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Showsite Is A Team Building Opportunity


Now that we’re back to live events, while still (in many cases) having employees work in a hybrid setting, the showsite experience creates a unique and easy opportunity for building your team spirit, enhancing relationships, and communicating key initiatives. Of course, this has to be done respectfully knowing the showsite experience is also exhausting and often requires staff to be away from home for extended periods of time.


With this in mind, here are some ways you can take advantage of an onsite team experience:


1. Onsite Kickoff – The “end of show” team dinner or happy hour has become pretty standard and is a great to celebrate a successful project. But you may get more impact by flipping it for a kickoff meal on arrival day. You get to celebrate all of the preproduction work that got you to this point, reaffirm the team’s commitment to the client’s success, and make a few introductions if you have new folks onsite. We’ve seen this go a long way towards building team unity, which is certainly valuable when the team needs to pull together to address an issue.


2. Build your community – Your team also includes the local crew supporting you. Ensure your project leaders make introductions, find out a person’s role and say thanks. You’ll be back again (how many times have we all been to Dallas, Vegas or Orlando?) and you want the local team feeling they’re a part of your team. In the old days the local crew would leave a show with a “thank you” of a case of beer and a show t-shirt!


3. Recognition – being in-person allows you to create high touch moments that are more difficult when we’re remote. Does someone deserve recognition? Do you have a promotion to announce? Pulling the group together to put the spotlight on a deserving colleague beats an all-staff email or a Zoom meeting any day.


4. Care and Feeding – is there something you can do to take care of the team while they’re onsite? Healthy snacks and a few special treats in the crew room are a must. Chair massages for the team and clients are a particular favorite.


5. Status Meetings - a best practice is bringing the team together at the end of the day for a quick update. It helps your leaders manage the project and keeps everyone in the loop about what’s been accomplished and what needs attention.


6. Project debrief – Often, the best time to debrief a project is right after it wraps. This way thoughts are fresh, examples can be clearly detailed, and everyone is face to face. However, there’s a danger that sore feelings, misunderstandings, and failed execution can make this a challenging meeting. Even with challenges, however, we’ve seen these meetings generate great ideas, and help to mend bridges if handled with sensitivity and good leadership. Some tips:

  • Make it agenda driven. Either break up topics by timeline, departments or deliverables;

  • Make it non-emotional. Try to steer the conversation to facts and concrete problem-solving. However, if someone wants to express their emotion in regard to someone else’s behavior, that’s okay. What should be avoided is finger-pointing or anger;

  • Make it constructive. The point of these meetings is to identify best practices and identify where the process broke down, and then find solutions. Often writing things on a board helps to keep the conversation focused on concrete steps.

7. Team Building – Many times the event is held in a place that has a number of fun activities available, which no one has taken advantage of since they’ve been in the ballroom. We’ve seen great success in organizing a fun experience that people are welcome to join if they’d like (but is not required). The best activities are those that have some application to our work: a cool art installation, a great live experience, or some other creative experience. This would be an investment on the part of the agency, as people will likely need to stay another night to have time to participate and there will be a cost to the experience, but it should not be billable time for your staff or freelancers. RSVPs make this much easier to manage.


8. Strengthen Supplier Relationships – Since many of the on-site team members are freelancers and vendors, it’s a great opportunity to meet f-2-f and get feedback regarding how your agency works. The outside perspective, coupled with their knowledge of how other agencies work, makes these conversations invaluable. It also demonstrates your respect and appreciation of the work they do for your agency and how valued they are. We’ve also taken advantage of doing a project in a supplier’s home town to take a team tour of their facilities.


9. Initiative Rollout – Since so many employees seldom come into an office, a gathering on showsite could save travel costs and wear and tear by leveraging the people that are already there (and possibly adding a few others if needed) for a day of internal discussions. Although this does add to the length of time away from home, it can often be more convenient, and actually cheaper than having a company meeting. It also means leadership is on site to help support the team, meet the clients and vendors, and facilitate any debrief discussions. This could be coupled with a team-building event as outlined above.


The showsite experience is one of the most unique and powerful in our industry. It can be a challenging experience, but it’s also a bonding experience for those on site. If handled correctly, it now can also be a great opportunity to enhance the culture and knowledge of the agency and its employees.



Tonic Consulting Group works with live event agencies, marketing agencies and related companies providing the insights, expertise and direction necessary to create enduring competitive advantage. We work with leaders to build new pathways to growth, create high-performing operations and develop companies people love working for.