What You Need to Know for the NIRSA Trade Show

trade show

NIRSA 2019 is nearly here.

However, there’s a lot more to a trade show than just simply showing up. Preparation, whether you’re a vendor or an attendee, can help you get the most out of your experience. Perhaps you’ll spend most of your time on the expo floor, visiting all the vendor booths. Or maybe it will be in the sessions, getting your education on. Wherever you spend your time, going in with a plan isn’t a bad idea.

“For me, much of my time is spent simply connecting with colleagues/vendors that I’ve worked with in the past,” said Eric Hawkes, the director of campus recreation at North Caroline State University (NC State). But he did offer up several other tips that have made his NIRSA experiences more valuable. Below, he shares his top trade show advice in hopes you can make the most out of your time in Boston:

Campus Rec: How do you approach a trade show?

Eric Hawkes: I always check in with fitness vendors we work with to check out any new equipment or technology. I always walk through the entire show just to see all the stuff – there’s always something that is new, interesting and worth considering. That being said, my team has specific vendors they want/need to see based on their role. I always check in with the team and find out if there’s something they want me to see and explore further with them.

CR: What are your top three things to do at a trade show like NIRSA?

EH: My favorite things are checking out new fitness equipment/trends, connecting with colleagues I’ve worked with in the past, and checking out other random stuff, as in non-fitness equipment.

CR: What is the benefit of attending trade shows?

EH: The benefit is simply staying in touch with “what’s next.”

CR: What about products that are considered “gimmicks”?

EH: The “gimmicks” are always fun and interesting – some may work for colleges and universities, and others may not. For me, I always like to see what’s out there, regardless of their application at NC State. 

CR: Any final tips in conquering a trade show? What to wear, what to bring, etc.?

EH: As for logistics, most folks will be in polos; NIRSA is a relatively casual conference. Others will be in workout clothes so they can work out on the various fitness equipment and classes that “pop-up.” I would bring a backpack or bag for all the goodies folks have to share with you. Some vendors dress more business-like, but it’s simply a personal preference.

Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at heather@peakemedia.com.

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