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ENTECH Venue Fails. ‘What is a sandwich?’

ENTECH 400

By Julius Grafton.

Roundup # 2: The very late event order arrived two days prior to show. We send our Venue Manual as a Word file so they can cut and paste our needs into their various event paperwork systems. I don’t think there is a standard system, as each event order has it’s own … order. Some are concise, some are set as a timeline, some are 12 pages long.

We list out our schedule, detail what our trucks like (with photos), stress things like ‘keep the dock clear as we are moving fast’, and have a big section on catering.

This year we had some explaining to do about ‘What is a sandwich?’

Last year we saw five completely different interpretations of this relatively simple request for a fast easy working exhibitor lunch for 150 people.

One place had weird messy wraps, so we had lettuce, brean sprouts and chunks of tuna / chicken / spam and mayo all over the carpets.

Another place decided Sushi was sandwiches, while the gold star awards was the $37 ‘Platter’, containing ‘six sandwiches’. Only problem was, while technically a sandwich, they were each one-third of a sandwich. In other words, ‘chef’ had made one into three. Biblical, really!

So this year we went into some detail. Here’s the extract from our manual:

  • We have 150 mouths to feed between 12 midday and 12.45pm.
  • They expect approx. 2 x sandwiches each.
  • A sandwich is two pieces of regular sized bread with fillings.
  • The fillings should not be a huge pile of green stuff.
  • You mix it all up and keep it simple, no astro macro creations.
  • Ham and cheese are good. Pickles are good.
  • Cheese and tomato are good.
  • Meat and chutney or some garnish is good.
  • Chicken and mayo is good.
  • Non meat is good too.
  • Some wholemeal and some plain bread is good.
  • Salad sandwiches are banned.
  • Onion is banned.
  • How hard can this be?
  • Deliver on trays or boxes for three people (6 x sambo’s) each
  • 150 pax means 50 trays or boxes for a total of 300 sambos
  • Your people deliver these – we suggest a trolley or two.
  • The delivery pattern is 1 x tray to each space. A space is 3m x 3m. Some exhibitors occupy 2 spaces, which means their stand is 6m x 3m. So they get 2 x trays.
  • It’s about making sure they have just enough to keep going.
  • Kate will assist with navigating the delivery.
  • Questions to Kate.

Anyway, while delivering on the above they usually have trouble figuring out what a ‘space’ looks like, so for some reason Don McConnell from Audio Brands always gets half a serve. It’s not personal- just weird. Go figure.

Then we ‘assumed’ that by ordering an on-site cafe, and drawing it onto the floor plan, they would provide furniture. On arrival there are some very groovy poufe-couchie things and coffee tables, plus some benches and stools. Trendy and oh so slightly louche. The venue dudes were setting them up in the right place, so life is good!

“Looks awesome”, I say, with a thumbs-up.

Then they take them away.

“Wrong show”, they announce. “Huh? Ka? WTF? Ok, where is our furniture?” we say (nicely).

“You didn’t order any”.

Start response process involving firm words, this produces result. This stresses perfectly innocent Floor Manager who was (by the way) most excellent.

Next fun game is a corker, ‘cos we ran out of (wait for it), 240v power cables. Yup, extension leads. We tour 150 of them for our show power, as we (my touring crew) do the powering because no venue tech on the planet could do it at our speed.

No offence to venue tech’s, it’s just we have figured it out in advance and work to our plan. They would be needing to get their head around it, and that takes some time. We don’t have time. We have one hour to hook up eight 3 phase distribution boards, and run around 90 lines out.

So we ask for four extension leads, and they arrive with a rental price of $16 EACH! Price to buy at Bunnings? $9.99.

There was other stuff wrong, stuff that wasn’t on the event order. When you get the order 11 months, 3 weeks and 5 days since you contracted the venue and that just happens to be 48 hours prior to the gig, you tend to miss what they have missed. Our Venue Manual goes out 3 weeks prior to show, and the average event order comes back 14 days out.

At load-out, I request the lighting level go to maximum, up from show level. It flips from show level to high-bay, and these need to warm up. The place is now unsafe, with at least 150 people in there, most of them packing up, and empty cases coming in. It is a bad situation.

No kidding, it takes 26 MINUTES for the AV dept to get the lighting sorted out, because it is a lighting desk situation and they (presumably) needed to get someone who knew what to do, to do it.

I never thought we would need to put this into our Venue Manual, but now it is. And casting my mind back, another venue did the same thing some years ago. Inadequate procedures? They would say ‘it wasn’t on the event order’.

As we like to say when they ask us questions, “Read our Venue Manual!”

  • The venue manual now contains a full description of café furniture. And lighting for bump-out. And our definition of a ‘Slow Floor Manager’.

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