Making the most of trade shows
When it comes to continuing education, our industry has some amazing trade shows throughout the year. Premiere, Matrix Destination, BTC’s Color, Cut, & Style, PBA’s International Salon & Spa Expo, and IMATS for makeup artists, just to name a few.
Usually, there is more education than one person can possibly consume within the time of the show. There are different categories and types of education, and you have to choose what you really want see the most. Here are some tips that I use to make the most of trade show education.
This may not be something that you consider immediately, but finding accommodations close to the show is very helpful. Most shows will start in the morning, and you will also need time to get ready and find breakfast before the show. Depending on where you stay, you may also need to consider both vehicular and human traffic in order to make it to the show on time.
When booking a hotel, check the trade show website first. Trade shows will often partner with area hotels in order to provide participants with a discount. When doing price researching for myself, I often found the trade show discount to often be better than prices on most booking sites like hotels.com.
Navigating the trade show:
Shows will often be at convention centers, but those can sometimes be confusing to navigate due to the sheer size of the show. Most show brochures will tell you where classes or main stage artists will be. There will also usually be a map of the show included in those brochures. It is definitely useful to look the map over before the show, and keep one on hand. In some cases, you may want to go from one class to another that is in a different part of the center with just a few minutes to spare.
Pre-planning to attend the most classes:
As I previously mentioned, it is impossible to attend all the educational classes at most shows. You will usually have to pick things that are the most important to you. I do this in a very simple way. First, I will go through the education brochure and highlight everything I’m interested in. For me, this is a mix of technical, main stage, and business classes. I usually pick relevant topics such as cutting and coloring for technical, and marketing, leadership, or motivational classes from the business arena. Be sure to highlight classes you really feel you would benefit from.
The easiest way I’ve found to do the next step, and build a schedule, is to use a stylist’s planner page. I will use all four columns, and block out time periods for each class I highlighted. Once I’ve blocked out the majority of the classes, I will choose the ones that are most important to me, and condense that into a schedule organized by time. It includes the class name and where it is. Usually once I’ve done this, I have small blocks of unused time to look at the vendor area.
Big tip here; try not to purchase anything too heavy at the beginning of the show. You will end up lugging it around all day. Shows will sometimes have amazing deals, and brand specific education in their booths. I definitely recommend spending some time on the vendor floor. As you go to the different booths, you may end up with a pretty big handful of things. Some ways you can eliminate that is to purchase things closer to the end of the day/show. Some trade shows will have special deals towards the end of the last day. Check your vendors to see.
Another option is to find out if the show or your hotel allows you to check bags. Also, bringing an empty rolling suitcase (if allowed inside) can give you something to pack your goodies in.
If you have any more questions on how I prepare, or if I will be at a trade show, just contact me and I would be happy to answer.