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Trade Show Season in Las Vegas: Tips to Survive

Yes the countdown is on for Trade show season in Las Vegas. January until June is the 1st season. September to mid November is the 2nd one with events like Electric Daisy Carnival, Well Rounded Las Vegas & National Finals Rodeo filling in the time frame to keep our hotels packed.

If you want to visit Vegas in the “off season” it’s December 15-24. that’s it. Cheap hotels. Free buffets. Lots of Glitz.

Otherwise if you are a road warrior like we are and attend over 150 shows per year, here is what I recommend.

Invest in a really comfortable pair of shoes. Forget heels or wingtips. Yes they look good but honestly, NO one at trade shows, especially the bigger ones cares about your Manolos or Ferragamo pointed toe wing tips.

If you want to dine a specific restaurant – make a reservation. Especially in high season, many exhibitors book out entire restaurants for private dining. Use Open Table to secure you seat AND do not be late.

Put all your trade show related items in a folder and make sure you put it in your carry-on. Badge/hotel confirmation/floor plan – and yes there are apps for this BUT none of the convention centers OR hotels has great wifi and cell service. We want folks to gamble not use their phone. Side note: Map your show before you go.

If you are an exhibitor or event planner – make sure you have your logisitics, booth plan, meetup locations, and staff lists with you. A copy of your order form from GES or whoever is servicing your show, and the cell numbers of the booth staff If you are hiring local folks to staff your booth, make sure you speak to them prior to arriving – ideally meet them for coffee ahead of time. and have BACKUPS just in case. Nevada is a very low wage state and people will take another job for a quarter more. True story.

If you plan on arriving early or staying over, make sure you have confirmed those dates. Many shows are back to back and the hotels often over book. Don’t think you’ll get here and be able to check in early or extend. You might be spending the night in Pahrump.

Stay hydrated! We are in a desert and even if it is 40 degrees -its a dry cold. All the casinos have free bottled water on the casino floor so when you get a cocktail, ask for a back up water.

Enjoy yourself but don’t over do it. Nothing worse than waking up in Vegas and not knowing what you did the night before. Chances are you’ll find it on youtube eventually. We have cameras everywhere.

The girl eyeing you longingly at the bar probably will cost a couple of drinks and $300.00 for an hour of her company. and she might not be a girl. No judgement .. just keeping you informed.

Finally: Get off the strip. There is so much more to Vegas than just the 4 block area from Sahara to Russel road. Go downtown, walk around Fremont. Explore our Chinatown or go to the Pinball Museum, or the Atomic Energy Museum, or try one of the great off the beaten path restaurants that isn’t in a hotel. If you stay over, take a hike in Red Rock. Or rent a BMW motorcycle and let the desert breeze warm your soul.

Vegas Means Business but we have fun while we are doing it.

Trade Show Tip Thursday: 5 Must haves for your Conference & Trade Show

1: Easy to navigate website:  I cannot stress this enough. Attending 700+ trade events per year gives us a little bit of knowledge on this topic.

Website’s Front page:

  1. 1. Big Honking Registration button
  2. 2. Search feature (try google’s – it’s free)
  3. 3. Brief UPDATED description of what your current show offers. No one cares that in 2013 40K people attended – save that for your exhibitor’s page.
  4. 4. Link to What’s new for 20xx (pick a year this advice is timeless)
  5. 5. Clear navigation tools

2. PR in Advance- aka Social Media: Set up your twitter # (hashtag)  at least 3 months in advance & put it in your twitter description. Make it simple like #ShowNameYear Set up your 4Sq – I cannot tell you how many shows overlook this tool. It is invaluable to finding who else is attending that might be a good cross match to both your attendees & exhibitors. Same with Instagram. If you don’t have a trade show account, get one then encourage all your exhibitors and attendees to post their photos with the present up # (that is the SAME as your twitter one- can’t believe i have to write that)

3.  Badge Pick up vs Onsite Registration:  The advantage of registering prior to the show is to make it faster from the badge pick up to the show/conference floor. It should not include having to show 30 pieces of ID in order to retrieve your badge. It’s like voter registration: less than 1% of people will be fraudulently trying to to attend your show. Make it easy for those who do. (I’m looking at you #CONExpo – 2 hour wait, lines back up to the street – not a good start) Speaking of badges. Even the most technical show should have a trade show only options. Especially if you are in a large market venue like Orlando, New York or Las Vegas. If it’s a medical conference – sometimes the staff of a practice can benefit from just attending the trade show but not at 1K per head. Or maybe someone is thinking of getting into a career in aviation. What better way to find out what opportunities are available than attending the trade show.

