How to Survive a Major Tradeshow

Most industries have one or more major tradeshows which are ‘must-attend’ dates in the calendar, but many people feel overwhelmed by the scale of them and unable to maximise their time efficiently. Often in a strange city, without your creature comforts, it is easy to find yourself on the back foot when you most need to be at your best, to make new contacts and represent your company well.

Hopefully, these eight tips from The Guide to Events will help you make the most of your time at the next show you attend.


1. Plan your time: when you add your time out of the office to the cost of entry and any travel or accommodation costs, your company has invested a lot in you being there – make a list of who you need to see and book in meetings before you arrive. When you do register and pick up your map (or open the showguide), take five minutes to get your bearings and work out where you need to go.


2. “Go to work on an egg”. The old advertising slogan still has a lot going for it. If you’re about to spend eight or nine hours walking a show floor, the chances are you’ll clock up a dozen or more miles inside the exhibition. You’re going to need to load up on slow-burn protein – especially if your body is more used to a sedentary office existence!


3. Drink lots of water. When you spend all day walking and talking, it is essential to stay hydrated. The International Marathon Medical Director’s Association guidelines recommend at least half a litre of water per hour spent walking. Most expo centres sell very expensive bottled water. Just accept the price and keep drinking!


4. Take at least 2 pairs of shoes. Only expo amateurs will attempt to spend two or three days on their feet in a single pair of shoes. It’s painful, unhygienic and bad for your feet. Concrete exhibition hall floors are brutal, so be prepared to change at least once a day.


5. Wear a blazer or a smart jacket with plenty of pockets: you will need some cash for buying drinks and snacks, sweets to keep your breath minty fresh for all that face-to-face interaction and a pen to take notes. What I always do is use side pockets for business cards: the left is for cards received, the right is for cards to give out. It is safest to keep these separate – handing out someone else’s contact details is very embarrassing!


6. Stop every hour or so to take stock. Make notes of the meetings and conversations you have had. Those chats seem so easy to remember at the time, but by the time you return to the office, it may become very confusing as to who said what. (A good tip is to make notes on business cards after each meeting, so you can connect words to people).


7. Allow plenty of time between your appointments – if the person you have come to see is running behind schedule, don’t let that make you late for your next meeting.


8. Buy in primetime; sell in downtime. If you know you are a valid customer, take as long as you need, whenever suits you. However, if your enquiries are general, if you are information-gathering on behalf of your company or attending to sell something to the exhibitors, have the good manners to do so during quieter periods: they won’t thank you for stopping a genuine client coming onto the stand!

If you find this useful, please share with friends and colleagues. A slideshare of this presentation can be downloaded here.



Editor • 24th January 2016

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