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The benefits of attending trade shows

News | December 1, 2009 | By:

Q: Is it really worth it to attend a trade show? And once there, how do I make the most of the experience?

A: As management, we are always looking to find ways to save money—especially in this economy. Many times we make decisions that have an immediate impact on the bottom line, such as decreasing advertising, cutting back on trade shows and limiting involvement in professional organizations. But that may not always be a good strategy.

While limiting professional affiliations and trade show attendance may immediately decrease costs, those decreases in expenditures come with ongoing consequences. The decrease in our ability to continue education and professional networking impacts our ability to stay on the cutting edge of our industry. Education about safety awareness, new tenting and rental items, and the business trends that can be identified and discussed at a trade show are vital to our growth and sustainability long term.

Trade shows give us an educated and experienced cohort of professionals that do what we do, gathered in one place for one purpose: to improve our businesses, which can happen if we work the show properly.

Get as much information as you can prior to the show. This includes doing an online search on the seminar presenters to determine which sessions will offer you the most benefit.

Look at the show floor map before the show. Find those vendors who may be able to meet a need you have and strategically plan your time and route on the floor.

Attend the education portions and fill out the feedback questionnaires. By doing so you get the opportunity to shape the future of the education and come away with new ideas. Even if you come away with one idea to turn a profit in your business, the show was worth it.

Network. This time also gives you the opportunity to make friends from other areas in which you do not compete and share ideas. Don’t be shy; introduce yourself to people and find out what they know. It is surprising what people are willing to talk about when there is no perceived competition.

As business owners we can make the dollars we spend multiply and feed the bottom line.

Dan Nolan III is the vice president/general manager for Tents Unlimited Inc. and a member of the Tent Rental Steering Committee. For more information on tent related issues visit

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