Trade shows bring the highs and the lows in the lives of traveling designers, marketing managers, sales managers, product developers, & da bo$$es. I have no sympathy for buyers or athletes… you’re there to have fun get schmoozed around and see all the cool crap (maybe even go home with free crap) that everyone has been working on all year. Now, for the folks who actually have to work at the trade shows… Man, I feel sorry for y’all.. Mostly because I always feel sorry for myself. However, on my 12th trade show, I’ve finally seen the light on what you need to do to stay sane.
Step 1: Packing Your Bag
Most people think that you should travel as light as you can to avoid checking your bag, losing your bag, and all the stress to over packing… If you’re going to a show for more than 3 days… Pack and check your crap. You’ll totally regret not having all the options at your disposal. You also need to pack three different shoes because you need to have comfortable walking shoes but also make people think that you’re changing every day. If you’re a girl… Just pack all of your toiletries, hair mumbo jumbo, your girlie part necessities, a candle, a picture of your dog, your own pillow, and lip balm. DON’T FORGET YOUR LIP BALM. Cracked lips are an instant cause for distress and tears.
Step 2: Airport Stress
First of all.. If you’re traveling more than 3 times a year, you should definitely go get TSA Pre-check or Global Entry. It’s worth it; especially when you’re in a rush. Or have a coworker who has those options buy your tix and check you in because then you’ll get the free pass too. Don’t mess with security… You’ll make your neck sweat and strip in front of strangers.
Step 3: Home Life Away From Home
Where you’re spending all of your free time away from the convention makes the difference between a good and a bad experience. Whether it’s having your own room.. just make sure you have the space you need to recuperate. Don’t be afraid to stay in instead of going out if you need your time… No shame in being a homebody! Nobody will love you more than you. Besides, you need to be able to meditate to forget how bad that skater smelled when he asked for five free koozies and man that was a doozie! Stuff like that!
Step 4: Food
Every smart person knows that food makes people happy. So make sure that you have UberEats, Yelp, Eat24, Papermates, a servant of some sort, and plan out your meals. Sushi, Thai, Ramen, Pho, Sandwiches… Make sure to know where the things to happiness are located in the city that you’re in. Don’t be afraid for pick up or delivery options… Watch TV and make love to a Spicy Tuna Roll? What’s better than that?
Step 5: Plan
Key to success for all tradeshows is having the ability to plan every detail and plan for things that are unplanned. Also it REALLY helps when you’ve got a team of helpful planners or quick response peeps. Especially if you’re in the setup/breakdown of the booth or with a buyer who’s giving you s***. Life is better with a good team behind ya.
So that’s my 5 step process to having a chance to enjoying a trade show while dealing with all the pressures that come with it. I guess to sum it up… Food & good company make the difference between life and death. And coffee. Don’t forget coffee. Good luck.