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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: Go Small or Go home.

Recycled TSTT: I normally don’t repeat trade show tips because there is always something new & exciting at shows but I came across a very good example of this tip and wanted to share a great small booth that had huge impact.

Small booth - huge impact

Small booth – huge impact

This was spotted at the Supply Side East show also known as The Ingredient Show. This was a 10×10 corner but they used all white for their booth with pops of color. You can’t really see it in this picture but they had a Keurig brewing coffee and the smell brought all the attendees to the yard.

 

Bigger is not always better, except in maybe the case of lottery winnings & apartments in NYC.

From a recent Forbes magazine article after the end of CES2014

If everyone is going big this year at the convention, try going small. Many people are overwhelmed at a booth that looks like a cathedral; they feel lost and unimportant. So instead, use a small, intimate setting, perhaps just a nice table and some comfortable chairs, and concentrate on listening to the people that stop by your modest booth. Depending on the weather and environment, a hot cup of coffee or a cold glass of lemonade is always a guaranteed draw as well!

Nowhere is this more prevalent than at ConExpo/ConAgg. Sure, the big names are all there. John Deere, Case-New Holland, Sanyo, Caterpillar, Mack Truck, Bob Cat. Names that are in our vocabulary & a rudimentary knowledge of what they do but no real idea except when we drive by a work site and see one of their magnificent monster machines at work. These companies take up a great deal of show floor space & capture the imaginations of attendees by offering full sized engines made out of legos or 2 story Autobot Transformers.

So how to make an impact if you are one small 10×10 booth? You can start by having something that will make people want to actually stop at your booth. A cup of coffee or bottled water works wonders in getting people to actually go into your booth. You have planned and paid for this exposure but now the show is so crowded, everyone is passing you by. Nothing like the smell of coffee to lure folks in. and you can sleeve your cups with a company logo & contact info.

Or Chocolate.

Or Beer

Or popcorn – I mean who doesn’t love the smell of popcorn. And you can get imprinted popcorn bags again with your logo and a clever tag line” Thanks for Popping in to our booth #21031 at ConExpo.

Don’t forget to let people know via twitter or your linkedin/facebook pages. “Stop by for a free cup of coffee at booth 21031 & see what we are brewing up in 2014”
LVCC offers all these opportunities.

Now that you have 3 or 4 people standing around your booth drinking coffee (or beer or water) you want to capture them without being the classic pushy salesperson from the Music man. “Oh we got trouble. Right here in Convention city”

How about a short 3 minute video that highlights your company, new product or services? Moreover, while they are watching you can collect their information for a follow up later.

It doesn’t need to be a big booth to have success at a trade show. It just needs to be a big idea to have a big impact!

Exhibitors: Trade Show Tip Thursday: The Show Is Over: Now What

Day 2 Is a wrap!

What’s Your Exit Strategy?

You’ve planned your booth space for six months. You’ve groomed your booth staff on branding talking points. Your booth swag is so unique everyone will be flocking to your booth. Brochures and marketing materials are boxed up all shiny and new. Flights are booked. Show floor appointments made. Pre-show check list is complete.  You’ve even taken our advice from the last TSTTH and set up social media for your booth including a 4Sq check in so you can see who stopped into hear your presentation.

Where is your exit strategy?

Before you go to the show, every exhibitor needs to know what they are doing post show to follow up with all the hot leads they’ve received without becoming a nudge. *my NYer is showing*

There are basically two reasons for spending thousands of dollars to exhibit at a trade show:

1) To physically connect with your current customers to keep them updated or just buy them a drink so they’ll remember their next $50,000 order goes to you.

2) To find new clients.

Whether you use the scanner  or do it the old fashioned way of business card exchange, the post-show follow up is as important as the booth babe retrieving that information for you.

Let’s digress for just a moment here:  Scanners vs. Cards.

A scanner tells you that someone came to your booth.

A business card is a personal interaction with someone who took the time to reach into their pocket and give you their card, hopefully in exchange for yours.

Which is better?

Now back to the topic of this post:

Within 2-3 days of the close of the show, just send a short quick branded email thanking each person for stopping by your booth:

Dear Mr. McAttendee:

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to stop by our booth at the Bqhatever show last week. It was a pleasure to meet you and I hope that your time in <insert city name>  was both productive and enjoyable.

I’ll drop you a line [this Thursday / next Monday etc] so we can talk about this opportunity, but please feel free to call or email in the meantime if you have any questions.

Best regards:

Joe Widget

Contact Information

*Picture of your show booth

I know that * seems a bit odd but it will give your contact a reference point.

If you say you are going to follow up in a week make sure YOU do it!

I prefer making a specific appointment with them just as if it was a standard in person sales meeting. This way it is on their schedule. About five minutes prior, send them an email with any visual material they might need to reference during the conversation.

Once the call is complete, send an expanded follow up referencing the talking points covered in the call.

If you have the facilities to do this, a hand written thank you card with a hand addressed envelope goes a long way. Nobody sends personal snail mail anymore.

Then leave it alone for at least 2 weeks.

Send a polite email asking if they had any further questions or if there was a specific project they had in mind etc.  Attach other similar trade events you are going to be attending or exhibiting at in the near future.

IF you get NO response. Let it go for at least 3-5 months. Do NOT call/email every week.

At about the 5 month mark since the close of the trade show – the new registration should be open. Send a reminder email asking if they are planning on attending this year. *unless it’s ConExpo which is every 3 years*

Add them to the pre-show invite list you should have by now to pre-schedule appointments that should automatically start about a month before the opening.

Your exit strategy should be in place before the show even opens.

##

Free tips because we like you:

1) Create a quarterly newsletter that gives industry as well as company updates. Invite your trade show list to subscribe to it and make sure there is a link to your website so it is accessible.

2) Make sure you get the gender right on any correspondence. Do not assume that all people you are doing business with are male. I get 10 calls per day referring to me as Mr. Dollar and I am quick to inform them that both the Mr. Dollars, my dad & brother are deceased.

3) Personally we prefer business cards because it allows us to make notes instantly on the back of the card. Female/blue dress Male/pattern baldness *no one said we were PC here at B-t-B* this way you can personalize your email more when you follow our advice above the cut.

 

 

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: Live from the Floor at #GlobalShop

Trade show Tip Thursday is brought to you live from the show floor at GlobalShop 2014 by @LasVegasLoopy (that’s her twitter-follow her!)

  1. Don’t beeline for booth visitor- Note: if we have questions, we’ll ask you.
  2. Don’t use visitor’s name –Note: it’s creepy
  3. Don’t ask visitor how they are – Note: See #1 & #2
  4. Don’t sleep in booth  – Note – this Is very common to booth personnel from outside of Las Vegas
  5. Don’t ask out a local – Note: Again Creepy.
  6. Don’t ask where the store is if you have never been to Vegas before
  7. Do have Free Booze –Note:  always a booth draw and legal in Vegas
  8. Do put business cards out.  Note:  Why are you at a tradeshow if you don’t want people to contact you?
  9. Do be witty with your displays – Note: Small but clever booths are awesome
  10. Just say No: Booth Babes, Bikes, Cars – Note:  If they have nothing to do with your product!

 

Uber creepy baby display

Uber creepy baby display

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: 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?)