Trade shows are big business in our industry. It takes time, money and planning to make them run smoothly, so it's important that both the planners and the suppliers get something out of it.
In a recent non-scientific survey by the Capital Chapter of PCMA, people suggested some best practices for getting the most out of your time on the trade show floor.
Planners should come prepared. Have business cards, know who you want to visit and map out your priorities. If you have RFPs, bring them. Suppliers love that.
Don't show up with a roller bag or suitcase just for the free swag. Nothing says unprofessional more than your colleagues thinking you're just there for the goodies. Besides, how many plastic Thingamajigs do you need?
Be courteous and honest and tell suppliers if there's an opportunity for business or not. They want the truth. Really. Don't hog a supplier's time as others may want to visit with him or her and you may have your own schedule to keep.
Suppliers should also come prepared. Have your Elevator Speech ready and try not to make planners wait too long to talk to you. If you say you'll follow up, do it.
Try not to be too aggressive, shouting out opening lines across the exhibit hall or being too pushy with the freebies. Also, it may be a turn off if you're eating, texting, or huddling with too many suppliers. Make the planners feel welcome. You're here to get business done.
Lastly, wear comfortable shoes! Your feet will thank you later.
What are YOUR tips for a successful trade show?