Make time for the Exhibitors. Don’t leave it until the last minute. Hearing about a product or seeing it in a workshop isn’t the same as having a demo and trying it out for you. The exhibitors get excited to show off their new products. They also like to make new friends and catch up with old friends.
DO NOT forget your name badge. If you are not wearing it, you will not be able to enter the Exhibitor hall.
Although the exhibitor hall is wonderful at all times, the best time is in the morning. Typically everyone is in workshops. But if you want some quality time with the exhibitors, it is a wonderful time to visit. It is also helpful if you bring coffee or tea to them. (Just joking, I prefer water).
Look at the map and names of the Exhibitors on the website. Check the company websites or catalogs. Because you should …….
Make a list and check it twice of the exhibitors. I suggest three columns. First column need to spend some time with the exhibitor (need to try something, trouble shoot, ask questions), want to see what is new, and third I have to see what is new but let me at least get a catalog.
Wednesday is preview night in the hall. This is your practice run. Get a feel for the rooms and make sure you highlight in your book where your favorite Exhibitors are.
Remember there are several Exhibitors that have show times where they are doing small to medium presentations, they have drawings but you need to be there to win. So if you want to spend time in the vending hall plan for the show times. Typically the shows last about 30 minutes and are a wealth of information.
When you are in the exhibitor hall – don’t be afraid to make eye contact with the exhibitors. We may smile, say hi, but we will not kidnap you and hold you hostage.
Now catalogs. I personally have a love hate relationship with catalogs. I like to have them so I can take a catalog is because when I am in the quiet of my room, I can flip through the catalog flag it and then return to the exhibitor hall to ask questions or get specific information on what I flagged. But I hate bringing them all home. They add so much weight to my luggage. The key is to bring a small carry on suitcase that you can use as checked luggage on the way home. I have also been known to mail the catalogs home cost varies $25 while over weight luggage is $50 and up. Remember the smaller companies when in the vending hall. Many are doing great things that often get overlooked for the bigger exhibitors. But these smaller companies will surprise you.
Bring cash – credit cards – PO’s -checks or deed to home (JUST KIDDING). Many of the Exhibitors in the hall have great deals for the conference. If your employer allows you to purchase things, it is a great time to get more for your buck.
At times, the exhibitor hall gets really crowded. It can be like the mall at holiday time all of a sudden you are swept up by the crowd. If you are with a group of people, have a meeting spot. It can be a booth, the registration area, the bar (shhh). But this way you don’t get frustrated when you are swept away in the tide of people.