ENTECH had the best three shows of its long history, with 15% more people at Perth, Adelaide and at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney early March. And then the virus caught up, with the Melbourne and Brisbane shows cancelled for the last week.
The show had some new features; the ENTECH THEATRE on the floor, managed by CX’s Jason Allen, welcomed as a place for short educational sessions.
Each visitor was given a small FM radio and a pair of AT enclosed headphones so that audio could be delivered without interruptions.
The two theatres had around 18 sessions at half hour intervals. At 10 a.m. the first ‘AV Hour of Power’, also hosted by CX’s Jason Allen, was a knockout in Sydney and worked well out west too.
With vendors given a few minutes for an ‘elevator pitch’, trade were advised and updated ahead of the trade floor opening at 11 a.m. We added warm pastries to elevate the excitement – and the blood sugar.
Out at the rego desk, my partner Kate and right-hand guy Steve James dished up the business assisted by some Tech Sisters.
This group are a thing – we hired a bunch to help unload the tour trucks at the end, and can safely say that of all the things happening, at least now we have a channel of greatly supported female technicians – and that is brand new.
The Tech Sisters came about at the start of January 2018 when Sydney-based audio tech Jess McCloughan founded the group on Facebook.
The vision is to ‘Empower, Encourage & Equip’ all Tech Sisters round the world through networking and support. Jess and her team have created a thriving community with more than 700 members, which is growing every day.
On the floor we put CrewCare, Support Act and Tech Sisters together facing the ENTECH Cafe – and we had a village square.
Around that we allocated the 60 stands on rotation – someone at the back in Perth was closer to the front later.
Had we done the whole five cities it would have worked out very fair.
The alchemy of placing whom where was funny – there were a few ’specifics’ where people wanted their brand next to another (which if they agreed was fine) or out of sight of someone.
We don’t ask why.
Showday for us is tea in bed at 4 a.m., then workup that includes downloading all the registrations up to the minute and arranging an SMS blast at 8.45 a.m. to remind people the show is actually, like, today.
Then a check through on arrangements, grab the venue contact details, and meet Simon Byrne in the lobby before 6 a.m. which is our venue GO time.
The alchemy of placing whom where was funny – there were a few ‘specifics’ where people wanted their brand next to another (which if they agreed was fine) or out of sight of someone. We don’t ask why
Simon had a touring crew manager from Show Support with us – Ben Albrecht – who managed the state-by-state crew calls.
Using one supplier nationally gave us some consistency in what can be a patchy market. It mostly worked better this year over the three shows and two truck loading/unloading days, but freelance crewing is a fast moving and vexed business in Australia.
The four ATS semis were marshalled in, and the unload started while Kate, Jess and I marked up the show floor. Where there are 1m square carpet tiles this is easy. Without them (Hordern) takes 20 minutes longer.
By 7-ish the floor is marked with exhibitor names and spaces, and the 600 cases slowly roll in. Alex Hughes powers up, we had 12 three-phase distros.
At 8.30 a.m. (and usually earlier because they can) the 140 exhibitor crew turn up to set up. It has so many moving parts – but it usually moves at the same trajectory.
Most first-time venue events staff have never seen anything like it, because we are a unique event where everything travels except chairs and catering.
We even tour with 50 Bunnings fold-up plastic trestle tables, and our own cloths, because venues have different sizes – and they like to rent them to us. Those Bunnings plastic tables are also brilliant truck pack fillers when you have a small gap – shove in some tables!
… Bunnings plastic tables are also brilliant truck pack fillers when you have a small gap – shove in some tables!
Our touring rego system is running by 9 a.m. or earlier. Empty cases are parked in the boneyard, we tidy up the floor, the cafe churns out free beverages and the show always opens at 11 a.m.
But Monday March 16 came with storm clouds.
The government had announced an events limit of 500 people, and we could not guarantee that all day. We peak and trough, Sydney easily had 800 in the room at one point.
We’d had a weekend of ‘are you continuing?’ and we knew this was a storm day. We hit the gym early and the cascade became an avalanche of calls, emails, FB messages and texts.
The trucks were in Melbourne, 22 local loader crew booked from Show Support. Our team of eight were there or booked to fly down that afternoon.
But exhibitors were pulling out.
Many of the global brands had cancelled all travel, some simply had the travel department cancel flights, so the local staff were stranded. Others had company meetings and made policy.
As we ticked towards midday, the remaining two venues were locked in meetings. They called us and were somewhat ambiguous, we assumed they were either unable to commit or acting under lawyer instruction.
We called it off around 1.30 p.m.
If you can imagine an avalanche hurtling down towards you, it was almost like it stopped and started to inch backwards. A few people had been trolling us about the irresponsibility of everything, we were really aware of the power of social media.
A bunch of exhibitor crew were in the air. The chaos was palpable. We told the trucks to come home to Sydney. So it came to pass.
On that Thursday, when our iCal was telling us we were doing the show in Brisbane, we were instead unloading the trucks at the ATS depot in Sydney.
A bunch of exhibitor crew were in the air. The chaos was palpable. We told the trucks to come home to Sydney. So it came to pass
With our exhibitors and our industry devastated by the complete collapse of everything, the way forward is to take small steps which for us means that ENTECH 2021 will – for the first and only time – only show on the East Coast.
Our friends in SA and WA can take consolation that they got the show in 2020 while Melbourne and Brisbane didn’t.
None of this is how you want it to be, but friends, these are crazy times indeed.
ENTECH show pics from Adelaide, Sydney and Perth
CX Magazine – April 2020
LIGHTING | AUDIO | VIDEO | STAGING | INTEGRATION
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