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The Short Guide to Being Successful at Your First Trade Fair

26 Mar 2019

If you’re a new company or have just gotten the finances to attend or exhibit at a trade fair for the first time, then you’re probably worrying what to do and how you’re going to perform. There’s the added pressure knowing that you’re sinking in thousands to make your business trip happen in the first place. That initial performance can have some lasting effects on your company, so you need a solid approach. We have seen it all when it comes to business travel and want to give you several pointers to steer you in the right direction.

A Good Plan Goes a Long Way

In order to know whether you’ve performed well at a trade fair, you have to know what to expect from programming and the business opportunities on site. You should have a thought-out plan as a road map to the trade fair. This way you won’t overspend and you can monitor in real time how you’re doing. The biggest question that needs answering is why you’re going in the first place. Is it to sell products? Gather intelligence on market trends? To participate in conferences? Maybe it is a mix of all of the above. This will determine how many people from the company will go and who will be on the exhibition team.

We can’t stress enough how the right selection of people can determine the cost of your business trip from the logistics (accommodation, air fare) to the actual performance. A budget is also vital to have. How much is it going to cost to send a team to the trade fair? What are plane ticket costs? What are the rates for accommodation near the exhibition centre? Are there any affordable options in a different city location? What about transportation? These are all questions to answer before a single payment is made. You want to be sure you can afford to go.

Know Everything There Is to Know

Trade fairs are not just an arrangement of exhibition stands and product demonstrations. There’s so much more to these events. Organizers run conferences, congresses, workshops, lectures, guided tours and live events (races for sports events, cooking championships for food events). Identify all events that are part of the program and aligned with your business goals at the trade fair. If you want to establish yourself as an authority on a subject or in a niche, the best way to approach trade fairs is to sign yourself up to speak at a conference or be featured along the route of a guided tour. If it is more important to stay up to date with cutting-edge research, then note the topics that interest you and attend those lectures.

You also want to know who’s going to be at the trade fair. Business travel is not just about selling products, but also about who you know. Work towards establishing contacts before you’ve packed your suitcase to the event. Scout the companies who are going to exhibit. Look into the experts and influencers that will speak during a conference or a workshop. If you have someone you hope to see there, check through their social media to verify if they’re expected to attend. Make a list. It will help you to keep track.

Appointments Make All the Difference Once You’re There

A beginner’s mistake is to build your exhibition stand, stay there the entire duration of the fair and hope you’re going to meet all the relevant people you want to attract to your business. You won’t get far and you’d have wasted all the money you’ve invested into your business trip. Be aggressive in whom you want to meet, and by that we mean get in touch with either buyers or manufacturers (depending on your goal for the fair) shortly before the event and schedule appointments. You’ll be doing two things right – one, you’re utilizing your time smartly and return home with relevant contacts and sales leads, and two, by taking up valuable time out of your contact’s schedule, you are reducing your direct competitors’ chances to speak with them later on.

Your Exhibition Stand Is Your Company at the Fair

Disregard this tip, if you’re only travelling to a trade fair as a visitor – that’s a common strategy for first time attendees. It’s the perfect opportunity to scout how the trade fair is organized. What works to attract visitors to an exhibition stand, etc. However, if you’ve decided to dive in the deep end as they say, your stand is one of the most important features to consider. Because as we said, it’s your stand-in for your company and you need to create the right impression.

We recommend you learn the tech specifications for the stand from organizers in great detail and then think about how to feature a striking design. It’s all about aesthetics and all the elements have to fall together perfectly. This stretches from the marketing materials you’ll use to what products you will display (perhaps the more important question is HOW you will present them).

Keep in mind these four things and you’re going to fly home from your first trade fair as winners!

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