“ADVICE FROM THE BOOTH MOM®” BLOG #15: Declining Quality of Online Exhibitor Kits

Declining Quality of Online Exhibitor Kits

I’m going to vent.  I’ve had a BAD morning.  I’ve tried, in vain, to complete the order forms for a simple meeting room at one of the largest shows in the US, with one of the largest General Service Contractors (GSC).  And I’ve found trying to navigate my way through the exhibitor kit to be an exercise in futility.

It started when I tried to log onto the GSC’s online ordering site.  In October, they’d deemed my 3rd party login persona non grata, and told me to log in as the actual exhibitor.  Well, using that advice, I could log in, and when I put in the show name and city I was trying to access, it gave me the right show name and city, but the wrong dates.  (It is a 4-day show, but only listed the day before the show as being a show date.)  Accepting that bad date for the show, I still couldn’t get to the online ordering site.  I could get to the shopping cart, with nothing in it, and ask to “continue shopping”, and it looped me back to the show’s general information page.  So, I called and left a VM, before their west-coast business hours, being told I’d get a call back within two hours.  Gee, it’s now over 4 hours and 30 minutes later and I still haven’t received a call back.

So, being impatient to wait to see if they’d call back, I got on the GSC’s chat line with Matt.  He informed me that that show is one with online ordering and I must be doing something wrong.  Well, gee, tell me something I don’t know, because if I could get to the online ordering section of the web site, I wouldn’t have initiated the chat!  Regardless of my giving him the URL to the page on the online ordering site that just hung, he swore that I could log in and order if I could just find the tab…that wasn’t on the page we were on.  In frustration, I gave up and told him we weren’t getting me any closer to a solution and I’d call the Exhibitor Services number.

After again explaining to a nice lady in Exhibitor Services the gyrations I’d gone through to get a log-in to get to the GSC’s online kit 2 months ago, she researched the situation and about 15 minutes later told me that the part of the show where my client’s meeting rooms are located does not allow any online ordering, even though it doesn’t say that anywhere on the online ordering Web site, in the exhibitor kit or on the printed forms that are an option – in fact, the ONLY option.  (And why didn’t Matt know this?)

I’m working on two other shows with the same GSC and all I can say is that the quality of the information we exhibitors are dealing with has gone down the tubes.  I consistently find errors – missing information, dead hyperlinks, erroneous deadlines, forms with nowhere to tally the costs and AWOL forms.  I’m at the point where I’d rather just print out the gazillion-page .pdf and pick through the forms, “green” be damned.

But I have to ask… is ANYBODY — show managers or GSC’s — proofreading and testing these online exhibitor kits and ordering Web sites anymore?  What happened to qualify control?  These online kits have become the Swiss Army Knife of documents — they try to do everything but do nothing well!

It looks like this mega-GSC is following the new standard set by the Affordable Care Act’s flopped launch.

Now where’s my pencil and fax??

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