Last week was my first PPAI Expo in Vegas. I had been to other regional tradeshows, but this is the largest, longest-running tradeshow in our industry. Every year marketers from all over the country come to see, touch, and feel the newest and most unique promotional products and apparel. The Mandalay Bay convention center has 2 floors filled with rows and rows of booths with products to see. I knew I needed a game plan before I stepped on the show floor. Speaking with co-workers that had been to the Expo before, I was given the 5 Essentials When Attending a Tradeshow. Bonus, I also figured out 1 additional product we’ll be bringing with us next year!
1) Comfortable Shoes - with so much walking you need comfortable shoes to make it through a full show day. If you can find a mix of comfort and style that is ideal. I chose my grey, corduroy TOMS and they proved to be an excellent choice.
2) Tote Bag - You need a tote bag to carry your notebook or padfolio, business cards, phone, and other supplies, preferable with lots of pockets. Pockets and dividers make finding your things quick and easy when time is of the essence. Megan and I brought our new Pinnacle tote bags that had 4 separate outside pockets and internal pockets for your phone and business cards.
3) WATER – walking and talking can make you thirsty… I recommend you bring a bottle of water because a small soda is $5 at the convention center!
4) Smartphone/Camera – When you are busy going booth to booth, you’ll want to take lots of pictures of the cool, unique products you find. Tip: Take a picture of the company sign or business card so you remember where you saw that cool product. Keep everything digital to avoid having sore arms and shoulders from catalogs and product samples. (Obviously there are some things just too cute not to pick up, hence the tote bag)
5) Hand Sanitizer – shaking hands and touching products that thousands of other people are touching is less than sanitary. Make sure you bring hand sanitizer or snag a promotional hand sanitizer that someone is giving away.
BONUS Essential for tradeshows – Energy Bar (no not a protein bar, but that’s not a bad idea either) an Energy Bar or Emergency Mobile Device Battery, as they are being called is a small compact battery device that once charged will recharge your smartphone or other mobile device. I know my phone died on me every day around 4pm when I still had more pictures to take and people to communicate with. I will definitely bring something like this with me next year!
Hope you enjoyed my list of essential products when attending a tradeshow. Many of these products that are valuable at a tradeshow can be imprinted with your logo and are great giveaway items for those attendees that didn’t come prepared (custom bottled water, tote bags, hand sanitizer, etc). My personal tip would be to have a “recharging station” at one end of your booth with chairs, custom bottled water, and a place to recharge your phone. While your potential clients are resting their feet and recharging, you can be building relationships and provide marketing collateral or a promotional video for them to watch.
Are there any other products I left out? Let me know if there are other products you feel are essential when attending a tradeshow in the comments below.