Trade Show Tips & Tricks for Attendees

/ Foodservice Tips / January 12

Blurred Expo Entrance Hall - Trade Show Tips & Tricks for Attendees

Trade shows and expos can be a fun way to make new connections and learn about the latest trends and advancements in your industry. Whether it’s your first time attending or you’re an old pro by now, there are many pieces of advice that’ll be useful to know before your upcoming show. Get the most out of your trade show experience with these trade show tips and tricks for anyone attending.

Tips for Before the Show

Even before you step foot onto the show floor, there are some vital trade show tips to consider to make your time fun and productive.

  • Register well in advance—This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s one of the most important prep tips for all trade shows and expos. Registering in advance has many benefits: early-bird pricing, securing your spot, avoiding long check-in ticket purchasing lines and giving you peace of mind. If you’re attending with your company or organization, it also ensures everyone will be able to attend.

  • Check out the venue map—If it’s available on the show website, check out the map to see section layout and to get a rough idea of the venue. Make note of areas pertaining to your interests or industry so you know where to go.

  • Book your hotel room—Especially if the expo is out-of-town, booking your accommodations is a major prep tip. Whether you’re booking your room through your company or taking advantage of one of the trade show’s block of hotel rooms, getting your hotel secure is a must.

  • Transportation to the expo—Along with your hotel accommodations, plan out how you’ll get there. Book any flights or ride-sharing services so you have it all set for when it’s time to go.

  • Plan out your expo schedule—Many trade shows will have their schedule posted to their official website and/or social media, so now’s a good time to check it out. From booths to see, speakers to hear, events to attend and demos, there’s so much to see. That’s why you should make note of what interests you so you can budget your time while you’re at the expo.

What Should You Bring to a Trade Show?

In addition to these trade show prep tips, it’s vital that you pack the right supplies to take with you. To help you be as prepared as possible for your time on the trade show floor, here are some items that are a must to bring:

  • Bag for carrying brochures, magazines, promotional materials and personal items

  • Reusable water bottle

  • Marketing items such as business cards, a prepared QR code and handout materials

  • Notebook and pen

  • Phone charger

  • Two or more comfortable and appropriate pairs of shoes

Tips for During the Show

Now that you’ve gotten your ticket, your hotel room secured and your schedule in hand, you’re ready to go! It’s time to enjoy the show and get the most out of your time there. To do so, keep these in mind:

  • Arrive early—Beat the major crowds and long waits by getting onto the show floor early. This will help you maximize your time so you don’t have to rush.  

  • Dress the part—If available, see what the dress code is and go from there. Most expo attendees are in business casual attire, but different industries will expect their own appropriate attire. Whatever the dress code is, make sure you keep comfort in mind as you’ll be in that ensemble all day.

  • Plan out more time than you think—Even if you think you’ll have the whole day to check out everything, make sure you build in some buffer time so you don’t have to rush or skip out on anything you want to see.

  • Get a lay of the land—When you arrive at the show, take a walk around the main expo floor to get an in-person lay of the land. If you utilize the map during your show prep, you’ll have a basic understanding of what’s on the show floor. However, seeing a map and being at the venue are two different experiences. Taking a pass around the main sections of the trade show will give you a much better understanding of everything it has to offer. Once you’ve done your cursory glance, go back through your schedule and notes so that you can go to specific booths or demo areas.

  • Take breaks—While the trade show can be very exciting and stimulating, you’re going to be on your feet for a huge portion of the day. Make sure you take sit-down breaks throughout the day so you don’t wear yourself out—especially if you’re attending every day of the expo. If need be, plan out your breaks in between seeing speakers, demos or other scheduled obligations. And don’t forget to eat and stay hydrated!

Tips for After the Show

You’ve been there, done that, and now you’re back home. It’s time to process and solidify all the knowledge you’ve gathered while at the trade show.

  • Follow-up with all your new connections—There’s no doubt you made some wonderful connections while you were at the expo, so why not send them a note? Follow up with any new or existing clients you met, business partners or booth sponsors  you connected with to strengthen that relationship. It’s a nice touch that’ll make a big impact on everyone you met.

  • Collect all your notes—Grab any and all notes you took at the show and start organizing them. Make sure you also gather all the new contacts, business cards and any marketing materials you picked up. These will be excellent reference materials for later on. 

Commercial Foodservice Shows to Consider Attending

If you’re in the commercial foodservice space, you’re probably well aware of many of the amazing industry trade shows and expos. If you’re looking to attend some new ones, or revisit one, here are some well-known shows to consider:

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