4. New Product Showcase:  How hard is it to carve a space out on your trade show floor, upcharge your exhibitors a set amount and post a list of participants with new products on your website? Not hard at all and worth it to both attendees who are looking to expand or upgrade their lines and for exhibitors looking for new clients. Win-Win. And event management looks like a champ!

5.  Social Meetup:  No matter what your business is, there is always a need for personal engagement. Sometimes a conference and trade show are the only interaction many companies have with their peers. Sure everyone has a group breakfast or dinner but it always includes a speaker and/or presentations/awards. Not much time to meet & greet. So why not offer a ‘tweet-up‘ on the show floor. Like the new product showcase, you can carve out 100 feet – put a couple of chairs there and at 4pm or 10am or 2pm have a daily “Tweet & meet.” One of the best peer to peer engagements we’ve ever seen or been to is at the annual Exhibitor’s Expo. they have a big white board called Dinner with Strangers. Every night they have a dozen or so restaurants & a facilitator who coordinates the dinner. It’s usually limited to 6-10 diners. there is a set menu of $25-35 – and you have dinner with people you don’t know. Its a great way to expand interactions among attendees/vendors and for those who are the sole person from their company or they are new to the industry they don’t have to dine alone.  At the NAB show, TWIT-Tv sponsors a photo walk down the strip. they limit it to 100 participants but every year they pick a different section and stroll along  snapping pictures with their cameras, cell phones & tablets. afterwards they meet up for cocktails and share their adventures.

It is no longer just booking conference space & having a trade show. It’s about engagement pre-during-post show.  Most of these should be intuitive but it is surprising how many conference planners forget they are in the service business and attendees/exhibitors are their customers.

Trade Show Tip Thursday: 10 Women to Avoid in Vegas

Since we are in the height of trade show season with SEMA looming upon us shortly, we are sharing a post from Vegas Chatter Blog:

We’ve told you the things Not to Do in Vegas but sometimes a trip isn’t classified by what you did, it’s who you did. And if you do…er meet the wrong people, that exciting weekend in Sin City can go south real fast.

So if you want to avoid being the butt of your friends jokes for years to come and having your first name be substituted for a noun referring to an embarrassing act (“You just pulled a Dave”) –read this before you go to Vegas — our list of 10 Girls to Avoid in Las Vegas.

1. Vegas Cougars
You want the cougar? You can’t handle the Vegas Cougar. She is more than likely late thirties to late fourties, may or may not look like she is in the middle of a skydive thanks to her wind tunnel look from too much plastic surgery, and she will definitely buy you dinner and a drink.

Wed Night is Cougar Night

Wait, free dinner and a drink so what is the issue? Vegas Cougars travel in packs, may or may not be divorced and will be ultra aggressive with younger men. The real issue is the Vegas Cougar is the queen of the follow up text, call, email, facebook friending — so if you want to spend the next five years hearing about her marital issues, by all means join her for dinner and a drink, otherwise, walk away.

2. Hot Girls Looking Lonely & Lurking Around Casino Floors at 4 AM
Dude, she is not *that* into you. She looks way to good and way to put together for 4 AM — why? Quite possibly because she is just starting her night, and her job. She is probably looking for a drunk guy counting his winnings and looking for someone to go upstairs with.

Where can you find these natural looking and acting girls? Well, every casino floor really, leave it to Kid Rock to point out one of their favorite hang outs — Mandalay Bay.

We said it before and we’ll say it again, prostitution is illegal in Clark County. If you need help, study the women on this list before you go.

3. The Smoking Granny at the Slots.
We don’t mean the smoking Granny as in cougar. We mean the smoking Granny as in smoking butts until she hits jackpot on the penny slot machines. Granny will sit there for hours and hours all the while smoking some old brand of cigarettes that she stocked up on at BJ’s Warehouse before it was discontinued due to its direct link with lung cancer. Spend five minutes near Granny and you will be sick the next day with smoke inhalation injuries.

