Are you doing a little tradeshow planning? Are you going as an exhibitor, or just a tradeshow attendee?
If you’re not going to exhibit, you may think that you don’t really need a concise plan, except for a few exhibitors to visit and some conferences to attend.
But look at this again: as a conference attendee in your industry, you have so much more you can come back with.
For instance, you might do a little spying! Yup, make a list of your main competitors and see how many are exhibiting. Then make a point to stop by each booth, and perhaps even chat up some of the booth attendees on their new offerings. Now, any well-trained booth staffer will know what he can and can’t talk about, but that doesn’t mean your competitors have trained their staff well. (Have yours?) Just by asking a few innocent questions, you might uncover information on an upcoming product or service they’ll be offering soon that your company wants to know about.
The tradeshow is also a great time to meet partners and reinforce alliances. Everybody’s time will likely be heavily scheduled, so plan your specific meetings well in advance. If you wait until the week before, chances are good that the person you want to have dinner with on Saturday night is completely booked up.
Next, walk the show floor with an eye to what exhibits stand out. Are there any new exhibit properties or accessories that catch your eye? Are your competitors setting up booths with new cutting edge materials, or are they using the same old exhibits from 1996? Just note what types of things catch your eye and draw your attention. Is it a ceiling banner? Is it an eye-popping graphic? Is it an unusual demonstration? Collect these good ideas and you’ll be able to consider them for your own exhibit in the future.
During all of this ‘work,’ make sure you plan a little R-n-R for yourself. After all, chances are that you’re in a big city that offers entertainment you may not have in your town. Plan at least one night out with co-workers or industry colleagues if you can. Dinners are always great, especially if you heading for an unusual restaurant (I vividly recall the dinner with clients at the Japanese restaurant I had last year!) – it will usually afford you plenty of time to get to know each other better in far different circumstances that you haven’t experienced before.
No doubt you’ll have a good handle on the little things, such as comfortable shoes (you’ll be on your feet a LOT) and clothes, lots of business cards to hand out, show planning schedule, small first aid kit, etc. But nothing like a good reminder.
So get on out there and have a great time at the show!