How to Attend a Trade Show

by Debbie Doerrlamm

Attending a trade show or seminar is a fantastic means of learning about new products and new techniques.

A trade show can be daunting for the shy and provide eye candy for the not so shy, but everyone will come away rejuvenated and eager to get back to work.

Seminars, depending on how large or small, can give you demonstrations to watch as well as provide you with an opportunity to have some hands-on experiences. Both of these types of educational events can garner CEU hours if your state requires them and the class has been approved for them.

Classes at trade shows typically offer product demonstrations and are smaller (normally consisting of 10-50 people). Most trade shows hold seminar classes before and during show floor hours.

Many of the larger shows have a shipping service on site, which is handy if you are flying or really want to buy that big thing you saw at booth 1158. Often, companies will offer to ship your order directly to the salon for a low fee or even free, so do not be shy about asking about these options.

The trade show floor is comprised of row after row of exhibitor booths set up with demonstrations and products for sale. Nail technicians should attend both trade shows and seminars with at least one hand free of product to receive demo nails.

Wear light clothing as it can get quite warm on the show floor, or bring a sweater if you tend to get chilly. Wear very comfortable shoes as there is a tremendous amount of walking, back and forth, up and down the aisles, in and out of the show floor, etc. The hair exhibits normally have huge extravaganzas with music, models and live bands. Add in all the people talking, demonstrators at microphones, etc., and the show floor can get extremely loud.

Check the show's website several days before you travel. To save time during show hours, make a list of companies that you are interested in visiting (along with their booth numbers), and the classes you would like to attend. Otherwise, your first job when arriving on the show property is to grab the show directory and mark which booths you MUST see and which you would like to see. Next, go through the list of classes and make a list of "must-do," then the "like-to-do" classes. Set an alarm in your cell phone for 15 minutes prior to each class, allowing you ample time to get there promptly. Sometimes it is difficult to get a seat in the more popular classes.

Plan on visiting booths of the brands you currently use to catch up on techniques and new products. You should plan at least 50 percent of your floor time at booths of the lines you currently do not use, spending some time with the educators and getting demonstrations.

Here is my rule of thumb as to what you are looking for when you get a nail demo at a trade show or seminar:

YES - the color of the enhancement

YES - if it yellows before you remove it or it breaks or whatever

YES - the specific techniques used in application

NO - how long they stay on

NO - the shape or length

Do not be too disappointed if there is a specific company you want to check out that is not there – and do not disregard the company because they chose not to attend the show. Booth space costs thousands of dollars for a single booth, and the prices are astronomical for larger booths. The displays and products are shipped in, the staff is either flown in or cars are rented to drive them in, the company pays for their hotel and their food (usually) while there and the booth workers receive a daily fee. The average small company cannot afford this, sometimes they will join up with another company and share a booth, but more often opt out of such expense.

If there is a competition at the show, make sure you note the time of the competitions and wander over for a bit to check it out. Show your support for your fellow professionals by attending the award ceremony if you have the time. All of the competitors are thrilled to show off their work up close and personal just before the awards begin.

Attend the show with your co-workers...walking the show floor with another professional (or more) is so much better as the others might have heard or seen something you missed. Over lunch the discussion of the day will give you even more information to process.

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