Trade Shows, Exhibitions and Conventions
Attending trade events is an important part of staying at the top of your field. Getting the edge of what's new, what your competitors are doing, and potentially meeting a lot of prospective clients and business partners, is a valuable exercise.
When you have decided to take the time to visit an event, the most important consideration is to choose the correct event for your company. There are likely hundreds of events relating to your industry, and your company cannot afford the time or resources to attend them all. Research is therefore your first step.
Projected attendance numbers are only one consideration when choosing your event. Relevance of the event to your company and product are also important, as are what shows your competitors are attending, and your budget for these excursions. Looking at the past exhibitors and attendees of a show will be a good indication of how well your company fits. If possible, view the company titles of attendees - conventions that attract more visitors with executive or purchasing authorised roles may result in more people capable of making a decision visiting your stall and receiving your message.
While the internet is the ultimate resource for finding any event, more appropriate information can probably be found from your industry and trade associations.
As an attendee
If you have never attended a convention before, it is important to dress sensibly, take water, and bring a comfortable bag. Don't pick up brochures and info packs indiscriminately, or you will find yourself with too much weight to carry around.
You will probably overestimate the amount of time you will have to spend attending the show, and how long you will require to rest after walking around all day! To make the most of your time, decide exactly which displays or features you want to visit, then write a list in order of importance. Make a sensible calculation about how many hours you will be spending in active attendance, then allot each seminar or conference an appropriate amount of time. Make sure to register for any seminars ahead of time, if you can.
When you are at the event, stick to your schedule, and be upfront with booth staff that you are short on time but still interested in their display. This way you will prevent yourself from getting caught up in long demonstrations that chew into your planned activities. Also keep in mind that other people you network with, particularly industry leaders, may also have strict schedules. Try to keep conversations with them specific to get the most out of your time with them.
Taking notes is essential. You can either carry a notepad or, if you want to be able to jot down even shorter notes that are still decipherable later, create a form with fields for vendor names, contact details, products and interesting notes, or whatever else you think you will need to report on.
If products or equipment are on display for sale, this is an ideal time to purchase items at low prices. Ensure you have the approval to make purchases, and feel comfortable about bargaining with the vendor - they will probably not want to incur the costs of returning their display stock to their warehouses. Be prepared to organise shipment of any items you buy. There is often a service provider at major trade shows that will ship purchases and promotional material back to your office.
As an exhibitor
It is important to remember that even as an exhibitor at an exhibition, you are also an attendee, and it is essential for you to get as much research and networking out of the event as possible. Pay attention to displays or promotional pitches that particularly impress you, and decide whether you can emulate that success in your future presentations.
It is critical to consider WHO your audience is and WHAT you want to communicate with them, whether to find new customers, reinforce existing relations, display new product or service offerings or simply change market perceptions. Your final desired result from the show, in terms of increased sales or improved image, determines these decisions.
When constructing a booth, your budget is the most important consideration, but the design depends on what you need from the booth itself. Choosing the most impressive display is not as important as communicating the right message and that may be achieved with a simple presentation.
If you will attend conventions often, buying an easily assembled and transported booth to use continually may be a good investment. Remember to consider seating for staff, storage for materials and required lighting. Some booth vendors will even arrange application and registration, extra staff, event planning, signage design and other services, but consider whether it will be more economical to perform these tasks yourself, depending on your experience with the processes.
Leads generated at the convention are a valuable resource of potential clients, but many organisations have poor follow up rates on requests for information at shows. Keep notes, possibly attached to business cards, of visitors' specific questions, and store all contact information carefully. After the show, create a timetable for contacting your leads, ensuring it is not too soon or too late after the event ends.
After coming away from a convention with contacts and information, it is now vitally important that you follow up on leads and use the research you gathered to make decisions. Don't let hours of planning and travel go to waste!
Trade Show News Network - Leading event search tool
Expo Guide - International multi-language event search tool
Reed Exhibitions - Organiser of events in over 40 industries
The Federation of International Trade Associations - Get in touch with all the important trade associations
Mobile Exhibit Trailers by MOBILEXHIBIT - Secure, completely self-contained mobile exhibit trailers for indoor and outdoor presentations and displays at tradeshows, events, malls and showrooms.
Lucky Exhibits buys and sells high quality used trade show booths exhibits displays and stands. Visit their online showroom of pre-owned exhibits at www.luckyexhibits.com
Tradeshow Technologies specializes in managing your event or tradeshow, handling all the mission critical equipment including online / onsite registration, attendee badges, exhibitor lead retrieval equipment, audience response systems and more. We also manage and staff your attendee check in through the custom registration software, provide customized badges, and the newest CRM compatible lead retrieval systems.
UK Exhibitions - The UK Exhibition & Event Channel offers an up to date Calendar of Events, Exhibitions & Trade shows together with the latest news and event videos. Get in touch with all the important trade associations.
UK Exhibition & Trade Show Suppliers
Exhibition Stands from RGL Displays - specialises in exhibition stands, banner stands, posters, exhibition graphics, portable display stands and other exhibition and trade show essentials.
Pop-up Banner Stands - Roller Banner Stands, a leading UK supplier, offers a wide range of pop-up banners and banner stands, twist systems, auto pop-ups/flags, pop-up packages, folding exhibition kits and other exhibition stand equipment.
AnyPrint - offers a wide range of printing services, including full colour litho printing, large format printing and digital printing & design. Get your exhibition displays, large format prints, shop signs and wall coverings printed by AnyPrint, based in Birmingham.
Custom Graphics provides quality graphic design services to top UK companies, international businesses and local customers alike, offering digital printing to vinyl, pvc, ridged medias, as well as large format printing, mounting and laminating. Other services include retail shop displays, exhibition stands, pop-up displays, exhibition signs, vehicle branding and general signage.
Exhibition Stand Design Bell Stone are a new kind of exhibition stand design and modular display company. Working with innovative modular systems and the latest eco materials, they are reducing clients' design, production and installation costs whilst maintaining that all-important visual impact and quality feel to the exhibition stand or display.
UK Events Services & Suppliers
The Stage Bus - offers three vehicles that have been converted into outdoor stages available for hire, The Stage Bus, The Camper Stage and The Truck Stage. These quirky mobile stages are an innovative and cost effective alternative to conventional stages.
Gala Tent - provides high quality marquees and accessories for sale at affordable prices to meet the needs of trade and retail customers.