A trade show is a world of opportunities. Many companies have at least one mandatory expo in their annual agenda - an event which provides them with information, accounts or products they can’t afford to miss. But keep in mind that success during the few days of any given trade fair is unimaginable without months and months of preparation. Follow these 10 steps when planning your next expo visit:
1. Select the right trade show for your business
This one could seem difficult if you are new to B2B trade show marketing but ultimately, it comes down to good research. Remember, don’t rush - especially if you plan to exhibit (in that case it is always best to start with a smaller investment - go to a trade fair as a visitor first and see if it fits your needs). The event you are considering might be popular and praised and still not relevant to your business. Make a list of all industry events and find out which trade shows are preferred by your existing and potential customers, your competition and suppliers. Start by attending the same event or events as they do. After a show or two your own experience will guide you.
2. Explore its website in detail
Once you have your mind set on a trade fair, visit its website for additional information. It will confirm if you’re on the right path, with details such as exhibitor and visitor profile, testimonials, previous editions’ reports, product segments, themes, etc. Of course, it will show the dates and venue, schedule and supporting events. Even if your main focus in on the exhibition, these events are important, as each of them represents a possibility to extend your knowledge and business contacts. The website might also include articles on the current industry issues, various tips and other features we will delve into now. Read the information on the website thoroughly before you register.
3. Make sure to stay up-to-date with the event
Many trade shows have their own app, for example dmexco and Nurnberg Toy Fair. If the expo you have chosen is among them, it would be beneficial to download the app and keep an eye on anything that might come of use before and during the show. In case there isn’t an app, subscribe to the event’s newsletter, follow it in social media or simply continue to check the website for updates.
4. Make Travel And Accommodation Plans
Your participation is already confirmed? Then it’s time to think about travel and hotel arrangements. Book your tickets and hotel room(s) as early as possible. With thousands of participants (hundreds of thousands for certain trade shows) heading to the same venue and willing to secure accommodation nearby, the best hotel options become unavailable long before the expo dates. Using the services of a B2B travel management company like Fair Point will give you access to lower flight and room rates as well as choice of convenient hotel locations for your expo visit.
5. Arrange Meetings
Industry events are excellent for meeting established and potential partners, suppliers and customers. Who would you like to meet during the event? Contact the companies and set meetings. If the trade show provides a business matchmaking service, take advantage - it will help you connect to your target group without losing time and focus in the process. Although it might be tempting to reach out to as much companies as possible, be reasonable with your appointments. If the time at the trade show doesn’t seem sufficient for all of them plus your other tasks, the after-parties and business dinners are an excellent alternative.
6. Acquire relevant information
There are many factors contributing to a productive meeting. Preparation is one of them. Start by identifying your objectives and by setting goals. They could be different for each of the meetings in your schedule. Gather information about the companies whose representatives you’re about to meet - for example new services, upcoming products, support and so on… anything of professional interest to you. With all this in mind, choose which topics would be best to discuss during each meeting.
7. Get acquainted with the hall plan
Every trade show minute is precious. Being in the know where to find the brands and products that interest you is crucial as it will save you time for the things that really matter. Mark the exhibition areas of interest and memorise them prior the event. You probably won’t be able to see everything if you go the trade show on your own. When attending the trade show with colleagues, split up and cover more ground. In this situation each person on your team needs to have their own schedule for the duration of the entire event as well as clear understanding of their role.
8. Don’t underestimate the accompanying programme
During the trade fair, you will be quite occupied with the exhibition and the meetings on your agenda. However, most trade fairs offer more than that in the form of high quality event programme. Depending on its scale, it could feature a few or all these events: seminars, lectures, forums, workshops, round tables, demonstrations, competitions, awards and other special events. Attending is well worth your time, as you can find valuable industry insight, expert knowledge and guidance. Explore the programme before the trade show and register for the event or events you consider beneficial for your business.
9. Prepare business cards and promotional materials
Everyone will do the same, which is why your team needs to get creative in order for the company to stand out. Don’t be satisfied with bringing just enough business cards and promotional materials to cover the predetermined meetings - they could be insufficient. After the event, it is more than likely to be approached by some of the people you spoke to in the course of the trade show. On your part, don’t leave anything to chance and be prepared to collect materials and business cards as well. Do your own follow-up.
10. See what the host city has to offer
Undoubtedly, you’ll devote all your efforts to the expo. You can still leave room in your busy schedule for sightseeing. You could even explore the city surroundings if you decide to extend your trip. What does the area offer? Is there a historical site you wish to visit, a cultural event you would love to be a part of? In case the activities you’re interested in require a reservation or tickets have to be purchased, do this in advance. Let your business trip be a way to enjoy your favourite pastime or to broaden your horizon.