A week at the IPM
Our trainees tell their story
Joselin Driese and Christopher Kosse
We were already familiar with many planning processes and workflows for the IPM in Essen, the world’s leading horticultural fair, but this year, we had the chance to experience the fair at first hand …
Monday morning: we gathered up the last important papers and set off by car. When we arrived at the exhibition centre, the workmen were already busy erecting the stands. The aisles were so crowded, it was almost impossible to get from one side of the hall to the other. There was something blocking the way at every turn, it was like being on a huge building site. We found it difficult to believe that this chaos would be sorted out in time for the start of the fair the next day.
It was not long until we, too, could start to tackle our work. We had to unload whole pallets of advertising materials and brochures and arrange them properly in two storage rooms, so that everybody could see at a glance where everything was. In the afternoon, we got the stand ready for the first day of the fair and then headed for our hotel. Once we had been shown to our rooms, all we wanted to do was rest before the event kicked off the following day.
Tuesday morning arrived faster than expected: our alarms went off at 5:45 am. Time to get up, have a shower and get dressed. 6:45 am, breakfast – we needed a good basis for the day ahead. 7:30 am, leave for the exhibition centre in Essen. We were soon stuck in the inevitable urban traffic jam. 8:15 am – try to find somewhere to park.
Finally, we reached the entrance to the exhibition centre. We could hardly wait to see all the changes that had taken place overnight – and it was true, the halls were hardly recognisable! Everything was spick and span, as if someone had waved a magic wand. We couldn’t believe how it had been done, but we didn’t have much time to think about it. We had to prepare the stand: get the information desk up and running, lay out brochures, promotional exhibition bags and fill up the display with advertising materials.
The official start was at 9 o’clock – the fair was open! Our main job was to keep track of everything at the information desk. We were the first people that visitors spoke to and we put them through to the experts. We did not have to wait long for our first callers, who asked us questions or asked to speak to a certain person. Luckily we had prepared a list which showed us who was on duty at the Klasmann-Deilmann stand and who was temporarily elsewhere at the fair, so that we could see immediately whether or not the person was available.
We had to refill the displays with brochures and exhibition bags after just a quarter of an hour, so we set ourselves a 15-minute alert to remind us to do so. It was incredible how quickly the bags disappeared and that continued throughout the day.
6.00 pm: we had survived the first day – almost. We still had to clear up and get things ready for the next day. We were back at the hotel by 7 pm and had a few minutes to put our feet up and freshen up before we went down to dinner with the others at 8 o’clock. By 10 pm we were more than happy to head for bed, as it would not be long till duty called again the next morning.
The next day followed the same procedure. On arrival at the fair, we got everything ready for the second time. We soon realised that the Tuesday had in fact been a little more chaotic and that everything started off more smoothly on the Wednesday, as we were now working well as a team – fortunately.
People had told us before that “Wednesday is the worst day” or “Wednesday is always the busiest”. But we could never have imagined just how crowded the fair stand would be. It was absolutely packed, every single chair was taken. Some of the team had to talk to visitors in the aisles. We could hardly even make our way through to the storeroom. We changed our alert for restocking the bags to every ten minutes. The questions increased: “Are there enough exhibition bags?” “Can you photocopy / print something for me?” “Have you got a name badge for me?” “Do we have brochures about XY here?” “Have you got Growcoons here?” … And so it went on and on.
After the fair closed, it was time for our stand party. Although this made our day even longer, the stand party was a highlight for us. There was delicious food and drinks and we had the chance to wind down at the end of the day together with everybody at the stand. We now had ample experience to prepare for the remaining two days and coped well with them, too.
Conclusion: It was a very strenuous but exciting week at the fair and a fantastic experience. We had the chance to get to know many employees from our foreign locations, to see for ourselves how the fair week was organised and to gain experience. We have no doubts at all: if we were given the chance, we would join the IPM team again.
And finally, our tips for staff at the stand on how to keep a clear head and stay cool under pressure:
- Wear comfortable, sturdy shoes to prevent sore feet
- Drink plenty of water
- Be well organised: Where can I find want? What brochures are still available? What has to be restocked? Who is where?