4. Bachelorettes
Some dudes probably seek out bachelorettes because they are easy targets and you can’t blame them for that. These are girls walking around in special “I’m the Bride” outfits and weighted down with penis paraphernalia, shotglass necklaces and always-overfilled drinks. They’re also sizing up the guys on the dance floor saying to themselves, “He could be the last man I ever have sex with/make out with/bump and grind with.”

Hangover for Girls

But dude, have you seen the amount of alcohol that the bachelorette has been knocking back? Chances are, once you get that bride-to-be back to your hotel room, she’ll be too drunk to “hang out.” You also risk a sloppy, drunk sobfest over the near act of cheating on her fiancee. A night full of deep meaningful relationship talk with a stranger — is that what you want out of your trip to Sin City?

5. The Cooler Woman
Yes, coolers can come in the male variety too but we’ve often found that women coolers are the cruelest. Once you start hitting it big, the ever-vigilant pit boss will let you win a few more hands just to let you think you are invincible. Then he’ll bring in a severe-looking woman to slow your roll. Even if it’s 4:30am, she’s still sharp as a tack, ready to do her job which is to make you lose.

She will either remain completely silent or feign that she doesn’t understand English — cause you know, idle chatter equals winning hands for the players. Every once in a while, in between her relentless run of Aces and Jacks, she will throw you a wry smile, acting like maybe if you stick around long enough you will win your money back.

Wrong, before you know it you will be curled up in the fetal position crying in your room. Ditch her and the pit boss she rode in on.

6. The Not-a-Woman Woman
Like any night out in the big city, you have to be careful about who’s got the real goods and who’s got the cleverly hidden goods.

Seen at Drink & Drag (Clue!)

Hell these days even Lady GaGa is subject to web rumors about her private parts. That means it isn’t always easy to tell, especially under club lighting and the influence of booze. If you are questioning the femininity of any club goer it is best to just move along instead of declaring, “It’s a man baby!”

7. Hitler’s Woman
Avoid this crazy woman who yelled “Heil Hitler” at a Jewish man during one of those fiery Town Hall meetings over health care. Members of the Aryan nation need not heed our warning.

8. The Thief
Anytime some beautiful girl starts talking to you when there is a “Sexiest Man Alive” celeb sitting nearby (Pitt, Clooney, DiCaprio, Pattinson, maybe Efron), it is too good to be true. It’s not because you’re in Vegas and you must be feeling lucky. Don’t fool yourself. It’s because you’re sitting in the high roller section at Encore and she noticed your new Panerai watch. And you’re blessedly bodyguard-free.

This woman is also thinking that you might have some other goodies in your suite upstairs and wouldn’t it be fun if you brought her up there and ordered some champagne and caviar before she dropped a roofie in your drink and made off with all your expensive possessions? Do your best to shoo her away unless you want to leave Vegas thousands of dollars poorer. Hmm…that will probably happen anyways. So really, it’s up to you.

9. The Sex at Rehab Woman
If you meet a girl at Rehab, the Hard Rock’s raunchy pool party, and she wants to have sex with you, you should first consider this: This girl is pretty crazy to want to have sex with you in public. Still, that’s not so bad. After all it’s Vegas and that’s what a few drinks in 100+ degree weather will do to anyone. What’s worse is that this girl wants to have sex with you at Rehab where several other folks have already had sex in the very same water you’ve been swimming in. Condoms don’t work in water, do they?

10. Elvis Cross-Dressers
That’s just some kinky stuff we are not ready for yet.

Trade Show Tip Thursday: Before you go

Trade shows are usually 2-4 days of non-stop action. Whether you are an attendee or an exhibitor, you need to plan in advance. I’m not talking about mapping your route or lining up appointments but self-care.

When my team blitzes a trade show we meet either the day before or for an early breakfast. We make sure we are all on the same page, have our target booths mapped out but more importantly I pass out their survival kits. We are all equipped with a messenger bag to store our personal effects in and keep our hands free. About a year ago I purchased 5 of these insulated lunch bags from Etsy Seller Urban Harmonie Design. This enables our team members to bring their own lunch. Usually they pack a sandwich, bottle of water and some type of yogurt or fruit. These lunch bags are 8″ wide & 9″ tall, and fit perfectly inside our bags. BTW we also bought our messenger bags from another etsy seller Zoes Bag Boutique Her messenger bags offer ample size to fit an iPad and wide welted straps so its comfortable wearing for several hours.

