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Network and Engage

Behind-The-Scenes Interview with AVP of Convention, Part 1

MarkTraegerHave you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes for the biggest gathering of community bankers in the nation? We got a chance to ask Assistant Vice President of Convention/Exhibits, Mark Traeger, about everything from time and number of people involved in setting up as well as challenges. His answers definitely make us appreciate all the team’s hard work and efforts to produce a good show!

How long does it take to set everything up before everyone arrives for the show?

                Typically, our staff arrives on-site for the convention several days before the attendees. Working closely with the hotel or convention center staff, along with other partners, it can take several days to set up the general session room, Techworld and put together all the individual meetings room sets together before the events begin.

How many people are needed to tear down and set up?

                For our general session, dozens of skilled labor personnel are needed to rig (hang) lights, speakers, screens and truss equipment; set up the stage with all the components; wire the stage for sound, video equipment, etc. In addition, many hands are needed from our production company to get the sound and lighting console set up to “run” the show. The hotel has an additional dozen people or more that will need to set chairs and other equipments and work closely with the production company to ensure every aspect of the room is set and ready to go from a production and safety standpoint. Techworld often takes two full days to set up, involving more than 3 dozen to 4 dozen people at a time. With more than 260 booths, a lot goes in to ensuring every company has what they need for electrical and other services within their booth. Tearing down everything usually goes much faster than set up, with usually 12-24 hours being the timeframe that everything can be moved out.

What are some of the hardest parts about changing up the main ballroom?

                There are times when one of the main ballrooms is used for multiple events during the convention (i.e. General Sessions, Theme Party and Final Banquet & Show), and it takes a lot of coordination with the production company, the facility and the decorators to ensure the timing will come together. The biggest challenge is making sure all the rehearsals can be scheduled and uninterrupted for the general session presenters and moving equipment in and out of the ballroom to accommodate entertainment that we may have. In addition, often times a decorator is involved in a major room change and they will need to modify the space for props and arrangements for tables and chairs.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this interview which includes the strangest requests during the event and how the 2011 Convention in San Diego presented some huge hurdles!


Soccer goalI bet that got your attention. Unfortunately for sports enthusiasts, I am not going to talk about soccer/football. The goals I am talking about are the ones you set in order to have a successful experience at the ICBA Annual Convention and Techworld®. The convention is a perfect opportunity to learn, network and engage, however, you need to set goals and create a game plan to get the most ROI from your convention experience.

Attendees to past ICBA conventions have had many different goals; some are to visit with peers from other areas of the country and compare methods of operation; others come for education, some are focused on networking, and still others focus on meeting with suppliers. Both attendees and vendors say ICBA’s convention is the best place to talk with a wide variety of vendors and compare products they may have heard about but always wanted to see. One attendee said, “Techworld was an invaluable tool in our planning process for the future.”

The best way to get the most out of the ICBA convention is to write down a list of quantifiable goals, such as, attend 5 sessions, or make 25 new contacts, or bring home one new technology, management or marketing idea that can be implemented to improve business. There is a great sense of accomplishment after the event if you’ve checked off most or all of your goals. Also, your ability to bring back actionable information that can improve your business is a great excuse for returning to the event year-after-year.

So as you register for the convention, start your list of goals, you might not achieve them all, but knowing what you need to achieve is half the battle of realizing success.

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