I have to take you way back to tell you a story. We’re going back almost 20 years to the one of the early tradeshows that I was working on. I walked into the Phoenix Convention Center and saw a friend of mine with her head quite literally in her hands. It was the day before a show and behind her was an empty booth space with nothing much happening and a bunch of labor standing around doing nothing.
Two bolts had not made it into the shipment of her booth. These two critical bolts held the walls to the floor, and without these two little custom pieces—which weren’t available in the local area—nothing could be done to build the booth. The bolts were being air-shipped to her, but the booth couldn’t be built now until after the show closed on day one. This is what you and I might consider a disaster.
In talking to her, I could get the sense that her client was unhappy, to put it lightly. Obviously, there would be lost business and customer meetings disrupted. And it just looked bad to have the booth missing from the first day of the show. I asked her what she was going to do and she said: “I’m going to build the booth tomorrow night. It’s never too late to make something right.”
I never forgot that. I think about it all of the time. As event designers and managers we want everything perfect and perfectly planned months in advance. Weeks will do. Days are sometimes all we have. But we all really want things planned, set in stone and ready to go when show time arrives.
The reality is that this often doesn’t happen. Things change. Products are delayed. We are expected to make things happen at the last minute.
Often in meetings I will hear people say, “It’s too late. That can’t be done,” and I think back to my friend in the Phoenix Convention Center. Is it ever too late to make things right? I don’t think so.
Every attendee is a unique experience, a unique contact with your brand. If the experience can be made better–or made right–for even one person, then that’s better than an experience that isn’t right for that person. I think we owe it to the people we’re interacting with, our brands and our customers to provide the best experience to every person that we can–even if we miss some before we get it right.
The end of that story in the Phoenix Convention Center gave me another interesting perspective on things. That missing booth opened on Day 2 and it was swamped. People that had visited the show the first day came to see that one booth that they had “missed” the first day. One attendee even said to me: “I don’t know how I missed this, it’s one of the best booths here!” So in the end, the disaster was still likely a disaster from many respects. But those attendees that got the right experience did end up having a good experience. And that is why I say, it’s never too late to make it right.
Joe English is Creative Director for the Intel Developer Forums at Intel Corporation. Joe is a creative professional, marketer, photographer and writer by trade. In addition to his work on the Developer Forums worldwide, he has recently managed film launches at the Sundance Film Festival, Presidential visits to Intel and led the creative for the re-design of the Intel corporate museum in Silicon Valley.