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New expos and trade shows are added to the already bulging list of annual expos being held all around the world every year. Some are industry specific, while others cater to the general public. As costs of exhibiting continue to rise, small business owners must watch their bottom line and ensure their return on investment as an exhibitor. They must also be very clear on why they are exhibiting, what they hope to achieve and how they are going accomplish their goals.

Get Organised

Your aim is to have a stress-free and profitable expo experience. The more organised you are, the more chance you have of making this happen. Start with an exhibitor’s plan that is actually created months before the exhibition date. Once you commit to the expo, pay your deposit and lock in the dates. This year, plan to arrive at least one day before bump in starts and stay one day after the expo finishes. Take pressure off yourself and maximise time for meetings and connections.

Save Money and Time

False economy is thinking that flights will necessarily run on time. Research your travel insurance needs at Budget Insurance, where you will find lots of options to cover any unexpected travel delays. Reduce your stress by including those extra days as a buffer to meet with potential strategic allies and client post expo. Book your accommodation as close as possible to the expo venue. Another false economy is staying at the cheaper hotel 10 kilometres from the site and then needing to catch taxis back and forth when you realise you have left important items back at the hotel. The conference hotel may be a little more expensive, but you will definitely have opportunities to network with other exhibitors and potential customers. Make sure you plan to have breakfast in the hotel restaurant during the expo, where you will find another opportunity to network.

Plan Some More

Start creating an expo checklist weeks or even months before your departure date. Exhibitors are notorious for leaving courier dispatches until the last moment. Plan to dispatch your expo cartons via courier at least seven days before your bump in date. About two to three weeks prior to the expo, set up a mock up stand in your premises. Take photos of the completed design and store the file in your priority exhibitor file. This will be the location for all your important documentation, client list, order forms, etc.

When packing your expo boxes, be sure to include a torch with batteries, business cards, carton of small water bottles and small packs of food — almonds, nuts, plus of course some carbohydrate for those long afternoons on the trade stand. (Ideally, one of your rules is not to eat on the expo stand, as it can be discourteous to your customers and look unprofessional.) When you are setting up the stand, bottles of water are often a welcome “trade” to your neighbours. Remember networking plays a big part in contributing to your outcomes.

By doing things a little differently this expo, you will significantly increase your chances of creating a high return on your expo investment.