As a marketer doing trade shows and exhibitions you are going to find yourself in one of the many major convention & exhibition centres around the Australasia area.  But who tells you the insider goss, what to expect and where to go for a cleansing chardie after the show day?

Fret not, I’d love to share my experience of the good, the bad and the downright eye rolling cer-razy with a secret, insiders guide.

This week, I have for your consideration the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre (SCEC).  Soon to be jack hammered into the ground (end of December 2013 looks like its last drinks), the current centre is due to replaced by something else that is light on detail and big on puffery promises.  But until the wrecking ball is swung, there is a full calendar of shows so there is ample opportunity for you to visit and attend shows.

“Where do I tell the cab driver to go?”

The SCEC is handy, right at the side of Sydney CBD and located in the Darling Harbour Precinct.  The cab ride from the airport will take anything from 20 mins to 1.5 hours depending on traffic and the mood of your cabby. I once did it in a Tarago with 5 of my crew in 16 mins to make a plane out of Sydney.   We made the plane but some of the crew swore never to have me drive again.  Huh, that’s gratitude for you.

“What if I need a bed and a hair dryer?”

Awesome!  There is a stack of hotels around the area from fleapits to five stars. I recommend the Novotel Rockford a solid 4 star performer and you can comfortably walk in heels from the hotel to the front door of the SCEC.

“What if I have a car that needs to be parked for the day?”

Well first up, pack a credit card as it could get nasty.  You can park under the centre which is so convenient (but expensive), but if you feel like you might fancy a walk to and from the venue, lodge your car at the car park behind the entertainment centre. You will save some coin & pass the Pumphouse en route, server of sherbets!

“I’m on site at the show and feeling a bit peckish, where do I go?”

You are in clover my friend.  You do have Darling Harbour but I say ditch the crowds and tourists and head across the new area under the HQ of Commonwealth Bank known as Darling Quarter. It is a shorter gallop and there is every food type you can think of and a few you should avoid.

“I’m on site and can’t spare the time to get out of the venue? What is safe to eat?”

Best bet is the Thai beef Salad they serve in the in-hall cafes.  There is the standard deep fried whatever but the Thai Beef Salad is a surprisingly good turn out for a venue caterer.

“Oh Christ, I have forgotten to bring the pens / Velcro / 30kgs of cement etc.”

Put the worry beads down, help – and supplies – are located very close by.  For stationery, try the one at Darling Walk or in the main Darling Harbour Development. Need nails, a stepladder or 30 kgs of cement (hey, we’ve all had a moment where 30kgs of cement is the only possible answer)? The nearest location is the Thrifty-Link Hardware @ Pyrmont.  They sell small amounts of Velcro but if we are talking reams you are after as your box of tricks is somewhere lost in the courier vortex, try Lincraft in York St.

My bonus tip here is the whole of Darling Harbour is circled with 24-hour convenience stores so you will be totally AMAZED by the random stock they have that suddenly is the answer to your prayers.  They also stock cleaning products so you can clean your hire furniture yourself. Yes, for your convenience it comes pre-grimed and no, the hirer will not clean it for you, just be glad you even have it delivered to your stand.

Chips out of your white laminate furniture or floor?  Liquid paper is your best friend.  Dive into you handbag and fish out the black eyeliner (liquid or pencil) to touch up anything black on your stand.  If you want bonus points, grab a cheap pack of kiddies textas and keep in your on site kit for touch up of ANY colour or hue.

What I will miss about SCEC:

  • The morning light coming through the eastern windows along the concourse after you have worked through the night to finish a motor show stand.  Did it 7 years in a row and there was nothing like the first rays of light breaking through the concourse glass to remind you that there was a 45 minute window to shower, eat processed cheese and apply makeup to cover a grey pallor before Press Day.
  • Check the natural light coming through the SCEC concourse!

    Check the natural light coming through the SCEC concourse!

What I won’t miss about Darling Harbour:

  • The loading dock.  It is the size of your average wardrobe.  This means it is HELL loading and unloading trucks for shows.  I think I held the record for a while for the longest load time for a B-double (5.5 hours).
  • The catwalks between halls.
  • The freakin' catwalks between SCEC halls making exhibiting underneath a challenge!

    The freakin’ catwalks between SCEC halls making exhibiting underneath a challenge!

Shhhh! Hot Diva Insider Tip: Ok, so if you are there for set up before show opens, it is known as contractor days but of course as an exhibitor you will be in towards the end to set up your gear and pretty up your stand.  Since you will be wearing a high visibility vest, why not wander down to the exhibitor desk on the concourse and treat yourself to the contractor rate?  I think it is something like $16 and when asked if you are a contractor , you need to pull this off pretty convincingly.  Just think contractor thoughts and you’ll be fine.  Keep this as our secret and we will all benefit. (Fight the power man!)

Time for a tune.  This year I am so pumped to hear the new Queens of the Stone Age album but until then, let’s get in the archive.

Please feel free to ask any questions about the SCEC or pass this onto someone you know who will be exhibiting there soon.

See you next week!