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Tips for attending a trade fair

How to be a smart trade fair visitor or participant

itb berlinPeople who attend trade fairs either want to exhibit products worth marketing, find vendors, meet potential customers, or buy inventory. In other words you could attend a trade fair as a participant or a visitor.

Participating in a trade show by booking a stall is a decision that should be taken with much care. Taking a stall in an international fair, and not being able to come up with requisite levels of display, samples, brochures, and handouts, is professional harakiri. So when you do participate, ensure you have the right people at your stall for answering business queries with expertise, besides taking orders and important decisions on the spot.

Remember, the stall at an exhibition is the face your company puts forward to the industry, and you must present your best face as it is the impression visitors will take back with them. On the other hand, as a visitor, you could find there are too many stalls to visit and the time is too short to check all of them out. So, either way, you have to work to a plan to make the most of attending a trade fair. Read on for some useful tips on how you could do this.

Tips to maximise your time at a trade show as a visitor

• What will help you make the most of your time is planning your schedule before you hit the exhibition. Develop a plan of which exhibitors you want to visit and then organise your list into two parts – “must see” and “want to see” companies.
• Schedule a fixed amount of time to be spent at the show. If you are visiting the show with another delegate from your company, split responsibilities and stalls to be visited between the two of you. Every show provides floor plans of stalls, you can then work your way through. So get your maps of the venue and decide your route beforehand.
• Know exactly what information you need so you don’t have to waste time on a few minutes of hard sell for something you don’t require. Before you land at a trade show, format a form for your personal use to get the information you need quickly and to make instant comparisons.
• Make prior appointments with the exhibitors you want to meet before the exhibition begins.
• Ensure you have a stockpile of business cards to save time filling out endless forms.
• Ensure your clothing and shoes are comfortable.
• Pre-register for workshops and seminars you wish to attend, and arrive early to avoid lines.
• Make your travel and hotel reservations early to maximize on discounted rates. Ensure that the hotel you stay at is at walking or a short distance away from the trade show. That way, you will save on travelling time as well.

Tips to maximise your time at a trade show as an exhibitor

• Attending an exhibition as an exhibitor might leave you with no time to maximise your time in order to look through the exhibition yourself. According to a CEIR (Center for Exhibition Industry Research) study, 39% of attendees spend less than eight hours visiting a show. The maximum time is spent on preparing the stall and attending to visitors from the stall. So do your homework well before going. Check out the organisers, who the other participants will be, etc., in advance.
• Be well organised with your products for display or demonstration, as also your brochures, handouts, inquiry forms, etc, before you land.
• You should also be able to handle the set-up of the stall single handedly if required, therefore make sure you should where all your display material is packed and how the set-up goes.
• Be prepared with the points you need to convey to your visitors to make the maximum impact and win over potential customers.

At the end of the day, whether you are attending a trade fair to generate more business or to research what is the latest in your field, the bottom line is ensuring you have a hassle-free trip that is lucrative and beneficial. Keep these tips in mind, and be assured you will have won half the battle. This done, enjoy your trip, and return after a fruitful trade fair experience.

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