The Joys and Frustrations in Shows and Fairs

The Joys and Frustrations in Shows and Fairs

In the past year we have attended over twenty Pop-Ups, Craft Fairs, Boutique Shows, Runway Events and Charity Events. Some of these events have been amazing, but overall I would have to sadly say most are poorly planned and not financially worth while for the vendor. 

"Even when it rains... if you are having a great event, you keep on smiling!"

What makes an event successful? Organizers in many cases think that if they put up some tent space and get vendors in at anywhere from 5,000/- upwards to 100,000/- per vendor, that the people will come. But event planning of this type is so much more than that. As a vendor that works very hard on event planning and new designs for events that we have booked, there is nothing more frustrating to show up to a poorly organized event, your hopes sink and you just know that you have wasted your money on yet another promise of something great. 

"Great events means increased word of mouth and happy vendors! "

False advertising seems to be the name of the game in many cases, with photos being displayed that were not of the event, or photographically taken in angles that showcase a full venue, when in actuality less than 20 people have even shown up. 
We recently had the utmost pleasure in attending a fantastic event (The Xmas Box), followed the next weekend by a complete and utter flop (name withheld). The difference in the two? Its all on the shoulders of the event planners and owners of the event. A great event involves picking and choosing a wide selection of vendors that match the mood of the event, choosing an inviting location that offers easy access, parking, security and just the right vibe to match your event. Tent and stand displays are also key, vendors don't want to know that their products are protected from changing weather and sticky fingers. Then event planners have to worry about finding just the right staff to help the vendors in set up and giving them up to date information on times and contacts, keeping vendors informed is always helpful.
But even when you get all these things just right... if you don't get visitors through the gates, the vendors are out their booth spaces and left disappointed. You have to spend money on the right advertising, hitting the right target market for the event, repeating through multiple mediums how great your event will be in order to get traffic through the gates.  
It seems lately that so many people have jumped on the event and pop up wagon, all without really knowing the pitfalls and cost to getting their event just right. There seems to be a consistent attitude from event planners to get vendors to take up space, put up some tents, and in most cases afterword look on in wonder as to why no one has shown up, or a low turnout. What we as vendors fail to realize is that the majority of their money is in the vendor bookings, once they have their money, there really is no obligation to perform. What event planners don't realize is that these events are simply generating a bad name for putting on repeat performances of failure. Word gets around the general population of vendors, and eventually over time you have destroyed your reputation, but in the meantime, raised a considerable amount of cash in the process. 
What upsets me the most is how these same event planners take advantage of young up and coming designers. We have a vital group of young designers that are here, that consistently spend their very hard earned money on shady event planners. To watch them desperate for sales to try and break even, knowing that it is such an uphill journey, only infuriates me. 
This past weekend we attended an event in which we were to be showcasing on a runway. Set up times started at 9am, our crew were on site by 11am setting up. When we arrived at the event at 3:30pm (for an opening at 7pm) we were shocked to see only one other vendor that had shown up. She sadly had travelled quite a distance and already paid her money. When I asked her what she was going to do, she looked as if she was about to cry and said "What can I do, I am out the money and have travelled so far, I must try and make something work." How terribly sad that her hard earned designs, hours of labour, travel expenses and space rental were now looking like a complete waste.
(Stock Photo of Venue - Not The Actual Event)
The venue was hardly decorated, the location was moved from its original site to a new location (with no notification) that was honestly horrible. The event entrance was lacking, the distance for everyone to travel was long and filled with road traffic.
When we asked about the event planners we received such a run around and were passed through to 3 people before we found someone to talk to. When we finally did find someone, his greatest concern was to get our payment for the space, not the fact that it was utterly void of proper set up, vendors or anything else. We were given excuses on why the other vendors were all late. Apparently ALL the other vendors were up all night having fittings (something that we were never even notified could be done) and were now all staying at the same hotel and stuck in traffic.
No excuse was given as to why the rest of the place looked empty and as if they had started decorating merely an hour before. The entire set up was honestly lacking in every way.  We were then left with two options, keep going with the set up and hope that somehow it would get better, or face reality and leave. We chose to pack up and leave, we had spent days putting together our collections, manufactured more items and increased stock in order to get ready for this event. Luckily we refused to pay for the event, but that certainly doesn't mean that we didn't lose time, energy and materials. 
Event planners don't realize that as vendors attaching your business name to such events, can have longer lasting repercussions than just a weekend lost. Clients begin to think that your product is not of high quality as your choice of venues are cheap and lackluster. I think its time that we stand up as vendors and group together, I think its time we share more information in a public way in order to name and shame event planners that consistently put on poorly run, organized and attended events. 
We as vendors are important and the vital core to having a great event. Bad vendors with bad products don't help your event, great vendors with great products do that. Vendors that consistently support event planners that do a great job and continue spreading the word about their events does that. If you are a vendor and would like to start up a WhatsApp Group or Facebook Page which we can vent and express our views, give us a contact!