Setting up for the Toronto International Boat Show (TIBS) is one of those things that you have to prepare yourself for for every year, be it physically or mentally. Physically you're lifting a lot, and usually decently heavy items, while mentally it's very long and time consuming plus you're constantly moving. I mean HELLO have you seen how big the Enercare Centre is? Most of clocked 15,000+ steps a day during set up and 12,000+ steps a day during the actual show.
For the newbies who have never done it before, they're all eager and excited with all this energy (adorable) whereas the veterans are in the corner with realistic expectations, and a tad bit of crankiness, of what's about to happen. With that said, it's still fun and once the show gets going, we're all loving it and excited to see everyone.
As the social media coordinator, I try to keep everyone up to date with the set up journey as we go along but it's just a small glimpse into what it's really like setting up for the show and doesn't show the full story. Do you ever wonder what it's really like to set up for one of these shows? What goes on behind the scenes to set up the multiple booths with more then a dozen boats and hundreds of items - all while keeping the actual store open?
Well this year I thought I'd give you a behind the scenes look at what it's really like, and what it takes, to set up for one of these shows. Below is a small glimpse of all the preparation and hard work that goes into prepping for TIBS.
Prep for TIBS begins at the end of the summer when product starts to get ordered and continues into the Fall. Packing begins end of November and goes throughout December - yes, while you're shopping for holiday gifts and enjoying the holiday season we've already begun the process of boat show prep. Any form of giveaway or promotions are organized and planned during the beginning of December (or at least we try) so that there's enough time to organize, coordinate, create posters, and promote.
This year, for our Spin to Win contest, I began building the prize wheel the week of Christmas because I thought that was a genius idea to start it then - more stress is fun during that time right?! Easy to build said Pinterest but let me tell you, it's never as easy as Pinterest makes it seem. It was a saga to complete but hey it worked out on the end and looked great (AND ACTUALLY SPINS) so I'm calling it a success. DIY always sounds like a great idea before you actually start.
In addition to all this prep, as social media coordinator, it's my job to keep things going online while helping set up for the show. What does that mean? It means I pre-plan the majority posts for January, making TIBS promo posters, coordinating with companies that we're doing promotions with, and laying out the game plan for what will happen overall online for the month of January. All of this in addition to our regular social media housekeeping. Let me tell you, organization and colour coding is my best friend to getting all this done without losing my mind....plus a lot of espresso.
After Christmas and New Years, that's when things really get going and the pressure kicks into high gear. Displays are organized, promotions/giveaway details are ironed out, and boat selection is finalized. By this time, we may look calm, cool and collected but we're stressed with the million small details that need to be accomplished. Tasks like all new items inputted into the system, products priced, labelled, and boxed accordingly, new video material made, scheduling staff for all the booths, and finalizing show deals. The list goes on and on!
Once the first week of January hits, it's time for move in. Rob and Cam took the first load of boats down to the boat booth at the beginning of the week and continued until all boats were there throughout. Tuesday was build day for the retail booth which included laying down our classic white floor and building the frame for the retail booth. Most of us spent the morning at the store completing the last minute packing while Morten and Thomas laid the floor at the boat booth and Rob and Cam took more boats to the show.
Around 430 we all headed down to the Enercare Centre to start the oh so fun process of framing. This year we were only there until about 10pm, which doesn't sound too bad but at this point we were all pretty tired from moving things all week so the level of crankiness was rising. Personally, I was running on 5.5 hours of sleep and was starting to feel the long days but hey that's what caffeine is for right?!
Wednesday came and we began taking more boats and kayaks down in the trailer while some staff stayed at the store to finish organizing retail booth components, such as the cabinets, grid wall. Next up was compiling all the retail booth boxes in one area to be packed in the trailer once Rob and Cam were back from unloading things at the Enercare Centre. Finally, we loaded the trailer up with the retail boxes and then spent the evening unloading everything at the Enercare centre.
Thursday morning, aka the day before the show began, was busy beyond belief and we hit the ground running. Rob took on his favourite task of the show and got the computers set up for all the booths (see right for the telltale signs that Robs been somewhere) while the rest of the full time staff headed to the Enercare centre to fill in the booths: retail, Helly Hansen, and the boat booth. That's 3 booths between 9 people, which may sound like a lot of people but there's over 20+ boats, kayaks, and SUP's to be unwrapped, built, and displayed properly in addition to hundreds of items unpacked and merchandised for the retail booth - so much fun, right?
Finally Friday morning came and began the 10 day straight marathon of the show. By this time we were all feeling the weeks activities (there's a lot of physical activity for set up in terms of moving kayaks, SUPs, boats, displays, materials, and boxes upon boxes) but we poured our coffee, ate our donuts (like every Canadian in the morning, right?) and put the final touches on the booths. When the doors open at noon for the special preview day/night, there's a moment of victory in which all exhibitors can take a breathe and remind themselves they made it through another set up. And...2 minutes later the moments over and it's back to reality. Everyone's changed into their show attire, smiling, and bracing themselves for the whirlwind that is the Toronto International Boat Show.
....Fast forward 10 days and all that hard work gets torn down.