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Getting the Most Out of Trade Shows

(November 2008) posted on Mon Nov 10, 2008

Next tradeshow season, consider a game plan for your staff.

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By Marty McGhie

During the course of a year, most of us find time to break away from our businesses to attend at least a few of the trade shows offered in our industry. Generally, doing so requires a sacrifice of both time and money, not to mention the challenges that inevitably occur when management is out of the office. Considering this, as you attend the various shows, you should make sure you get your money’s worth from the trip. What follows, then, are just a few ideas to help you achieve that goal.

First off, before paying the entrance fees to the next show and booking airfare and hotels, first ask yourself a few questions: Will this trade show help my business? Are the exhibits and information at the show relevant to my current business? Do the costs truly justify what I will get in return?

While most shows in our industry do offer useful information, you might find yourself, out of habit, signing up for an event that you’ve attended for years without realizing that your business has evolved-and the show is no longer applicable to your company. Or perhaps the show itself has changed its focus in recent years, and the technology there no longer pertains. The point is, make sure that the trade show you’re attending will be worth the cost to your business.

Who will attend?
In addition to planning which trade shows to actually attend, it’s equally important to decide who will attend. Because our business is headquartered in Salt Lake City, there’s a great advantage when trade shows are held in Las Vegas (which, for better or for worse, is rather often). We take occasion with those "local" shows to bring quite a few more people than perhaps we would do for a show held in, say, Orlando. We’ve taken our department managers, our purchasing team, and others.