As one of the largest trade events in the United States, the Consumer Electronics Show can be a daunting venue to shop, even for veteran CE buyers.
Author, lecturer and trade show consultant Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, has compiled the following suggestions that can help attendees make the most of their time on the show floor.
- Know what you want to achieve at the show and what your boss wants you to achieve by attending the show.
- Develop a list of which exhibitors you want to visit, and then divide your list into "must see" and "want to see" companies.
- Decide how much time you want to spend at the show, and then how much time you want to spend at each booth. Allow extra time for browsing, distractions and waiting in lines.
- Find out who else from your company is going and develop a plan to maximize your visit.
- Design a lead gathering form to research for specific products/services to help make accurate comparisons.
- Make appointments with exhibitors you really want to meet with.
- Get a map of the show floor, mark where exhibitors are located and prioritize your route.
- Bring plenty of business cards to avoid filling out forms.
- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing on the show floor. Walking CES can be extremely tiring. Try insoles for extra comfort.
- Carry a light and comfortable "carry-all" for accumulated materials. Plastic bags are often uncomfortable as they cut into your hands.
- Determine the seminars/workshops you want to attend. Split sessions with your colleagues to maximize data gathering.
- Hopefully you've pre-registered for the event. Arrive 30 minutes before opening to avoid standing in long lines.
- Revise your plan at the show. The show directory and schedule often changes several times before a trade event.
- Collect information that is of interest to you or that might interest others in your company. Ask exhibitors to mail you literature and samples instead of having to carry them with you.
- Tell exhibitors you are on a tight time schedule to avoid casual chatter and to get straight down to business.
- Look for networking opportunities. Network with industry leaders. Get invited to exhibitors' hospitality suites and receptions. At workshops introduce yourself to people around you. Hand out and collect business cards. Hook up with new contacts at mealtimes for added information.
- Skip overly crowded booths and plan to come at the end of day when traffic is slower.
- Check coats and bags so you don't have to drag them around with you.
- Carry a pad and pen to jot down important notes, or have small tape recorder for memo taking.
- Take a break after a few hours to refresh and get some fresh air. Air in convention halls is dry, stale and draining. Drink water regularly instead of soda pop or beer to avoid dehydration, particularly in Nevada's desert clime.
- Write a trip report as you go along and summarize your notes every evening.
- Be prepared to push for answers to questions exhibitors are not prepared to address.
- Leave the show about 30 minutes before closing to avoid long lines for busses and cabs.
- After the show, plan how you are going to implement the information gathered.
- Be prepared to follow-up on the literature and sample requests.
For more information, contact Susan A. Friedmann, CSP, at The Tradeshow Coach, 30 Saranac Ave., Lake Placid, N.Y. 12946; phone: (518) 523-1320; email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.thetradeshowcoach.com.