Some of TeamVegas stop at places like Jason’s Deli so they can get a sandwich, drink & side for about 8.99. Either way, bringing your own lunch solves 2 problems: Saves time as there is no standing in massive lines to either grab some over priced convention center food and you can just pull out your nifty lunch bag wherever you can find an empty seat or bench. Saves Money: unless the food trucks are at the show, the typical lunch averages 12-14 dollars. Bringing lunch is a considerable savings and much healthier choices.

If you are traveling, its worth the effort to find a deli or grocery store either on the way from the airport or in the area around your hotel. We’ve actually had Jason’s Deli deliver to us so we can go to the show prepped, prepared and energized for the afternoon when our fellow attendees are burned out.

A TeamVegas custom Backpack

Trade Show Tip Thursday: 2nd Quarter Strategies

Sometime beginning the end of May beginning of June, upper management starts to evaluate the current budgets looking towards the rush in Sept/October for the following year. Trade show & event planning is always a target because upper management rarely goes to shows or events unless they are held at HQ. In order to not be shocked when you are called in right before the July 4th holiday, gather your sales, marketing and event team together.

Evaluate what you’ve accomplished so far this year and where your budget is currently at, sales wise.

Find your target market then expand from there. If your market is say, flexible farm buildings like portable barns and you’ve been working only agricultural trade shows, think about who else could use them like construction sites, state fairs, and outdoor flea markets. Have your creative team put together a generic piece that you can use at your next trade show.

Make sure you are armed with your plan for the last half of 2012 and 1Q2013 going into the “we need to cut your budget” meeting. Also remind them that this is an election year and business are reluctant to spend money before knowing the outcome.

Make yourself a personal plan of action so that going in you have answers to whatever is thrown at you and you are not blindsided. if they come at you with downward trending sales figures, show where you’ve made cuts in your budget to make up for the short fall and where your team is focusing for the remainder of 2012. Also, once businesses set their budget for the following year, usually Sept-Oct, make sure you have a plan to get them to include you in the budget for the following year. AND don’t count out trying to retrieve some of those extra unspent dollars at the end of the year. Most companies base their budget on what was spent for the previous year so that if they have extra operating cash, they want to spend, make sure they spend it on your product.

Relax. 30 minutes before you meeting take some time for yourself. Breathe. Use the bathroom. Drink some water. Whatever it takes to be on your A game.

At least THIS isn't your budget debate

Be the Rock Star you know you are after all WWGSD (What Would Gene Simmons Do?)

Trade Show Tip Thursday: Baggage Claim

Tagged

If you are attending a trade show or exhibiting at one that is out of town, then you have to pack a bag. Unless of course you are a hipster and wish to wear the same outfit for 3 days in a row, something I’m not recommending for shows in Las Vegas or Phoenix.

If you plan on attending for say 3 days you probably will need a bigger bag than carry on which means your wait at the carousel will be longer than 15 minutes. Make sure your suitcase is in good shape. If you don’t have a handled wheel one yet and using your grandmother’s hand me down Samsonite, invest in a new one. Get one you like and functions well for what you need. if you only travel a couple of times a year for both business and vacation, then you probably don’t need more than one good wheelie one. Make it stand out by getting a cute luggage tag that reflects you. It will make it much easier to identify coming around the carousel. As we are committed to shop local as much as possible, I ordered my tags from The Rabbit Hole on Etsy. Good mix of both masculine & feminine.

Trade Show Tip Thursday: New Feature for Beyond-the-Booth

After and extensive staff meeting last week where the topic was trade show survival after a brutal week of trade shows in 17 different cities covered by 8 people. As I was reviewing the notes and feedback from this very casual discussion I noticed there was lots of good information that would be good to share with anyone who actually exhibits or attends trade shows. So for the sake of the alliteration that I so love, we’ve dubbed this feature Tip Thursday. Stay tuned. Tips start next Thursday right after we survive National Hardware in Chicago.