Trade shows are the perfect opportunity to see exactly what’s on the market, all in one convenient location. You don’t have to commit to any free trials, spend an hour queuing on the phone to talk to a sales rep or have to fill out a bunch of forms. Instead, you can do things the old fashioned way, and get up close and personal with key service providers in the industry.
Are you going to shop for a new piece of gym equipment? Looking to enhance your studio with a new piece of tech? Or simply going out of interest to enjoy a day filled with fitness? Whatever your reason, it’s important to form a battle plan to get the most out of your day.
We’ve prepared this fitness trade show guide to help you set up for success, and make your next show your best ever. Let’s get started!
Choose a show that’s right for you
Just like businesses, every trade show is unique in it’s own way. And finding the perfect one for you to visit may seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re a novice at the trade show game.
Make a list of what you want to get out of a show. Let’s take a look at an example list from the perspective of a personal trainer:
- I’d like to meet some influential bloggers/social media personalities to discuss marketing opportunities
- It’s important that there is a variety of nutritional brands there, I want to see if I can offer my clients some unique meal plans
- I want value for money with my ticket price, bigger shows could be worth spending more to get a ticket
- I want to attend for a full weekend, to network as much as possible
Whilst your own list may be similar, or totally different, it’s important that you’re honest with yourself. If you aren’t entirely sure what you want to get out of a show, maybe spending $200 on a ticket is unnecessary, when a local, more affordable show could be a good taster. When reading through this fitness trade show guide, consider your budget when it comes to ticket prices.
Fitness trade show websites always offer a wealth of information to help you paint a picture of what to expect there. Two of our favourite shows are FIBO and IHRSA, and their websites give plenty of detailed information that helped us decide to try them out!
Is technology something you’re particularly interested in? Read about the tech trends to look out for in 2018!
Figure Out Where to Find What You Need
Unlike a pirate’s treasure map, there is no big X to mark the spot when it comes to finding what you want at a fitness trade show. It’s down to you to highlight stand numbers, check talk times and locate important places like the coffee machines and restrooms.
It sounds simple, but when the excitement of convention day comes around you’ll appreciate the extra effort you put into planning. You can plan routes to take in all the stands you’re interested in, work out where is best to eat lunch with other attendees and how to fit in those two talks with five minutes between them at opposite ends of the arena.
A lot of trade shows will post an event map online well before doors open, just like FIBO’s. You’ll be able to download a copy to your smartphone, so you can plan on-the-go, or just incase you lose your physical copy on the day.
Keeping a checklist of exhibitor names, and where to find them will help you keep track of where you’ve already been and who is closest to you to see next. Whether you mark them off on a note on your phone, or tick them off in the brochure, you don’t want to be retracing your footsteps!
Create a Schedule
You won’t be able to tick off all the locations on your checklist without a well thought out schedule. After all, how are you going to fit lunch in between those two keynote speeches if there is a five minute gap between them?
By curating your own schedule for each event you wish to attend, you’ll be a step ahead of the crowds when it comes to visiting all the aspects of the event that you’re interested in.
Whether you’re using your smartphone to set reminders for activities throughout the day, or scheduling a block of time to wander around the exhibition halls, scheduling is an essential part of trade show housekeeping.
Checking the event website prior to the event will no doubt provide an itinerary for the trade show, where you can note down important times well in advance.
Plus, when it comes to networking, a schedule can be a real ace up your sleeve. Bumped into somebody who you think could be a real fountain of knowledge? Why not schedule a coffee or lunch date with them? If you know when and where you are going to be that day, you’ll find it much easier to arrange these spur of the moment opportunities. And don’t forget, if you’ve already connected with fellow delegates, whether through LinkedIn or the show’s official channels, by scheduling in advance you can pre plan important meetups and networking opportunities.
Schedules are also vital for motivating gym members efficiently! Find out why here.
Check Your Travel Plans
Trade show tickets? Check. Travel arrangements? Check. Hotel booking? Oops!
It’s no good setting off to the airport for an international trade show if you have no way of getting there. So it always helps to plan well in advance, and check nearer the time that everything is in order.
It’s not just the weather that can cause delays and cancellations to public transport. Keep in the loop in the run up to the event, whether on social media or by glancing through any relevant websites. Things like staffing strikes can often be called off last minute, whereas serious weather like snowfall can have a long-term impact on infrastructure.
Keep physical and digital copies of all your travel and accommodation documents. A dead smartphone battery is no use to anyone, sometimes trusty physical paperwork is the way forward. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to keep copies on your smartphone, should your documents fall into a puddle when you step outside (or something equally as inconvenient).
Focus Solely on The Event
Once the time has come, you should be attentive. Most trade shows only happen once a year, so make the most of them!
Set your ‘out of office’ reply on, only answer the most urgent calls and don’t be afraid of stepping outside your comfort zone. A fitness trade show can help you find the missing piece to your business puzzle, and provide invaluable contacts and opportunities to network.
Whether it’s FIBO, IHRSA, BodyFitness or something totally different, each fitness trade show is special in its own way. Go with an open mind, and leave with one filled with knowledge.