issues specific to us and requested the owner stop and talk with us on Saturday. Not only did she lack the professionalism to come and talk to us, it was obvious she avoided our section of the row and could be seen slinking into the next row to get past us.
The list of issues really does seem endless, however I purposefully chose those that would be most visible and recognizable to attendees as the exhibitors were as dissatisfied with the event as most of the attendees were.
Why is it so crystal clear to me that the owner did not do her job?
1.) First the lack of exhibitors -- we do not magically find these events, they have to be promoted in places we can find them. If you are not drawing enough vendors, you do vendor promotions, show trades, etc.
2.) Promoting events/items – not following through and making good on promises.
3.) Lack of professionalism – she dropped the ball, it happens, but she should have at least had the decency to talk to all of the vendors and own up to her mistake.
4.) Lack of sponsors – lack of sponsor product in give away bags. Filling those give away bags should have been actively pursued. The lack of items in the bags clearly shows this wasn’t done.
I stop there as it give you all a good idea of how this event went so horribly wrong for both the exhibitors and the attendees. How one person’s lack of doing their job turned a spectacular event into the worst event we have ever done, which is saying something....