How to Make the Most of Attending a Trade Show

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Attending trade shows can be a great opportunity for those in the carwash and gas station industries to stay relevant and competitive. By participating in a trade show, businesses have the opportunity to connect with other professionals and potential clients, learn about new products and services, and gather valuable market research. These opportunities can help businesses to stay up-to-date on industry trends and find new ways to grow and succeed. Additionally, attending trade shows can be a great way to build brand awareness and gain exposure to a larger audience. Trade shows require an investment of your money, time, and energy, so follow these tips to get the most out of your attendance.

Before the Show

  1. Research: Conducting research on the trade show and its exhibitors before the event is a great way to maximize the value of your experience. By doing your homework beforehand, you can get a sense of what to expect and identify which exhibitors and events are most relevant to your business and goals.
  2. Register: Register for trade shows as early as possible, as this can help you to secure the best pricing and availability. Many trade shows offer early-bird discounts for those who register in advance, which can save you hundreds of dollars on the cost of admission. You can also check to see if any exhibiting vendors (like us) have complimentary passes to share with valued customers. Additionally, starting the registration process early can give you plenty of time to secure any necessary approvals or funding from your company, which can take some time to process. During registration, check that your email address and phone number are correct and the best ones for vendors to use to contact you. This is important as vendors will use your information when using their badge scanning devices. This will save you time from correcting it while walking the floor and meeting with vendors.
  3. Set Specific Goals:  Align your participation at the trade show with your overall business goals. By clearly identifying what you hope to accomplish, you can focus your efforts and make the most of your time at the event. Ask yourself what objectives your business could achieve by participating in the trade show. Are you looking to increase brand visibility and attract new customers? Are you interested in learning about new industry trends and technologies? Identifying these goals will help you decide where to focus your attention, whether networking, attending educational sessions, or visiting vendor booths.
  4. Create a Schedule: Creating a schedule and plan may include mapping out which exhibitors you want to visit, scheduling any workshops or seminars you plan to attend, and allowing for breaks and downtime. Workshops and seminars often feature experts and thought leaders who are knowledgeable about the latest trends and can offer valuable insights and advice. Register for these events in advance, as they may fill up quickly, as do any extracurricular events occurring outside of show hours. Usually, you can also preview a list of exhibitors that will be on the expo floor. Save time by pre-selecting the most important vendors for you to visit, plus setting up meetings beforehand for those you wish to have private conversations with. Be sure to download an expo floor map ahead of time to know where to go and make an efficient route
  5. Prepare Business Cards and Promotional Materials: Having your business cards on hand allows you to easily exchange contact information with others and follow up after the event. Promotional materials, such as brochures or flyers, can provide a quick and easy way to introduce your business and share more information about your products or services. Be sure to have these printed and ready to go ahead of time.
  6. Book Airfare and Hotel: Take the stress of knowing if you’ll make it in time for the trade show and where you’ll stay off of your plate by booking in advance. Double-check the trade show agenda for check-in times and welcome activities to know when to arrive. If it’s a multi-day event, sometimes the first portion is mainly administrative work versus education sessions or workshops. A great place to start in selecting a hotel is the show promoter’s website. They often provide discounts at one or several hotels, but those can book up quickly.

During the Show

  1. Have Your Map Handy: Trade show halls regularly host hundreds of vendors across +100,000 square feet of space. Grab a printed map for quick reference or download the trade show app. While being mindful of your pre-selected vendors and meetings, be sure to walk around the entire expo! You never know what you’ll find. In some occasions, the Show Guide Magazine will include newly added events, specials, or even bar crawls which are a fun way to walk the expo floor.
  2. Network with Exhibitors and Other Attendees: Take advantage of the opportunity to network with exhibitors and other attendees. Ask questions, listen to what others have to say, and don't be afraid to introduce yourself and share what you do. There’s always a possibility of meeting a fellow operator who becomes a great friend or mentor.
  3. Attend Workshops, Education Sessions, or Seminars: If you've registered for any workshops, education sessions, or seminars, make sure to attend them and take notes on any new information or strategies you learn. Many times, speakers will allow for a Q&A at the end of their presentations, so come prepared with any questions you may have. This can be a great way to deepen your understanding of the topic and gain insights from industry experts.
  4. Take Notes: Taking notes at a trade show is an important step in maximizing the value of your experience. Not only can taking notes help you to better understand and retain the information you learn, but they can also serve as a helpful reference after the event. When you're surrounded by so many new products, services, and people, it can be overwhelming and easy to forget important details.
  5. Put Yourself on the Trade Show List: The trade show promoter will have a large display to make sure you have everything you need while you’re at the trade show and answer questions. There, you can add yourself as one of their contacts so you receive info about their future events along with any discounts or specials.

After the Show

  1. Review Notes: Review the notes and information you gathered at a trade show to help solidify your understanding of the products, services, and people you learned about during the event. This can help you identify key takeaways, follow up on leads, and make informed decisions about your business.
  2. Follow-Up: After the trade show, take some time to review your notes and any business cards you collected. Reach out to the people you met, either by email or phone, and thank them for their time and for the opportunity to connect. Respond to emails from vendors to get things moving with interested parties. If you promised to send any additional information or follow up on something specific, make sure to do so. You might also want to schedule a meeting or call to discuss potential opportunities for collaboration or partnership. On the flip side, respectfully and quickly unsubscribe from vendors that you don’t wish to engage with further upon receiving email contact. This will save time and energy for both parties!
  3. Incorporate What You’ve Learned: Consider incorporating any new information or strategies you learned at the trade show into your business practices. This could involve adopting new technologies, implementing new marketing strategies, or adjusting your product offerings to meet the changing demands of your customers. 
  4. Consider Attending Again: Attending future trade shows can be a valuable way for businesses to stay informed and connected in their industry. By participating in these events, you have the opportunity to stay up-to-date on current trends and topics, meet new people in the industry, and strengthen existing connections.

Get the Most out of Your Next Trade Show

As a carwash or gas station owner, attending trade shows can be a valuable opportunity for businesses to learn, grow, and connect with others in their industry. By following some simple steps, businesses can maximize the value of their trade show experience and find new ways to succeed. Don't miss out on this opportunity to enhance your business and flourish in your industry. Plan to attend your next trade show and make the most of it by following these tips!

See if we’ll cross paths at these 2023 trade shows for the carwash and gas station industries.

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