Posted by Merry Wise on October 11, 2009 at 10:34am
It won't be long before many of us will be attending one of the many pool and spa trade shows around the country. Trade shows are great opportunities to get away from our day to day stresses, learn new things, network with some of the best and brightest in our industry and discover some of the cutting edge new products and technologies available to keep ourselves current in the industry!We've attended no telling how many through our many years in the industry, but I can honestly say I learn something new every time. Here's a few tricks and tips that might help you make the most of your trade show experience:Check for bargains for the hotels and transportation if price is a consideration, and for most of us, it is. We usually prefer to stay at the cheapest hotel the closest to the convention we can get. You really aren't in the room much at a trade show and might want to save the "splurge" room for a more leisurely trip. This year we are at Excalibur for the APSP show in Vegas for $31 a night! Don't forget to ask for senior discounts or AAA if you qualify for those. Also it is sometimes most convenient to pick one of the recomended convention hotels if they are providing shuttle service back and forth to the convention hall and you don't have a rental car. Taxis can add up.Check out the seminar schedule ahead of time and plan who will attend what when. I have attended many seminars over the years and presented some as well, and while some are more helpful than others, I don't think I have ever attended, or PRESENTED one, that I didn't learn something. A good seminar is interactive and you sometimes learn as much from the feedback from other participants as you do from the presenter.Shop the show starting at the back, with the smaller, more out of the way booths with smaller products. Sometimes you will discover the newer stuff that will enhance your offerings and set you apart for the coming year, and be "ahead of the crowd" in the process. DO "sweat the small stuff"- sometimes that small, unique product will add considerably to your bottom line if you market it right.For example, I once discovered a small, new product this way called "Aqua Golf" and brought it into my store. I set one up in the store, and held "Aqua Golf" tournaments on Saturdays while people got their water tested, and added about $3000 profit that year to my sales just selling Aqua Golf! You can do this with lots of "small" products! Use the show to scout for the newer stuff first, then check the big booths for their new offerings.Network and talk to people at the shows, even riding back and forth on the shuttles, waiting for seminars to start, walking around! One of the greatest opportunities a trade show offers is the chance to trade ideas and knowledge with people from noncompetitive markets who are incredibly generous in helping each other. Be open and willing to get acquainted and don't be shy, and you will find some wonderful associations in the process- and have a lot more fun!And... if you run into a short, old gal with a Texas accent, please say "howdy!" I'll look forward to meeting you, finding a new friend and learning some new stuff!