Vacation and the Trade Show Manager

June 7, 2012

I want you to think about your last vacation – and I mean a true vacation. One where you weren’t working on electrical and air orders for your show or approving proofs for your promotional materials. 


Can you even remember the last vacation you took where you completely unplugged and went off the grid?


I am there with you – I still worked and blogged while I was on vacation last month in Oahu. Of course, I used that time to get inspired for new blog ideas and tips my readers want to know, and I was having a great time doing it. 


But, having a true vacation is probably a very hard thing for trade show managers to do.


Our first issue is the idea of span of control – how many of us have to do the job of three people, and simply do not have the luxury of disengaging from work? 


We have quite a few details that still need to be covered, and in order to keep things on track, we end up ‘checking in’ and never really feel that we had time to let go and relax. 


But, if we can somehow get coverage and maybe even do some preplanning and take vacation in a slower month where work will keep, we will see an increase in our productivity and attention to detail. 


Stress can cause our brain to feel overloaded, which affects attention to detail and that is highly critical for our success.


Another reason for our working vacations has to do with the boundaries we set as trade show managers. We are the ‘can do’ crew, and that means going above and beyond our job descriptions to get the job done. 


I know I have vacuumed, taken out trash and other various odds and ends assignments because someone had to do them. When we continue to step over our own boundaries, we invite people to take advantage of our work ethic. 


I am not saying we should not work hard, but other people also need to tow the line. And ask yourself this – are the things you stop to do on vacation so critical that someone else cannot handle them or they cannot wait until you come back? 


I also use my secret weapon – my manager! Yes, I ask my manager to step in and be the ‘bad cop’ saying that something can keep until I get back.


The third issue we face is that we want to control what is happening and rightly so.  Sometimes having to fix things that were done incorrectly is worse than working on them on our vacation. 


However, I am working on letting my staff handle things and see how they do – we learn by doing, after all. If I don’t give them a chance to try, they cannot learn.


My staff will be my replacements someday, so I need to give them as much experience as possible, even if it means fixing something when I get back.


My advice to my readers – take all of your vacation days!  Use the time to recharge and relax.  After all, you have certainly earned it!

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