The 2022 annual NIRSA conference is happening March 29 to April 1 in Portland, Oregon. To prepare, Carrie Yeiser, the senior director of events and marketing at Peake Media, gave her top three tips for both attendees and exhibitors at trade shows.
3 Tips for Attendees at Trade Shows
1. Have a Plan.
You’ll be pulled in a lot of directions at a trade show so it’s important to be intentional about balancing your schedule.
If education is your goal, start with your sessions or seminars you’re most interested in. Identify ones you cannot miss first and then build your schedule out from there.
Visiting vendors will likely also be on your check list. If there are exhibitors you know you want to have more in-depth conversations with, try to plan to meet with them on the second day of the show. The first day tends to be hectic, but the second day typically slows down which is a great opportunity to meet with booth staff who can give you more attention.
EXTRA CREDIT: Here are four additional trade show tactics.
With plans to meet your must-see exhibitors and education sessions in mind, you’ll know when is best to explore the show floor and discover new things. Leave time to stumble upon something unexpected. Many companies will plan to launch new products and services around trade shows, so leave time to learn about these and demo them. They may solve a problem you have.
2. Set Up Important Meetings Off the Show Floor
If you already know exactly who you’d like to talk to, it’s a good idea to set up one-on-one meetings with them off the show floor. Trade shows are loud and full of distractions which are not great for meetings. Unless you enjoy yelling, exhibitors typically have time blocked out for meetings and demos, so reach out to a few on your list beforehand and schedule some face time. It’s much easier to see who is a fit for your needs with a conversation and full attention on you.
3. Be Social with Your Current Suppliers and Industry Peers
Most people attend trade shows in search of something new or to network with new industry peers. However, it’s a good idea to visit some vendors you already know and your industry friends.
Reconnect and see what new projects they’re working on. This gives you the opportunity to verify vendors you’re using are still the best fit for your campus rec center and helps builds a continued relationship by connecting face-to-face.
3 Tips for Exhibitors at Trade Shows
1. Let the Industry Know You’ll Be There
This seems apparent, but so many companies will purchase a booth and just show up with the hopes that those walking by will stop. Put the word out before the show that your company will be there by inviting your clients, customers, suppliers and other contacts to attend the show and visit your booth. Be sure you give them all the details, such as your booth number. Advertise the trade show on your website, with industry media partners and on social media.
2. Get Out of Your Booth and Off Your Technology
Often, exhibitors sit behind their tables while attendees walk by or browse their marketing materials. Get up and engage. Put your phone or computer on a separate table so you can focus on your booth traffic. Nothing is worse than watching an exhibitor miss valuable time with a prospect because they are on the phone. There are typically periods of down time during any conference to follow up on voicemail or emails.
3. Follow Up
Follow up with contacts and leads you made during the trade show as soon as possible. Even if someone said they would follow up, touch base with them after the show. Many attendees are inundated with information and contacts at the show. The faster you follow up, the more your business will stand out from the rest.