National trade shows are a great resource for new AND seasoned meeting and event professionals. There are always fresh ideas, new faces, and an abundance of networking opportunities with event peeps of all levels of experience, specialties, and backgrounds. You really don’t want to miss out!
When researching which trade shows to attend, be sure that you keep in mind the cost of attending. This can add up quickly with the cost of flights, lodging, food, and attending the event itself and all of the ancillary parties.
Start by choosing several a year – if you can afford it. Attending a variety when getting started will help you determine which trade show gives you the most information and greatest possibility of connections with the right people. After that, you can attend your favorites on a yearly basis, sprinkled with a few others if you’d like.
Over my thirty years in the event industry, I’ve found a few trade shows that I really enjoy attending either yearly or every couple of years:
- The Special Event (You can find me there next year!) - BizBash – there are several smaller Events that BizBash hosts throughout the year that I really enjoy attending - IMEX - I also enjoy attending several local events to network and build connections with vendors I’ll be working with
You may also want to consider being a vendor at a tradeshow. This will allow you to meet with new and existing clients and to showcase your skills and expertise.
The Special Event 2016
I recently attended The Special Event 2016 with Creative Event Team – a national organization that I am a member of. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there as it allowed us to catch up with each other, gain inspiration, and make new connections. Keep reading to see the highlights of this event:
This year The Special Event 2016 was held in Orlando, Florida. This was definitely a welcome location, having travelled from the frigid airs of the Midwest. My first stop was the hotel to get checked in and meet up with my other team members.
After gathering ourselves and our agenda for the week, we got ready for the opening night party. The party was a great place to network - everyone who would be attending the week-long events was there!
The host did a WONDERFUL job of creating fun vignettes, new and interactive stations, and showcasing other fun ideas to incorporate in our events. This included women on stilts that weaved back and forth and looked like angels flying in the air, a lively Cuban band with accompanying dancers, and a Cuban cigar roller.
Highlights from the Opening Night Party
They did a GREAT job with connecting their theme throughout. It was definitely exciting and the place to be. Many of the other restaurants that share Pointe Orlando also offered experiences for party goers.
The next day we had a great opening session with Sally Hogshead (I’m a huge fan!) and there were many accompanying events that allowed us to take our imaginations to the next level. The rest of the week consisted of tradeshow activities for me. Here I was able to see great design ideas, network with others from all over the world that I hadn’t seen in a while, and brought back new ideas for my shows for 2016.
My first Selfie Stick Photo with the Backdrops Beautiful gals
Dreaming up what I hope to accomplish in 2016 while posing in front of a HoneyBook display
Theme and design ideas galore!
I can’t forget to mention that the Creative Event Team partners and I were also given the opportunity to share our knowledge on everything technical for events. This included new equipment options, what type of equipment provider to hire, how to work with unions, and new/upcoming tech products to use for events. The audience was very engaged and the time flew by! If you would like to know more about what we talked about or have any questions, set up time with me today!
My key “takeaways” from The Special Event 2016:
o Who is responsible for setting up the teleprompters in a union house o Crystals are still the rage o How to put together a very long flower garland o Creative, inexpensive décor that really wows
My knowledge to pass on to other event and meeting planners:
o Make sure to take your business card o Hand out your business card! o Stay at the host hotel when possible (you’ll run into people and network in the lobby, coffee shops, restaurants, and most speakers stay in host hotels) o Take pictures with those you collect business cards from so when you get home you can put a face to a name o Use Uber for your mode of transportation o Remember to take care of your body and feet (don’t drink too much, don’t eat to much of the wrong things, and pack at least 2 pairs of shoe options)
My overall favorite part of this event was networking and connecting with other industry professionals that share the same issues that I do that aren’t necessarily available to connect with locally. Of course seeing the new ideas is my second favorite part. If you’re planning on attending next year’s The Special Event, feel free to reach out to me beforehand so that we can meet up!
What are your favorite tradeshows to attend and what are your key takeaways when you go?
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