What is a roadshow? It is usually the presentation or launch of a company product or service, in seven or more locations. The presenters or trainers travel from one location to the next, rather than the attendees, which saves a great deal on costs and coordination. A roadshow can travel through a region, across a province, state or an entire country. There are also roadshows that travel the world.
Once you understand what type of presentation or event is to take place, where, who and how many will be attending as well as the caliber of the event, the search for the right dates and venues (unless already determined by the client) needs to be immediately addressed. Holidays, school breaks, local festivities and the like have to be considered.
If you have hired a speaker or trainers who will be travelling from one location to the next, ensure they have enough time between presentations to travel, get their bearings, review their presentations and relax before their next meeting. This is especially critical if the presentation runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in each location. Also plan for the show to flow in an easterly, westerly, northern or southern direction so that the presenters do not end up zigzagging across the country or province. Talking with your travel department is essential to see which flights work best.
You might find yourself tentatively booking a multitude of venues in the same location but on different dates. Until you can get all the presenters to commit to the schedule, you might have to do some juggling of dates, venues and locations. One presenter becoming ill at the last minute can require a lot of reshuffling on your end. Using a grid to map the dates, locations, venues, expected attendance and on-site staff can help you organize your thoughts and planning.
Besides maintaining consistency in all of your arrangements: themes, promotional materials, registration process, type of venue, accommodation, food and beverage, room set-up, technical requirements, set-up and rehearsal time, signage, décor, handouts, gifts and on-site staffing, there is another important element to be considered – the character and culture of each audience.
We all like to consider ourselves unique and not cookie-cutter images of one another, and this is an important point to consider when you are trying to attract everyone’s attention. Don’t bulldoze your attendees with pre-conceived ideas of what they like. Every city, town and village in this country has its own brand of uniqueness. The cheese savoured in one city might be considered highly offensive in another! Unilingual signage may work in one city, but not in another. A presentation may require simultaneous translation or a bilingual speaker. Do not assume that everyone is comfortable in your language. Strong freshly-brewed coffee may be an absolute must in one location whereas organic drinks might prevail in another.
I once had a location boycott all the presentations due to a language issue, so very expensive changes had to be made on the turn of a dime.
Make people in each location feel unique. It requires research and sensitivity to others, but the appreciation will be great. Speaking initially with the client representative in each location will ensure that you have a good grasp of what people expect.
For a slick and well-executed event, it is important that an experienced roadshow planner-producer be given control of the entire event (marketing, promotion, logistical planning, and execution). The planner has a wealth of ideas and will save time, effort and high costs which in turn will reflect well on your client.