With Foodpro approaching, Wiley's Business Development Director Andrew Newby, asked some of his colleagues for their tips on making the most of trade exhibitions. Since they have attended some of the world's largest food industry exhibitions, they had some tips which may be useful for attending Foodpro or future industry events.
- Decide what equipment is of most interest to your future business needs. Make sure you have in your mind what you are looking for (capacity, features, budget) and spend time with the relevant suppliers.
- Let your key suppliers know you will be there. This will often lead to other valuable networking opportunities in the evenings etc.
- Book appointments with exhibitors in advance. This will ensure the appropriate contact is available to meet you. It is disappointing to arrive at an exhibitor's stand and find the person you need to see is not there at that time.
- Get a commitment from the Board or management in advance. Suppliers may have show specials for small tools, equipment or supplies, so if appropriate get some commitment to negotiate and spend money if a bargain arises.
- Assess value of lectures attached with the exhibition. There are often valuable lectures appropriate to your industry.
- Plan your schedule to allow time to talk to people and not just walk around, if more than one representative from the company is attending then split up to cover more ground. Meet together for the exhibitor's stands that are important to you.
- Take plenty of business cards. Most exhibitions have electronic card readers to record your details for follow-up, but you will still need to hand out plenty of business cards.
- Book accommodation early as the recommended accommodation will fill quickly. It's a good idea to stay at the recommended accommodation as it will be most convenient to the exhibition and you will tend to meet other delegates and suppliers at breakfast, dinner or the bar.
- Share the new technology and ideas with others in your company when you return. This will reinforce the value of the visit to your superiors and ensure support for future events. Also refrain from accepting too many brochures, there is plenty of good information on supplier's web sites or can be sent to you electronically later.
- Pace yourself, take time to rest your feet to check phone and email messages, do stretching exercises etc because a few days on your feet can be tough on the body if you are not used to it.
Also, tell everyone how much hard work it is. They may not believe you, but you know it really is hard work.