Just like in competitive sports, you shouldn’t go to a tradeshow without a little basic training. This brief primer will help get you into shape for any upcoming event or expo. Once you grab hold of these strategies, you can be sure you’ll score a sizeable win, no matter what your game plan may be.
Of course, you’re not going to any event if you don’t register and book reservations ahead of time. Clearly, the earlier you register the better—especially because most expos offer pre-show discounts and hotel rooms can sell out early. Moreover, airline prices can soar into the impossible-to-afford zone if you don’t opt for advance-sales rates. Book early and rest easy knowing you’ll be traveling the most economically as possible.
If you can, get a hold of a show program once it’s available. Some expos will immediately send registrants information in the mail. If not, or if you can’t wait that long, jump on the Internet and see what’s been posted. The best organizers take out the guesswork by advertising full tradeshow and expo information well in advance, letting you decide what seminars and events you’d like to attend, as well as all extra-curricular activities.
A special note: Many tradeshows offer different packages for attendees to pick and choose, mix and match to suit their interests. There may be separate fees for special workshops, and advance registrations may be required. Ensure you’re getting what you think you’re paying for, and you’ve signed up for any extras before the necessary dates.
On the plane or over a cup of coffee before the conference begins, mark off all seminars of interest to you. If you’re traveling with an associate and share common educational goals, think about splitting up, taking notes at different seminars and then having a post-show meeting to get each other up to speed.
Or, if you’re going it alone and know there’s more than one concurrent session you’d like to attend, ask the show staff if CD recordings will be available. Check in your handbooks (if they’re provided) for notes or outlines for sessions. Oftentimes, presenters provide these beforehand for attendees to follow along during the seminar. These can provide sizeable amounts of information, depending on the presenter. Seminar speakers might also be leaders of roundtable discussions and/or vendors on the tradeshow floor. Check your schedule and plan accordingly.
It’s Show Time!
Wearing the most comfortable shoes and clothing suitable to your professional environment, pick up a notebook and pen, grab a bottle of water (just in case it’s not offered) and make your way to your pre-selected seminars. Take plenty of notes, asking questions as necessary (or jot them down if the presenter requests all questions be saved until the end). Presenters typically expect and welcome further discussion and inquiries, so don’t hesitate to approach them at the end of the session if you want to follow up. If they’re too busy to continue the conversation right then, exchange business cards or make an appointment to speak at a later time. Many presenters double-time as vendors on the expo floor, so you might be able to track them down during tradeshow hours.
On that note, let’s turn full attention to the importance of attending the tradeshow itself. Veteran expo attendees know that a visit to a vendor-packed convention center is a little like going on a shopping spree to the mall during the Christmas rush. The first hours of an expo-hall opening are always the busiest. Plan to walk the entire floor once, getting a feel for who’s where and what’s available.
As you take this first tour, note what booths you’ll want to revisit your second time around. Take a break, have a latte (if at all possible!), and reflect on what you want to accomplish and with whom you want to visit. Perhaps jot down questions you’ll want to ask when visiting specific booths.
Also, pick up as much literature and product info that suits your fancy while on your tradeshow tours; you can sort through it later and glean the best, toss the rest, before toting it all the way home.
Last but not least, seek out any and all networking and socializing opportunities. Many show attendees find that luncheons, cocktail parties and the like—though intimidating at first for some—are the best places for casual conversations and learning new strategies to put you on top of the tradeshow game.
On the Road Again: ISS Expo Nashville
Ready to put your newly acquired tradeshow skills to the test? The clock is ticking down on the upcoming ISS Expo in Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 7-10., the time and place to be if you are anyone wanting to learn anything about the self-storage industry. If you follow the sensible tips provided in the accompanying article, you’ll likely have a heyday in Nashville—especially if you plan on working, networking and enjoying a little downtime out of the office. The
ISS Expo’s full agenda is readily displayed at www.insideselfstorageexpo.com, but below are some show highlights to give you the essence of what to expect. Topping the list of great educational opportunities are several intensive half- or full-day sessions:
• Developers’ Seminar—covering the entire development process, from groundbreaking to facility grand opening.
• Management Workshop—focusing on marketing, staffing, performance reporting, site management and more.
• Legal Learning—covers hot topics in storage law such as lien sales, facility rules and regulations, abandonment and more.
• How to Make Money in Self-Storage—featuring income analysis, equity growth, yield management, fees and ancillary income.
Next up are numerous seminars, offering mini-courses in topics ranging from marketing, price-setting, feasibility, contracts, phone sales, insurance and overall lessons in successful self-storage operations. And, of course, don’t forget the tradeshow floor packed with vendors of every sort: financing, building, contracting, security, software, training, you name it.
Finally, in addition to packing your noggin full of information, don’t forget to wind down or spice up your personal expo agenda by attending the ISS Golf Classic and the cocktail reception, or taking in daytime and nighttime activities in Nashville or the Gaylord Opryland Resort. There’s definitely something for everyone, so be sure to get a taste of it all!