Attending your first trade show is cause for excitement. Your attendance at an industry event marks your entry into your chosen field as a professional standing among peers. You’re attending not just to look, but to learn and share information. A trade show is the place where new products are unveiled, innovative research and development shared with the world, and where inventors introduce people to their discoveries.
As a first time trade show attendee, you might not be sure what to expect. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your trade show experience. Not every tip may apply to the particular event you are planning to attend, but keep this advice in mind anyway. You might find it applies to other events you attend.
Know Your Location
Most trade shows take place in large cities, typically in convention centers or hotels with convention facilities nearby. Some convention facilities will be located in the middle of a city, which can make transportation considerably easier. Taxis are easy to hail, buses pass on a regular basis, and many services are located within walking distance.
If a trade show is taking place in a facility near an airport then it’s likely that transportation could be an obstacle. Does the hotel provide a complimentary shuttle to and from the airport? Are there local taxi services that serve the area where the trade show is taking place? Are there nearby conveniences, such as restaurants, drug stores, grocery stores, and gas stations? Before you commit to attend a show, learn something about where you’ll be staying. This will help make your trip much more enjoyable.
Also, if you’ve never been to the city where the trade show is taking place, consider buying a map. Even if you don’t do any driving of your own, a map will help you locate landmarks and services should you need them.
Hotel convention centers are excellent trade show venues because they have everything a person might need for a weekend. Hotel restaurants cater to hungry show attendees, a fitness room helps people unwind, and a lounge area offers the perfect place to sit and talk. Even with all these conveniences, unexpected circumstances can still arise. It’s unusual – but not unheard of – for a hotel restaurant to run short on food during a dinner rush. If you have particular dietary considerations, then you will certainly want to plan ahead. Take food with you, map out nearby restaurants and grocery stores, or plan to meet up with people who know the area. Hotel restaurants can also be expensive. You can save money by taking care of your own meals once or twice a day.
Have a Strategy
Trade shows cater to people who work in particular industries; technology trade shows are open to computer programmers, food shows are open to professional caterers, and so on. Because a potentially diverse crowd will attend any trade show, there will be a diverse offering of information panels and vendor booths. To maximize your time, study the information guide provided at registration. Pick out two or three panels you wish to attend and choose a couple alternatives just in case. Select those vendors you are most interested in and visit them first. Don’t weigh yourself down with a lot of free materials that you’re not interested in and don’t be afraid to politely walk away.
With planning, preparation, and strategy attending your first trade show will be very positive experience.