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What I Learned at My Very First Tradeshow Event

BY: Jenn Adams     Nov 19, 2015 12:44:00 PM

This title reminds me of my days back in school. Remember when you would get back from a field trip, and your teacher would ask you to write about something you had learned on your field trip? I mean, really? Was I supposed to learn something? I thought it was just a break from school to hang out with my friends.

So when the CEO of Northstar asks me to write a blog titled “What I Learned at My Very First Tradeshow,” I giggled. I mean, really? Was I supposed to learn something? Wasn't this just a break from the office to hang out with some cool exhibitors? But in fact, I learned more during that week at the tradeshow than I had during the last nine months from the time I first started my job. While attending AFA’s Air and Space Conference, I learned a wealth of information, from setup to move out and from the work aspect to the social aspect.

So here it is: what I learned at my very first tradeshow event.

Service Desk

The service desk there to answer any of your questions, to provide many services from floral, shipping, booth items such as carpet, tablecloths, tables, etc. You can also find a complete list of all the booths and exhibitors, as well as a schedule of events or agenda. But most importantly, you will turn in your material handling agreement (MHA) on the day of move out. (More to come on this.)

The service desk there to answer any of your questions, to provide many services from floral, shipping, booth items such as carpet, tablecloths, tables, etc. You can also find a complete list of all the booths and exhibitors, as well as a schedule of events or agenda. But most importantly, you will turn in your material handling agreement (MHA) on the day of move out. (More to come on this.)

Electronics in Their Original Boxes

I saw firsthand exactly why we always recommend that our clients package their monitors and valuable electronics within a plain, protective case or box that does not identify what is inside. Regardless of how much security is on hand at the event, there is always a risk in having that original box with photo of the monitor plastered to the outside stolen.

You also take the chance of damage occurring to that piece of electronic due to the box breaking down over time from multiple shipments. Corrugated cardboard does not hold up over an extended time of handling.

The Pros of Using the Advanced Warehouse

I saw a range of emotions with the exhibitors. Those that used the advanced warehouse I found to be very calm, relaxed, and stress-free because they knew their display was sitting there waiting for them when they arrived. No fear of delays.

And then I saw those with panic stricken faces, the ringing of hands, frantic phone calls, and shaking of the head. Those are the ones that were still waiting on their freight to arrive on the opening morning of the event. Not only are these folks stressed to the max because their freight has not arrived, they still have to set it up and hope all of it has arrived.

But what most are not aware of is that you will likely be stuck with a premium drayage charge into the show — and sometimes not even permitted to receive your display once the doors have opened to receive attendees. Although this does not happen every time you ship direct to show site, it is something to consider and be aware of. I learned that if you can make it into the advanced warehouse, which is usually set up 30 days prior to the show, your stress level is much lower.

Social Activities

Let me just say: I loved going out to dinner each night after the exhibit hall closed.

This is where you run into all of the vendors relaxed and fun. You get to know them a little more personally; you have time to share your ideas or discuss your company’s purpose in being at the show, and the possible opportunities that may exist with others exhibiting at the event.

Don’t forget the special receptions most events also hold during the evenings after the hall closes. Great opportunities here as well!

Chum (A.K.A. Giveaways)

As we all know, everyone loves free stuff! I saw many exhibitors setting out a specified amount of goodies for each day so they did not run out of the freebies before the last day of the event. I also saw a few vendors require attendees sign up with their email for newsletters before receiving a freebie. This is a great way to acquire more leads.

Move Out

I learned more in this day than all six days combined.

I mentioned earlier the Material Handling Agreement (MHA). There were several booths that failed to fill out the MHA and sign it. This form is a must! You cannot turn this form into the service desk until you have completely packed your booth and all pieces of freight are ready for shipment. This form must have the carrier of choice listed and a signature must be on the bottom of the form.

If not, the show decorator on site will be set to force the freight, meaning they will ship it via their carrier. There are a few problems that can occur during this time. Many times, this forced freight will very likely deliver to your office COD (Cash on Delivery) and, of course, you will see the charges are much higher as well. Something that most do not realize as well is that your originally scheduled carrier will show up to pick this freight up and if the MHA isn’t turned in, the person at the service desk will turn the driver away. Here you may encounter an additional “Attempt to Pick up” charge. It’s a very costly mistake if you forget this MHA.

Break Away

Remember when I said I thought this was a break from work and a time to hang with some cool peeps and have fun? Well… don’t let my learning experiences I’ve shared above fool you. There were some fun times!

Get out there and work hard and play hard. You deserve it!

Looking for some more tips and tricks on how to make your first tradeshow a successful one? Download our Shipping 101 guide!

Download the Shipping 101 Guide

 

Topics: Tradeshow Shipping

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