Make a Plan
If you fail to plan you plan to fail. Setting a goal is the first step towards a successful trade show buying experience. Have a product wish list of items you wish to purchase and even a desired price range. Use the show’s matchmaking service or exhibitor directory to find exhibitors who sell those products ahead of time. Set up appointments in advance with the suppliers you’re most interested in.
Once your appointments are set, build out the rest of your trade show itinerary. Many trade shows also have an educational component with speakers and seminars, so make sure you set aside time to attend the ones that most appeal to you. Also, block out time for product discovery. Many new companies have their debut at trade shows, and many others use trade shows to launch new products. You never know what you might find.
Make Travel Arrangements Sooner Rather Than Later
Just bite the bullet and book everything now. It is tempting to wait and see if a better deal pops up, but the truth is that the longer you wait the more prices will go up. Most shows have a partnership with nearby hotels for a limited number of discount rooms. Take advantage of that, or, if you are the adventurous type, you may be able to land a great Airbnb set up.
Make Your Own Rules
One of the biggest tradeshow mishaps is overbuying. You have your budget in mind, but with minimum order requirements, unexpected shipping costs, etc. it is easy to go over. Take matters into your own hands and set your own terms. After all, exhibitors set these requirements and terms for their own benefit, not yours. Go to the show with your own purchase orders, ready to discuss your business size and model, and what terms work best for you. It is possible trade show exhibitors are willing to be flexible on things like when payment is due, their minimum order requirements, or even shipping costs and methods. Not everyone will be able to accommodate your requests, but you won’t know unless you try.
Make the Purchase
Having your budget and wish-list set ahead of time allows you to make smart, informed choices. Many suppliers have exclusive show discounts, so it is important to write your orders on the show floor. You’ll come back from the show feeling accomplished, knowing your new merchandise is already on the way!