Best Trade Show Practices

Pre-register, check. Define goals, check. List must-see booths, check. Make vendor appointments, check. Schedule seminars, check. Map out show route, check. With top trending products and key concepts in mind that you’d like to explore, you’re ready to hit the show floor running. Having a clear plan of action will ensure your time spent at the show was worthwhile.

Best trade show practices call for a hotel room near the convention; you’re already walking enough. Comfortable shoes, too are a must, as well as lightweight outfits to breeze down those aisles. Convention centers are notoriously dry, hot environments so drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

“You need to stay healthy to keep up you’re A game,” says Katie Schloss, designer behind Maps by A.Jaffe, New York. “I’m a huge fan of Nourish Snacks by Joy Bauer—gluten-free, dairy-free, non-GMO, vegetarian, and under 200 calories. I also swear by Nivea! It’s so cheap, but instantly makes your skin look luminous.”

Consultant and author Susan A. Friedmann, aka The Tradeshow Coach, Lake Placid, New York advocates using a light carryall bag for materials gathered from vendors and seminars. But she warns against grabbing every brochure offered you. “Collect the information that’s of interest to you or that could be valuable to others in your company. Many exhibitors will gladly mail literature and samples, which relieves you of carrying them around the exhibit hall.”

On Schedule
You’re on a tight schedule; let exhibitors know, promotes Friedmann. “They want to make the best use of their time as well, and will gladly cut to the chase.” Don’t be shy about bypassing booths that don’t interest you. “Exhibitors won’t mind; they want to devote their time to potential customers.” She also encourages skipping overly crowded booths, returning near day’s end when traffic is slower.

Take breaks during the day to regroup: “Come enjoy complimentary refreshments or a frozen yogurt for a mid-day treat in the center of the Plumb Club Pavilion,” invites Wendy Fox, senior director of sales independent division for Richline, New York. “If you can spare an hour, get some Vitamin D and recharge at the Mandalay Beach.” Don’t forget the sunscreen.

Friedmann suggests leaving the show at least 30 minutes before closing to avoid long lines for buses, cabs and parking.

Show Benefits
JCK Las Vegas is the ultimate fact-finding mission for fourth quarter bestsellers.

“We’re on our A game here at the Plumb Club,” says Kathy Grenier, marketing director for Imperial Pearl, Providence, Rhode Island, who notes that Vegas is the place vendors put their best foot forward. “We’ve spent six to nine months preparing our collections and collateral. We’ve done the market research so we can best advise our jewelers. When you visit us at the show you get the full breadth and depth of our offerings.” She suggests jewelers assessing a greater pearl presence take pictures of their current assortment and define goals.

Build in time for browsing. Fox advises jewelers keep an open mind to develop new categories in their mix, like pearls and men’s jewelry that can differentiate retailers, attract new customers, and offer good margins. “We’re really focused on the men’s category, a great niche with lots of room to grow for jewelers. For the first time at the Richline booth in the Plumb Club we will show our Dolan Bullock brand of fine accessories for men.”

A proponent of using lead forms or small notebook to record vital intelligence, Friedmann advocates writing a trip report as you go along, summarizing your notes every night after the show. This will make it easier post show to follow up with contacts, discuss findings with staff, and determine how you will implement information gathered. Grenier suggests using your cell phone to not only take pictures of things you want to remember, but of business cards you collected.

While your show priority is looking at product, take note of merchandising and marketing that catches your eye. “The show is exciting and full of great ideas when it comes to merchandising, display, marketing, and product promotion,” cites Fox. Snap pictures of inspiring presentations. “Post show is a great time to freshen things up the store and maybe take a merchandising idea or two and implement it in your display case.”

Fox advocates creating buzz around your trade show experience at the sales counter, in advertising and online—before, during and after the trip. “When it comes to advertising and marketing, it’s never too early to start a conversation with your customers. We work closely with our retail partners to provide brand assets and stylized artwork for all new collections ahead of time so they can be used immediately on social media, eblast, and .com. ‘Coming Soon’ promotions for new collections are a great way to set the stage for fourth quarter.”