Let me please express that ALL conventions are not good to do and that they really are a shot in the dark most of the time.
Here are questions that you want to ask of the people who put on the conventions:
1. How many exhibitors will be attending the conference? If they have below 50, I would not do it unless you didn’t have to pay for a hotel and if it were only like $25.
2. How many of these exhibitors will be giving away free and or nominally priced goodies? If many of the booths give away freebies, you won’t be able to manage either because it will be expected of you and that is what everyone ends up looking for.
3. How many will be having free or low cost activities? (ie. make and take crafts) If they are doing activities in their booths, and everything is more geared around children, then this might not be a good type of convention for you. When parents are shopping with their children, chances are the little ones will be whining at them to get going and not hang around your booth. YOU then become the inconvenience. (Not really, but you know how it goes. ;c})
4. How is the floor plan laid out? Is it well organized? Where would you be placed? Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you do a smaller show. But in the LARGE ones, it makes a HUGE difference if you are in the back. You need good visibility. If you are in the back, but there are popular companies around you, that is fine.
5. Ask what kind of advertising is being done. If they don’t have at least 2 radio stations for small cities and 2 newspapers or other periodicals, then DON’t DO IT! I have been a part of too many like this that fail. If they have advertised in 3 newspapers and on the radio stations around them, they are a good shot.
6. I would want to know if there are Teamster issues as far as bringing in our own products (I would want to avoid the extra cost). At some shows, they hire unions to carry your things in. If so, it usually is mandatory that you use them or you can’t do the show. THEY cost a LOT of money. MAKE SURE YOU CHECK ON THIS BEFORE DOING A LARGE SHOW.
7. How many days will this convention last? If it is only a one day convention and it has a large turnout, it is usually okay, but if it is only a one day show and has less than I would venture to guess 1500, then it might not be worth your while. Now, some may turn out GREAT if the advertising is done correctly. There is no way to judge this.
8. Do they have security to watch your products? If a show has good security, it’s not a problem. However, note that if you have to set up the day before the convention, you might need to leave your expensive products there overnight. There usually isn’t enough time the next morning to set up unless you do fine with sleep deprivation. I am used to leaving my products overnight now. But it took me learning the ropes before I’d leave anything.
9. Is it close to your home or do you have to pay for a hotel? Hotel costs added with food costs can become overwhelming. Figure out how much these costs will be. If you add everything up, it will help you to judge if you can afford to do a large convention.
NOTE: If you do local conventions, trade shows, craft type shows, or festivals, and you are a small company or working with a direct sales company it’s a little different. The booths are usually $25 – $250. You don’t have to stay in a hotel or drive very far. You can pack food to go with you easily. So make the above questions applicable to YOUR situation.
Here is a list of things to remember…
1. Try to label everything VERY clearly, so that you won’t have so many of the same interrupting questions, such as, “How much is this?”
2. Have a candy or treat that is easy for them to suck on, not something that will make them spit when you ask them a question. Little dumdum suckers are always good because they can take them out of their mouth to speak to you. ;c)
3. About the drawing bowl. Allow them to put a card & show what you are giving away. Make a professional looking sign on your computer.
4. Make your booth pleasing to the eye. I get tons of people who wouldn’t normally be looking for my products otherwise. But after they are in the booth looking at whatever it is that I put up to catch their eye, they are happily surprised.
5. Have a tablet for people to sign to be on your mailing list.
6. Have munchies for yourself!!! A MUST!
7. Wear comfortable shoes! Or wear the gorgeous ones that hurt, but take them off after a while. EVERYONE understands that!
8. Get containers that allow you to grab those order forms or whatever you think you will need right away. I take a three drawer Sterilite container. It is organized to my liking.
9. Take with you, tape (good tape!), lots of pens or pencils, extra nylons if you are wearing any, paper, some fat sharpie markers for those last minute unintended signs.