Trade fairs are still the most important platform to find information on trends and new products. Direct discussions between existing and potential business partners or with competitors and industry representatives, young designers and delegates from the education institutes are indispensable. One can only gain a clear impression on moods, developments, opportunities and risks in a direct dialogue. However, an unprepared visit to a trade fair can quickly become a waste of time and money. After all, the range of products on offer at the specialist fairs is mostly overwhelming. You often need a day simply to find your way round the trade fair grounds and halls. Valuable time passes before one has found all the important exhibitors and highlights. It is therefore a good idea to use a checklist in order to prepare for attending a trade fair.
Pre-selection of the most important industry fairs at home and abroad (a continually updated list is found under www.gz-journal.de/de/fachmessen/)
The following items must be taken into consideration once the trade fairs have been selected:
- Will leading providers defining current trends be present there?
- Is the range of goods interesting for my own range?
- Will important business partners be present there?
- Is the supporting program to the trade fair interesting?
- Do the dates suit the company’s schedule?
- Is the effort justified in terms of distance, time and cost?
All of this information can be gleaned from the advance reporting in specialist journals and on the trade fairs’ homepages. They can be used to make direct searches for exhibitors and product categories, etc. and the supporting program can also be accessed.
Travel and hotel arrangements for the trade fair can be planned cost efficiently. There is frequently a free shuttle service to the main railway station and airports. In addition, most trade fair companies have a booking service and have special rates for a certain quota of hotel rooms held on behalf of trade fair visitors. Private accommodation is even cheaper, and tourist offices can be of assistance here. However, especially when planning for one of the large industry events, it is important to book a room a long time in advance (6-8 months). Otherwise, everything close to the trade fair grounds is booked out.
One should always order the exhibition catalogue from the organizer in advance; usually, one can place orders by internet or telephone. This is the single best way to have a look round in peace and to prepare for the trade fair.
One should be clear about the motives for attending the trade fair. Does one primarily want to …
- become familiar with new products and methods?
- network new contacts?
- maintain and extend existing contacts?
- negotiate and prepare for business deals?
- order goods?
- make use of the existing information and further training facilities?
Now, depending on the motive, it is important to agree on meetings at the booths in advance and to draft a precise schedule for each day at the fair. The schedule should be padded, as some discussions prove to be more interesting as one would have thought.
Despite all this planning, one should leave a little leeway for spontaneity and a time to look round. If one lust strolls through exhibition areas that do not directly serve the purpose of the visit, one often happens across interesting, unthought-of things.
The documents one brings back from the trade fair should be reviewed immediately. The newly discovered potential for one’s own business can only be exploited as long as impressions are still fresh and the everyday burden of work has not yet pushed the stack of trade fair documents to the background.