Summer is over, which means it’s time for trade shows! As a trend researcher it is useful to stay updated on developments in various industries and these often organise specific trade fairs.
A trade show is the place for companies within a specific industry to demonstrate their new products and services. It’s also an occasion for people to connect with industry partners and an opportunity to exchange the latest industry insights via workshops too. In my book on ‘How To Research Trends’ trend expert Zuzanna Skalska is sharing her advice on how to visit these shows. This blog will provide additional tips & tricks on how to visit these shows, fairs, expo or whatever label is used.
Tip #1: Select a show
Let’s start with which shows to visit. It’s easiest to start with a fair in your own country or region. Not only for budget reasons but also for cultural reasons, if you would start in a totally foreign country it might be too overwhelming for a first visit. Also decide on which domain you would like to get updated on, an industry that you are interested in already or one that is totally out of your comfort zone? Check out overviews of tradeshows around the globe via sites like The Tradeshow Network or Expo Database.
Tip #2 Getting in.
Some of the trade fairs are open to the general public, but most of the times they are not. Check the website of the show for requirements to enter. Sometimes you might need to pay, but applying for a press card can also be a way to get yourself in. When you have a blog or will be posting about the event in any other way, you might be able to get this sorted. If you are a student, there are often discounts available or you can apply for special student access. If you don’t get in, you can still check out updates online about the trade show, such as blogs or reports from visitors, posts on social media using a specific hashtag, etcetera.
Tip #3 Preparation
When you’ve secured your access, it’s time to prepare. Often trade shows are organised in large event venues with many halls filled with exhibitors. You could spend days in them and get lost easily. A map of the venue is often available online so you can check out beforehand where all the organisations and brands are situated in the venue. This way you can focus on which hall you would like to visit or which organisations/brands. Prepare a survival kit and bring a bag with water, food, a notebook, pen and camera with you. In this bag you can also store all brochures and flyers. Also take your own business cards to hand out. And yes, you can buy food & drinks at the venue too, but it’s often over priced and queues can be long.
Tip #4 Visiting
It’s best to take your time at a trade show, so block a full day in your calendar to visit. I always feel quite overwhelmed by all the stimuli, noises and people, so personally I take time for small breaks during my visit to get a breath of fresh air and catch some day light before diving in again. Getting there early is recommended because you will be ahead of the crowds and the exhibitors are more energised so they will take more time to talk to you. I like to visit my preferred areas first, because I feel more relaxed after checking these boxes. I also would like to advice you to attend talks, workshops or other side programs the fair might offer. These are interesting sources of information to connect with the specific products and services being showcased at the exhibition.
In the book trend pro Zuzanna Skalska also provides a great tip on what to do with all the info once you arrive home again and start analysing. Check it out on page 69. Haven’t got the book yet? Buy it over here. If you have any additional tips on visiting trade shows, please share these in the comments! Craving for more, also check out this blog on how to visit graduation shows. Happy spotting!