Picture this if you will.
A wide collection of different organisations, each with their own agenda.
They are all busy creating temporary environments within a temporary environment that’s housed within a permanent structure.
The permanent structure is governed by a local authority.
If anything goes wrong, the problem will come under the jurisdiction of the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) …
That’s the short answer to the question ” why are there are so many rules within the world of exhibitions and events.”
Coming up with something innovative when you exhibit can sometimes seem a challenge: A few tips to help you
The explanations below relate mainly to what are described as “Space Only” or “Site Only” stands.
To exhibit with a streamlined set of rules opt for a Shell Scheme stand. That way, the Organiser will fulfil most obligations on your behalf!
Exhibition rules make things safe and bring order
The majority of ‘rules’ in the UK Exhibition Industry stem from something called the eGuide .
This is a collective document drafted in the main by the UK’s biggest venues.
It’s a beast of a document but it does bring collective order to the UK exhibition industry.
Generally speaking, the same eGuide rules should be relevant with small to medium size venues too.
And, if you find that a venue that has signed up to this guidelines but isn’t following through, contact the AEV (Association of Event Venues). You’ll find their details in the eGuide.
Here’s a description from the eGuide explaining what it actually is
“The eGuide brings together guidance for achieving common standards of health, safety and operational planning, management and on-site conduct for events at all participating AEV member venues.
The scope and development of the eGuide follows extensive consultation with operations professionals within the exhibition and event industry in order to ensure an overall approach that remains broadly acceptable to the community.
The status of the eGuide is similar to that of an Approved Code of Practice. It is an industry-specific guide developed by authorised professionals from the UK event venues. It incorporates health, safety and operational practices that represent compliance with Building Regulations and health and safety legislation.”
Rules that define boundaries around stands
Aside from the information highlighted above, the Organiser usually puts in place Aesthetic Rules.
These are the rules that exhibitors within an exhibition hall sometimes have problems with.
The rules generally include’
- Height limits for stands
- The parts of a stand that you can block off
- Whether or not you can rig (put something like a banner or lighting) over a stand
- The height you need to dress the reverse of a stand and in what colours…
Annoyingly, every organiser has their own set of these rules so do check your exhibitor manual. The rules will vary from show to show.
If you don’t have access to the Exhibitor Manual make sure you contact the Operations Team for the show and ask for them for a copy.
The BIG rules:
These are the laws of the land. Exhibition organisers and exhibitors have a bit of a quandary to deal with here.
Organisers use their event rules to protect everyone. Partly, that’s because everyone looks to them to do, they should have a lot of responibility as it’s their event…
Just don’t forget that you also have your OWN responsibilities to tend and it’s up to you and your company to know what they are.
If you have booked a space only stand (just floorspace) then essentially you are in charge of a ‘construction site’.
At this point, my best advice is to have a good read through a website that has been developed specifically to help you understand your responsibilities and to give you tools to fulfil them; www.cdm4events.org.uk
Once you have done that appoint a competent contractor and check their credentials thoroughly! CDM by the way stands for Construction, Design & Management.
How do you choose a competent exhibition contractor?
The Project Management Triangle has always served me in good stead when appointing contractors and the image below is a good reference point.
Aside from this rather obvious tool, my first point of call is to ensure that stand building contractors are industry specific.
Everyone thinks it is easy to knock together a bit of wood, overlay some graphics… How hard can this stand building possibly be? Actually, it’s a lot harder than it looks.
If you add to the mix the limits for unloading time, for build and break schedules, space for moving around in, limited access points to power, water & IT, then it is usually a good starting point to find an experienced builder.
I recommend that you go to ESSA, the Event Supplier & Services Association – www.essa.uk.com
Take a look at their directories of approved event suppliers.
My final bit of advice is to make sure you read your Exhibitor Manual
Put some time in your diary, make a cup of tea and if you read nothing else sent to you by the organiser of your show, read your Manual and complete these sections:
- Stand Information Form which is sometimes called the H&S (Health & Safety) Declaration or something similar
AND, and this next point is VERY important.
Make sure that your contractor has a copy of everything they need from the Manual especially the build and breakdown timetable, Standfitting Rules etc.
If you have any questions about this aspect of participation, then the Operations Manager or “Ops” team for your show are there to provide the answers you need. Ask them for help as doing so can stop problems arising when you get on-site.
That’s the time it may be too late to come-up with a quality solution.
And, if you can think of better ways for Organisers to communicate with you, I would love to hear them so please do get in touch!
About the Author
With 20 years experience working across the exhibition industry, Louise Kiwanuka has a wide range of experience having worked as an Operations Manager with Blenheim Exhibitions, Penton Media & Tarsus Exhibition.
Louise or Lou as she is more widely known also launched an event at Earls Court, did a brief spell on the contracting side of the industry and then moved into venue management with the team at Earls Court and Olympia. Later she moved back into the operational side of trade show organisation.
Most recently she created EventShaper, a company that manages the operational aspects of large-scale events such as PLASA and Design Shanghai. Lou is often to be found debating the sense of rules in the events industry that “have always been” and she and her team are keen to learn from other areas of the events businesses that face similar challenges to see how they overcome issues in their world.
Louise can be contacted via LinkedIn