Tricks of the Trade Show: How to Thrive and Survive the Floor

Lee Groeger - 04/21/2017

The 3E Public Relations client portfolio covers a pretty broad range of industries, so attending trade shows on behalf of our clients or just to stay on top of what’s going on is a fairly common occurrence. Whether it’s the NAB Show, International Franchise Expo, Kosherfest, Fancy Food Show—the list goes on and on—there are a few best practices that help us thrive and survive as exhibitors or attendees, no matter what the industry.

Track your miles

I’m not talking about your airline miles, though traveling to shows and other industry events can certainly help you rack them up. No, I’m talking about wearable fitness trackers. Whether you have a Fitbit, Garmin, or other device, you’ll probably be covering a lot of ground—maybe even miles—so make sure you’re getting credit!

Have a game plan

Depending on the size of the trade show, you might be able to get away with making your way across the floor whichever way the wind blows you, but this is not a strategy I’d recommend for larger shows. Between networking, activities and sampling, who knows how far you’ll get?  Step one: get a map. Mark off any booths in your wheelhouse—competitors, partners, prospects, etc. Then, break that list into the categories “must visit,” “would like to visit,” and “will visit If I get a chance.” If you have spare time after you’ve check off all your lists, go nuts!

Map out your day(s)

Make sure you know how you’re getting to and from the show each day. Is there a shuttle service from the hotel? Can you take a cab or Uber/Lyft? And if you’re driving, what’s the parking situation? Event websites usually provide this sort of information, but don’t hesitate to call the show’s information desk, or if you’re staying in a hotel, ask the concierge.

Select proper attire

At the end of the day (literally), the most important gift you can give yourself is that of comfortable shoes. Ladies, if there’s ever a time to leave the high heels at home, this is it. Anyone who’s walked even one trade show floor can tell you that, about halfway through the day, your dogs will be barking, no matter how much springboard is in the base of a booth. Opt for comfortable, but professional looking footwear. Inserts and insoles are also your friends. And for the love of comfort, no matter how cute they are, this is no time to break in a new pair of shoes.

Bring sustenance

Snack and meal options can sometimes be scarce, disappointing, or expensive. The only time this rule doesn’t apply is when attending a food trade show. In that case, maybe just wear some forgiving pants. Otherwise, portable items like protein bars are convenient and filling. Staying hydrated is important, too, so bring a bottle of water. No need to worry about how you’ll carry it—I can all but guarantee you’ll get at least one tote bag from the host or an exhibitor.

Know where to go

Find the bathrooms. Sometimes there’s only one set. If you pass one and there’s no line, GO!

If you are planning to exhibit at an upcoming trade show and could use some tips on maximizing PR for your business before, during and after, e-mail me for a copy of our free eGuide!

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