"My husband and I have a retail store and Orlando will be my 22nd DEMA Trade Show. When you first see that floor, it is quite amazing! The people - the sights - the sounds! It can be a little overwhelming.
However, there are quite a few "tools" available to help you prepare. The trade show website for a start. DEMA provides a listing of all the Exhibitors along with their booth numbers. This is what I utilize to enter into an excel spreadsheet with column headings: Booth-Vendor-Notes.
I list all the vendors we have appointments with, possible new vendors, and anything of special interest. The note column is for: appointment times, conversations and follow up after DEMA. After finishing the spreadsheet, I make a copy; and then sort one alphabetically, and one numerically by booth number.
Next, I use Outlook, and list all the appointments, meetings, seminars, agency events, etc. for each person attending DEMA from our store. (There are other calendar programs. Microsoft Office has one included in the bundle that I used first before going over to Outlook.) We have travel buyers, repair techs, instructors, store manager and then my husband and I. Each person gets a color so I know where everyone is at all times. Divide and conquer so to speak.
When entering the items I make sure to include: location and persons initials, because sometimes we have more than one going to certain events. I can also track last minute changes and then text the person who I need to re-route.
We usually all meet together about 10 days before DEMA, I give everyone their "packets". Hotel, air, event calendars, etc. We go through everything and if I have to make adjustments, I still have time.
One last item, and this is really for after DEMA, but, the Trade Show book. It is a wealth of information. We refer to it all the time. We actually use it in future planning:
- The next year's trip - we note in our books the speakers and/or seminars that met our objectives. In this way we can attend another seminar by that speaker again.
- When we return to that particular venue - Hotel info, layout, etc. (Helps plan future budget)
- Vendor information - Besides the obvious, phone, address, etc. There are some vendors that only attend certain years. Sometimes, it is good to have a face-to-face so you can cement that relationship.
DEMA is a great place to share ideas, get new ones, and reenergize yourself for the upcoming year! Go! Have Fun! But Go Organized!"