With ConExpo 2020 in Las Vegas just weeks away, we thought it a good time to share our insider tips on how to survive the show.
Survive? Maybe even thrive. Let’s allow ourselves to dream a little!
If you’re in construction (better yet, if you work with cranes, lifting or rigging), then you’ll want to find your way to Vegas in March. The next time you'll get your chance to attend ConExpo will be 2023.
When it comes to a trade show, preparation is an easy win, a great way to make sure you’re getting the most value. Preparation is going to mean you know why you’re going, you know how to be successful, you know how to stay successful, and you know whether you’ve been successful. ConExpo 2020 is no different. It’s just … bigger.
Here then are our 11 (and a half!) tips to prepare yourself for a successful trade show experience.
If you’re not reading this the day before the exposition, then pre-registering is a great place to start. Aside from the obvious early-bird discounts, there’s something satisfying about getting a date in your calendar and checking off another to-do item from your list. Rather than face the inevitable “decision fatigue” that hurts those who don’t plan, why not make one of those decisions early and pre-register?
CONEXPO 2020 in Las Vegas is offering early-bird registration for $100 less than those who leave it to the last minute. If you miss the January 17th deadline, you can still get advance pricing that’ll save you 50 bucks.
In fact, if you’re really ahead of the game, why not consider getting yourself or your employees certified as Mobile Crane Operators and/or Articulating Boom Crane Operators? You can be fully certified by the end of ConExpo and get free entry to boot!
2. Plan your travel and accommodation
Another advantage of registering early is the freedom it gives you to plan properly. Again, early bookings mean money saved as well as a reduced risk of running into unhelpful, no-room-in-the-inn situations. Vegas is big, but it isn’t limitless. And you’ll want to stay where the action is, because the networking doesn’t end when the booths close up. Hotel bars are … interesting places.
Remember also that trade shows mean overnight stays. This isn’t the regular 9-5 you don’t worry about putting in your planner.
3. Pack cleverly
There are any number of tips out there on how to pack properly (Ziploc bags for gadgets & chargers, anyone?). But trade shows are a unique beast. An absolute must is a comfy pair of shoes - you’ll be walking miles each day and blisters are unlikely to help you network effectively.
Consider bringing a pocket-sized deodorant to keep you fresh through the day (also a win for networking). And even though the temptation is to dress for comfort, you’re there representing your company so smart attire is a must. No three-piece suits necessary, but you might need to learn how to pack a dress-shirt.
4. Create goals
Great goals is the goal here. You want to walk into day 1 of the trade show knowing exactly why you’re there and to walk out on the last day knowing you got what you came for. But none of that is possible without goals. Having goals will give you purpose. And having purpose will mean you don’t wander around aimlessly all week.
Do you have a plan for what vendors to visit? What seminars to attend? Where to relax and ‘network’ in the evening?
You’re smart enough to know about SMART goals and you’re smart enough to know that a famous Harvard Business study revealed that their MBA students were 10x more successful (read ‘rich’) if they wrote down their goals. So why not give it a go?
5. Choose vendors & seminars
This can be the toughest part of any expo. You could spend your five days wandering to each individual booth and still not see half of the nearly 2500 exhibitors. Many of the seminars overlap and there’s a considerable distance between each one. So, if you’re smart (see above), then you might want to pick the best ones. To help, you’ll want to take a look at our curated guide of the best ConExpo 2020 has to offer which will be released as soon as speakers are finalized. If you can’t wait, we recommend the following:
- The Tech Experience in Silver Lot 3 & the Festival Grounds
- The Lift Safety Zone where you can meet some of our instructors and take your NCCCO practical exams
- Eat with the Experts - Wednesday 11:00-1:00 - Take a load off and sit down with industry experts including Jim Wiethorn, Ph.D., P.E., an Engineering Specialist at Haag Engineering, Larry Kime, CICB's Senior Instructor and Technical Adviser, and John O'Connor, CICB's Houston Manager & Career School Director. Bring any Crane, Lifting & Rigging question you can think of and have them answered by the best in the business.
- Executive Lunch Forum: Widening Your Workforce - part of the highlighting women in the workforce focus, 11:30-1 ($50)
6. Set appointments
Is there a vendor or a contact you particularly want to see? You can always stroll over on the day, but you might want to set an appointment. The venue is the size of 50 football fields! There are 128 000 visitors anticipated. Don’t make a long trek just to find your contact’s booth swamped. Schedule a time. It’s just easier.
7. Create a team logistics document
If there are a few of you visiting, or if you have your own booth, then divide and conquer is definitely your best plan of attack. Make the most of your resources and assign halls, floors and meetings to different members of your team. Don’t forget to create a rotation schedule for your booth so everyone knows when they have to be there and no one is left manning it indefinitely. Include everyone’s phone number and try and make the document mobile friendly. No one is going to be on their laptop during the tradeshow!
8. Have a team prep meeting
Everyone has a different picture in their head of ConExpo 2020. Call a meeting of all attendees a week or two prior to the event and go over housekeeping items. Make sure everyone knows which hotel you’ll be in and no one will miss the plane. Use this as a chance to hand out the team logistics document you’ve already prepared. Congrats.
9. Create a Digital Business Card
Trade shows are a chance to network, and ConExpo 2020 will be no different. Of course, there’s no point in networking if you forget who you’ve met.
Unless you and your contacts all have a ridiculous memory for names and email addresses, you’ll want to write them down somehow. Traditional business cards will be flying around in their thousands, so why not stand out a little? Create a digital business card and text it to your contact. It’s sure to make an impression.
10. Bring a small bag, USB drive, phone, pen & notepad
Information, information, information. It’ll be everywhere. Sometimes it’ll be something to take away with you. Sometimes you’ll be able to take a picture of it on your phone. Sometimes it’ll be digital and you might be able to download it onto a USB. And other times you’ll just want to make a note of it the traditional way. Be prepared for any occasion.
11. Follow social media updates
Stay on top of the latest news and reveals. ConExpo posts every couple of days on their Facebook and Instagram and several times a day on Twitter. Even better, ConExpo are releasing an app any day now. Use LinkedIn to add contacts as soon as you’ve shared your digital business card (remember - craft a personal message). And don’t forget to follow CICB while you’re at it!
Whatever your goals are for ConExpo 2020, knowing them and preparing for them is the best way to make the most of your trade show experience. These are going to be five huge days for you personally and professionally, so it’ll pay to be prepared.