It is show season. Two of the most important events, the Bangkok Gems & Jewelry Fair and the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair, are occurring this month. Attending these shows can be rewarding and profitable. They can also be confusing and exhausting. You need to have a survival strategy to make your visit pleasant and rewarding.
Before The Show
Make your plans as early as possible. Pre-registering for the shows will help you by-pass the long lines at registration. Arrive a day or two early to give you time to adjust to the local time and climate. This is especially important if you have a long journey. You want to be well rested and alert when you get to the show.
Have a spending plan. Know the price points and product categories that you need to stock. Review the exhibitors list and contact vendors that you know you will see in advance so they can be sure to have what you want. They might want to schedule a specific time to give you the best service. Be sure to leave room in your budget for unexpected finds.
Download the mobile app of the show. Typically the event mobile app will include the exhibitors list, an interactive floorplan, a show schedule an other useful information. This will be easier than lugging around a big paper show guide. Also organizer increasingly use the mobile app to communicate show updates, changes, or highlights.
Seminars and presentations are great parts of a show, giving you a chance to learn new things and network with interesting people. Decide which ones are important for you and make notes on the time and location. Add them to your favourites in your event app and you will get an automatic reminder.
You will be on your feet for long hours on hard floors. Other than shows in the US, carpets in show halls in Asia are very thin. Wear shoes that are comfortable, save the fashion concerns for the social events.
At The Show
Have your documents that you need to get into the show; I.D., business card, tax numbers, business license and other required information ready when you arrive. There is nothing worse than standing on a long line only to discover you need to go back to your hotel for one piece of paper. For security reasons Hong Kong Shows require an ID/Passport.
Once you are in, it can be a good idea to quickly walk the entire show from one end to the other, making notes on booths that you want to visit at length. Think of it as a warm-up and orientation, allowing you to get a feel for what the show has to offer.
Have plenty of business cards in one pocket and have another pocket for the cards you are sure to collect. Make notes on the back of cards you receive to remind you of what was interesting. Consider though that in some cultures writing on business cards is considered very impolite, so don’t do it in front of your potential business partner.
Follow your spending plan. Get the must-buys out of the way first to accomplish your primary goals. Then you can use your remaining time and money at leisure to find new and interesting products. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions. Most vendors are passionate about their offerings and are happy to share their knowledge with you.
Pace yourself. Take frequent rest breaks and drink plenty of water. Invite a favourite vendor to lunch or tea. This is an endurance event, not a sprint.
After The Show
It never hurts to stay a few extra days after the show to meet with vendors at their place of business or for social engagements with new and old friends. Don’t forget to play tourist for a while. It is one of the hidden benefits of traveling to shows.
Once you get home it is time to let your customers know about all the new and exciting discoveries. Some retailers even blog right from the show, sharing pictures of their finds. It’s the age of social media, so share with your customers what you are doing. Ride the wave of enthusiasm that you bring back with you and sell, sell, sell.
Finally…start making plans for the next one!