Monday, May 3, 2010

Doing The Trade Show

Sorry that I haven't been posting too much lately, things have been busy at work.  I should mention that I have still been thinking about some blog posts and there should be a few good ones on the way soon.

I spent a few days in Toronto last week at the LLHA show.  I did some fundraising at an event on Friday and then painted floors at a cottage all weekend.  LLHA stands for Luggage, Leather Goods, Handbags and Accessories.  I was at the show to get a feel for the luggage industry, to meet current retail partners and of course, to meet some new ones. 

The luggage business has been through a few years of declining sales.  Some reports suggest sales in the luggage and travel accessories business is down between 20 and 30%, depending on the sub-category.   Regardless, things appear to be picking up and by all accounts, this year's show was bigger than last year's show.   There were more suppliers displaying product and more buyers there to make purchases. 

There was a seminar that presented the current state of the accessories business with some good insight from an industry analyst and I summarized that on my company's blog

A former colleague of mine has a good post about some things he learned at a recent trade show.  Worth a read for sure but here are some of my thoughts on trade shows. 

You Gotta Display:  My company didn't have a booth because we didn't meet the criterial (we should for next year) but if you're going to be a trade show, and the people you want to talk to are the ones walking the aisles, then you should display.  If you're there to meet with potential partners, and they are displaying then I think you can get away without having a booth.  The reason I am saying this is that it can be really hard or close to impossible to find people on the floor.  In my case, many of the people I wanted to talk to had appointments at booths for discuss orders so they didn't spend too much time walking the show floor.

It's All About Lunch:  I ended up doing some good networking in the lunch area.  People are relaxed and everyone is gathered in one area.  Just be sure to be respectful of the fact that people are taking a break so don't take up to much of their time.

Keep Your Head on a Swivel: Trade shows are a complete attack on your senses and things will be happening all around you at all times.  I recommend that you work hard to keep your head moving at all times because you never know when opportunities will come your way.  I met potential partners in the elevators, lobby and in the shuttle on my way to and from the show each day.  Business doesn't start and end on the show floor!

I was a great few days in Toronto (I used to live there) but I'm glad to be back in Ottawa.  More posts coming this week so get ready...

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